Saturday, 7 April 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 7 April New Luce Circular

7 April New Luce Circular Report by Cath Birkett

Frances, Cath, Thomas, Rachel and Heather joined the other walkers in New Luce where we had to park on the south side of the village instead of at the village hall as there was a big funeral service being held in the village church.  The other walkers were: Richard, Andrea, Jim, Mary, Ken, Margaret, Audrey, Susan, John, Peter, Alex, Allan, Mike, Carl and Peter Bedford.
Bright sunshine unexpectedly greeted twenty Ramblers as they assembled for their walk in New Luce.  The group set off through the village and, first, explored the footpath to the rear of the houses.  Here they found a memorial to Alexander Peden, the famous Covenanter preacher who had been the minister in New Luce in the 1660s.  The stone built memorial had been constructed from the remnants of the memorial Free Church.
Leaving the village on the Glenluce Road the group passed a modern cairn, part of an arts project around the village.  Further on the fields were full of young lambs gambolling in the sunshine.  A further mile down the road, just short of Cruise Farm, they joined the Southern Upland Way and followed the old road over the moors to Kilhern.  After the recent sunny weather the track was unusually dry with only a few patches which had to be negotiated with care.  Along the way they saw a newly born lamb being cleaned by its mother.  The group passed as quickly as possible to let her get on with the job.
The group paused briefly at the forlorn ruins of Kilhern Farm.  The walk leader remembered when this was an active and well maintained mixed farm.  He described his visits by wagon to collect pigs for market.  Most of the buildings had lost their roofs and few doors or windows remained.  Amazement was expressed at the extent of dilapidation since the farm was abandoned in 1964.  Sweets were distributed, helping those of us who needed our blood sugar levels raised and we were told that our leader’s walks never included a lunch break before 12.30pm.  
The route turned northwards from the farm following the more recent access road to the farm.  The group continued along the track under the watchful gaze of a herd of highland cattle and their calves.
A short diversion was made to the Caves of Kilhern, a stone-age burial cairn with a least four large stone cysts, one of which retains its capping stone.
The track then dropped steadily towards the Dranigower Road and the Cross Water of Luce.  A small larch wood shrouded the ruins of another, probably older, farmstead.  A pair of crows sped over the track into the wood raucously mobbing a large buzzard.  They continued their harassment through the wood and persisted after the buzzard had taken refuge in a tree.
When we reached a high point I was hoping that this would be our lunch stop but it was not to be.  Trying not to disturb the few sheep near the track, one with a lamb which had no back legs but which was gamely moving along on its front ones, following its mother who was walking onwards slowly, making sure her offspring was safely behind, we eventually gained the road and turned right.  We clambered over a dyke and made our way over the Cross Water of Luce using a trellised ironwork bridge and I took loads of photos either side of the bridge.  We sat down beside the Loups of Barnshangan waterfalls to have our lunch – a perfect lunch stop – and I, who had been so desperate to eat, forgot everything else except getting the best photos I could of the water gushing from various angles, below us.  Before we left Rachel and I had clambered down to get closer views and then had to get a move on to catch up with the other walkers.
The ramblers soon reached the tarmac road and walked a short distance eastwards and then carefully crossed the old iron footbridge over the Loups of Barnshangan on the Cross Water of Luce.  Lunch was declared and the group found seats on the rocks above the waterfalls.  The falls were attractive and the tinkle of the water combined with the sunshine provided a delightful interlude.  Water levels were low and it could be imagined that these falls would present a very different aspect in spate.
After a leisurely lunch the group crossed the fields to Barnshangan Farm and then took the old track northwards towards open moorland.  At the end of the track they found a series of bumps, depressions and ditches which was all that remains of the Barnshangan Lead Mine.  It was difficult to see a system in the ruins.  The mine had been active sporadically during the mid and late eighteenth century with further development in the late nineteenth century.  It is likely that the different working periods confused the layout.  The shape of the ground and location of the adits suggest that it was always a fairly shallow mine.  Looking eastwards from the farm the wind turbines on Artfield Fell were turning steadily in the breeze and away to the north those at Arecleoch were also visible.  Should all the new applications be approved this area will once again be a hive of industrial production.
After inspecting the mines the ramblers set off across the farmland of Knockiebae and climbed the small hill behind the farm.  Here foundations had been laid for a new wind turbine.  The wide views in all directions suggest that this will be an excellent site for a windmill.  The sun was now largely obscured by grey clouds and a few spots of rain were felt in the breeze.
 Leaving Balneil the ramblers followed an old track down the hill towards the Barnshangan farm road.  They then followed the road back to New Luce village and the cars.
We crossed the Main river again, noticing another iron sculpture (there had been one near the Cross river which we had seen at the beginning of our walk) but no-one could decide what it represented although someone did suggest if looked like a Venus fly trap!  Some walkers stop to view the memorial stone in a front garden commemorating those who lost their lives in the Crimean War.  We got back to the cars about 3pm and estimated that the walk had perhaps been about 9 miles.  It seemed like a dozen of us were looking forward to having refreshments in the golf club at Glenluce and when we had parked there, amongst more cars than I had ever seen there before, I ran in to ask if they could cope with us!  In fact 15 of us enjoyed our drinks and cakes – everyone except Allan, John, Alex and Peter who had not joined us.

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