Saturday, 26 November 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 26 November Bargaly Glen

Wigtownshire Ramblers 26 November Bargaly Glen

Although there had been quite a horrific weather report for the day, twenty ramblers (Thomas, Cath - leading, Frances – backup (of a sort), Rachel, Richard, Andrea, Jack, John, Peter, Duncan, Irene, Florence, Leslie, Charlotte, Ken, Mary, Christine Makepiece (Port William), Christine from Kirkcowan, and Carl) turned out for a walk through Kirroughtree woods and the Bargaly glen. After parking at Glenamour car park the forest road was followed to a beautiful loch of the same name. Set in a defile amongst tall trees this man made stretch of water is a quiet and hidden gem of the woods.
The open hill was the next objective where the views were shortened by the overcast skies, but the farm of Barncaughla could be seen clearly, where the prophet Peden stayed at one time. Underfoot the boggy ground meant stepping from tussock to tussock until the trees were entered once more; a forest track alongside the Palnure Burn eventually being reached via footpath and country road.
Stopping by the side of some rapids for a photo shoot, a plaque was found, inscribed with a poem portraying the delights of the Palnure burn, with an accompanying sculpture reminiscent of a ladybird.  Although the weather was really dull and mizzly the water was still amazingly photogenic and I got a lot more photos there with and without the group of walkers before we headed off again.

The river was followed to Dallash and crossed by a dry ford at Corwar. The farm is unfortunately no longer inhabited, a sad reminder of the demise of small farms in the hills. We turned off into the field opposite it which once was the home of many horses which had been reared there in the past. The old road was just about visible leading back alongside the Palnure, but was very wet in places and another ford had to be crossed, this time by walking through the water.
Jim found an alternative route and Ken spent ages back tracking trying to find one too, through the boggy, rushes strewn area around the burn. He eventually rejoined us – with wet feet!
Lunch time back at the rapids, on the east side of the river, the rain began to fall. It did not dampen the enthusiasm of the walkers, who examined the memorial stone to a forestry worker, and then the shaft and adit of a lead mine close by.
Belties and Shorthorns alongside the farm track leading to Bargaly farm added interest to the now wet walk, but the Visitor centre at Daltamie was soon reached.

I was really wet as my trousers were not as waterproof as I had expected them to be as we passed Bargaly, went over Craignine Bridge, following the road for a short while before turning off to go through a field where once the road had continued, then turned off into Kirroughtrie Forest. Andrea, Richard
and I went into the centre for drinks and cakes.  I had a huge Walnut and Cherry scone and tea, just the thing to start the process of warming me up – or so I thought.  I actually got colder sitting in the centre while we waited for the others to join us and when they did I got myself another pot of tea, just to help the warming process!
This was not the end of the walk, for now the Lade Walk, constructed with the assistance of Sulwath Connections, brought the industrial past of Kirroughtree forest to life.
When the military road was being constructed in 1763 lead was discovered in the excavations. There began a period of mining here which lasted until the beginning of the twentieth century. Some of the shafts reached a depth of 900 feet.
The lade walk follows the route of the water collected in Bruntis loch and travelling down to the washing floors where ores were crushed and cleaned. Information boards along the way point out water holding pits, bridges for farm carts to cross, the stone and clay construction of the lade itself and eventually the sluice gates where the water was released from the dam at Bruntis Loch.
Both photos taken on the previous Tuesday when the sun shone ALL day!

The loch is the jewel of the forest. This description is reflected by the 1.75 tons of a polished, pink quartz sculpture of a diamond, one of the Seven Stanes of the Galloway bike trail. It was designed by Gordon Young and is reached across a wonderful circular bridge over the Bruntis Burn.
The walkers now followed this burn past a tumbling waterfall back to the Visitor centre and well-earned refreshments. It had been an interesting and well suited walk for the short and damp days of November.
Thomas had left us earlier on and walked all the way back to the start of the walk to retrieve his car so was a bit late in joining us in the Centre.  He, Richard and Jim took everyone back to the start of the walk, Richard doing the ‘run’ twice – thank you all!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 19 November 2011 Grey Hill

Wigtownshire Ramblers 19 November 2011 Grey Hill

  Mist beginning to lift at last.

Another barbed wire fence safely climbed with the aid of Cath’s pipe insulator and people’s help!

Jim’s photo

Cath, Frances, Allan, Leslie, Jack, Audrey, Charlotte, Rachel, Mary Sloan, Peter, Pam (Willie Wallace’s niece), Irene, Richard, Jim, Ken, Paul, Carl, Peter, Gordon, Douglas and Christine. Woodlands hotel provided the ramblers with a convenient start for this Saturday’s walk. The new gardens and pond were admired before the steep slog began, up a twisting path to the monument in a gap along the Girvan ridge. The going was slow, muddy and very warm.
Although the monument stands proud of the hillside from below, it is in a sorry state. The iron railings that once surrounded it have mostly been removed and the stone facings and inscriptions are dilapidated and in danger of total collapse. It commemorated the once owner of Ardmillan castle below, who was part of the army detachment which took the Cape of Good Hope in 1795. Major Crawfuird also served in India.
The next objective was Cairn Hill (248m), reached by walking through the boggy pass and climbing gently beside a tumbled wall. The views from here towards Girvan showed Byne hill and its pillar which had been given a miss today, the reservoir by Pinminnoch, and the surrounding fields, but mist was rolling in across the further hills and sea. There was now a quad bike track to follow to the next summit, Fell Hill (266m), where there were no longer any views at all. The great expanse of moor and bog to the east of the ridge, which is Greyhills nature reserve, managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, was hidden by the mist which became thicker as the party descended a small defile and then ascended quickly to the highest point of the day, Grey Hill (297).
This area is famous for a special geological outcrop of the metamorphic serpentinite rock, formed by the extrusion of magma combined with minerals to form a lustrous, soft, dark green rock which is easily carved, thus giving it the alternative name of soapstone.
The wind had become bitingly cold so lunch was delayed until the shelter of a west facing hollow was found, when the mist lifted slightly and a good view was obtained of Ailsa Craig, rising majestically from the still hazy sea.   The last ascent, up Pinbain Hill, had good views of the near surroundings – the Lendalfoot hills and glen - and the sun at last came through as the old coach road below was reached. There were still a few waxcaps to be seen on the hill, small, bright red and orange fungi which grow on poor, unfertilised, and well cropped land. They are a special attraction of these hills in autumn.
The path now took the route of the Ayrshire Coast path, above Kennedy’s pass, as far as Ardwell farm. This old coach road was built about 1780 and on this stretch is still well surfaced. An old shepherd’s cottage at Kilranny, now used as a gathering pen for sheep and cattle, and two radio repeater masts were passed, as this delightful high level track was walked, in relative warmth as the sun shone and the wind abated. A tall waterfall was dutifully photographed by the enthusiasts before the party descended to lower, rougher ground and the company of two bulls and a crowd of cows and calves.
The ground became very muddy as the farm road was followed, churned up by the accompanying cattle which were at last left behind at a gate, giving entrance to a boggy field above Ardmillan caravan site. There was no sign of the demolished castle, the home of Major Crawfuird, whose monument had been the landmark at the start of the walk. After wetly negotiating a route behind Crow wood, and passing down a quarry road, it was a very relieved twenty one ramblers who at last escaped the mud and arrived back at Woodlands for welcome refreshments. I enjoyed ALL of my HUGE scone despite promising myself I would save half of it to take home, while some others were far more conservative in their cake consumption!  Cath, Charlotte, Audrey, Rachel, Irene, Mary, Richard, Jim, Ken, Paul, Pam, Carl and Peter and I enjoyed one another’s company as well as the cakes! (OK, I know you didn’t have any, Peter and Paul who sat at my table!) 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 12 November 2011 Torrs Warren – Sandhead.

Wigtownshire Ramblers 12 November 2011 Torrs Warren – Sandhead

On a sunny November morning, 16 ramblers gathered at the Bareagle Car Park, Torrs Warren for the walk.  The first part of the walk took them east through the plantation. Pleasantries were exchanged with an elderly dog walker and a horse rider enjoying the bridle path through here. Frances, Isobel, Mike, Mary Sloan, Jack, Mary Mitchell, Irene, Audrey, Andrea, Peter 3rd (NS), Jim, Ken, Carl, Debi, Leslie and Christine Sloan managed to find space in the crowded car park – this is a popular dog walking area!  Loud music – Mozart, maybe – was playing: apparently this is an attraction to the birds which come flocking in to be fed at one of the dozen or more feeding cages. 
After a couple of kilometres a right turn led to the edge of the forest and grassy dunes. A left turn along an undulating sandy path led to Ringdoo Point. The plantation helps to stabilise the dune system at the back of Luce Bay - the dunes themselves are part of the military range.

Upon reaching Ringdoo Point a few moments were taken to absorb the scenery. Luce Bay was bathed in magnificent sunshine, landmarks over on the Machars were identified and pointed out.  Now began a long beach walk along Luce Sands.

Luce Sands is one of the largest beach complexes in Scotland and easily the largest in Galloway. The beach stretches for approximately 11km from the mouth of the Water of Luce in the east, to the village of Sandhead in the west. The ramblers will walk 9 of those 11 kilometres.

Passing the dunes area known as the Devil's Meal Chest, the target of Sandhead to the South West looked small in the distance. To the south, the Mull of Galloway could be seen. Remnants of military manoeuvres could be seen amongst the dunes, while out in the bay target bases for bombing practice stood prominent.

During the walk a variety of sea and shore birds were spotted. Amongst those identified were Oyster Catchers, Curlews, Golden Plovers and rarely seen in Scotland a Little Egret. A number of very large jellyfish were beached. A sad sight, a small grey seal lay dead, it's head damaged either by having been hit with a boat's outboard engine or from birds pecking.  Amongst the tidal refuse, numerous balls, plastic ducks, glittery shoes, balloons promoting Tin Tin and crab apples were seen.
Nearing the halfway point of the walk a lunch break was taken close to Clayshant Control tower.  After lunch the high tide started the fun part of the walk.  Walkers had to decide whether to walk with boots and socks off, or try to avoid the areas where the water swirled in. Those who decided to divest themselves of their footwear probably came out best. We reached a huge section of beach which had to be negotiated, jumping from clumps of vegetation to another and even wading through sections of the sea!  Some walkers took off their boots and socks and rolled up their trousers but I managed to keep my feet dry in my boots and gaiters – amazing!
Back on dry land the walk leader provided towels for those in need, and boots and socks were again donned.  Unfortunately for some this was a little premature as another burn needed crossing.  We were having a brilliant time, the weather was good and we were laughing such a lot! 

Soon however they were approaching Sandhead and found solid ground by walking through Carisbrooke Caravan Park.  Arriving in Sandhead the sun was disappearing behind gathering clouds, however tea coffee and cakes at the Woodlea tearoom ensured the brightness remained. Frances, Isobel, Mary Sloan, Mary Mitchell, Irene, Audrey, Andrea, Peter 3rd, Jim, Ken, Carl, Debi and Christine Sloan enjoyed one another’s company and refreshments. It was a fitting end to a wonderful day's walking.  

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 5th November, Kilsture to Wigtown

Wigtownshire Ramblers, Saturday 5th November, Kilsture to Wigtown

Elaine, Frances, Thomas, Cath, Isobel, Rachel, Andrea, both Marys, Jim, Ken, Audrey, Duncan, Irene, Paul, Carl, Richard, a new member from the Machars, Anne (Swiss, married a Glaswegian, lived here over 20 years), Jack, John, Leslie, John Arthington, Hilary and Susan met at Kilsture Forest where the autumnal colours were gorgeous!.
On Saturday, twenty four cheerful ramblers set out from Kilsture forest for the eight mile walk to Wigtown remarking on the difference in weather from the previous week when it had rained for the duration of the walk. They set off down the track past South Balfern and were greeted joyfully by a posse of horses in the adjacent field. They were very interested in the walkers and put on an enthusiastic display for their benefit. The cows in the next field were bemused by all the fuss. The walkers followed the track down to the caravan park at Drumroamin, and crossing a field, made their way over a fence to the salt marshes.  They walked along the flood bank and arrived at the designated place for lunch much too early and so decided to walk a further mile. At that point two shots rang out from across the fields startling the Ramblers who then walked on past a willow plantation eventually finding a suitable place to sit with a wonderful view across the estuary to the Galloway Hills. Those with binoculars soon spotted flocks of wading birds on the shoreline, also enjoying a lunch break.
After lunch the walkers retraced their steps and then took the Shell Road, across a lopsided bridge and on towards the airfield at Baldoon. A short detour was taken to look at the old control tower where it was possible to climb up inside and take in a panoramic view of the area. The taxiway to the old runway, now overgrown, was followed past some fusty bales of straw where our keen photographers insisted on a photo shoot.
The route now led on to Baldoon castle which was regarded with some interest and tales told of the Bride of Lammermoor who, as the tradition goes, was forced to marry against her will and on her wedding night stabbed the bridegroom, was declared insane  and died herself within the month. A figure in white is said to haunt the old castle. The gates to the castle still stood proudly to the entrance of the new house which had been built using stone from the original castle. After a good look around the walkers moved on along the road towards Bladnoch and under the old railway bridge, which was looking a bit the worse for wear.  They passed the old creamery, now converted to workshops and crossing the river at Bladnoch they could hear an enthusiastic crowd cheering the rugby players on at the stadium. They then took to the fields and climbed the railway embankment which they followed back towards Wigtown. The route then joined the path to the martyrs’ stake and on the flooded marshes a heron was observed, still and silent, poised to catch a fish which never arrived. Some swans were gliding majestically over the water in the late Autumn sunshine.  A short, steep climb up the road into Wigtown was followed by the usual tea, scones and chat before everyone went home to wash their extremely muddy clothes. Elaine had to go back to Kilsture to collect her car and by the time she got back to Wigtown’s Old Bank House to join us all the scones had gone and she made do with just a pot of tea – sorry Elaine, I should have saved half of my scone for you!