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.

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