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!) 

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