Saturday, 29 December 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - Cairngaan Circular 29 December

29 December Cairngaan Circular Report by Cath Birkett 

The day for the last walk of the year dawned clear and dry, although very windy on the Mull of Galloway, where the last piece of the coast path was to be slotted into place. The east side of the Mull was quite sheltered and the wind was behind the walkers for much of the way, as they walked northwards. Sixteen ramblers felt in need of exercise after Christmas indulgence and were well wrapped up to cope with the mud - the result of the last few weeks of rain.
Isobel collected me from home and took me to Cairngaan to join Cath, our leader, Rachel who was back up, Thomas, Clare, Jim and Peter. Our numbers swelled from 8 to 16 after two more cars arrived just after 10am. Carl, Duncan, Irene, Mary x 2, Leslie, Christine and ‘two poles’ John joined us as we left Cairngaan and headed southwards.
 From West Cairngaan the way took the farm lane and then a well-made track over to the Mull road, where tarmac ensured a little cleaner surface until East Tarbet was reached. The road was empty, a ferry was being tossed in the distance, and the lighthouse stood in solitude high to the south, the wind scraping the ground free of debris. With thankfulness the party turned north in the lee of the fields, looking over Luce Bay along the coast path. Stopping to read one of the notice boards, provided by the local Rotary club who had worked hard to make up the coast path, the ramblers learnt the story of St. Medan who for a time is said to have inhabited a cave below the cliffs here, to escape from a persistent paramour. When he eventually caught up with her and remarked on her lovely eyes, she plucked them out and threw them at his feet, escaping by floating on a boulder across Luce Bay to Kirkmaiden, near Monreith, where she miraculously had her sight restored by the healing waters found there. Not one of the ramblers wanted to descend the cliffs to inspect the cave below.
We disturbed a flock of sheep as we made our way along the grassy stretch above the rocks with their many shapes and contours – the result of disruption 40 million years ago when the horizontal layering was pushed upwards.
 A ladder stile took the company into a field for a few yards before descending lower and walking the rocky foreshore accompanied by the roaring incoming tide. A hare ran by the walkers and a seal bobbed in the water below, curiously watching as they passed.
Short areas of grass covered rocks were followed by narrow muddy tracks through gorse bushes until we reached Portankill.
 The kirk burn was crossed, where a peculiarity of the pebbly beach means that the burn disappears below the surface for some feet before reappearing to enter the sea - this ensured dry feet for most, as the cliffs were climbed once more, gaining a slippery and muddy path alongside a fence. After descending once again past Marion’s Isle – a higher piece of land out to sea, which is usually covered by the tide - the beach was walked, and Carrickcundie passed. The tide here was almost to the base of this rocky outcrop, the pebbles slippery and covered with banks of seaweed brought up by the rough weather. The lunch spot was now in sight, a boulder embankment in front of Maryport Caravan site where the seaweed had brought scores of gulls to feed on the rich pickings of the tide line. They rode the waves and rose in banks as the sea crashed against the shore. This was a highlight of the walk, so many birds around, that the rest of the countryside must have been denuded of their presence. The tide became higher splashing at the feet of the picnickers, carrying the pebbles forward as the water surged and then dragging them back rattling against each other as they went.
Jim was searching for something on the beach close by and just about managed to dodge some of the incoming foamy water as had Rachel earlier. Cameras were recording this excitement with still and video photography by the usual offenders! 
 It was with reluctance that the walkers continued on their way steeply up through Creechan farmyard and once more on to a farm track which led through fields, high above the cliffs already walked and giving wonderful views backwards to the benign countryside with its rolling pastures, around Drummore, backed by a sea sparkling and dotted with white horses. The sun even made an appearance for this stretch of the day. The Mull road was crossed to walk the woods of Cairngaan, still muddy but nicely sheltered back to the farm lane where the walk had begun. Tea was served in the farmhouse, a very sociable end to the walks of 2012.
Cath provided us with sumptuous cakes and scones, her large farmhouse table groaning under the weight of the edible hospitality, soon followed by groaning chairs after 16 of us had tried to do justice to the wonderful baking provided by our hostess. If she entered the Great British Bakeoff the other contestants would have NO chance! Very many thanks Cath for a brilliant walk and for your usual warm welcome!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 – Below Cairnsmore - 22 December 2012

22 December 2012 – Below Cairnsmore  Report by Richard Kay

I did not want to get up, especially as the wind was howling and the rain was lashing against our windows.  Also, I was sure that the walk would be cancelled!  However, I got up as though I was going to be walking and packed my lunch before trying to phone Richard with my mobile phone(our land line being out of order) – only succeeding in leaving a message on his answer phone.  I phoned Cath who said she was all ready to go and would be doing so unless I heard of a cancellation but when I got through to Jim he said that we would be walking, even if it was an alternative!  Cath was here about 8.15am and she drove me to the Cairnsmore car park where we met Richard and Jim.  Duncan arrived a bit later.  So there were just 5 of us!  

The weather on Saturday morning was atrocious with heavy rain and a cold, gusting south easterly wind.  The numbers were depleted by a mixture of pre-Christmas preparations and the weather so only five members assembled at the car park near the Cairnsmore viaduct.  After a short discussion the group decided not to attempt the planned walk which would have involved a long walk over exposed moorland towards the Door of Cairnsmore.  Instead they decided on a less ambitious walk through the forests on the lower slopes of the Cairnsmore.
The group set off up the traditional summit path until they had crossed the first section of recently replanted forest.  On passing the dyke they turned into the forest out of the wind and rain and followed a brashed track through the trees which climbed gently towards the forest road.  It was rather dark under the trees but the wind had disappeared and the rain was confined to a few drips from the forest canopy.
I kept my camera in my rucksack for a while, only getting it out when I was desperate to take a photo, and then I kept it under my jacket for easier access.  I was amazed to find later that I had taken 84 photos, some of which had an ‘atmospheric’ misting over part of them – caused by dampness getting in between two lenses!  However, some of them came out reasonably well.
A short climb brought the group out onto the forest road just below an area of Larch which had been felled as part of the control measures for the Phytophthera disease.  They passed the piles of logs at the roadside and crossed the Cairnsmore burn which roared through its culvert below the road.  Here they emerged onto open land and once again felt the force of the wind and rain.  Misty views towards the Cree valley were admired briefly then the group crossed quickly to the northern section of the forest.
The forest road wound northwards through the trees.  Along the way they were fascinated by the moss and fungi which grew on the roadside banks and old logs.  They obviously appreciated the dank conditions. Despite the rain, I was taken with the colours of the fallen leaves and, having removed a lense from my camera and therefore the misting, I was able to get some photos of the lichen and fungus in various places.
 Two more areas of felled Larch were passed and the group soon reached the top of Jock’s Brae.  Here they turned off the forest road and followed an old track down into the valley of the Knock Burn.  Once they crossed the burn they found a sheltered area under large spruce trees for lunch.
Before then Richard had aided our blood sugar levels to rise by dishing out jelly babies!  We perched on a moss covered dyke which had seen better days and the rain found its way through this opening between the trees to fall on us, our sandwiches and our drinks!  However, we were suitably revived when we set off again.
After a leisurely lunch the ramblers continued along the grassy track and eventually reached the end of the wood and emerged once again into the wind and rain.  A short passage across the field led them to an old track which descended through the older woods towards Bargaly Farmhouse.  However, the group turned off the track and walked between some old beech trees which had grown into fantastic shapes and were festooned with moss and bracket fungi.  After passing these trees they walked through Larch and Spruce woods seeking an old track which led down to Bardrochwood.  Eventually they found a track which connected a series of old charcoal burners’ platforms and they reached the valley road just before the Mill Burn bridge.  Across the burn they could see an unusual elongated motte with one sheep proudly surveying the countryside from its summit.
Richard was in constant communication with Andrea who wanted us to make sure we did not get back to their house before 3pm!  We joked about going round in circles to make up the time but actually the walk was timed brilliantly.  However, following one such phone call when Richard gave an estimated time for the end of our walk to Andrea, who was out walking with Irene and Isobel, she, thinking our arrival would be earlier than anticipated, cut short their walk by half!
After crossing the bridge they turned off the road and followed the farm track past the steading and up the long slope up to the Machars Hill.  After viewing the motte there, a more traditional round one this time, they followed the tractor tracks across the fields to Strathmaddie farm.  They descended to the road again and were soon back at the cars, a somewhat dedraggled but cheerful bunch.  We got the all clear from Andrea as we got back to the cars and then were held up while Jim hunted, in panic, for his car keys.  He checked everywhere over and over before finding them in the lining of his over trousers.  He had a small hole in his pocket through which the keys had fallen, down to the bottom of his trousers – what a relief for us all!
Another group, who had declined the more strenuous walk, met at the secretary’s house and took a short walk around Doonhill Wood and Blairmount Park in Newton Stewart where they followed the paths which had recently been upgraded by the Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust.  They particularly admired the boardwalk and dipping platform which had been constructed around Blairmount Pond.  They were disappointed to find that the swans had emigrated for warmer, or drier, climes.  After the walks both groups met up back at the secretary’s house for the traditional pre-Christmas mulled wine and mince pies.
I could only manage a piece cheese on toast later while we watched the first part of ‘Strictly’.  The second part came later in the evening - I had expected Kimberly to win but the trophy went to Louis Smith (gymnast who got a silver medal in the Olympics) after his amazing show dance!  Jim was pleased with that result.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 – Drummore – Sandhead

15 December  Drummore – Sandhead Report by Cath Birkett

Ramblers’ report Saturday 15th December.
A mild but overcast day encouraged twenty two ramblers to turn out for a 10mile walk along the coast path on Saturday. The route was to lead northwards from Drummore to Sandhead. 
I led the walk and Cath was back up.  There were 22 of us in all, the others being Andrea, Richard, Mary, Jim, Audrey, Susan, Margaret, Jacqui with Tillie, Florence, Leslie, Duncan, Irene, John with two walking poles, Carl, Catherine, Allan, Heather, Peter and John.  After explaining about Elaine’s inability to be there and giving a short explanation about the walk we set off out of Drummore.  
Cars were left at Sandhead and a bus journey taking in the delights of the Southern Rhins eventually dropped the company off in Drummore, to start the walk from the old mill by the harbour.
The tide was coming in, but there was no wind, so the problems were not expected, which had plagued the previous day’s high water, where debris consisting of mounds of seaweed and quite large stones were thrown up onto the path. 
The shore on the west side of Luce Bay is being washed away by the rough sea and the walk showed just how vulnerable the land is along here. The old road out of Drummore is no longer accessible by motors because of erosion, but provided a quiet introduction to a length of road walking where some walkers took to the wide sea wall with a good view of the water below.
A section away from the sea, following the track up to Grennan farm brought a panoramic sight of Luce Bay, before descending once again to the road along by hidden quarries and brushy undergrowth. 
The weather was fine, not frosty and clear as it had been on Tuesday when we did the recce but certainly warmer.  The downhill section from Grennan Cottage was probably a bit wetter than it had been and we slipped and slithered down it to the gateway next to the road.  After following the track for a short while I led half of the group across the road, totally missing the extension of the track beside it.  Cath found it, of course, and they joined us when they went through the kissing gate beside the entrance to the riding stables.  
Tarmac was avoided by walking a path alongside the road, through the edge of Grennan wood, sometimes muddy after the recent rain, to Terally road end. Across the road the foreshore, with the sea approaching rapidly was now enjoyed, until the roofless Terally coal store was reached. Old pictures show horses and carts queuing here to be loaded from beached shipping, a reminder of how this inaccessible corner relied on sea transport for such a long time. 
The sandy beach at New England Bay was nowhere to be seen as the tide rose and when Balgowan Point was rounded the shore had to be abandoned for the path cleared above the tideline.  
Well, there was a little sand here at Balgowan Point.
Logan Mill is now just a tower lacking its sails, a corn mill dating from the seventeenth century. It was a perfect stop for lunch, where a late arrival put the numbers up to twenty three. The waves crashing onto the shore provided a pleasing accompaniment to the sociable picnic. 
Isobel joined us here for lunch.
With time at a premium because of the short daylight hours, the walkers were soon pressing onwards, forsaking the coast path for a while to turn inland and pass by the nineteenth century Saint Agnes’ chapel. This was built by James McDouall, the Laird of Logan, and named after his wife, Agnes Buchan Hepburn, for the use of estate workers. 
The track was flooded in parts but we negotiated the puddles easily enough, trying to avoid touching the electric fence beside it, which I was told was ‘live’.  

The coast path was picked up once more at Auchness where woods and fields alongside the road gave a safe path to Ardwell picnic site. Two delightful small bridges could be seen carrying the road over small burns, one with a beautifully built rounded arch. A ruined building and large gateposts were discovered along the old entry into the Logan estate.
The shore was once more reached at Chapel Rossan house, where the old road used to take the seaward route, but was washed away long ago. The site is named for St. Drostran, an Irish monk. However, there is no sign of the old chapel to be seen today.
Killaser burn is wide and deep and the road bridge crosses it, which meant that the pretty village of Ardwell, with a miniature town nestled between trees in one of the gardens, and a Norman motte above the old shop, was not missed.  Again the ramblers progressed to the shore by Ardwell chalets and on to Ringvinachen point and the West Freugh outpost, used to monitor the range in the bay. 
Another rest was taken at Dyemill before skirting the house along the A716 and dropping to the beach once more by way of an old green road. The Dyemill is a reminder of the old textile manufactory of the area when it was renowned for its flax production. 
The high tide kept the walkers to the wooded path and the rather overgrown trail for the next section, passing Ardwell mill and a small cairn raised to commemorate someone’s beloved dog, Rebel. There was no sign today of the long legged, long beaked white bird, perhaps a great white heron, which had been seen feeding by an outfall pipe on Tuesday’s recce.
 As Sandhead came into view, a landslide which had fallen earlier in the week from the road south out of Sandhead, had been surprisingly washed away, with very little sign left of it on the beach, but leaving a great scar on the hillside, another sign of the encroaching sea on this coast.
As the sky darkened and dusk began to fall, Tigh na Mara in Sandhead, welcomed the weary ramblers with tea and mince pies, a fitting end to this December walk. 
Having no footwear to change into, Cath and I were amongst the first to go into the Tigh-na-Mara where we helped to distribute tea and coffee with mince pies to the walkers.  When we got there we found Isobel’s daughter, Joanne, and her partner, waiting for us.  There were also quite a few other people there who wisely or very kindly made a move to allow us to take over their seats.  Allan was the only one who did not join us.  We were really warm in there, the fire burning well!  There were more mince pies than walkers and some of us got a second one – I am not really a gannet, I think, but I had two!!

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Scoops Reports 2012– New Luce Circular

1 December 2012 – New Luce Circular - Report by Richard Kay

I got to the Freugh road turn off at Sandmill just a few minutes later than I had planned and then got stopped by a policeman in a van who was monitoring the closure of the road owing to the blasting of an incendiary device by army personnel and was really worried about not being able to pick up Marilyn. To cut a long story short, I was eventually allowed to go that short distance to pick her up. Meantime, I had left a message on Andrea’s mobile answer phone and she phoned us as we were on our way. I said we would be 10-15 minutes late. When we got to New Luce I realized that I had left my camera at home! By this time I was ‘spitting feathers’. My mood did not improve when I heard someone say ‘thank goodness’! I know who it was and I forgive you!! Then Marilyn, bless her heart, offered me the use of hers. Suddenly all was right with the world! We (Allan (our leader), Jim, Carl, Audrey, Margaret, Susan, Christine, Rachel, Jacqui, with her dog, Tilley, Irene, Duncan, John Smith, Peter Reid, Richard, Andrea, Ken (backup), Mary, new walkers Graham, John and Ian, Marilyn and I) walked out of New Luce towards Glenluce.
Saturday dawned with clear blue skies and a sharp frost. The low sun provided little warmth but twenty three ramblers assembled at New Luce memorial hall anticipating a brisk walk to Castle Kennedy. We set off down the Glenluce road and soon passed Cruise Farm. The group turned through a gate and descended the frost covered field towards the river along the Southern Upland Way (SUW). Once we reached the lower ground there was evidence that the river had taken a shortcut through the field during the recent floods. The “new” bridge over the river, an elegant suspension bridge erected by the army, took us over the Water of Luce. After crossing the bridge we turned off the SUW and climbed onto the wooded banks below the railway line. As we walked along a train passed at head level as it scurried down to Stranraer. A little further along the bank our leader pointed out the remains of an old railway cottage and a level crossing. He remembered when the track was passable for motor vehicles travelling between Craig Farm and Airyolland. There is little evidence of t he track at this point other than gates in the rail side fence. He also recalled an aerial ropeway in place which brought milk from Galdenoch Farm on the other side of the river.
The walk followed the course of one done previously but I did not realize this until later when we were crossing a burn. I took lots of photos here and was last to cross it. Allan assured me that he would be helping me with both hands to reach the other side, telling me to jump onto a large rock in front of him. It looked slippery to me and I told him so but he was adamant that it was fine. Of course I slipped on it but did not fall in the water, thank goodness! I bruised my thigh and a bit of my pride but I was OK. No-one was quick enough with a camera to record the slip – ha! 
 After crossing a small burn the track became more evident. It was followed to Craig Farm and then further south to a second railway crossing. Here we were met by an enthusiastic Labrador who proudly showed off her two excited puppies who were corralled in the porch. The leader then telephoned the signalman and, having been given the all clear the ramblers hurried across the line and up into the forest. At the start of the path we noticed a squirrel feeder attached to a tree. We then realised it was being monitored by a camera. The scientists will be seeing some unusual activity in the area.
Ian was struggling to keep up as we went up through a wide section in the forest but insisted that he was fine. It was really boggy here and everyone was taking a slight detour to avoid this section. A short halt in our ascent enabled Jim and Allan pass around some sweets, a much needed aid to raising our blood sugar levels! We are used to having a late lunch on Allan’s walks but it was with relief that lunch time arrived so that Ian could have a rest. John was managing fine, as was Graham. John had brought some lunch but Ian had not and he refused all offers of food from us.
 A steep climb through the wood then led us to a forest road. We then continued uphill to the end of the road where the group paused for lunch in a grassy clearing bathed in the weak winter sun. After lunch the group struggled to their feet and entered the forest follo wing an old dyke northwards. Several minor diversions were necessary to avoid boggy ground and fallen trees but eventually we arrived at the end of another forest track. The track was followed westwards. Initially it was overgrown and very wet in patches but it improved as we went along and soon the walkers were able to walk side by side and conversation returned to its usual pitch.
Allan had not done a recce recently which was particularly evident over the next section of the walk. It was incredibly boggy and littered with fallen trees but we managed to get through the first part of it until we reached a moss covered old dyke. Richard diverted to the right and was followed by a sensible group. I stayed behind Allan who took us through the forest, jumping pools of water between the lines of trees in an effort to stay close to the dyke. I loved this part of the walk, finding it funny and took lots of photos. We met Jim coming towards us from the opposite direction to help us through a dodgy part through which they had struggled before us!
As we went along numerous deer tracks from both Red and Roe deer were seen. Later we met the stalker driving in to commence his evening session of deer control. We also noticed various red tapes tied to trees and bushes and sections of fine string running along the forest road.
I was getting concerned about the time, having arranged with the County Golf Club to provide refreshments for us if we could get there and away by 5pm. It became increasingly evident that Allan’s estimate of the finish of the walk being 3pm was way out and I phoned the golf club to let them know we would not be there in time.
A little further on we came to the old quarry where there had been recent work leaving newly cut rock faces and large piles of crushed stone. We suspected that further felling is planned and that the track will be in much better condition next time we visit. The tapes and string were probably marking and measuring the work required. A short walk then brought us to the SUW again and the main New Luce to Castle Kennedy road. The walk had taken longer than anticipated and darkness was approaching. It was therefore decided to abandon the route along the SUW to Castle Kennedy as originally planned.
Rachel went with John and Ian, and Peter and John then left them walking along the road while she RAN to Castle Kennedy along the SUW path, collected her car and came back to pick up Ian who waiting in a gateway! She drove him back to CK (the others wanted to complete the walk) and then drove back to New Luce to join us. 
A small group followed the road down to Castle Kennedy and the waiting cars while the remaining walkers stegged back to New Luce along the road.
Meantime, the rest of us walked the 3.25 miles along the road back to New Luce. It was bitterly cold and we were all walking as fast as we could to get warm!
 Once again the hosts at the Kenmuir Arms provided a warm welcome and excellent tea and cakes, making a superb end to the walk.
It was lovely and warm in there and we spent a pleasant half an hour or more before heading home.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 24 November Loch Trool Circular

24 November Loch Trool Circular  Report by Rachel Richardson

I collected Heather and Rachel and drove them to Loch Trool where Carl had already arrived.  The others got there soon after: Richard, Andrea, Tasha and Fanny (French, from Normandy, a new arrival at Kirkcowan), Ken, Mary, Duncan, Irene, Peter Reed, Catherine, Anne, Leslie and Jim.  Irene had the boot lid of her car come down on her head and took quite a long time trying to recover from it.  After explaining that our walk was going to be a shorter one than on the programme owing to the height of the water and the flooding we had encountered last week, that part of the planned walk around the Loch would include more road walking owing to work still ongoing with the logging companies, about the possibility of encountering disinfectant provided on the route because of the recent worries about larch tree infection, introducing Fanny and telling them that Rachel would be my ‘back-up’ and THEN telling them that she would be leading and that I would be her ‘back-up’, we eventually set off on our walk!!!  
On Saturday, 17 ramblers, including two visitors, one from New Zealand and one from Normandy, met at Caldons car park, Glen Trool, for a circular walk around Loch Trool. This was shorter than originally intended. Part of the walk was abandoned due to flooding of the Water of Trool.
Setting off through the old campsite the air was fresh and crisp, the trees and undergrowth coated with frost. A red squirrel was spotted in the branches overhead.
When the new footpath along the south side of Loch Trool was reached, it was found to be a big improvement over the old one. In spite of the recent bad weather, the going was dry and clean, a welcome respite from the mud the group has become accustomed to. The walkers enjoyed the views along this part of the walk. With very little wind, the still waters of Loch Trool reflected the trees perfectly. The Fell of Eschoncan, Benyellary and Buchan Hill were clothed in the burnt orange colours of dead bracken leaves and grasses.
I was so lucky to be at the back as there were so many photos to take!  The autumnal colours were lovely despite the day being somewhat overcast but there was no sign of rain as we went along what was now a more feet and hip friendly path, aided by the fallen leaves which covered the hard surface.  Carl and I were constantly rushing to catch up, sometimes joined by Jim – he stayed with the group more often and got lots of great photos of them as well as of our surroundings.  We had a sweetie stop at the eastern end of the loch where a view point had been created – at present it is in a clear area and probably this will continue as below it is a stretch of low land which might not be a great tree planting area.
On reaching the end of Loch Trool a visit was paid to Glenhead farmhouse where walkers found the doors and windows blocked up with breeze blocks. This classic Galloway farmhouse is facing demolition if no other use can be found for it soon.
Pausing to admire the Gairland burn in spate, and the waterfall at Buchan Bridge the group arrive at Bruce’s Stone for lunch. This monument was erected in 1929 to commemorate Robert the Bruce’s first victory over an English army in the Scottish wars of independence.
The forest road was followed all the way to Bruce’s Stone but we had a long stop at the bridge over Gairland Burn which was in full spate, unsurprisingly, and Carl and I stopped at what he now knows as one of my favourite places for a photo-shoot.  I told him I would have to ‘make-do’ with him as my perspective and foreground ‘interest’ and got a good photo of him between two trees with the wonderful hills in the background.  Thank you Carl. 
We did what I hate in others – stayed at Bruce’s Stone a long time eating, taking over the view which other photographers would now find ‘blighted’!  However, we did not encounter any later visitors.  The road walking back to the cars was lovely as it was mostly downhill and the views which surrounded us were mostly good.  It is horrible seeing the destruction where the recent logging has left behind the remnants of branches and the chewed up ground.  We had hoped that the new pathway would have been formed by now but that possibility seems distant.
The path along the north side of Loch Trool was closed due to logging. Larch trees in this area have been infected by the fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum which can kill a tree in one growing season.  Once the disease has been detected felling is essential to control the outbreak and stop it spreading to our native trees.
Walkers made their way down the road to reach Caldons car park, where rucksacks were stored in cars. A visit was then made to the nearby Martyrs Tomb which marks the place where six covenanters were killed while at prayer in 1685. From here the group continued to the Water of Trool, pausing to admire bracket fungi on  the trunk of a dead tree, before returning to their cars.
Tea, scones and a roaring fire were enjoyed at The Galloway Arms Hotel in Newton Stewart by most of the walkers.  We had been lucky to have had this venue made available to us in lieu of the Belted Galloway.  The owners hope to re-open this establishment on Tuesday following the mopping up and drying out process after its recent flooding, along with most of lower Newton Stewart, when the banks of the River Cree were overwhelmed after continuous rain earlier in the week.