Miles: 34.9, 32 on route/progress, Spent the night: Camping in woods near Crawfordjohn
As usual, I hoped to be on the road by 9, and as usual, I wasn’t. Something unusual was that I didn’t get on the road until 1pm, my latest start yet. I started the morning writing, for this website. That was fine. I’ve done that before and still left at a decent time. The part that took a while was changing the tube in my rear tire, in an open space next to the common cooking and dining area for the campground. I just about finished the job when I noticed a red mark on the surface of the rear tire. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but red on a tire strikes me as a bad thing. I compared the tread on the front and rear tire. The rear is much, much lower, so my guess was that there’s a thin coat of red on my tires to tell the owner to get a new tire, soon. I couldn’t do that in Auldgirth, so I decided to switch the front and rear tire. At least that would give me more tread in the rear, which was wearing down faster. Unfortunately, that job would also take more time, but I’ve tying to do things more in the “right way” more often instead of the “quick way.” So, I moved the front tire to the back, back to the front, patched 2 of the tubes that had holes, and probably something I’m not remembering. Oh yeah, I did a load of laundry as well. Margaret helped out a lot there.
It was a busy morning, but I enjoyed working around the campground. The pine trees, stream, flowers, and vegetable garden were wonderful. I would love to return and just hike around the place. At one point, I was walking around and was surprised to see a thistle flower much taller than I am. I think I even yelled out a “wow” when I saw it. Margaret heard me and told me that she grows them herself, even showed me one she just started. Of course, I also enjoyed talking with Hamish, Margaret, and some other campers. They reminded me of a tire I should have, the type that have a Kevlar band.
I finally finished everything, said good bye to Hamish and Margaret, and stopped by a nearby store for groceries. It was fun little small-town store and post office.
I didn’t get as much cycling in as I wanted, due to leaving late, but the sights were yet another type of amazing, as I entered the hilly part of southern Scotland, more like small mountains. Fortunately, the road does a pretty good job of going between the big hills, so I could just enjoy the sight of them. At some points, I was glad I’m not claustrophobic because the towering hills on both sides could easily feel like they’re closing in on you.
I passed some campers on the side of the road as I cycled, which reminded me of something Hamish and the other campers mentioned to me, back at Glen Midge. In Scotland, it’ legal to camp anywhere that isn’t being used for farming, or something like that. Any woods, space by a stream, meadow, or whatever else catches your fancy is a legal camping area. A boyhood fantasy of mine has been to wander around in the woods and pitch a tent at any place that felt right. This was my chance. I found a place that was a little soggy but still cozy. I could barely hear any traffic, and there were plenty of critters to listen to. Unfortunately, there is also the most famous Scottish critter, a very tiny one that flies. The dreaded midges.
Luckily, I have a good hat with me that makes it tough for the midges to fly in my face too much. Still, whenever I entered or exited my tent, I finished as fast as possible. I didn’t want any midges inside when I was trying to sleep.
I made a new dish for supper. It was basically my rice and many vegetable dish, but I added some dry beans that come in a bag for some Scottish soup, and a few pieces of sausage. The recipe is definitely a keeper, even looked unusually colorful from the veggies.
It laid inside my tent enjoying the thought that I was camping in a woods in Scotland. The sounds, smells, and overall feel was special. But, I admit that I missed having people around, like the good folks I’ve met in hostels, campgrounds, and just about everywhere else so far. I tried not to think about that too much though, to make sure I enjoyed the sounds of the critters outside.