We seriously considered carrying on yesterday afternoon to complete the The Mull of Galloway Trail. It would have been a long day and we’d have probably ended up completing it in the dark. But we didn’t. Waiting and completing it today was the correct decision, as it was a bit more challenging that we had expected.
It was really windy this morning and cold. The met office said it was a few degrees above freezing and with the windchill it felt seriously cold 🥶. However we felt lucky as snow was predicted to cover a large area of Scotland but not where we were going!
We wild camped in the van last night, watching the lights of Stranraer across the bay. We love nights like this, the darkness descending, lights flickering in the reflection on the sea and us three snuggling up for the night in our warm sleeping bags all together.
Starting walking this morning, we were immediately hiking uphill going around Laird’s Hill. On mornings like this hills can be good, it's gets the blood going and warms you up quickly. We took it slow and steady only having 5 miles to complete to reach Glenapp, the end of the Mull of Galloway Trail.
The view behind us was excellent. The clear blue sky eith wispy clouds created a panorama that was one of the best we’ve seen on the whole Mull of Galloway Trail.
We could see Kintyre peninsula and The Isle of Arran, both of these have Great Trails that we will be hiking this year 🤞. Eve got very excited being able to see where we would eventually be hiking.
As we walked we watched a Stena Line ferry making it's way out of the port heading to Ireland. The ship looked absolutely huge up close but from the hillside it looked tiny. I don’t know if it was the wind or if it was going slow, but the it didn’t seem to be gaining much distance once it got out of Loch Ryan.
The higher we got the more the wind was gaining strength.
We walked into an open area where sheep were grazing and passed an old gun battery that was used to defend Loch Ryan. Once again there was an information board telling us all about the area and even had a picture of the gun!
It wasn’t that far ahead we walked passed a sheep enclosure and used it to shelter from the wind to have a drink and a snack. Being out of the wind was really nice and we immediately felt warmer and could even hear each other talking!
Eve was very motivated today, to the point of being excitable. I’m not sure exactly why but my best guess was it was the thought of seeing the cats later on today.
On finishing the Mull of Galloway Trail today we will be driving straight home for a day off tomorrow. Then we will head to the Isle of Bute on Wednesday to start the West Island Way.
After leaving the protection of the sheep enclosure the trail got more challenging. It would repeatedly swap between grass to rocks and even a brief section of trail that was more like a forest track. But the main feature was mud and bogs. Nothing too bad or deep (the Pennine Way holds that record) but enough to slow us down and require some careful route finding.
There were sections of easy grass walking, but these were more like islands within the bogs.
There were plenty of way markers on wooden posts to help us today and other features to ‘handrail’ but we found ourselves zig zagging all over the place to avoid the worst of the bogs. Eve was loving every second of it! We would take it turns to find a path through the bogs but on my turn Eve would make some excuse (I was going too slow was a common one) to go in front of me and lead the way.
We had some interesting conversations about basic navigation strategies such as hand railing and aiming off. These conversations started as we realised that if we had continued on night we would have been doing this section in the dark, trying to dodge the bogs.
We both agreed that we would have used the dry stone wall and fence to ‘handrail’ where we could, walking on a bearing in other areas without features, ‘aiming off’ onto some other feature (such as the woodland) to handrail it around to our target point (I hope that makes sense?). It’s never as easy as it sounds and getting in a night navigation course is something I am very keen to do!
The views all around us from up here were spectacular, looking out towards Arran, Loch Ryan and the hills behind Kirkcolm not to mention Glenapp that looked green and inviting.
As we walked into Glenapp, we immediately came across a forest track and the end off the grass and bogs. I could see it on the map, but was focusing so closely on Eve I failed to notice how much ground we had actually covered.
We had a short break on the track eating some Rowntrees Randoms that incidentally are my favourite sweets. Eve likes soft mints. I also carry a bag of peanuts to supplement our snacks as well as an extra bag of peanuts as our spare food. We also carry Kendal mintcake in case of emergency such as if we end up spending an unexpected night on the hills in the emergency shelter I carry for us.
The track was well made and super easy to follow and within a few minutes we were into Glenapp and the wind was a little less intense.
As we followed the trail we could see Glenapp church on the A77 coming into view. This is where we would be finishing for the day and end of The Mull of Galloway Trail.
We both walked looking out for Sarah and eventually we could see the campervan come into view at the bottom of the glen. We phoned Sarah to tell her we could see the van, waving our poles in the air like crazy people. Sarah saw us and we carried on walking with an extra spring in our step.
It wasn’t long before we dropped down into the glen and crossed the busy A77 to meet with Sarah.
We had completed the Mull of Galloway Trail and it had only just gone 2 pm. Slightly later than than we had thought (bogs) but still early!
We took some photographs wearing our Scottish Autism t-shirts before climbing into the warm van to drive home. Incidentally we always have our Scottish Autism t-shirts on under our other layers. In the summer they will be a lot more visible, although I definitely need a larger size!!!
We drove home to be greeted by two very happy cats that wouldn’t leave Eve alone. We have finalised our plans for Wednesday and our next trail, the West Island Way on the Isle of Bute. We (Eve) is super excited for this one as it’s on an island! I’m a little bit nervous as there is no way Sarah can just jump in the van and drive to us if we need bailing out or have an incident!
The West Island Way is going to be epic and we are looking forward to the challenge.
Sleep well and see you all tomorrow.
Ian, Sarah & Eve
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