Another epic day walking the coast along the Mull of Galloway Trail, although we did get told off by a very angry lady in a caravan 😆. Always a drama with us! Best thing about today was there was loads of beach walking!
After a cup of tea, a good breakfast and cuddles with Sarah, Eve and I set off to complete the 10.2 miles we had planned for today.
We really enjoy walking into the unknown, and not knowing what the trail will look like or the challenges that it will present. The not knowing is half the fun although it does present some challenges from the autistic perspective. I like to plan and Eve likes to know. Not a great combination! But being outdoors and living the way we do, makes you overcome these challenges to embrace the freedom of ‘going with the flow’. Something that is essential for how we live our lives.
As a slight disclaimer, we know plenty of autistic people couldn’t do what we do due to the unknown and unpredictable nature of multi day/week/month hiking, but there are some that can. Autism is a spectrum and although there are common traits the spectrum is as diverse as the Great British outdoors and just as beautiful!
The weather today started cloudy and cold with a little bit of rain, but like yesterday it never amounted to much and gradually improved throughout the day. I felt cold this morning again, really cold. Sarah and Eve agreed it was cold but not as cold as I was clearly feeling. I think I’m just feeling tired but don’t realise it, but nothing a good night sleep won’t sort out.
The walk started by going through some long grass around a caravan site that’s currently closed for winter. We dropped onto the rocky beach to go around some quaint cottages that are right on edge of the beach, just metres from the high tide line. In a storm they must get absolutely pounded by the sea, and just the sort of cottage we would love to have a winters break in to watch the sea at its worst.
The Mull of Galloway Trail has loads of information plaques. We love a good information plaque! The only issue I have found is the information contained in the plaques relates to something a couple of miles away around the coast, that you can’t actually see. I’m a bit confused why they didn’t put them closer to what they are telling you about as they are really good, well written and very interesting. Eve ‘hunts’ them and we usually spend about 20 minutes at each one as Eve tries to read them.
We spent ages at one of the first information boards of the day, mainly because a black cat came to say ‘hi’. Trying to get Eve to start walking again and leaving the cat was without doubt the hardest thing I have had to achieve all day!
The trail for a short while cut inland, through a small woodland and across some really pleasant fields before arriving back on the coast at a picnic and wild camping area. We made the most of it and stopped at a picnic table for a break opening the Rowntrees Randoms that Sarah bought for us the other day (thank you Sarah!)
Today there was lots of beach walking, although we went slightly off trail to walk along the beaches. We were never far off trail, just a few metres or so but Eve (and secretly me, “shush don’t tell Eve”) really REALLY loved the beaches. I have no idea how I have managed to stop her from going in the water!
About three quarters of the trail today was a zig zig of countless minor adjustments to keep on the actual Mull of Galloway Trail, so much so that we for about a quarter of the day we had no idea if we were actually on the correct path.
The trail is actually really well signposted and easy to follow, although a lot of the way markers and their posts have been either knocked down or are rotten so have fallen over. We stepped over or saw several today that were laying on the ground. We made educated guesses that usually defaulted to walking along the beach.
I would estimate that at least 5 miles of todays walking was along the beach. Beach walking is really hard but beautiful!
As we came into Sandhead we spotted a small children’s play area. Eve isn’t normally bothered by children’s play parks but as we were walking past she asked to go on the swings for a few minutes. It was about the only time today that I got 10 seconds without talking or being questioned on something.
Eve is awesome (I’m her dad of course I would say that) and I can’t even begin to express the privilege of spending all this time with her, sharing in her passion for being outdoors. But it’s so intense! I do sometimes struggle with the intensity and relentlessness of being Daddy on the trail and the never ending stream of questions. I wouldn’t have it any other way and it’s not a criticism at all. Just an acknowledgment that being a parent is hard work!
Last year Eve listened to a lot of audiobooks. This gave me some slack as she listened to it and would ask questions periodically every few minutes. This year she has not listened to one, except for about 1 hour of Harry Potter and a few Christmas songs.
It was shortly after walking through Sandhead that I made a small error, but not according to the map GPS (I checked several maps and the GPS on my phone and on my Garmin Satellite Massager). The trail was signposted and mapped to go though a caravan park. So that is what we did. However once in the caravan park we were off trail so we walked on through the caravan site to where the trail was.
That’s when we got lynched by a lady shouting at us to get off the private land. I tried to explain that we were just following signposts and the maps but she was having none of it! We never felt threatened but it’s quite alarming nonetheless especially when you have a young child with you. It was an odd brief encounter that left me feeling an odd sense of humour. It was a bit like a scene off a comedy sketch show as she was so enthusiastic. I was actually quite impressed with her enthusiasm 🤣
We soon found our way out of the caravan park and chose to walk along the beach. And it was the best stretch of beach since we started the Mull of Galloway Trail.
The beach went on for miles. It had golden sands for as far as the eye could see. It was firm so easy to walk along and Eve was absolutely loving it. Best of all we had the whole beach virtually to ourselves. It was spectacular and without doubt the best section of today. We stopped and have a break, ate a chocolate bar and I posted a few images onto social media.
The trail actually weaves its way through the sand dunes on the edge of the beach, so I hope that doesn’t mean we haven’t actually competed the trail.
I did consider walking through the dunes as per the route, but what me feel better about the beach walking (apart from Eve loving it) was on the last information board it spoke about how the dunes are being damaged by people including people walking through them!
We did have to cut through them once we had reached the end of the beach walking and came to the edge of the military training area. There was also a river that we needed to find the bridge to cross it so we made our way back onto the main trail.
We walked past a race track that I assume is for cross bikes and a huge military building with loads of strange looking radars and other pieces of equipment on the outside.
Once we reached the B7084 we crossed onto a country lane that lead us away from the coast and towards Stranraer.
We both felt genuinely sad with a huge sense of disappointment and melancholy to be walking away from the coast. Eve’s mood definitely went down as did mine. We walked at half our usual pace, holding hands, talking about how flat and featureless the landscape had become. It felt sad and lifeless.
There was a brief interlude when we stopped to watch several hundred birds in the sky giving us a mesmerising display reminiscent of a murmuration which most people know can be one of the worlds best spectacles of nature. We felt lucky and privileged and it definitely boosted our mood.
We walked on until we had to head off trail slightly to our accommodation for the night at a local B&B. This evening we both feel that we miss our little tent!
Today we walked 10.4 miles but tomorrow is a shorter day as we are staying in Stranraer.
As for this evening, Eve is already falling asleep so I’m going to get my head down ready for tomorrow.
Sleep well and I hope you all have a great weekend.
Ian, Sarah and Eve
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