30 September 2009--Time to get out of Dodge.... It takes a little while to get the midden heap that has
accumulated in my room over the past few days to fit back into the luggage whence it sprang. I'm on the road late in the
morning, headed southwest on the A702. The Pentland Hills look very scenic even in the stubborn mist, and I stop to have
a look at the hillfort at
Castlelaw [US]. The site is interesting enough, but the view is splendid. Or would be, if the sky would clear.
I pass West Linton, thinking about my encounter with Audrey last year, and then I'm in new territory. It's a lovely stretch of road, and I learn that the highest village in Scotland--Wanlockhead, a lead-mining center--is not in the Highlands, but in fact in the Lowther Hills, just outside the watershed of the Clyde. Go figure. I don't see Wanlockhead, taking the A702, to the south, through the Hills instead. The curving road looks like some misplaced bit of Glen Shiel before it emerges in the more typical Lowland landscape of Nithsdale. A few miles past New Galloway, I reach Bruce's Stone, a large rock against which Robert the Bruce is supposed to have rested after a successful guerrilla action agains the English, and I'm back in familiar territory.
Down in the Machars, I pull into Bladnoch at about 4:00. There's a lot of activity, in advance of tomorrow's events related to the Wigtown Book Festival. I pick up a bottle in the shop, and happen to run into Raymond Armstrong, the owner. We are acquainted through the distillery's on-line forum, and I introduce myself. He offers to show me around the warehouses, and we are just setting off when Dave Broom, a writer very well known in whisky circles, arrives. Off we all go to have a look around. Raymond is from Northern Ireland, and quite unlike Mr Tattie Heid, has the gift of gab. The tour is a virtual monologue, interrupted only by the occasional comment or question from Dave and me.
It's 6:00 before I leave, promising to return tomorrow. I was scarcely aware the book festival would be on when I planned my trip, and had no idea that there would be interesting whisky-related events during my one full day in the Machars, so it's all a happy accident for me.
Arrive in Isle of Whithorn at 6:30, check in at the Steampacket Inn, and have dinner. It's very quiet in the bar this evening, so I take my pint upstairs to my room.