Day 10 Sanquhar to St John’s Town of Dalry – about 27 miles

In my experience, most B&B hosts stand firm on the time they serve a cooked breakfast. Eight o’ clock is about as early as they offer. In Scotland many seemed happy to serve earlier by half an hour, but my plan was to start walking by 6.30am. When Josephine enquired what time I’d like breakfast, I said I’d be making a really early start and asked if she could make me some sandwiches instead. She insisted on knowing what time I would leave, so I told her. She replied that she’d cook my breakfast for 6am. Waving aside my feeble protest, she said she would be going out at that time to help with her daughter’s newspaper business, so it would be no trouble. What a star!

I was away early as planned, passing the outlying farms as farmers were feeding sheep and lambs. The rain blew from my left. The new Paramo coat was facing its first serious test. Streams were rising. Water stood in the hollows. The path was intermittent on the long, gradual ascent to the aptly named Cloud Hill, and the compass came into use.

Above: Leaving Sanquhar. Below: Approaching Cloud Hill

The climb was easy, and the descent to Polgown led me to a metalled road that ran into the forest. No traffic interrupted my steady walk up the valley. The rain continued. Pools of water lay across the forest road. It became obvious that the cloud would not lift for my ascent of Benbrack. At Polskeoch I decided that as there would be no views I would follow a parallel path through the forest and continue beside the Water of Ken instead. Fortified by a banana and a swig of water, I negotiated a foul peat bog in a forest ride and emerged onto the Lorg Trail, of which there was scarcely a trace on the ground.

Undeterred, I pressed on through the low cloud across the rough pasture, soon descending to a farm road. There ensued a long and tedious plod down the glen, but the stubborn cloud above me confirmed that I’d made a sensible choice.

At the B729 road I turned left towards Stroanpatrick and rejoined the SUW. The route to my destination was easy enough to follow, though had the cloud base been lower the compass would have been essential. The rain died out during the afternoon, and the final miles into Dalry (pronounced Dal-rye with emphasis on the second syllable) passed pleasantly. My B&B was well appointed, the Clachan Inn fed and watered me well, and I slept soundly ahead of another long haul.

Dalry is a pleasant little town with most facilities.

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