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David Harmer - 2009

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NameDavid Harmer
TownNorthCove, Beccles
CountryEngland
MonthApril / May 09
Duration12 Days
SectionWhole Route
No in Group1
Description
My lone walk of the SUW raised 173 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

If a person does only two long distance walks in their lifetime, then I would suggest these be Offa's Dyke and the SUW. If they do only one, then do the SUW [or Offa's Dyke.]  Overall the SUW is ruggedly attractive [especially the Western section] and comparatively untamed. The Eastern section, to me, seemed, for the most part, more sedate. This is not to say that it was not-in places- challenging. Some of the moorland stretches on the Lammermuir Hills being very stark and foreboding. Some parts of the Western section were equally as challenging as anything encountered on Offa's Dyke, though overall not as strenuous as the Offa's Dyke path.

My best memories were of the grounds of Castle Kennedy; the lake of Clatteringshaws; St. Mary's Loch; Watch Water reservoir; and the sighting of the North Sea on approaching Cockburnspath. My worst memories were of the 23.5 mile leg from Wanlockhead [the highest village in Scotland] to Moffat. This I started in the rain, finished in the rain, and was wind dried twice in between time. I also missed way marks and became MISPLACED [not lost.] No matter what advertisements regarding waterproof clothing may say, if it rains hard enough for long enough ONE IS GOING TO GET WET-most demoralising. I openly admit that at this time my thought was "what the hell am I doing this for”. Then the rain stopped, the scenery was again magnificent, birds were singing, lambs were frolicking and I knew what I was doing it for. In any event as an ex seaman it was a change wring rainwater out of my pants as opposed to salt water. However, both are wet. If there were a university degree for finding "boggy bits", I would undoubtedly graduate with honours.

Another slight disappointment was not sighting a golden eagle, as I understand that that they have been seen in the Wanlockhead area and other places within the Lowther hills. However I did see quite a variety of wildlife including a black grouse.

Grit and determination were called upon to complete the SUW in twelve days. Many -my wife and commanding officer included- might call it obstinate pigheadedness. Whatever, as I rapidly approach my 70th year I can [with no false modesty] say that I am happy and proud to have walked this challenging trail.