Saturday, 28 July 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 28 July Logan Gardens – Devil’s Bridge

28 July Logan Gardens – Devil’s Bridge  Report by Cath Birkett

Cath, Frances and Elaine got to the gardens just before 10am and met the other walkers there: Jim, Ken, Margaret, Audrey, Florence, Jacqui, Leslie, Linda, Duncan, Irene, Andrea, Robert, Mary, Carl, Catherine Makepeace, Catherine (from PP caravan), Hilary and Mary from Cairnryan.   Elaine went into the Potting Shed Bistro to give the number of those wanting a strawberry tea later and I led for a short while until she caught up with us.
Despite a dismal forecast for the day, the ramblers set out from Logan Gardens in fine weather. Twenty one walkers took the track past Logan House to Logan Mains where they eventually turned towards the sea and Port Gill. Undergrowth was lush, yellow vetch brightened the path and the air filled with the delicious scent of pineapple weed crushed  underfoot.
Ducks, guinea fowl, geese and hens greeted the company at the entrance to the little bay of Port Gill, which was viewed from the cliffs above. Boats pulled up onto the rocky beach and a few caravans by the little inlet made the peaceful bay an ideal holiday hideaway. I think they are just fishermen’s ‘huts’.
 The walk led onwards to the south now. The Iron Age fort of Duniehinnie caused some interest with a few hardy souls adventuring across the narrow link from the cliffs, to explore the remaining lumps and bumps left on the sea   cropped grass.
The flowers were still creating a colourful carpet on the banks and headlands. The delicate Grass of Parnassus grew profusely in one place, while yellow hawkweed dotted the ground and created a golden glow, enhancing the hot sun which appeared from time to time.

I joined Jim, Florence and Catherine in clambering over to a wild flower covered area which looked like it was separated from the main area but which had a narrow section over which we ‘walked’ – I used Catherine for balance until I felt secure enough to do this on my own.  This was the Iron Age Fort of Duniehinnie.  The wild flowers were prolific although they were well past their best.  
 After this I went upwards with Ken, Margaret and Audrey as we had reached a section with a narrow track.  It was easy following the progress of those below us and it was quite good getting photos from a different perspective.
The folly on top of Mull Hill beckoned as the cliffs were navigated. Now only a single wall, which resembles a tower, it was once part of a larger building, but its original purpose is now obscure. Wild carrot, whose flowers were being inspected by a host of orange insects,   clothed the steep grassy sides which led to narrow inlets all along this stretch of cliff, with the sea roaring through restricted passages, creating a foamy swirling surface.
A curious seal popped up to watch the ramblers pass by.
 The force of the sea acting upon the rocks was seen in the jagged shapes of the sea girt stacks and caves which have been eaten out of the cliffs, and then the spectacular Devil’s Bridge, a great archway with a large flat rock alongside where shags rested. Here the company also rested for lunch whilst herring gulls wheeled overhead, screaming at the intrusion of so many walkers.
Some of the walkers stayed further up, reasoning that if they came down they would have to go back up again but I tried to encourage some to  come to see the bridge – they had not realized that this was what I was calling to them about!!  Even the small groups near where Florence and I sat having lunch did not know that this was the reason this lunch spot had been chosen.  Some walkers moved on not even seeing the bridge!  Soon afterwards, Jim, Catherine and Florence made  their way down to stand on the  top of the bridge which is MUCH wider than it seems from either side, and we took loads of photos of them from the other side of it.
 Views across to Ireland were hazy but the Mountains of Mourne stood out, and the gap which showed the entrance to Belfast Lough could be clearly seen. The broch at Ardwell Bay and the nearer bay of Drumbreddon were picked out along the coast north, and then as the corner turned the view south included the picturesque village of Port Logan; this all increased the satisfaction of walking on such a beautiful coastline.
 Another rock bridge, this time much smaller, was passed where a new core path was being fenced to create better access along this coast.
There was a short section where we looked down onto rocks with their wonderful semi-vertical layering, the sparkling blue of the sea, while in the distance black storm clouds were coming closer, in contrast to the stunning yellow of the ladies bedstraw which lined our track – it was magic!
As the walkers crossed the fields to a quiet road leading onto a Logan estate track, and passed the gamekeeper’s house with kennels of barking dogs, the rain suddenly came on with force. But by the time the cars were reached once more, the tarmac on the car park was steaming.
Heat from the summer sun welcomed the ramblers to a cream tea in the restaurant, set alongside the lovely walled gardens. A delicious end to a most enjoyable walk.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 21 July Big Hill of Glenmount & Ness Glen

21 July  Big Hill of Glenmount & Ness Glen  Report by Jim Deans




Elaine arrived in the nick of time to join us on the bus from Stranraer.  The driver was anxious to be on the move as were Frances, Rachel, Audrey, Margaret, Susan, Jacqui, Mary, Linda, Leslie and John.  Susan and Carol followed behind in their car. There was a hold up at traffic lights on the A75 after we had picked up Ken – a lorry had gone off the road and was on its side in a ditch.  So we got to Newton Stewart 10-15 minutes after the time scheduled. Jim, Mary Sloan, Robert and Catherine joined us.  Our driver dropped us off at the Roundhouse – a cafe where we ordered a dozen and a half scones to be consumed later!  Waiting for us there were Douglas, Christine, Gordon, Lorna (who Douglas and Gordon walk with each week), Carl and Christine Sloan.  A few of the walkers decided to have tea before we set off so, added to the fact that we were late in arriving anyway, we were a good half hour late in starting our climb up away from the cafe.
Twenty-four walkers met at the Roundhouse on Loch Doon for the walk start. Two thirds of them enjoyed a comfortable ride up in a Wigtownshire Community Transport bus. The forecast was for white cloud with occasional sunshine.
 Jim decided to cut out the first of the hills we were to climb but Leslie headed off there anyway – we could see him clearly when he reached its summit.
With a resplendent Loch Doon behind, the walk started westerly with a gradual climb of Glessel Hill.  From here the next target of Big Hill of Glenmount could be seen. First a scrubby patch of moorland had to be crossed. Occasional quad bike tracks assisted, but tussocks  and  bog  slowed down progress.  Eventually a drystane dyke below the hill was reached and the going became easier.
After a steady climb the trigpoint on the summit at 382 metres was reached. There were no far reaching views today, but magnificent views of the Galloway hills and surrounding lochs were enjoyed.
We eventually got to the top of the Bill Hill of Glenmount, and we  thought we would see Leslie there.  Unfortunately he wasn’t so, after a photo call and some discussion, it was decided that Gordon would go to look for him since he knows the area well.  Lorna went with him so that she could enjoy going at a quicker pace than ours!
 After a short break the walk continued. A long downhill stretch, more tussocks and a steady climb via bracken-strewn slopes now brought the group to the Wee Hill of Glenmount. With occasional glimpses of the sun, a lunch break was taken.

Looking back, the Big Hill of Glenmount looked like an enormous pyramid.  A picturesque drystane sheepfold enhanced the view.  Following a leisurely lunch the group now made their way north over moorland to the ruins of the former farmstead of Little Shalloch.
  The boggy track now accessed was once a main thoroughfare connecting the hamlets of Dalcairney and Knockdon. After following the track northeast for one kilometre, a change of direction east across the moors brought them to the small hill of Carwaur. Here another short break was taken while the sun shone.
Fields of horses were now visible as the estate of Craigengillan was in reach. Also in view was the almost completed Scottish Dark Sky Observatory. Due to open in October, it will be open to the public and school groups for day-time and night-time visits.  It was here that Ken realized he had left his pole back at where we had taken our last break.  Nothing could stop him from going back – a long way – and a few walkers opted to wait with Christine Sloan who was the back up.  We found out later that his pole was not there and he thought that perhaps he had left it at the derelict house!  Christine and company had waited half an hour for him. 
After passing a small reservoir the group now entered the estate and made their way to Craigengillan House. Here the walk leader told some of the history of the founding family in 1580, the McAdams, and their descendants, who remained the proprietors until 1999. They also heard the tragic tale of one Quintin McAdam who died in 1806. They also learned of the hard work of the present owner Mark Gibson in opening up the estate and Ness Glen to the public.
As we went through the wood we met up with Leslie, Gordon and Lorna.  Gordon had been in touch earlier to say that he had found Leslie.   When we reached the river we parted company with Gordon who had left his car nearby.  (These are Jim’s photos)
 A short tour of the estate including a lovely view of a picturesque thatched cottage now saw the group reach the northern end of Ness Glen.  Restored to its full glory in 2004/5 this geographical delight of the Victorians followed the River Doon back to its source of Loch Doon. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, the deep gorge has a myriad of rare mosses and ferns, while the river runs over rapids, falls and fast flowing streams. Needless to say the photographers in the group had a field day.
I took so long over photographing the bubbling, cascading water that Christine’s group caught up with me – the rest of the group with whom I had been walking were long gone! I moved on more quickly than the others which was just as well as there  were only two scones left although one  had been put aside for me anyway!

Back at the walk start, the proprietor of the Roundhouse catered admirably with tea, coffee and various scones and confectionery for the after walk refreshments. It was a contented crowd that mounted the bus back to Wigtownshire.

We enjoyed sitting outside having our tea/coffee and scones, for about 15 minutes before   the driver of our bus said he was ready to go.  Rachel moved forward on the bus to get a seat where she was less likely to feel sick and Susan joined us at the back.  The journey took two hours each way but the return journey seemed to go quicker than my expectation!  My body did not seem to be quite so shaken up either!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 14 July Dally Bay – Corsewall circular

14 July  Dally Bay – Corsewall circular  Report by Jim Deans

Thomas, Frances and Rachel drove to Dally Bay where other walkers had already arrived: Florence (leader), Linda, Leslie, Allan Leiper, Richard, Mary, Jim, Mike, Peter, Peter (x 2) and John.  Duncan had not got there by the time we started the walk, late, at 10.15am but, since he was the backup, Florence knew he would be able to catch up with us eventually, which he did, not long after we had set off.  He had got lost on his way there, with Audrey, Christine Sloan and Charlotte.
Eighteen walkers met up near South Cairn for the coastal walk from Dally Bay to Corsewall point and the lighthouse.  The weather forecast was favourable with broken sunshine and a cool wind.

Accessing the coastal path via a farm track, the first visual delight came in the form of flocks of Eider ducks swimming around Dally Bay.  This was only a prelude to the vast number of sea and land birds seen throughout the walk north.  Gannets, Plovers, Shags, Curlews, Oystercatchers, Peewits, Fulmars and various divers were among the species identified.
To begin with, the path was occasionally boggy. Small burns were carefully crossed. A misjudged step resulted in the occasional wet boot.  A short distance out in the bay stood the concrete plinth of the now redundant Ebbstone, once a shipping beacon.
There was only one boggy bit to negotiate as we were keeping low down some of the time, on the rocks.  However, as the walk progressed, Florence took the group up higher along a good track.  Thomas often stayed below us, walking close to the sea.
After following the rocky shoreline beyond Portlong and Portnaughan Bays the group reached the ruins of the North Cairn Radar Station. Here the walk leader explained a little of the history of the site. Chain Home was the codename for the ring of coastal ‘Early Warning’ radar stations built by the British before and during the Second World War and North Cairn was part of that ring. It’s easy to imagine, considering the substantial remnants that remain, the hive of activity of up to 300 personnel scanning the skies for danger.

On reaching Port Gavillan, a short stop was taken to look over at the activity on the Genoch Rocks. Seals were in abundance. While a number basked on the rocks others in the water kept popping their heads up. One small peaked outcrop was white topped with guano from the colony of shags in residence.

 We had been going along very slowly as we were getting lots of wildlife stops to view the dozens of ducks bobbing about in the bay and shags on the rocks nearby.  Later on we saw many seals sunning themselves on the rocks and many more seabirds making an appearance.
The walk continued with constant views of Ailsa Craig and ferries from Loch Ryan across the North Channel and, to our delight, of two ponies for a short while.  Wild flowers flourished and delighted the amateur botanists in the group. Various campion, ragged robin, forget me not and wild orchids were abundant.

Approaching Corsewall Point, a mention was made of the wreck of the Firth of Cromarty in 1898 and her cargo of whisky. Needless to say, a short forage by a few ramblers proved fruitless.
After passing Oust, Bloody and Horseback rocks, Corsewall Lighthouse was reached. Looking resplendent with a fresh coat of whitewash (do they still use whitewash?!), this magnificent structure designed by Robert Stevenson and built in 1815 is now a luxury hotel. A lunch break was taken overlooking a sheltered rocky inlet just beyond the lighthouse, where we saw gannets flying by in both directions.

After lunch the group now headed inland for the return journey by road and farm track which seemed endless!  Heading east they passed the ruins of Corsewall Castle. At the next junction they turned southwest where a gradual incline took them beyond the farms of West Kirkbryde and Knockneen. Views of the Ayrshire coast, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre were extensive. Even the Paps of Jura made an appearance.

The delightful cottages of Kellies and Arran View with their many strange and wonderful garden ornaments came next.  Reaching North Cairn, a recently constructed track took them now to Knocktim from where the road to South Cairn took them back to the cars.
A wonderful day walking was concluded with a visit to the Conservatory at the Soleburn Garden centre for tea, coffee and cakes.
I put four tables together and someone added another one so we were able to sit all together, Mike, John and Peter being the only ones not joining us.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 7 July Dailly Circular

7 July Dailly Circular  Report by Douglas Brown

Frances, Florence, Linda and Lesley collected Mary in Cairnryan and drove to the village of Dailly, turning off the roundabout just north of Girvan where we met the other walkers. We called in at the tea room to let them know that a crowd of Ramblers would be calling in there later.  We set off after 10.15am after Douglas had introduced a new potential member, Andy Gibson.   A head count came to 20 – apart from those mentioned above, there were, Andrea, Richard, Mary, Audrey, Susan, Margaret, Ken, Jim, Gordon, Carl, Duncan and a man whose name I forgot to ask.
Last Saturday, 19 ramblers took part in an 8-mile walk starting and finishing in Dailly, the former mining village in South Ayrshire.  The group started its ramble in the village square, and headed towards Lindsayston woods. Although it had rained all night, the skies were bright but there were a few angry clouds about. In the woods, which can appear magical, the conditions underfoot were good, not too muddy.
Not surprisingly, the Lindsayston burn was in spate, and there were a few small, but spectacular, waterfalls.  Climbing out the woods, we reached the Barr road and headed left down the hill.  At Lindsayston Farm, we saw some small pig sheds, one of which had a satellite dish on it. Perhaps the pigs inside were watching ham actors on the TV. Further on by the roadside is a mysterious sandstone memorial which is inscribed “Dr C”.  It is not known who Doctor C was but local tradition has it that he was a Doctor from Maybole who was killed at this spot when thrown from his horse, whilst returning from visiting an outlying patient.
We took a right turn up towards Whitehill Farm. At the farm we were joined by two dogs, a collie and a labrador. 
They followed us for quite a while before one of them was turned back by Andy who used his authoritative vet’s voice, while the other one managed to find a way to get through a fence and he followed us all the way to the end of the walk!
 As the road turned into a track and then into a path, the views over our shoulders opened out to become more and more spectacular. We could see over the village to the sea, Ailsa Craig and Arran. Even the Kintyre peninsula and Ireland were clearly visible.
The views down to Girvan and across to Ailsa Craig were stunning and so clear.  We were following way markers unlike any I had seen before, part of the Dailly Arts project which also included benches and the footbridge we saw at the end of our walk.  They were of metal, set in stones with an arrow in a squashed sickle like shape!
At a fence we turned right to pass what is believed to be the site of a chapel founded in the first century by St Machar. It contains parts of an oval shaped earth enclosure within which are two ancient Christian pedestal stones with sockets for holding crosses.
As we climbed towards Barony Hill the way markers were again of iron with a leaf type shape at the top. Douglas warned the group, that what we might think was the summit of Barony Hill was NOT!  Andrea was not the only one struggling up this section, it did seem to go up for a long way!
Crossing the bare hillside, we reached the summit of Barony Hill (1072ft) where one of the many carved oak seats on the walk was situated. The views were even more spectacular, with Maybole, Crosshill, and Ayr bay laid out before us. By this time the collie had left us, but the labrador was to stay with us right to the end of the walk. We enjoyed his company; he was better behaved than many of the ramblers.
We next headed a few hundred yards towards an old limestone quarry, where lunch was taken. The quarry was fascinating, with some very deep holes and interesting rock formations.
Also at the side were two large limekilns. We followed a trackway from these, which led past a ruined cottage connected to the mining operations, and wended its way downhill to a gate and the next part of the walk.
When we got close to the quarry, Ken stayed on a higher ridge, joined by Audrey and Margaret while the rest of us went down into a gully where we got some shelter from the slight wind, and we all had our lunch.  After lunch some of us explored what we could in safety of the amazing surroundings.  There was a myriad of holes, caves formed by the extraction of lime to be transported to a kiln close by for processing – for building or agricultural use maybe.  The cavernous openings looked like they could be a pot-holer’s dream! We continued walking through the gully and met up with the others as they reached the Lime Kilns. 
The route now took us down through an area of deforestation.  Soon we took a sharp left up a short but steep hill until we seemed to enter another world, a beautiful glen where glimpses could be had of the countryside below. We then passed through Falfarocher Glen, following the burn downstream through marvellous woodland which is the haunt of badger, fox, roe deer, and red squirrel, although only the latter two were spotted on this visit.
Walking the bank of the Water of Girvan, we passed the Dalquharran Mansion, which had been conspicuous during much of the walk, sited on high ground on the north side of the river. It was built in 1786 to a design by Robert Adam for a branch of the Kennedy family. Wings were added in 1881 pending a royal visit which never took place. Since the lead was removed from the roof in 1967, it has become more and more ruinous.
After re-crossing the river, the ruins of the old Dalquharran Castle were visited. This castle dates from the 16th century and is surrounded by yew trees, some of which are hundreds of years old. This was owned by a Kennedy until 1935.  I was overwhelmed by everything that I saw in this ruined building and know that there is more to discover in this wooded area, given more time!
Finally we crossed an artist designed footbridge and walked the short distance back into Dailly. 
We followed the burn through the wood for a short time before, surprise, surprise, we crossed another bridge!  Not any old bridge but an amazing one, with a canopy of steel, which brought us back into Daily.
All agreed that it had been an interesting and diverse walk, with something for everyone. It will probably become a regular annual walk for our group. Our new friend the labrador looked very disappointed as we got into the cars and headed off.  Most of the group then repaired to the Moon Rings CafĂ© where they enjoyed tea and cakes before facing the tortuous drive home.
We all piled into the tea room where a long table had been set out for us.  We were told to help ourselves to cake and say what we wanted to drink and to settle up later.  We all managed to get in but not all on the same table.  My scone was good.  We were a jolly and noisy crowd in there and it was a great end to a lovely walking day.
Women’s final at Wimbledon – Serena Williams won!