Now that the actual path has been selected, I can start making some initial plans for the walk. Typically these early strokes on the blank canvas are related to getting to and from the walk, the number of days needed, the placement of accommodation along the route and the distances between these.
Of all the paths I have walked to date, this one has presented the most difficult initial planning problems.
This is potentially so difficult to achieve using public transport that I will almost certainly be begging a lift off my son, who can drive my company and that pretty much solves the getting there and back problem. I am also going to try and persuade him to meet me about half way, with a supply parcel of clean clothes and other equipment that I can swap out.
The remote locations of Portpatrick on the western end and even more so, Cockburnspath on the east coast don’t lend themselves to easy access by public transport. Portpatrick would require 2 trains and a bus and I shudder to think what options lie at the other end of the walk – very little from a cursory ‘Google inspection’ of the town.
How many days
I had a rough idea from previous LEJOG planning that this would be about 14 or 15 days, which sort of fits with my holiday allowances and other things I need to do next year.
Now I’ve looked a little closer at options, it looks like this is going to be 14 days rather than 15, simply due to the lack of accommodation in certain areas, which forces me to fit a couple of very long days in, thereby reducing the number of days required to complete.
In some ways I have myself to blame for this. I typically apply a ‘no lifts’ policy when I’m walking long distance paths. I want to experience walking the route, not getting shuttled from one place to another and walking in between. I’ve pretty much managed to stick to this policy too, apart from the Skye Trail, last year, when I was based in a fixed location and got lifts to and from the day walks.
The Southern Upland Way has some very long sections where you either need to rely on lifts from service providers or your accommodation, or you need to be carrying the equipment to pitch a tent along the route, or take advantage of the bothies that can be found on the path.
I don’t want to backpack the route and I don’t want to use lifts, so as I need to be creative with my accommodation bookings and I need to be prepared for a couple of long days. This is the result.
I have several diversions from the path at the end of certain days, the notable one being Day Five when I have to walk about 2 miles from the route to find a farmhouse that offers B&B.