The cani-x race around Glentress forest gave us a thirst for a good long forest walk. We considered going back to Glentress, but it’s a long drive so we looked for something closer to home. We found it: Galloway Forest Park, a huge (300 square miles!) chunk of Scottish countryside complete with hills, lakes and forests. We decided to start out at the Glentrool visitor center and try out some of the signposted walks around there.
The Glentrool visitor center
Glentrool has four color-coded walks. A couple of them are ridiculously short, but two of them are a decent length – the yellow one which loops through the forest, and the green one which loops round Loch Trool and takes in a large stone monument commemorating Robert The Bruce’s success against the English. The green trail was the longest, but the yellow trail claimed to have some great views and departed directly from the visitor center, so that’s the one we chose.
The walk is supposed to be physically challenging and take around 2.5 hours to complete, but after about 35 minutes we were half way round it, in the car park that marks the start of the longer green trail. Don’t get me wrong – it had been a pleasant enough walk up to that point, but the only real challenges were (1) trying to keep the occasional frog from becoming a Beagle snack and (2) holding on to Biggles whenever his nose found a tempting scent.
Luckily we saw this little fella before Beanie & Biggles
A little clip from the forest walk – can you hear the gentle sounds of nature? No you can’t, ‘cos Biggles is aaarrfing his head off again.
To get more of a workout we decided to do the green trail then return to the visitor center via the second half of the yellow trail. Adding up the distances from map, that should have given us a walk of around 10 miles, getting us back at the visitor center shop safely before closing time (I figured I’d be due a seriously big ice cream by then). It was a good move, because the green trail was a much more satisfying walk and had some lovely views.
Bruce’s stone: it looks nice…
…but it’s way too big to carry around in your mouth.
The view from the monument site
It was a much harder walk than the yellow trail (despite the visitor center map’s claims to the contrary) and we all needed a few drink breaks..
..but we finished it with an hour and a half to go before the shop was due to close. In other words, we had 90 minutes to walk the second half of the yellow trail before the ice cream “window” closed. Easy!
We looked around for the markers for the rest of the yellow trail, and though we didn’t see them, the way forward seemed pretty obvious. Beanie & Biggles were as eager to carry on as ever, and though we were feeling a little tired and hungry at this point, we set a good pace. There was no way I was going to miss my post-walk ice cream. After a time we became concerned that we hadn’t passed any yellow route markers, but the path was really obvious so we guessed they just weren’t needed. Somewhat further on we hit a crossroads – and there was no yellow marker to show us the right way to go. We followed what appeared to be the natural continuation of the trail. I checked my watch and found we’d already been walking for 45 minutes. I was kind of surprised that we hadn’t made it back to the visitor center in that time. It was probably just around the next corner. We quickened our pace, something that Beanie & Biggles really appreciated, because we’d been going far too slow for them up to that point. Another few corners on and there was still no sign of the visitor center. Surely we hadn’t taken a wrong turning?
Many, many moons ago I ended up doing a short course on economics. About the only thing I remember from it was the “sunk cost fallacy”. Basically, it’s human nature to keep going with a thing once you’ve invested a lot in it, because you don’t want to throw away that investment, and anyway a big win might be coming up any time , right? That’s the fallacy, because what’s lost is lost; throwing more resources at a losing proposition just increases the final cost. I really, really wish I’d paid heed to sunk cost fallacy instead of trudging further along the wrong track for another half hour.
The shop was now shut, and the only way to get back to the car was to retrace our steps all the way back to the end of the green trail and try to find the second half of the yellow trail. That’s what we did, and it took a blummin’ long time! As it turned out the yellow trail was clearly marked. It takes a special kind of idiot to get lost when they’ve got a map and the trail is well marked, but that’s the kind of idiot I am. Maybe Biggles’ recently acquired brain cells fell out of my head, not Beanie’s.