MarySmith’sPlace – Walking off the mince pies#04

Happy New Year!

It’s becoming a New Year tradition to walk off the mince pies, though the first one took place between Christmas and New Year and was my first blog post, which you can read here. The following years, we walked on New Year’s Day itself and you can read those posts here and here.

This year, I was determined to walk (I may not have eaten many mince pies but the cheese and chocolate pounds definitely need to be shifted) but knew I couldn’t tackle hills like I did on previous years. Lung cancer, breathlessness on exertion, and depleted energy levels has rather put the kibosh on climbing hills.

We felt most of our usual short walks would probably be hoaching with folk, making social distancing difficult,  as January 01 was a glorious day after a hard frost. We – the DH, Wee-sis and I – finally decided on Cairnsmore National Nature Reserve, a few miles from Gatehouse of Fleet. Described as one of the wildest places in south-west Scotland it’s a great place for walkers of all levels of ability from those who want to tackle Cairnsmore of Fleet’s 2,331ft or walk to Loch Grannoch or any one of a number of walks including the Clints of Dromore.

We, however, were going to do the in-bye walk below the craggy Clints of Dromore. It’s a circular walk of less than two miles, along the old railway track, across moorland, some of which has a boardwalk over the boggiest parts and it’s relatively flat.

We parked in the Visitor Centre car park and headed off towards the Big Water of Fleet viaduct, a remarkable twenty-arch railway viaduct built in 1861 as part of the Portpatrick Railway. At 900 feet long and 70 feet high it is pretty impressive. It was closed in 1965 and the army wanted to blow it up, as they had the smaller viaduct over the Little Water of Fleet.

Cars were parked all over the place, people were everywhere. Thank goodness we didn’t choose a popular walk as even out in the wilds of Galloway it was difficult to remain socially distant, at least at the start of our walk.

Way back in 2007 I was commissioned to work on a project with sculptor Matt Baker and wrote five poems to complement Matt’s five sculptures hidden around the reserve. I insisted on a slight detour to find Heart in the remains of Little Cullendoch. The stone face is hard to find and is now much weathered.


Further along the old railway route we came to Ocean, made of slices of greywacke, the rock cut through for the creation of railway – rock that once would have been on the ocean floor.


Once, there was a test tube filled with sea water but that seems to have disappeared. I thought it would be good to climb up onto the Clints to find a third sculpture called Hush.

Mistake! I knew the sculpture wasn’t on the first summit reached by the sign-posted path. Last time Wee-sis and I did the climb we found ourselves climbing up and down over several summits. This time, I knew we shouldn’t go up the first path but make our way on the level until we reached the end of a fence, and then go up. However, I lost confidence in my idea and we ended up climbing up at the wrong point. While I had a rest, Wee-sis carried on and was soon lost to view. I had to give up, not least because the DH was chuntering in my ear about not overdoing things, it wasn’t safe, the sun was starting to go down…

Wee-sis and the DH

As it was, Wee-sis didn’t find Hush at the top. I knew we had to go further before we started climbing – next time. I was bitterly disappointed at not making it to the top, even if it was the wrong top – though the energy expended mush have counted for half a pound of Brie and a couple of roast potatoes. I hope.

I still think we should have followed the fence on the left before starting to climb

Looking down on the viaduct – made me feel I did manage a bit of a climb

Next day, I was able to enjoy another walk, this time with no fear of meeting anyone – thanks to a very generous offer from a friend. John and Margaret have been very supportive over the months since my diagnosis but John’s offer of a field for me to walk in was pretty exceptional.

It is all on the level so easy walking borders the River Dee and has stunning views – and no people. Perfect. Indeed, the grazing geese were rather shocked to see humans heading their way and protested loudly before taking flight.

Looking across the river to the snowy hills.

Thank you, John. It was perfect.

76 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace – Walking off the mince pies#04

  1. Lovely photos, Mary, and a much needed breath of air for you. Looking at your downward view on the viaduct, I would say that you did indeed manage a fair climb. And how wonderful to have a friend with his own empty field for you to walk in. Luxury!
    Best of all was your use of the word ‘Hoaching’. I haven’t heard that since I was last in Broughty Ferry in the 1980s. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Pete, glad you enjoyed the post and the photos. I think I didn’t do too badly but it comes hard not being able to do what I could do last year. My spell check kept insisting hoaching wasn’t a word and I finally had to add it to the dictionary. It is still used a lot here and I think it’s one of those words which is perfectly understandable.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, Mary! It’s good to see that you’ve been able to get in some walking. Thank you for taking us along. The scenery is striking, particuarly the snowy hills and the viaduct. The more I see of Scotland, the more I would like to make a visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What beautiful gifts. Time with family, nature and field all of your own! You did well, Mary. I had to highlight “Hoaching” and let my iPhone look it up . It found the correct definition! Your photos are stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve had a lovely start to the new year – as long as I don’t think about vaccines, covid or politics 🙂 How many people get offered a field to socially distance in! Hoaching is such a good word to use – I think it’s very descriptive. Glad you enjoyed the photos.


  4. Fabulous photos Mary and you did amazingly well and honestly I would have been out of breath and I have no excuse whatsoever… Lovely crisp days and the walk along the side of that field was wonderful.. We have finished all our treats now and off the chocolate and cheese for six weeks… (except for D’s birthday on the 11th which is a free for all)… Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful day, beautiful photos, and lovely family and friends. Can’t ask for much more out of a walk or two, Mary – except to go to sleep and then find out in the morning all the extra weight has just vanished!! Take care. x

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Gorgeous pictures.

    You’re walking as much as you’re able. That’s what’s important.

    When I was in my late 30’s, I was in great shape. In fact, I’d walk one of the bayou’s in Houston with my husband on my hips (piggy back). We went to one of the mountains with a trail leading to a glacier. About 1/2 way up, I had to stop and rest. It was like I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs while everyone else, including the kids, acted as if the climb wasn’t that hard. I finally made it to the top, with great effort, to see a glacier and hear about its formation. On the way down, I felt so weak that my husband had to support me in places. I knew that I got altitude sickness at 8,000 feet, but at the time I didn’t know that anything over 4,000 feet above sea level was going to give me problems, too.

    There’s a reason for telling you this: Right now, you have a condition and treatment that is impeding your progress. Imagine it being a 50 pound backpack you’re trying to carry while everyone else around you is in running shoes. When you think of it that way, you’re accomplishing more than everyone else around you.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Still sounds like a good walk. There have been people everywhere along the coast and up on Hengistbury Head; we may be Tier 4 now, but we are allowed out for exercise and I think everyone is going to be fit! There is a couple who frequently march past my house with their ski sticks ( or whatever you call those sticks! ) – she is always trying to keep up with him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • During the first lockdown we met people out walking everywhere – then many of them disappeared when the restrictions lifted – now they are back in force again. I can’t use those sticks. I’ve tried but I’m too un-co-ordinated 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Fraggle, we’re lucky to have such great countryside around us. I’m quite pleased I did manage up part of the hill – next time I might get to the top. At least we know now, it’s the wrong hill for the sculpture so we can avoid that one next time.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Mary, I’m so happy you had a chance to enjoy two such stunning walks. The landscape is stunning with just the perfect dusting of snow!! Yeah! A whole field to yourself and the geese came to say hi! The sun has not appeared down south for ages so it was a joy to join you on the walks, even if virtually! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Annika. We were lucky to have had a run of lovely clear sunny days; quite frosty and cold. The geese got into a flap when they saw us and flew off into the river. Glad you enjoyed coming along on my walks – and hope you get some sunshine soon.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It was a lovely start to the year, Carol. It’s going to be a pretty cold week in Edinburgh – I’m envious of your sunshine 🙂 Happy New Year to you. We’ve just gone into full lockdown again!


      • I did watch the broadcast, Mary I don’t know where all this will end. I do hope it won’t effect your treatment.. Yes, you will have to wrap up warm if I could figure out how to send some sunshine I surely would.. Take care and wrap up warm xx

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What refreshing photography, Mary. I do so much like these cold, frosty, clear days we’re enjoying at the moment. The problem seems to be that so do many other people, so social distancing can become a problem. However, the cold, fresh air really does help clear the head and sets you up for another mince pie (or two).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s why it was such a delight to be presented with the loan of a field all to ourselves, Hugh 🙂 Well, us and the geese, who took social distancing to extremes and flew off when they saw us. Walking along the edge of the field by the river with the snowy hills opposite was glorious.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: Walking off the mince pies#04 ~ Mary Smith | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  11. Isn’t it amazing how exercise and the company of a friend can always lift our spirits? I’m grateful that my arthritic back doesn’t get in the way too much. I’m happy that you were able to enjoy these days, Mary.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – Wednesday January 6th 2021 – Stevie Turner, Mary Smith, Jean Lee | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  13. Happy New Year, Mary! Wonderful to see how you had fun walking around this wonderful area. Thank you for showing the images of this journey. Now i am sure you had a great beginning of this year, and hope you are feeling better from day to day! Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s