Dumfries to Thornhill – 19.2 miles (681.4 total)
My son, Anthony, drove to Thornhill yesterday evening, left his car there, then took the bus to Dumfries to join Peter and I. The three of us set off together at 10am this morning for the walk to Thornhill. Ian, the proprietor of our B&B, described a shortcut using a path along the south bank of the River Nith which would allow us to bypass the traffic in the town centre. We decided to take advantage of his local knowledge and soon found ourselves crossing the river on a modern footbridge.
Yet again weather luck was with me. It rained overnight but the morning was bright and sunny. We followed cycle path signs for as long as we could before joining the A76 Dumfries – Kilmarnock road to exit the town.
Taking a series of minor roads we walked through Newbridge, crossed the Cluden Water, then walked through Hollywood. For the first time since not long out of Penrith the surrounding countryside started to become hilly. Our route took us up and down country roads, passing hill farms as well as large cattle farms, never straying far from the A76 and the River Nith. The fields all around were lush and green and the views in all directions were truly outstanding. We could see for miles, not just up and down the Nith Valley but also, later in the day, across to the Leadhills range of peaks. I could easily pick out Lowther Hill in the distance, with its golf-ball shaped radar station obvious on the summit.
In 1990 when George, Pete and I did the Southern Upland Way, we inadvertently entered the station compound there while following our route over the hill.
The day kept getting hotter and hotter. Both Anthony and Peter covered up as much as they could because they were frightened of getting too much sun. Me? After 7 weeks on the road I doubt if I could get much browner!
Our journey continued north-eastwards through Nithsdale gradually bringing us closer to the river itself. At Keir Mill we turned sharp right to first cross a tributary of the Nith, intriguingly called The Lake, then crossed the Nith itself near Holmhill before finishing a long, hot day’s walk at Thornhill after 5pm.
It was great to have Peter’s company for 4 days and to have Anthony’s for today – they are both extremely busy and have little free time.