Saturday, 28 May 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 28 May 2011 Girvan – Byne Hill Circular

Wigtownshire Ramblers 28 May 2011 Girvan – Byne Hill Circular

(negotiating a barbed wire fence on the way, Audrey had the right idea here!)

An overcast morning with a threat of showers saw 20 walkers gather at Girvan's South Car park for the walk. Isobel, Frances, Irene, Duncan, Audrey, Florence, Jack, Peter, Lily, Leslie, Christine Sloan, Mary, Jim, Gordon, Douglas, Valerie from Wigtown, Paul and Debbie with her cousin Avril.  Florence appointed me her deputy a she wanted Lesley to be a back up as leader as he knew the route so well. As we left our cars Debbie and Avril realized that their packed lunches were left at home – we all said we had more than enough to share with them but, not long after we had set off Avril was finding the going pretty tough (she only had trainers on) and they turned back because she was not feeling well.
They began by heading south along the coast, past the Ainslie Manor Home and Craigskelly.
Reaching Shalloch Mill they turned east towards the Byne Hill Caravan Park. Lots of miniature d onkeys grazed happily in the fields. A gradual climb took them through the farm at Brochneil where a small classic Austin A35 car caught the eye of some of today’s walkers.
Once through the farm, a short distance along the hardcore road brought them to a gate to begin climbing Byne Hill.  A sometimes rocky climb saw them reach a point where they could access a path along the western edge of Byne Hill.

Occasional stops to admire the views were taken. Even with the cloud cover, Girvan and the coast up to the Turnberry Lighthouse were clearly visible. Ailsa Craig was prominent throughout the walk.  A two carriage train heading north passed below and to the east.
Next they dropped down from Byne Hill to the neglected Crawfuird Monument.  Sitting above Ardmillan House, the monument commemorates Major A.C.B. Crawfuird, who took part in the capture of the Cape of Good Hope in 1795.
From here they now climbed Mains Hill and took to the lower slopes of Fell Hill south westerly. Lots of bog cotton and wild orchids blossomed along the route. A mighty shower of driving rain and hail soon drenched the group.Next they negotiated the fairly steep sided Barniecairn Glen. By now the rain had stopped.  
Next traversed was a field of cows and calves which brought them down to Rea Glen.

Reaching the radio and telephone mast at Kilranny above Kennedy's Pass on the A77, they stopped for a lunch break. The wind and rain had cleared completely by now and views across to Arran and the Firth of Clyde were afforded.    

After lunch they now headed easterly along a farm track before taking to the slopes of Lochton Hill. The lower braes of Grey Hill were now before them and a steady climb took them to the 297 Mt summit. Another shower of rain, less in intensity than the previous one was soon to blow over.
The group now made their way north along the summit ridge onto Fell Hill and into the Grey Hill Grassland Nature Reserve. A variety of wild flowers were admired.

Next they dropped down to the boggy area of Craiglea. From here they would make their way anti clockwise around the lower slopes of Byne Hill.  A few gates, barbed wire fences and drystone walls had been crossed over the course of the walk. Now a wall and a fence together

were carefully crossed to bring them down to the hardcore track at Balaclava Wood.  This then took them back to Brochneil Farm, from where they retraced their outward route back to the car park.
Another fine walk was concluded by a number of walkers enjoying tea and cakes at the Woodland Farm Tea Room.  

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 14 May 2011 Shalloch on Minnoch

Wigtownshire Ramblers 14 May 2011 Shalloch on Minnoch

A cold damp and blustery morning saw twelve intrepid walkers gather at the Kirriereoch car park for today’s walk. Two new walkers were welcomed to the group. Cath, Thomas, Frances, Jacqui, Leslie, Douglas, Forbes with Lily, Jim with a visitor, Paul and our leader, Brian, with Valerie.  They both took their cars to the end of the proposed walk and Brian brought her back.
After leaving two cars behind, the group now travelled up the Straiton road for a further six miles for the start of the walk. A few miles north of Waterhead on Minnoch they parked up in a disused quarry cutting and began to climb. The going was typical rugged Galloway Hills terrain. Tussocks, heather and bog meant that progress was steady as they crossed their first obstacle, the Pilnyark Burn. Brian had warned us that the first mile would be hard going and he was right!  Trying to make our way upwards through thick heather in a boggy area was really difficult and it tested all of us but the terrain did eventually get easier.  It was misty a lot of the time but we kept getting glimpses of the spectacular surroundings.

Eventually they reached their first objective, Shalloch. From here they could see Ailsa Craig to the west and to the north Cornish Loch and Loch Bradan. A number of small lochans were skirted around.

As they continued climbing the going became a little easier. Blaeberry and Bog Cotton were prolific. Bog Cotton - or Cotton grass used to be used in the past for making candle wicks and also for stuffing pillows. It was also used in wound dressings during the First World War. Nowadays it's considered commercially unviable for harvesting.

Now they were climbing south easterly on the slopes between Caerloch Dhu and the Pottans. Below them the Rig of the Shalloch was prominent. Cloud cover obscured all the summits of the 'Awful Hand' range. Arran and Ayr could be seen to the north and west.

 When we got to the top of Shalloch on Minnoch it started raining more steadily but we sat in the stone shelter by the trig point and we were was pretty well sheltered with our backs to the prevailing wind and protected by the wall.

Upon reaching the trig point (768) and stone shelter on Shalloch on Minnoch, optimism that the weather was going to improve was soon dashed as the wind and rain increased. A cold and damp lunch break followed. Despite the conditions, lots of light hearted banter bolstered morale.

After lunch they now moved east to the highest point on the Corbett and the highest point in mainland Ayrshire. (The Isle of Arran is managed by North Ayrshire Unitary Authority so technically Goat Fell summit is its highest point). When we got up to go my hands were pretty cold and when we stopped to gaze down from our steep vantage point on the many lochs I had to stop taking photos as my fingers were freezing.  As we made our way down the Nick of Cardach we could see Kirriereoch beyond Tarfessock and the Merrick in the far distance.  I would have loved to have taken more photos as we went down but I had to keep my gloves on and wrap my fingers around the hand warmer which I had activated at the beginning of the walk.
At 775 metres high and above the rocky crag known as Maidens Bed the views when the clouds occasionally cleared were spectacular. Below to the north east were Lochs Macaterick, Riecawr and Doon, east standing tall was Corserine and to the south Loch Enoch. Tunskeen bothy, far below, restored in 1965 saw the MBA (Mountain Bothies Association) being formed.

Now the group made their way to Tarfessock via the Nick of Carclach. The drop in height took them below the clouds and afforded more views of the surrounding rugged countryside. 

Lochans and rocky outcrops were passed until they came in sight of the steep slopes of Balminnoch Brae leading up to Kirriereoch. It was time to begin the descent. There was some discussion about going on up Kirriereoch but the majority of us preferred to start our decent as the mist covered its top and the rain was still present, intermittently. 

The descent followed the course of the Cross Burn. For a while the weather worsened and wind and driving rain were endured.  Stumps are all that remain at the site of the now demolished Cross Burn bothy. Remembered by a few of today's walkers it was wigwam shaped.

As the weather cleared and the sun began giving occasional glimpses, the exit to the forest road was inadvertently missed. The group continued the descent to where the confluence of the Cross and Kirshinnoch Burns become the Kirriemore Burn.

An unsuccessful but entertaining attempt to find a way through the forest resulted in a short retrace of steps back up the Cross Burn to the Pillow Burn and the forest road.
Brian crossed the burn for an easier return ascent. It still seemed a long time until we caught sight of Val’s car, viewed over the stumps and discarded branches of felled trees.  When we reached the forest road Lily was struggling with, she thought, a pulled ligament but it proved to be cramp. 
Drivers were now taken back to the vehicles while the remainder enjoyed the saunter down the forest road to await their respective lifts.  It was a wonderful walk despite the weather. (Too late for drinks and cakes though!)