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!

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