First of all the Wilkie book turned out to be completely useless, but at least the sketch maps in the Cicerone were good enough - especially since basically all of this stretch is along disused train lines and canal tow pathes. I was really dreading this section because I thought it would be ugly, noisy and camping almost impossible to find. Well, I was wrong on almost all points.
The old rail trails and especially the tow pathes turned out to be very scenic, mostly through woods and albeit always being close to civilisation most of this stretch felt very remote. Plus I could see a lot of old industrial monuments like old aequaducts and railway bridges. Of course it was not the peace and quiet of deep forests, but it was remarkably quiet despite the fact that there was usually a railway and a motorway nearby. But these old railway lines and the canals are sort of in a deep cut channel - some of it protected from the outside world by huge heaps of shale (Schiefer), another reminiscent of Scottish industrial past. On these tow pathes I felt like in a little protected world. The only other people around were cyclists and people walking their dogs.
|Canal tow path|
|Canal tow path|
Leaving the tow pathes and entering the country side again brought me to West Linton and a nice couchsurfing host - and a well needed rest day. And it brought a definite culinary highlight of this trip: Vegetarian haggis with turnips and potatoes! Haggis is probably something you do not want to know what it is made out of - but I will tell you anyways: It is the lungs, heart and liver of a sheep baked in its stomach. The vegetarian version consisted of oatmeal, lentils, carrots and nuts - and tasted absolutely delicious, even without the obligatory whisky. In my case this was Islay whisky, which has a very smoky taste due to the peat water used in its making. And after hiking through Scotland I know a lot about peat now. To make things perfect David, my CS host even has a very energetic dog, a mutt called Murphy who would nudge me immediately as soon as I stopped giving him back rubs. I am more and more becoming a dog fan now. Well, right now I am waiting for a dinner of salmon with Murphy at my side and life is very good again.