Saturday, 15 October 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 15 October Castle Kennedy Circular

Wigtownshire Ramblers 15 October Castle Kennedy Circular

 The ramblers met on Saturday, barely fitting into the marine car park, which was congested with vehicles and caravans from the autumn shows. Nineteen members walked to the ferry terminal, crossing to North West Castle hotel to view the neglected Panels representing the connections between Northern Ireland and Galloway, with people migrating both ways, with names mixing and origins blurring. Sibyll von Halem created ‘Watermark’ in 1995 as a contribution to the 400 year celebrations commemorating the Burgh of Barony status of Stranraer.
The Garden of Friendship, into which the route now led, also has a story to tell. First laid out in the 1920s as a quiet attractive entrance to the town, it has always been a community involved garden, from first donations of plants, to the 2001 refurbishment by ‘Friends of the Garden’, guided by the ‘Beechgrove Garden’ celebrities artwork attached to the wall here.
Quickly moving through the town the walkers passed the first of the many Stair Estate buildings to be met with this day – the former Offices on London Road, an iron lampholder still arching over its gateway.
Two more members joined the company on Westwood Avenue, bringing the numbers up to 21 (Cath, Frances, Thomas, Allan, Richard, Sue, Mary Sloan, Peter Bedford, Paul, Ken, Jim, Christine Sloan, Irene, Duncan, Carl, Peter (Portpatrick), Mike, Kathryn, Jack and Audrey  cut through the Avenue, went through the trees to cross Commerce Road).
The town was left behind suddenly as the beautiful beech avenue of the ‘Approach’ was followed; the path was strewn with gold, red and russet leaves, the trees showing their glorious autumn colours to perfection.  After crossing Commerce road the woods continued to the old Stair house of Culhorn, where the family lived when the old castle at Inch was burnt down in the early 1700s. All is now demolished except for a couple of red brick walls and a great archway.
The Southern Upland Way footpath was soon joined. Culhorn Loch could be glimpsed shining through the trees and the sight of three roe deer cheered the walkers on what was proving to be a dull day, weather wise. The path became muddier. A hedged track between fields led to a lodge house on the old Military road. The railway now determined a slight detour from the original direct avenue of trees that leads to Castle Kennedy, but once under the railway bridge it was rejoined, and the first wartime remnants were seen - overgrown bases of huts and blast shelters that the grounds of the estate abound in.
The A75 was crossed and the beautifully kept main drive to Castle Kennedy Gardens was followed, alongside the White Loch. Loch Inch Castle, the nineteenth century Scottish baronial house, was viewed over the water. It replaced the old seventeenth century ruin which could also be seen directly ahead amongst the trees, on the peninsula between the White and Black Lochs.
Although the weather remained dreary, the rain just held off whilst the Ramblers had lunch by the canal which joins the two lochs.
The walk now left the Southern Upland Way and contoured around the Black Loch, along a track bordered by exotic trees and rhododendrons, some of which were flowering, deceived by the mild wet weather. After crossing a bridge spanning a narrow part of the loch, another drive was followed giving a good view of the west side of Loch Inch Castle.
The outfall of the loch continues on to enter Loch Ryan near Innermessan but the walkers left the burn and track to climb a grassy hill which gave good views over the surrounding countryside. Another track led to the A751, joining up with a farm road through High Balyett, and crossing the line of the old Cairnryan railway, picked out now only by small embankments and hedge lines. By the gate a lone remnant was found – a single iron rail.
The shores of Loch Ryan were soon reached and whilst some walkers were transported back to Stranraer in waiting cars, others opted to walk along the cockle shore, just arriving back before the rain began and rejoining the company for welcome refreshments at ‘Stir It’ tea rooms. Cath and I opted to walk, along with others, including Sue, so we got to Stir It sometime after most of the walkers!  Beth had saved my scone – bless her – and I told Cath I would pay for her coffee.  However, I had to borrow the money off Thomas to do so as I didn’t have enough in my purse!  Clever eh?! 16 of us were having drinks and cakes – Allan, Audrey and Jack didn’t join us.
It had been a varied and most enjoyable walk, a pleasant way to spend a day of dismal weather. Wales was playing France in the Rugby World Cup semi-final in NZ this morning and I wore my Welsh rugby shirt and pinned a Welsh map on my rucksack.  Despite this Wales lost!

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