Annan to Dumfries – 20.2 miles (662.2 total)
Today’s walk was scheduled to be the best part of 20 miles. We had fine, dry weather for the start but the weather forecast showed a heavy band of rain coming towards us from the west, possibly arriving around 4pm. My concern was that the rain could arrive near the end of the walk and spoil a pleasant, if testing, day.
Our path out of Annan followed the Annandale Way. On reaching the main road bridge, leaving the town centre, we didn’t cross, but instead turned left to take the riverside path for a short distance. The River Annan was much wider than I expected. Because we were on a recognised Way Walk I had the confidence that the footbridge across the river would not present any unexpected problems. As it turned out, this proved to be a modern, solid, metal bridge which kept us on track to continue on the other bank of the river.
Our path ran beside a disused industrial rail track with the metal rails still in place, partially hidden by weeds and brush. We walked through a small industrial centre at Newbie, passing a terraced row of workers cottages to join NCR7 again.
My plotted route took us along the estuary coast to Powfoot. I wasn’t confident about my decision to head along the shore. When we got to the shoreline it was obvious that no path existed and I was not prepared to chance a walk along shingle into the unknown. Peter and I had a quick discussion before deciding to do a short retrace of route and, instead, follow the longer NCR7 on the B724.
This decision cost us time and distance. We elected to try and limit the damage by staying on the B road for longer than we would have wished. We walked through the village of Cummertrees then, after our third traversing of the Carlisle – Kilmarnock railway line we rejoined NCR7at Ruthwell. Like the previous 3 days, the roads were dead straight and pretty flat, so the walking was easy, if monotonous. We stopped to investigate the historic site of Brow Well (Chaleybeate) which had been visited by Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, just a few days before he died in 1796.
At Bankend we found a bench where we rested for 20 minutes and ate some lunch. Rejoining NCR7 for a while, we changed direction from west to north-west to make our final push for Dumfries. As we entered the town we passed the hospital and various modern public institutions.
I had spent 8 years of my schooldays in Dumfries. When I told Peter that we were passing close to my old school he insisted on us taking a short diversion to let him see it. My feelings are difficult to articulate when I worked out that I had left there almost exactly 50 years to the day. It really does seem like yesterday – not half a century ago!
At 20 miles it was indeed a long day but we managed to reach our B&B before the rain arrived. I’d dodged a bullet yet again. In the evening we were joined by one of my other sons, Anthony, who will be accompanying us on our walk tomorrow to Thornhill.