Distance: 25.1 miles (40.5km) Ascent/Descent: 490m/510m
Start/Finish: Bargrennan to St. Johns Town of Dalry
Terrain: 45% forest road, 15% surfaced road, 25% Rough trail, 15% Easy trail
Transport: Very limited: Dum & Galloway bus timetables, and Kings Coaches
Route: Route Map | Garmin Course
Southern Upland Way Stages: Prev
This section of the Southern Upland Way has a more "Highland" feel about it, crossing Galloway Forest Park near its more rugged peaks. It never ventures onto the higher terrain, keeping to the forested glens with only a couple of gentle passes involved. The character is always changing, from leafy riverside and lochside trail at first, to more open and desolate country scarred with expansive forestry, but finishing with a pleasant wooded descent (albeit on tarmac). A final modest climb up Waterside Hill is well worth the effort, giving the day's most open view of the surrounding countryside, with Dalry just an easy mile below.
Its been too long since we last did this! Back exploring the Southern Upland Way, and the surrounding area. September/October is my favourite time of year in Scotland - weather's still mild, but the midges aren't so bad, the heather's still out, the bracken is golden and the leaves are just starting to put on a show.
I set off very relaxed onto the river-side trail, soon becoming less relaxed as the wet tree-roots seemed to be trying to send me down into the water! Reckon my socks were already soaked and my legs sprayed with bog within the first mile.
I overtook a couple of lassies taking their mountain-bikes for a walk, then the route did become firmer and the trees backed-off giving me a few glimpses of the surroundings. Yes it was boggy in places but all runnable and the river-side setting way very pleasant, I was happy to be back running the Southern Upland Way again.
After passing through the abandoned campsite at "Caldons", the character begins to change as the steep-sided and forested slopes of Glen Trool are entered. I was still feeling fresh enough to enjoy all the seemingly pointless short-sharp ascents and descents through the trees, and had to stop several times so I could take in the occasional view across Loch Trool.
Which was a good job because my legs were beginning to stiffen up and I was ready for a pint or two. The descent went from trail to track to tarmac, my car sitting where my dad had left it so I could pick up a change of dry clothes and be slightly more presentable at the pub. The road down was pleasant enough - helped by lack of cars - but it was nice when a fingerpost sent me off it down to the riverbank instead. Over a bridge and into a field with a swamp and a bull in it, I sank nearly up to my knee in a marsh as I tried to keep as close to the fence and as far from the bull as possible.
Got to the Clachan Inn, two minutes later my dad was there too, and we were sitting in the sunshine with beer and a post-exercise buzz. We were both glad to be back to the "Southern Upland Way" project, and already making plans for the ultimate stage - Bargrennan to Port Patrick, where we have decided it would be nice to jog the last 5 miles together to complete what we started in the frosty early months of this year. We're both going to have to get a bit more training in!
The next day (Sunday) we did a nice short walk in "Ness Glen" a few miles to the North by Loch Doon - a gem of a gorge walk.
Other Southern Upland Way Stages: