Having been displaced from my regular stomping ground Glasgow to the port village of Cairnryan in Galloway for work, I was enjoying the peace and serenity that came with having a lovely little cottage beside the sea. Last weekend that sense of peace and serenity was well and truly vanquished as a bunch of 8 Westies arrived on Friday night armed and well prepared for a weekend of drinking, eating and activities (ranked in priority of importance first). We were Niall, Elizabeth, Neil, Captain Hamer, Leyre, Maeve, Lars, Karine, Christine and myself and the idea was to try and explore a little of the surrounding Galloway area, a part of Scotland very often overlooked but nonetheless very rewarding to those that put the effort in to explore its treasures.
Friday night was like many a previous Westies Friday night mainly plenty of fueling and hydrating for the two days coming and a customary brief glance over some maps resulting in most of the ideas I originally had being quickly brushed aside as obviously fanciful and logistical nightmares.
With the Southern Upland Way (SUW) conveniently running close by we decided to make use of its well-maintained and well signed track to plot a run through the heart of the Galloway Forest Park. John, Leyre, Karine, Elizabeth and Neil deciding on a 25km run out from St John’s Town of Dalry to Clatteringshaws loch and back along the SUW. With The Fling creeping quickly up Niall and I decided to head out with the group before splitting off at the loch and continuing on along the SUW, past Loch Dee, Glen Trool and Bargrennan before finishing in the hamlet of Knowe where we had left a car waiting for us. 50km in total. In what only can be classed as typical March weather ie blue skies and crisp dry air (cough cough), the day did not disappoint.
Having run sections of it before I was aware of some of the delights of the SUW , but the variety of terrain and views throughout the day made for some really enjoyable running and despite only taking 2 cereal bars for fuel and having to expertly navigate a herd of stampeding calves, Niall remarked that it took an entire 47km before I sucombed to fatigue and shut up giving him some peace. Just as well then that the last 5km were the muddiest and hardest of them all. We did make it though and after a quick refreshing dip in the River Cree we headed back to the cottage with tired legs just in time to sample some of John’s bread, salads from Maeve and Elizabeth and Karine’s new take on eating chocolate cake directly from the baking tin with a teaspoon.
With Christine joining us Saturday night, plans were hatched for Sunday with half the bunch heading off to the 7stains mtb centre at Kirroughtree leaving Christine, John, Niall and myself the delightful 28km trot along the Mull of Galloway trail starting from the beach at Sandhead and ending at the most southerly point in Scotland at the lighthouse on the Mull. I’m sure all would agree that even with tired legs from the day before this was an absolute delight to run and with views awarded to the Galloway hills, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the snow covered Lake District (not icebergs as I previously identified) this is surely a trail that Westies will be revisiting- some mutterings were overheard eluding to the possibility of a future Extravaganza venue but I shall say no more.
To finish I hope a good weekend was had by all and with so much more to explore a second weekend will surely be organised before the end of the year. Keep the eyes peeled…