Day 137 & 138. Fri & Sat 25th & 26th August. Crocketford to Gretna.
I was nearer to Dumfries than I realised and because it was an early start, I was in the town centre before the working day began. I'd already been there of course meeting the two Keith's, David and Chris last week but we arrived late, left early and never moved far from the bar so I never got see anything. What an interesting place, did you know that Peter Pirate was born in Dumfries ? My son Lewis' favourite book and film when he was a little boy, Peter Pan was renamed Peter Pirate in our house and the name stuck. I actually got a good telling off by my granddaughter Ava a few years ago, "he's not called Peter Pirate granddad, you're just silly !!", she berated me. "Well you'll have to take that up with uncle Lewis", (uncle knobhead as he's affectionately known by his two older sisters). I wasn't getting involved in that arguement, she could tell him off, he started it...
Just across the road from the Masonic Lodge is Moat Brae House which is where it is said that J M Barrie was inspired to write the brilliant story after playing in the 'magical' garden behind the house.
Just up the same street is the family home of John Law Hume, the 21 year old violinist in the band of the White Star Liner SS Titanic, which of course sank on 15th April 1912. If the story is to be believed, the band kept playing as the ship sank into the icy water. Believe it or not, I had violin lessons when I was about 9 or 10 years old, if the pain I remember seeing on my parents faces when I brought my violin home from school to practice was anything to go by, I think it's fair to say, you'd rather have drowned in icy water than listen to the squawking racket I created with my violin !!! 😫
Without any doubt though, the most famous son of Dumfries would have to be Robert Burns, Scotland's National Poet himself. He was born in Alloway in Ayrshire but lived and died in Dumfries where his body lies in a mausoleum in St Michael's churchyard. When I'd learned the vast number of poems and songs he'd written, I wrongly assumed he died an old man, he was only 37 years old. I didn't know any of this until I walked past the house he died in which is now a museum, all very interesting and fitting in my journey as when I first got into Scotland I attended a Masonic meeting at a lodge in Rosyth where I listened to a lecture about Burns entitled, 'Was Burns good for Freemasonry or was Freemasonry good for Burns' ? Despite the annual Burns night suppers held all over the world and often celebrated in military and Masonic circles, I had been particularly ignorant to the man's achievements. Here I was, 6 months later and learning even more about him and why he's so well celebrated, especially in Scotland. I particularly like this piece, being the soppy romantic that I am.
'O, my luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June
O' my luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.
As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I
And I will luve thee still me dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.
And to think I keep getting told off for my poor spelling... I'll be singing that to Michelle when I get home, that'll give her something to look forward to... 🥰
It was a nice walk from Dumfries along the edge of the Solway Firth, eventually walking into the nature reserve where I decided to camp for the night. I couldn't find anywhere suitable so finally ended up camping on the grass on the grounds of Carelaverock Castle, a beautiful spot where I had a lovely peaceful sleep.
I did have a good look around the grounds to ensure that there were no signs saying I couldn't camp before I pitched up, there were none but I saw lots of signs saying that the use of drones was prohibited. At 6.45 the next morning, I was woken by the sound of a car driving into the loose stone carpark, I assumed it must have been the staff arriving early to open up the castle visitors centre so I started to pack away my kit. Weirdly, a few minutes later I could hear the distinct sound of a drone flying overhead so feeling slightly panicked, I got dressed, packed up quickly and got out to strike my tent. Sure enough, there was a drone buzzing around overhead and just as I'd finished packing away my tent, a chap came over to the car, the drone following behind him. Gordon, from Angus & Amelia Photography was getting some aerial footage of the rare three sided castle while the sun was just coming up and while he was waiting for a journalist to arrive to write a piece. I'm looking forward to seeing the aerial footage he got of me walking smartly out of the castle grounds before anyone turned up for work.
A very frustrating day followed, walking on dangerous roads which when not jumping up onto the verge to avoid becoming road kill we're incredibly boring. I arrived in Powfoot just as it starting pouring with rain so soaking wet I went into a campsite, I did manage to get out of the monsoon that was set to be in for the afternoon but I couldn't stay, it was yet another campsite without a licence for tents. I waited for a few hours in the clubhouse until the rain stopped and walked another five miles to Annan where the campsite was a proper campsite, one that allowed caravans, motorhomes and tents...
I guess it doesn't matter if you get run over on a fast moving road because there are no footpaths and no grass verges to walk along, as long as there's a sign to tell you to take care, job done.
The following day was much the same but I didn't care, it was to be my last day walking in Scotland, I would reach the border town of Gretna where next week, I would walk over the border back into England. First though, I had a surprise visit to make, it was to be my eldest granddaughters tenth birthday party on Sunday and I wasn't missing that for the world. I hadn't told anyone I was nipping home for the weekend and on my return to Scotland the following week, I had one more errand to run. I needed to nip back to Edinburgh.