Saturday, 4 December 2010

Scoops Reports 2010 - 4 December Newton Stewart Circular

Wigtownshire Ramblers 4 December Newton Stewart Circular

The Ramblers excelled themselves this week by managing to lose two walkers even before they started. The group had decided to abandon plans to walk on the Southern Upland way near Derry and instead, in view of the weather conditions, to do the safer walk around Newton Stewart. Unfortunately, two walkers missed the message and disappeared for the rest of the day. Florence, Frances, Isobel, Audrey, Jack, Forbes, Graeme from N. Yorks who is visiting family in Stranraer and Mary Mitchell discussed the condition of the roads.  A decision was made, on the advice of a roving mountain rescue volunteer in his Sainsbury sponsored vehicle, not to do the planned walk which would have entailed a really difficult journey along minor, icy roads.  We tried to phone Jim who had been expected to be there and who, we were sure, had taken Ken whose car was in the car park, but his phone was switched off – we were pretty upset about their not being there but just had to set off without them.
The walk around Newton Stewart has been done three times before but the addition of snow made it look very different.  The mist was hanging low over the landscape and at times it meant our views were obscured but it was SO atmospheric and, with the sun shimmering   through the trees the landscape was beautiful.
The start was quite treacherous as they negotiated icy conditions over the Sparlin Bridge and along the riverbank. One walker was wearing overshoe grips and was obviously more at ease on the black ice. The steady climb past Kirroughtree Hotel and on over the Golf course up to the top of Clarks Wood soon warmed everyone up. A buzzard and a heron soared upward as they passed by, and there were many tracks in the snow, causing much debate over which animals had made them. At one point it looked as if there had been a rally of rabbits having a party.
They acquired the company of a chocolate coloured labrador at Kirroughtree who couldn’t be persuaded to return home until the group emerged from the Bower Wood, whereupon he took off without a farewell bark.
On reaching the Old Edinburgh Road they made their way to the Queen Mary Bridge where attempts were made to drop pebbles into the wishing pot. 
Another doggy encounter was made after crossing Queen Mary’s Bridge when a sixteen week old collie puppy out for a walk with his owner greeted the group enthusiastically.

We took our time wandering around Monnigaff Parish Churchyard before heading for the King George V Suspension Bridge and made use of the picnic tables beside it to have our lunch. We crossed the bridge then headed up the Girvan road turning left up the hill at Duncree.. 
Lunch was taken on the river bank below the Bridge. After clearing the picnic tables of snow the walkers had a lovely view over the frozen Cree. It was too cold to sit for long and the Ramblers were soon off again up the track towards Old Hall Farm where cross-ing the dykes was a treacherous affair owing to the ice. Unfortunately, there were no views from the hill because the town and the hills beyond were covered by a thick haze.
The walk went on skirting the frozen pond in Doonhill Wood, crossing the quiet A75 and onwards and upwards to the mast on top of Barrhill.
Here there was a spectacular view as the mist had cleared and the range of hills beyond the town were clearly visible, sparkling with snow under a blue, blue sky. Comparisons were made between this walk and the one undertaken in May during the walking festival when the temperatures were somewhat higher.
The walk continued down to the cycle track and back into the town where hot drinks and teacakes were enjoyed. Some members went off to visit Cunninghame’s outdoor shop, where the launch of the Walking Festival was taking place, with the intent of buying overshoe grips.
 It was a wonderful walk, with great company and gorgeous views and I was purring constantly!  We got back to the cars about 3.30pm and Florence, Isobel, Forbes, Richard, Andrea and I went to

Riverbank cafe for drinks and cakes and then, without Richard and Andrea went across to Cunningham’s where the new NS walking festival programme was there for viewing.

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