Saturday, 26 February 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 26 February Lochnaw, Larbrax

Wigtownshire Ramblers 26 February Lochnaw, Larbrax

A bright and sunny morning greeted the 22 ramblers who gathered at Lochnaw Home farm on Saturday, for a walk of castles and coast.

Looking at the surrounding concrete surfaces the walkers, Frances, Cath, Mary Mitchell, Linda, Steve, Leslie, Audrey, Shona, Jack, Mike, Peter (Portpatrick), Mary Sloan, Ken and Catherine, strained to imagine the war time troop hospital which was situated here.

A farm track was followed through woods which were carpeted with drifts of snowdrops, the warmth and sunshine making a welcome change from the weather of recent walks. After crossing the B738 another farm track led straight to the shore at Larbrax Bay, where a beautiful, wide, sandy beach, and shining sea, delighted the eyes.

Here the path swung around to gain the cliff edges where an Iron Age hill fort, rumoured to have Viking connections, was examined. High double ditches surround a large flat centre, which commands great views over the surrounding area.

The coast was now followed northwards, every step enlivened by wonderful views, with Ireland emerging from the distant clouds.
Having kept up higher longer than we should have we spent a long and fun time getting over a barbed wire fence, everyone helping one another.  We then had a downwards walk just as the ferries were crossing on the skyline.
 After passing an old sheep clipping station, and climbing over ramps, designed to enable quad bikes to cross easily between field boundaries, the ramblers scrambled down through boggy undergrowth to reach Salt Pans Bay.
 Another Iron Age fort is hidden here amongst the rocks but the most conspicuous remains are from the 17th century buildings associated with salt works, which used local peat to evaporate salt water, and which were in operation for about 200 years. Lunch was taken at this sheltered and pretty spot.
The walk now led inland past a fascinating round shelter by Loch More, used by game hunters on the recently defunct shooting estate. Now ducks and cormorants were the only hunters around, enjoying an afternoon fishing on the loch.

Galdenoch Castle, an L shaped, 16th century tower house in ruinous condition, was the next point of interest with crow steps and commemoration plaque. Numerous eucalyptus trees grew within its enclosing wall, displaying their beautiful peeling bark to advantage in the sunshine.

After following the farm track to the road, the ramblers eventually entered the grounds of Lochnaw estate once more at Kathleen cottage, and took a snowdrop path to the loch side, where two resident swans were serenely drifting about. The castle looked at its best from here, with reflective water in the foreground, and a backdrop of woods, surmounted by the lookout of Kinsale tower.

Recent work on the walled garden, with fruit bushes and trees planted up, were viewed through gates, before the castle itself, with sunken garden and renovated stonework, rose magnificently before the walkers. Built in the 15thcentury by the Agnews, the most recent owner is doing a splendid job, refurbishing this building and the surrounding estate.

Only a short walk remained, past the old laundry, and a building which used to store the game shot on the estate, before Lochnaw Home farm was reached again. An interesting, varied walk enhanced by the warm sunshine had been enjoyed by the ramblers, who now decamped to Kirkland tearoom for welcome refreshments.

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