Saturday, April 19, 2014


It's a way marker for the Southern Upland Way. The prospect of a good day last Tuesday, and an early start, had me sampling a short section of this long distance walk. Brattleburn bothy was my destination.

I left the car at the top of the Crooked Road behind Beattock, and joined the Way near Easter Earshaig. Not far along are a number of attractive ponds.

The Way passes Holmshaw.

Some parts of the walk were pretty muddy, although an important path like this was easy to navigate, and hazards easily overcome.

This is the Garpol Water ...

... spanned by Foy's Bridge. Who was Foy?

This plaque explains. Lance Corporal Vince Foy was in the Territorial Army and an apprentice at ICI Wilton. He died in a motor accident aged 20 and in 1982 this bridge was built by fellow TA members in his memory.

Although the path goes through this forest plantation it follows the line of a gas pipeline and the trees don't hem in the walker.

One accommodation option for an overnight stay is the bunkhouse at Rivox farm, here signposted.

The effects of winter storms, although there was no problem in circumventing the obstacles!

More wind damage.

Brattleburn lies a little way off the route of the Way.

It is maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association. I was a member back in the day, and I enjoyed some great nights in bothies throughout Scotland. In the days before the internet, knowledge of where bothies were located had to be found by sharing information with friends, or by joining the association. Occasionally, one would stumble across a bothy in an unexpected place.

Nowadays, the association has its website here, and Brattleburn has its own page here.

I was impressed. The bothy was in excellent condition. It has two rooms downstairs, and a sleeping area above. It was clean, and well stocked with wood. I had been prepared to bring out any rubbish, but there was nothing for me to remove! And there were some nice touches - most bothies I have visited in the past have only had an old bottle to hold the candle!

The bothy book indicated that it had been visited a couple of days previously. In the winter months, and in bad weather, the bothy provides a welcome refuge for long distance walkers.

I didn't encounter any other walkers on the day, although there were traces. At this attractive stop for 'morning coffee' a rather expensive hat and pair of gloves had been abandoned. I checked for the rest of the owner, but found nothing. Three explanations:

(1) The owner had rushed off in haste, leaving these behind.
(2) The owner had abandoned the items in an attempt to lighten their pack.
(3) The owner had been carried off by the Greskine dragon*, known to frequent these parts.

The beanie and gloves were still there when I stopped on my walk out at the same spot for 'afternoon tea'! They came back to Skip with me, and have now been washed and dried. If the owner contacts me, then they can be returned. Otherwise the local charity shop will benefit.

What a lovely day it was for exploring Scotland's countryside! I suspect this was not a natural cloud formation though!

Blue skies are to be savoured in this part of the world. One problem. For the rest of the day I could not get an old campfire song out of my mind. It goes:

"Blue skies above the camping ground,
Blue skies, no better can be found,
Blue skies da da da da da da,
And a nice cup of tea in the morning."

I gave myself a right earworm with that bit of nostalgia, even though I couldn't remember more than the tune and a couple of lines.

I had a close encounter with this Peacock butterfly, but this is the best photo I could get, as it refused to pose for me! Here's hoping for lots of butterfly days this year.

* She's called Qailan Baleful, aka Claw the Ghastly. She has scales that glow with an eerie white light. She is a shrewd dragon, specialising in the accumulation of gold and jewels, and is particularly sly and clever (see here).

Photos © Skip Cottage

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant Bob! You know the SUW doesn't seem to be that widely traversed. The bit I've done in Galloway had no bootprints save mine upon it and it had been very muddy for days. I'd love to do the whole thing!
    Thanks once again for picking these paths of yours - they're fascinating.