Day 11 St John’s Town of Dalry to Brigton – about 22 miles

After a very fine breakfast I set off into an equally fine and warm morning. The humidity soon had me sweating as I traversed Waterside Hill. Below me, the small town was quiet, while above a red kite circled effortlessly. I watched as it flew a huge curve, its ease of travel contrasting with my stumbles through mud in the valley of the Coom Burn.

The SUW uses a metalled road before turning sharp left to cross a watershed and descend to Clatteringshaws Loch, a reservoir surrounded by forest. My feelings for the route through the forest were mixed: the early sections were pleasant, but thereafter I encountered an awful ankle-turning stretch which was followed by miles of unsurfaced road through a dull wasteland of timber harvesting. Thunder rumbled, and the air grew heavy. Large raindrops fell sporadically, enough to force me into my waterproofs despite the warm day. I plodded along the generally level route towards Loch Dee.

Looking back on St John’s Town of Dalry from Waterside Hill

Loch Dee

The cloud now obscured the mountain summits, and the rain grew more persistent. The Way descended from Loch Dee to Loch Trool, whereupon it became a narrow footpath, undulating steeply on the precipitous southern flank of the glen. In 1307 Robert the Bruce ambushed and routed the English here in the Battle of Glen Trool, rolling boulders down the hill onto the trapped soldiers.

Beyond the loch, the SUW follows a well maintained path near the swiftly flowing Water of Trool. Although the map shows the area as forest, this is by no means conventional commercial woodland. There is a sense of openness, and signs indicate community involvement in caring for conservation areas within the regrowth of silver birch and other small trees. Occasionally the route crosses a small glade brightened by bluebells. This was an uplifting end to a day of contrasts, much preferable to the area around Clatteringshaws Loch.

Bluebells beside the Water of Trool

A further delight came in the shape of a warm welcome from Fiona McCall and her husband at their farm at Brigton (photo below). They delivered a delicious three-course meal to my single self-catering unit. As I tucked in, the thunder and lightning resumed, and on a couple of occasions during the night I heard the rain hammering down, but I could not have been happier.

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