Saturday, 23 April 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 23 April 2011 Monreith – St. Ninians

Wigtownshire Ramblers 23 April 2011 Monreith – St. Ninians

 Pushing or pulling?

A wet drizzly morning saw 22 walkers assemble at St Medan's beach car park for the walk. Cath, Frances, Jack, Mike, Audrey, Margaret, Irene, Duncan, Susan, Mary Mitchell, Jacqui, Allan Topping, Lily, Leslie, Jim, Peter, Ken, Mary Sloan, Julie and Peter – 3rd (new, from Newton Stewart), Jane (cousin of aforesaid husband visiting area) and Carl set off to walk along the beach.
After walking along the beach they arrived at the cliff edges adjacent to the 4th green and 5th tee.  Here they looked at the Boden Walls Well of which little is known. Perhaps a reader can shed some light.
Now they made the steep climb to the cliff-tops from where they proceeded southwards. Looking down on Callie's Port and the Red Gate caves, the varied and irregular rock formations were noted.

They continued following the coastline, rounding the bay where the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall tumbles over. Nesting Fulmars were spotted on the cliff shelves. Shags and other species of seabirds were also seen.
Wild spring flowers were in abundance. Those knowledgeable in the group were able to identify spring squill, mossy saxifrage, celandine, red campion, kidney vetch and lousewart as well as the more common wild flowers. Brightly blooming gorse was widespread.

Generally following a drystane dyke along the cliff tops they now reached Cairndoon. Occasional barbed wire fences and gates were carefully surmounted. Several new born lambs were seen in the fields. 
Not yet flowering Water Parsnips and Marsh Marigolds were seen when crossing the small and boggy burns making their way to the sea.

After passing a derelict building at Knockgulsha the group were now able to look down on the Carleton Port shoreline of a previous walk.  This rarely visited stretch of coast has more than its share of washed ashore flotsam and jetsam, and includes a great variety of coloured fish boxes.   

Now the big bulk of the Fell of Carleton loomed above as they crossed over a stile on the drystone wall next to Laggan Pond. The top of the large promontory fort of Laggan Camp was now reached. After a look around, the group now dropped down to a sheltered spot for a lunch break. Detailed information about the fort was passed around.  The rain continued. It started raining immediately and continued to do so on and off most of the day while we were walking.  It was particularly miserable while we were having lunch but at least that meant we did not spend too much time sitting! 

After lunch they returned to the cliff tops and continued southwards. As well as seabirds, swallows, wheatears and skylarks had also been spotted. Talk of the possible sighting of a larger bird of prey were receding when quite suddenly the majestic sight of a young Golden Eagle rising and flying across towards the east and north made everyone forget about the rain.  Tagged by the Highland Foundation for Wildlife this young chick who's been christened Roxy flew close enough to the group for them to see the distinctive white patches under her wings and on her tail.
With brighter weather following behind they were now passing the Hill of Glasserton. Along the edge of the field grew mare's tail, or horse tail, (equisetum arvense), a plant whose family dominated the land about 360 million years ago, in the carboniferous era when coal was being laid down. There are fossilised specimens of some that grew about 40metres tall in Glasgow's Fossil Grove. Because these plants are made up of simple parts they are supposed to be primitive, but they are survivors. After crossing the field above St Ninians Cave they negotiated another dyke and fence to emerge into the woods of Physgill Glen. Early blooming bluebells carpeted the ground here. Once on the track to the shore they now made their way to St Ninians Cave. Now the sunshine had arrived.
Old and newer wall carvings were looked at,but headstones and crosses from the 10th and 11th century are now displayed in the Priory Museum at Whithorn.

A gentle walk up Physgill Glen where yellow rattle, skunk cabbage and wild garlic flourished brought a wet but very satisfying walk to a conclusion.
After the walk a number of ramblers enjoyed tea,cakes and biscuits next to the eagle owl in the grounds of Monreith Animal World.
 Jacqui, Leslie, Lily, Cath and Frances had lifts back to St.Medan’s where Frances collected her car – Jacqui had to go back for Allan and then followed on to Glenluce Golf Club after us.  We sat outside in the sunshine and Frances had her specially baked almond slice! 

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