Saturday, 17 November 2012

Scoops Reports 2012 - 17 November Stranraer – Portpatrick

17 November Stranraer – Portpatrick  Report by Gordon Phillips

Saturday November 17th Wigtownshire ramblers met at Stranraer to walk 10 miles to the lovely village of Portpatrick on the Southern Upland Way (SUW).  Fifteen walkers, including two visitors, one from New Zealand and the other from the U.S.A., left from the Breastworks car park on a clear, cold and sunny morning to climb up past the cemetery to join the SUW at Gallowhill Farm where our leader showed us two Belgian Beef Cattle grazing in the field.  These are a rare breed to this area.
Two young women who are working at Kirkcowan to earn their board and keep – Tasha who comes from NZ and Estelle from California joined us today.  Tasha was well equipped for the day while Estelle had on cut off leggings and trainers with tiny socks!    She was told what the walk would entail but this did not put her off joining us.  It was decided that Mary would drop them off at their hostel later, on her way home.  With these two women, we were a party of 15.  The other walkers were: Duncan and Irene (leader and backup), Gordon, Audrey, Margaret, Mary (x 2), John, Florence, Carl, Claire, Christine Sloan and me!
On reaching Knockquhassen reservoir two latecomers joined us swelling our numbers to seventeen. Passing the water a gaggle of pink footed geese were feeding until they heard us and took off with a very fine display of their ability to fly without crashing into each other.  This section of the SUW to the cairn on Broad Moor is extremely muddy which made it very challenging finding a way through the bogs and peat.  Everyone was disappointed that the authorities have allowed the path to deteriorate into this condition.  Some duckboards could be put down to help walkers pass through without resorting to wading in the standin g water. The leader is going to get in touch with the group’s paths officer and report the condition of the SUW at this point and hopefully something can be done to save this valuable asset that brings thousands of visitors to the area every year.
When we had finished the seemingly endless trek uphill, along the road, we reached our turnoff point to go through a double gate and it was here that Steve joined us.  He and Dawn recently moved to a cottage close by.  Leslie had also joined us along the way.  Before too long we were bogged down on a track which had deteriorated drastically since Duncan and   Irene had done the recce, last week and there were squeals of alarm and surprise as we tried to navigate our way through some pretty bad terrain!  The person who found it the most difficult was, of course, Estelle who gave up trying to keep the water and mud out of her trainers and just headed through it all without a murmur!  
This section was at last left behind as we went through the new gate and climbed the hill from where we got good views of the reservoirs and of the wind turbines.  It was certainly windy enough today to keep them turning!  Coming down from the top we encountered another boggy section caused by animals using the water trough but this area was soon passed and we had more road walking to do.  Sweets helped to raise our blood sugar levels – very necessary as it was after noon and lunch time was not expected to be had until we reached Killantringan.  We met Jacqui and her dog, as we got closer to the coastline.  When we got close to the bay, Duncan veered off to the left but I walked with Tasha and Estelle towards Killantringan so they could get a glimpse of this lovely part of the coastline and take photos.  Irene also went that way as she knew there was a gate through which we could go.
Once we reached the hard road Knock and Maze the leader pointed out a fine example of a standing stone before we arrived a Killantringan Lighthouse for a lunch stop sitting on a hill overlooking the sea with its fine views over the channel to Northern Ireland.
Duncan came back towards us to let us know that they were having lunch behind the hill, the summit of which we usually reach after seeing the lighthouse.  It was windy where they had sat but a bit more sheltered where Jacqui was sitting with Tillie, her lovely little boxer dog.  It would have been harder getting going again after lunch but we were fairly keen to move as we were getting colder!
I kept back with the  ‘girls’ as they took more photos so the group had moved on too quickly for me to get another photo with everyone in.  Before long it was obvious that Estelle was suffering from the cold and I stopped with them while Tasha took off her socks to give to her.  Estelle really struggled to loosen her trainers’ laces enough to put this thicker pair of socks on and then struggled into Tasha’s over trousers. 
She also got Tasha’s gloves and my ‘buff’ – I was happier that she now had something on her head to stop the heat from leaving her that way.  I had waved to Irene to keep moving but Florence came back to us and gave Estelle some ginger tea to warm her inside.
The next part of the SUW is a cliff walk on excellent paths past Dunskey Glen and the old coastguard station before a steep flight of steps took us down the village of Portpatrick from whence the local bus took us all back to Stranraer for a well-earned cup of coffee with fresh scones in the warm comfort of Stir It, a popular local tearoom.
The four of us moved on, Florence and I trying to set a pace for them to keep up to get their circulation moving – Tasha was perfectly alright having been prepared for the weather anyway and she was enjoying the walk.  Estelle kept asking how much further we had to go and I could not tell her without depressing her further.  Once we came down into the first of the bays she was happier as she had more photos to take but Florence was trying to get us to move more quickly so that we could catch the bus due to leave at 3pm. We got there just in time for 14 of us to board it.  A dozen grateful walkers went to Stir It where Beth and her staff had started to clear everything away!  For one awful moment I thought all the scones had gone!  However, I was in luck along with 4 or 5 others and I enjoyed my fruit scone with my strong tea.  
The others were spoilt for choice with the other cakes on display!  Gordon had been able to join us as his bus was not due until later.
Our leaders were thanked for their efforts today as the appalling ground conditions experienced by the group on the SUW had made the walk a great deal more challenging than had been expected.

1 comment:

The Glebe Blog said...

That fifth picture down is a classic.