Day 12 Brigton to New Luce – about 20 miles

Fiona arrived with a huge breakfast at 7.30am. The rain was easing slightly, but there were pools of water in the field. I collected a splendid packed lunch, paid a modest sum for the excellent value I’d enjoyed, and I waved happily as I set off to the riverside path to Bargrennan. A party of four middle-aged walkers headed east, and we exchanged morning greetings. The river roared along, its colour and foam akin to brown ale. I wondered if I’d have trouble crossing any streams.

The River Cree at Bargrennan in boisterous mood

I trudged across streaming pastures where the rills were spilling out of their channels. The rain renewed its attack, and low clouds precluded any panoramic views of the distant mountains. Optimistic sheep and cattle approached me in the hope that my rucksack held their feed, but I showed them only a clean pair of heels, washed by sodden tussocks of grass.

Low clouds over Galloway

A lot of road miles lay ahead, broken by a short and soggy section of forest. Scarcely a vehicle passed by. Wind and drizzle persuaded me to keep my waterproofs on. I kept looking anxiously at the valleys, where the burns were spreading onto the rough pasture. What would my crossings be like? As it turned out, there were no problems. The road climbed towards Craig Airie Fell, the sun began to flash between speeding clouds, and suddenly all was sweetness and light. Distant mountains revealed themselves as dim silhouettes in the moisture-laden air.

Looking back across Loch Derry from Craig Airie Fell

I met four eastbound hikers who had missed out the climb to the summit, probably a sound decision considering their jaded appearance. Two were unaware the route headed that way, whereas the others looked plain confused. I pressed on across the forest, through trees festooned in moss, to the standing stones at Laggangarn. This was a beautiful and peaceful place where I spent half an hour resting in warm sunshine before heading out past the Beehive Bothy where I left a message for Sentinel.

Trees festooned in moss

The ancient stones at Laggangarn predate the Christian era but now have their own crosses to bear. From the other side, they look like rough-hewn figures in long cloaks.

The rest of the route to New Luce consisted of an old-fashioned bog-trot through heather and sphagnum moss followed by an indistinct track across broad pastures to a road, where I took a direct line to the village. In the hotel I ate a superb sirloin steak in a quiet dining room with four other walkers who, it turned out, had all been students at Oxford around 1970. Young whippersnappers!

Modern erections not far from Laggangarn

Laggangarn standing stones

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