Saturday, 18 August 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 18 August Damnaglaur Circular

18 August Damnaglaur Circular  Report by Cath Birkett

The optimism of nineteen walkers was well rewarded this Saturday when a misty start to the day’s excursion turned into hot sunshine by its end.
Jim was first to arrive, with Robert, followed by Robert (Rab) Simpson who was a visitor and whose mum lives in Creetown.  Soon afterwards Ken, Margaret, Audrey, Mary Sloan, Graham (with beard, not seen him for ages), Florence and her friends from the Dales, Judy and Mike then Leslie, Cath, Catherine, Forbes and Isobel arrived.  I introduced my friends, Shirley and Carol, who were staying with me for a week.
I eventually managed to gather them all together, between all the cars and introduced all the visitors before leading them all through the garden to the back gate, forgetting to tell them anything about the walk!
A stroll around the beautifully kept garden of the walk leader at Damnaglaur began what was to be a ramble of continuous delights. The flocks of geese, turkeys and hens at Buckie Knowe along the road, together with various breeds of sheep, gave an interest which was heightened when the old track across by Kildonan croft was taken, with great views down to the little harbour of Drummore, now filled with the incoming tide, shining in the sun.
The school road was climbed to the church on the hill, the Kirk Covenant, so named because it was built in the year of the signing of the Covenant, 1638, to replace the old Kirkmaiden kirk, the remains of which are to be seen on the Mull farm. A diversion into the graveyard was taken to inspect the memorial to those who died on the SS Main, which was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1917. The ship was raised and visitors were allowed on board for a small fee, the money was used to pay for this memorial.
Now the walkers took a route down the dappled Glen Road and across a field to view the standing stone near Kilstay. This is thought to mark an early Christian site and burial ground which is adjacent to another early church recorded nearby.
A little dog thought to join the walkers just at the corner, but was deterred by its owner, and the sea wall was taken to by well-balanced people for the next stretch of the walk, which now took the route of the new coast path.
The walk went mostly to plan except that Forbes and Carol opted to walk along a ledge below the sea wall which was great for a while and then became REALLY difficult as the ledge narrowed and even got covered by the sea and seaweed!  They had really wet feet for the rest of the walk!    Entertainment was provided by a couple who walked along a ledge above the tide, which was not deep at this point, but gave a few wet feet before the road was once more gained.
A colourful garden at the entrance to the village was inspected and the abandoned shore road was followed past flowery and picturesque cottages, now a quiet corner fronting the sea. The harbour, with a half built or half demolished shed spoiling the view, was passed, and an old eighteenth century mill inspected, with its wheel and fast flowing water from the leat still intact.
Along Cailiness road a picnic site with comfortable seats on the beach welcomed the ramblers for a lunch break, a pleasant interlude with birds flying low over the water and the rushing music of waves close by.
A path cut through rampant wild flowers, including the now seeding cups of wild carrot and stands of aromatic mugwort, provided an interesting specimen of ‘robin’s pincushion’ on a wild rose – a hedgerow gall, looking like a mossy ball, which is caused by the minute gall-wasp which lays its eggs in the rose bud in spring.
The caravan site at Maryport was soon reached and the new coast path was left, to climb steeply uphill up past Creechan Farm, the exertion rewarded by splendid views over to the Mull and its lighthouse.
We took advantage of the veranda at the ‘shack’ at Maryport to have a rest and for the walkers to catch up before we went through the boring and deserted caravan site.  The slog up from the site was followed by the lesser but longer one up to and through Creechan, with a stop to view its lovely garden from where there is a fabulous view across to the Mull.
Now it was only a short distance through a field which, just a few days ago, had just been the stubble after silage but which was now very green and often boggy, and along the road back to Damnaglaur where delicious tea in the sunshine awaited hungry walkers, having completed a most pleasant and relaxing circular excursion in the southernmost part of this area.
I got lots of help especially from Shirley, Carol and Audrey, making drinks and cutting, buttering and putting jam on scones before we sat outside, joining the others in the sunshine.  It was a lovely relaxing time and I enjoyed showing Catherine around the garden.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 4 August Loch Inch & Balker Fell

4 August Loch Inch & Balker Fell    Report by Richard Kay

Cath, Thomas and Frances were at Castle Kennedy gardens at 10am to meet the other walkers: Jacqui, Mary, John, Duncan, Irene, Margaret, Audrey, Ken, Mary Sloan, Richard, Andrea, Robert, Gordon and a new lady from near Port William, Anne.  I did a scone count and went into the tea room to ask them to put 8 aside for us for later. Allan Leiper was supposed to have led the walk but was unavoidable detained elsewhere!  Cath agreed to lead the walk backed up by Richard who brought along his map too!
Saturday morning was bright and sunny with only a few clouds sailing across the largely blue sky.  Seventeen ramblers assembled under the trees at the Castle Kennedy gardens car park.  The group set off away from the gardens along the Estate road.  They turned off along a path through the woods around the south-eastern corner of the Black Loch and turned back to the New Luce road.  This was followed for a short distance until they reached the road leading to Sheuchan and Meikle Tongue below the escarpment of Sheuchan Hill.
The track turned uphill into the woods around the slopes of the hill.  Once they had crossed the Sheuchan Burn they turned back along the forest road through an area of recently thinned conifers.  The sharp tang of the recently cut logs stacked along the roadside added to the moist smell of the woods.  The machinery had turned the road rather muddy but it was soon passed.  The route then reached the open fields with views across the woods and lochs of the Estate.  The track followed the contour below the woods past Cullurpattie and on towards Balker Farm.
At Balker the ramblers were greeted vociferously by several dogs who were surprised to see such a large group.  Their owner soon silenced them as the group paused for a short chat.  Beyond Balker the track climbed gently.  Along the way they paused to examine a well set in an alcove in the wall.  A small plaque identified the date as June 1931.
It was Allan’s plan to go up to the mast from where we would get great views and we could have our lunch.  Well, after following the road past various buildings and then getting clogged down in mud as we walked along a track churned up by logging machinery, we started to climb up a good track towards the mast.
Beyond the well the walkers turned right up a track which climbed through the woods to the aerial on the edge of the moor.  Further thinning work had been carried out in the woods and piles of logs for the sawmills and small roundwood for firewood lined the track.  Above the woods the track crossed rougher moorland and climbed along the edge of the wood to the mast with its numerous aerials and equipment cabins.  The group had intended to pause here for lunch but the growth of the trees had obscured the view and the midges were enjoying the damp air hemmed in by the trees.  The ramblers decided to seek a better area and continued across the moor until they reached the open fields above Meikle Tongue.  Here they found a grassy bank with lovely views over the Black Loch to Castle Kennedy and the sea beyond.  A slight breeze kept the midges at bay.  A rumble of thunder and a few spots of rain drew attention to the dark clouds amassing to the north.
Fortunately we only got a very light shower despite the thunder clattering behind us and Margaret got to blow out her one birthday candle which I had stuck into her sandwich and tried to take a photo before the wind did the job for her.
After lunch they descended the steep brae and followed the track back to Cullurpattie.  After the houses they turned down through the woods towards the bridge over the tip of the Black Loch.  After pausing to admire the water lilies on the loch they climbed to the Estate road leading to Lochinch Castle.  They turned away from the castle and followed a rough track between the fields of grain until they reached the woods.  Once they reached the main belt they turned south along an attractive but muddy path through the wood until they reached another track.  The group took this route past some friendly miniature ponies until they reached the main drive.  A single Greylag goose was grazing in the field next to the drive.  Others could be heard honking on the loch below.
A short way up the drive the ramblers turned down towards the old Inch Church and graveyard.  The ruins were well overgrown with ivy and rhododendron and many of the old and ornate gravestones were hidden amongst the vegetation.
I enjoyed spending a bit of time in the old cemetery with its derelict church – many members of the Dalrymple family are buried there, the last seeming to be in 1996, but the area is vastly overgrown, which surprised me.
After crossing the graveyard they followed the old track which was marked only by shallow depressions in the field.  On reaching the woods they turned eastwards until they reached the Castle Kennedy drive.  As they walked back along the drive they had fine views over White Loch to the ruins of the old castle and a distant view of the current one.  Unfortunately the rain decided it had waited long enough and proceeded to deluge the group as they hurried back to their cars.  
I was really flagging and cadged a couple of jelly babies off Richard which gave me a quick sugar boost and then we came to the main drive down into the garden.  Soon afterwards it started to rain in earnest and waterproof jackets were donned for the short section left to walk back to the cars.
The day was concluded with welcome tea and scones in the tearoom before the group dispersed.
We had a quick footwear change before most of us piled into the tea room (not Gordon who had a bus to catch).  We all laughed a lot and enjoyed a longer than usual chat before leaving.  While we were in there the rain bucketed down but eased off as we were about to leave.