Southern Upland Way 2013 – Day 9

6th May 2013 – Beattock to St. Mary’s Loch: 21.3 miles, 3,310 feet

“Happy is the man who has acquired the love of walking for its own sake” W.J. Holland – American Zoologist and Paleontologist (1848 – 1932)

I’ve had to abandon the walk today. I tried to walk on the right foot this morning. I managed a mere 4 miles before I knew I wasn’t going to be able to complete the day.

Woods so risky they need a warning sign!
Woods so risky they need a warning sign!
Local Scottish fauna
Local Scottish fauna

In many respects I’ve been very lucky. Today is a bank holiday and I’ve been able to call my son to come and collect me.

I turned round and headed into Moffat where there’s plenty of shops, pubs and cafés to wait in until help arrives.

Perhaps if this had been the last day of the walk I would have managed to struggle through to finish it, but the fact is I have 5 more days after this one and the way the foot is feeling, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t complete it.

Abandoning things now makes logistical sense, even if I thought I could complete the 22 miles I needed to do today. Which I don’t believe I could.


I’ll do a fuller write up over the next few days, but until then, thanks for following along with me, thanks for all the comments and feedback and really sorry I’m having to draw this to a close prematurely.

I’m not going to post the photos of my shin and feet, especially the right toe – it’s a bit grim!

30 thoughts on “Southern Upland Way 2013 – Day 9”

  1. It is interesting reading other folks take on this walk. We used the lifts from B & Bs and did the walk in short sections. It is a completely easy walk if you do it this way! At 67 years I am just out for pleasure. I did not like the fallen trees and pestered people by e-mails till I got them shifted for the next walkers. I recommend the walks and found the trains and buses OK for accessing the trips starts and ends.

    1. Ray, I’m planning on returning this May to start the walk again. I’ve looked into the lift options from Dalry and will likely take advantage of it this time round. I’m also going to get a train to the start and then bus to Berwick from C’path, then train home. I really enjoyed the western section and hope the eastern half lives up to that.

  2. Hi, Stuart
    The SUW certainly isn’t the easiest of the long-distance routes. It’s one you really have to work up to. I think, in the UK, only the Pennine Way exceeds it in terms of distance across tough terrain. Anyway, well done for getting as far as you did – I only managed as far as Glen Trool village (just past Bargrennan) in 2005. I’ve been meaning to try it again, but need to get myself seriously fitter!
    Stuart S

    1. Hi Stuart – I enjoyed the section I did and it compares to the Pennine Way in toughness and terrain, so that was another reason I enjoyed it I think. I’ve decided to go back next year and give it another go; starting from the beginning again. Like you I need to get fit first though – being injured all summer hasn’t helped, I have a long way to go to get fit now 🙂

  3. Well, I finally finished the SUW a few weeks ago! I did Beattock – Dalry, staying in the wooden wigwam at Wanlockhead and then wildcamping just south of Stroanpatrick. Then I went back and the last bit in three days, Dalry – Porpatrick, camping at Bargrennan and staying at New Luce.

    I have to say, the area the walk goes through is immense and full of history. I also realised what a terrible curse forestry can be as it has destroyed many farms and rural communities by smothering them from the outside. I only found one Kist but I wasn’t really bothered as I just wanted to tick off the SUW. However, it is worth commenting on how different the eastern and western sections of the SUW are. The eastern section through the Borders is a lot easier to walk, with a number of towns on the way, places to wildcamp and good paths. The countryside is a lot tamer, with miles and miles of electric fence, fields, crops and stiles. The western half is just wild!

    Hope you eventually complete the SUW – you’ve got some seplendid walking once you leave Beattock!

  4. Neil (recent CtoC blogger)

    Despite this unwelcome halt – what a bummer! – I’m just popping in to say how much I enjoy reading your well constructed, well written and beautifully illustrated blogs. It would take me all night to write something like that – I guess that’s what you get from years of practice! – thanks for taking the time. Inspirational stuff!

    1. Thanks Neil, very kind of you to say so.

      I thought your first attempt at live blogging was excellent. Even though it sounds like you won’t be doing many more long distance paths for a while, I hope you continue to write up your walks, I enjoyed your journal immensely.

  5. I’ve been following this as I’m setting off on the SUW this coming weekend. Thanks very much for sharing all this information. My best wishes for your recovery and I hope you get back on the trail soon.

  6. Ah, real sorry to hear you had to stop. tough luck that it was a little accident like that — but I suppose that is way better than your original injury flaring up again. I look forward to reading about you completing this walk at a later date.

  7. I’m totally overwhelmed by the number of comments and the level of support from everyone – many, many thanks!!

    The toe, after only 1/2 day without being encased in a wet boot, is feeling and looking better. I’m looking out the office window at wonderful blue skies and not a breath of wind disturbs the trees and I already wish I was back on the trail.

    I will be back to finish it off, hopefully this year, but certainly as soon as I can.

    Thanks again!

  8. Stuart. Very unfortunate news but no need to second guess yourself. The right decision informed by loads of experience. Hope you recover quickly. Following on Ramblingpete’s message I think you have suspended the walk at a natural juncture and you absolutely need to pick it up when time permits. The best is just ahead — as I wrote yesterday — and the time to do it is when you will best appreciate it. Othewise it’s like the mindless routine of everyday life…. So a tough call that everybody hopes they will never have to make but it was the right call!

  9. So sorry, Stuart. It seems the littlest toes need the greatest care. I have enjoyed your blogs on this walk immensely, great descriptions and observations, humour also. Take care of yourself for the next one.

  10. What bad luck Stuart. I know what this will mean to you. But on the plus side you’ve got next years walk already sorted.
    I did the Offa’s Dyke path in two stretches and didn’t / don’t feel that it was any less of a walk. I’ve still got a day left on Hadrian’s Wall.
    Like the hills they will always be there for another day. Hope the foot recovers rapidly.

  11. That’s a gutter Stuart, I’ve only just got back on line after coming home on sat night, just been reading your blog on the walk tonight. Really sorry to hear it. I’m sure you’ll go back and complete it one day. have kept a diary of GGW and hope to have it online soon.Look forward to your fuller write up.
    Best of luck

  12. pathcruncher

    Don’t think of it as abandonment Stuart; think more in terms of one to be continued at a later date.
    I was amazed to see the effect of a hard winter on the landscape; without any sign of regrowth or drying out, I’m sure that was what contributed to the outcome. At least at your age you are aware that the dodgy digits belong to you, I just assume they must belong to someone else!

  13. Stuart, sorry to hear that you had to quit. I had my fingers crossed for your foot all the way through -but I didn’t take care for the rest -my fault 🙁
    But as it is, your left foot did do its work and you now know that you can reach your goal and go the lejog next year. Call it bad luck and outer circumstnces. You can be proud you tried and I’m shure it was the right decision to stop at this stage. Feel yourself warmly hugged from mad Maren from germany who always followed your postings with great pleasure and will do so further. Cheering up greetings from my better half as well.

  14. What a shame – I’m so sorry to hear that. The right decision though, if there’s any doubt. You can always come back and do the rest at a later date.

  15. I attempted the SUW last year walking east-west and gave up at Beattock as well! Despite what everyone remembers, last March was inredibly hot and I suffered from heat exhaustion in the pollution free environment of the Southern Uplands. You were quite right to give up at Beattock – it’s very tough and demanding from there to Tibbie Shiels Inn, including 7 miles along a road in the bottom of the valley. There are also some very long and difficult sections after that, particulalry the one from Lauder to Longformacus.

    Good luck with completing the walk – I hope to return at the end of this month to complete the SUW to Portpatrick.


    1. Thanks Paul

      Don’t be put off by the first 10 miles out of Beattock, that was the worst 10 miles of all the ones I did. Hopefully in another month it will have dried out a bit, and won’t be quite as demoralising as I found it.

  16. I wouldn’t be so down on yourself. I think you did very well considering the state your foot has been in. After all it was not that long ago that you were considering not going on this walk.

    1. That’s very true. If there’s been one single high point of this, it’s been the knowledge that my left foot is pretty much bullet proof again.

  17. ‘What a pitty! I feel bad for you but at least you’ve had a week of nice walking. I hope you’ll have a chance to finish the SUW soon! Feel better and looking forward to the updates!

  18. After having discovered your site recently, and eagerly followed your SUW blog each day, I’m really sorry to hear about the news. Please be consoled to know that your blog is very inspiring – and I’m sure you will return to Moffat some time in the future and finish the experience…
    Hope you have a speedy recovery and have the chance to sample a couple of pints before returning to England!
    All the best

    1. Thanks Neil, glad you enjoyed the blog. I will finish this walk, it feels like unfinished business and I don’t like that.
      Back home now and already wishing I’d persevered.

  19. sorry to hear of the injury and you having to stop. It’s always one of the hardest decisions to make having to stop through injury but usually it’s the correct one, hope you get the chance to finish the walk later in the year.

    1. It’s the first long walk I’ve had to abandon (although I chose to end the Offas Dyke Path couple years ago) and it feels awful.

      Expect it will feel even worse tomorrow.

  20. Gutted for you. There is nothing worse than having to bail out half way through a walk. At least you were close to Moffat as an escape point.

    Was really enjoying the updates as well!

    1. Thanks Ron, sorry about that 🙂

      Not an easy decision, but the right one in the circumstances. In fact the only one I could make really.

      I will come back and finish it though.

  21. Dodger Greig

    Bummer. Sorry to hear that Stu! I can only imagine how annoying and disappointing that must be!!
    Gutted for you!

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