Saturday, 8 January 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 8 January 2011 Cairnsmore

Wigtownshire Ramblers 8 January 2011 Cairnsmore

Fourteen Ramblers (Cath, Frances, Isobel, Marilyn, Florence, Leslie, Kate (Cath’s granddaughter), Jim, Richard, Allan, Jack, Peter, John and Richard Knott with his two dogs) assembled in the Riverside Car Park in Newton Stewart on a bright and frosty morning. In view of the icy conditions it was decided to abandon the intended route through the hills above Loch Trool. Instead they decided to climb the Cairnsmore of Fleet along the traditional path. They soon set off up the road through Cairnsmore Estate and across the fields to the woods. By this time a light cap of cloud had formed around the summit which loomed above them. The going was firm with a shallow layer of powdery snow which in places hid sheets of slippery ice. They continued upwards through the forest and paused to admire the view. This included a snow shower sweeping in from the north-west over the moors of Wigtownshire. The shower arrived as they continued up the path so they tightened their waterproof clothing and continued upwards. The shower proved short-lived and cleared as they climbed the steeper slopes of Crammery Hill. Unfortunately, the cloud on the summit was creeping lower down the slopes and as they emerged above the forest visibility up the hill was restricted to a hundred metres or so. However, the view over the Cree Estuary was fine and it was interesting to see that there was no snow on the low land around the river. The concealed ice below the snow on the path was becoming more of a problem and after three walkers had slipped over simultaneously it was decided to go no further up the hill. They returned down the path to the forest road where they enjoyed lunch in glorious sunshine around the Lady Pilkington memorial bench. Here they met four younger and more intrepid walkers who continued upwards intent on reaching the summit. After lunch the group decided to extend the walk by using the lower level routes through the forest. So they set off northwards down the forest road. They reached the “T” junction which afforded good views over the lower Cree and Wigtownshire and continued northwards along the forest road as far as the Mill Burn. After crossing the burn and admiring the natural ice sculptures along the watersides they took the sign posted path downhill parallel to the burn. At the lower end of the forest they took a short diversion up a rough track to examine the old water intake from the Mill Burn which at one time supplied water to the houses and farms around Palnure and the lower lying land across the Cree towards Wigtown. There were some more modern fittings which may still supply local houses but it is thought that most now receive water from Penwhirn. There was considerable discussion about the name of the burn as there is no obvious evidence of a mill building anywhere along its course. They proceeded out of the forest and across the farmland following the rough track. They forded the Mill Burn, which fortunately was not running high, and continued to the road which led down to Bardrochwood. Here they turned back up the hill and crossed Machars Hill towards the Motte which still stands proudly above a tiny burn. The group turned away from the road and crossed a couple of fields and woods, following a rough track, before descending to Strathmaddie Farm. They passed a small, largely silted up mill pond above the farm and viewed a substantial mill building which, though roofless, seemed to be undergoing some restoration. The group descended to the valley road and soon reached the cars. The timing was impeccable as the sky had now clouded over and further snow or rain was promised. Finding the Old Stables Tea Room closed Jim, Richard, Florence, Leslie, Katie, Cath, Isobel, Marilyn, Frances and Richard Knott went into Newton Stewart where they enjoyed drinks and cakes in Cinnamon – the scones were good!

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