‘212 miles of the Southern Upland Way’ – a nice jaunt with a few bottles of Buckfast I figured.
‘Experienced and fit walkers only should attempt this’ – heck, I’d been walking on a virtually daily basis for decades, how hard could it be?
‘Can take between 14 and 20 days’ – sod it, I could do it in a week. After all, we did a 65 mile walk for charity in 18 hours once.
Day five so far. I am 64 miles in. It’s tough. Bone-shattering terrain. Laser guided horizontal rain that can penetrate any amount of waterproof armor. Wind that blinds, cows that moo too loudly and stampede left and right, and people firing shotguns all over the place. Oh, and jets flying way past the speed of sound about 100 feet from your head, just in case you were trying to concentrate on where your feet were going. Not so much a trek as a trudge. A death march. With trench foot.
I missed out a word when I was checking out the information. It said ‘only experienced hill walkers should attempt this’. Ah. Hill walking. Not on roads like the charity walk. On hills. In secret camouflaged bogs that suck your feet in up to your knee. The cows have put up field defences akin to cattle grids. They have put up ‘human grids’ by dotting the terrain with deep holes filled with mud and pooh. It often smells like you have been dragged through the three stomachs and five colons of an angry cow when you’ve crossed a booby-trapped cow pooh ‘human grid’.
I’ve had to buy new boots already. My heels have no skin left on them left to blister. My feet now sport open sores, which irrigate my new boots with a mixture of pus and blood. I’m sure Gore-tex was never designed to cope with this fluidic onslaught. My back feels like it’s broken. After a night sleeping in my emergency shelter (the bivi-bag has been demoted from being a viable sleeping option to being an emergency shelter) I couldn’t move my neck at all, and I can now just about look over my right shoulder after four days of recovery.
It all went wrong with the supply of Buckfast. I couldn’t carry enough for seven days, and there have been no local sources en route. There’s been very little at all en route to be honest. Just sheep, cows, military jets and rain for company. It means you can shout “C*cksucker” as loudly as you like each time you discover a new hill to climb, that some fiendish park ranger has designed into the route.
The Southern Upland Death March goes from coast to coast in Scotland. I am traversing it West to East. If you look at a map of Scotland, you’ll see that there’s a much shorter distance between the coasts that links Glasgow and Edinburgh. Why didn’t they build the path there? There’s even a motorway to make it easier to clear a path. None of this forest, mud and moor malarky.
And the hills. All of the other walks follow the valleys. This walk takes you over every sodding hill in the area. For ‘spectacular views’ in the leaflets, read ‘uphill slog in the rain to get to the top of a huge lump of mud where you’ll be able to see more rain clouds and nothing else’.
Oh well. At least the weather forecast is promising for the next four days. ‘Showers’, and ‘windy with showers’. Makes a change from there being daily showers with a weather forecast of ‘sunny’. Expect more in about ten days if I can get over the next ludicrous sections. Tomorrow promises 25 miles of trudging up ‘unimproved’ land over huge mountains with no shelter. In the rain.