Saturday, July 14, 2012

New Abbey Walk, To Waterloo Monument

Rob and I went on a walk starting from New Abbey in Dumfries and Galloway this week. We had an early lunch in the Abbey Cottage. They serve award-winning tea and coffee with freshly-made food, sourced from local suppliers. We ate baked potatoes with salad, Rob had vegetarian haggis and I had cheese and coleslaw. They were perfectly cooked: the fresh salad flavoured with a wholegrain mustard vinaigrette dressing and served with coleslaw. With a pot of tea and an apple juice, the bill came in at under £15. Highly recommended! There is a small craft shop adjoining the tea room, and Sweetheart Abbey to explore, nearby.

 
The walk we did is about 4 miles long and directions for a similar walk can be found here.

We were heading for the Waterloo Monument, which can just be seen at the top of the hill in the photo below.

 
At the start of the walk you get stunning views of Criffel (another walk for another day!).

 

 
It is a steep climb up the hill, with rough, high steps to negotiate. From the top is a charming view over the Nith Estuary and across the Solway to the Lake District. The Waterloo Memorial, built in 1810, commemorates the British, Belgian and Prussian soldiers who, under Wellington and Blucher won the battle of Waterloo.

 
You can climb the tower if you are feeling brave. There is no lighting, but you can scrabble up the spiral stone staircase in the dark and come out at the narrow summit with a very low surrounding wall (knee height!). The view is spectacular with New Abbey and Sweetheart Abbey (below).


 


You can head back down the hillside by the way you came up, but we decided to go through the 'forest', which actually has been cut down now, concealing the original track. We scrambled over extremely rugged terrain, with fallen branches and boggy ground before ending up in some dense woodland at the bottom of the hill.  After half an hour of struggling through the undergrowth and thick, muddy patches, we emerged scratched and dishevelled onto the road which leads back to New Abbey. Quite an adventure, and, as Rob put it, definitely 'the road less travelled'.
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