Saturday, 7 January 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 7 January 2012 – Loch Middle/Craigmurchie

7 January 2012 – Loch Middle/Craigmurchie 

 7 January 2012 – Loch Middle/Craigmurchie  Report by Jim Deans  

The car park at the Wood of Cree nature reserve was the start point for the walk.
Nineteen walkers (Frances, Isobel, Rache, Jack, Peter, John, Lesley, Christine Sloan, Audrey, Irene, Duncan, Andrea, Richard, Ken, Jim, Peter, Mary Sloan, Peter and Marie) set off following the Cordorcan burn through the reserve, its many tumbling waterfalls delighting the photographers in the group.  Rachel and I were primed with our cameras but Rachel was not as photo-happy as I was so she did not always have to catch up with the others, like me!  As on the recce the waterfalls were in full flow – I think the track was even muddier this time though.
Every so often an information board would give details of the flora, fauna and wildlife likely to be around. The Wood of Cree is the largest ancient wood in southern Scotland with a great variety of birds.  However, with such a large group walking, it was always going to be unlikely to spot many. Once away from the burn I kept up, of course and then we had a slight detour to explore the remains of buildings at Cordorcan, which was a good distraction.
At the edge of the reserve the ruined buildings at Cordorcan were explored. Now the forest track was followed all the way to Loch Middle. Timber operations were in progress and trees could be seen being cut down and the branches being stripped. On reaching the loch the anti-clockwise track was followed round to the short concrete jetty where group photos were taken.  We followed the forest road, this time without having to negotiate our way around a fallen tree trunk as this had been removed.  It was raining slightly as we got closer to the action still going on with the logging – tree trunks being put together in piles ready for collection. Loch Middle was skirted and the walk uphill by the side of the dyke seemed easier this time although it was no less boggy – some squeals came from behind us but everyone had been warned to keep to the side of this seemingly wide, grassy section and get as close to the trees as possible so as not to sink down into this section.  It was definitely MUCH less windy that it had been on Tuesday which made the taking of a group photograph much easier.
Now a drystone dyke through a boggy forest was followed uphill. Once clear of the woods, the slopes of Craigmurchie were accessed.  After a short but stiff climb the trig point at 286 mtrs was reached. Wide ranging but somewhat hazy views were enjoyed as peaks and landmarks were identified. A short walk from the trig point was a small cairn on top of a larger one.  Jim led us to the cairn and then we made our way down towards the sheep pens.  I stayed on the same side of the dyke as on Tuesday while all the others followed Jim down the other side.  I was doing fine until I was told that lunch was to be taken in the forest, not near the sheep pens as before, so I had to get over the dyke further down.  Fortunately I found a lower section to climb and it was easy enough.  We were glad of the shelter of the woods – when we moved further down afterwards it was much windier there.  Close to us in the woods were some large boulders with fascinating markings on them – natural ones. 

More slippery boggy ground followed on the descent to the forest below. Here a pair of roe deer were disturbed. Under the cover of fir trees, a lunch break was taken. Scattered about were large weathered boulders with unusual markings. Following lunch a drystane dyke was followed down to an interesting collection of old sheep pens. Old sheep dosing bottles were spotted in the dyke.

The Pulhowan burn was next to be crossed. While most walkers found a narrow crossing point upstream some took the more unorthodox route across a tree. It was not long before we reached the excitement of the day – crossing the Pulhowan burn, which everybody did without any trouble.  Duncan got over after me and gave a hand to subsequent walkers as I took the ‘action’ photos.  Jim and John got over with the aid of a very bowed tree!  

Now the drystane dyke, muddy and boggy in several places, was followed to regain the forest track of the outward journey.
The forest track was now retraced back to the reserve where the Scrubland trail was taken.
Following a zigzag route and crossing a number of wooden bridges the large waterfall and viewpoint above Pulhowan Bridge was reached. After a short break
at the viewpoint the undulating path back to the reserve entrance was followed.
It was decided, rightly, that the track down to the bottom of the waterfall was too slippery and we returned to the car park via the way marked track.
A large group of deer was spotted on the drive back to Newton Stewart.

Tea, coffee and cakes in Cinnamon topped an enjoyable walk.  12 of us went into Cinnamon for tea and cakes – Andrea, Richard, Mary, Jim, Ken, Isobel, Rachel, Duncan, Irene, Audrey, Christine and I.   I had persuaded Rachel to park in the Co-op car park so that we could get as close as possible and then ran to overtake Andrea who had somehow managed to get in front of us (AND bought some shoes in D&E’s shoe sale!) so that if there were any scones left I would get there first.  There weren’t so I made do with a slice of banana loaf with butter which was good!

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