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Friday, 17 October 2008

Dirk Hatteraick and Meg Merrilees Cave

Thursday the 16th of October,and i decide to take a run over to Kirkdale nr Gatehouse of Fleet for a little exploration.

I park by the old bridge,which i assume used to be the main thoroughfare.

I've been here a few times,but usually upwards to Cairn Holy.
I doubt whether many of these old GR postboxes remain.
Kirkdale house belonging to the Hannay family is close.The name Hannay is often associated with John Buchans 'The Thirty Nine Steps'.Apparently Buchan was a family friend.Thats for another visit though,i'm going down to the shore.

I'm wondering if there's a way through under the A75.
Over the old bridge i move down to the Kirkdale burn and looking back at the bridge i take a few pictures.I cant get back far enough to take a picture of the whole bridge.
I'm getting in to stitching pictures together.There's good software available to do it now.

Here's how the four pictures above turned out.

A further crop completes the picture.

It looks as though there is access via a dodgy looking walkway.Access would be difficult,so i'm not going to chance it.I'll cross the A75.

There is a footpath,and very close to the road is this ivy covered structure.

Looking on the internet i discover that Kirkdale house had it's own icehouse.Is this it ? There's a big boulder blocking a small square exit at the back..Sounds plausible to me.

Looking at where the burn exits,i think i'd have struggled.

It's quite a rough descent but i eventually get to the shore.It looks like i've a stony walk ahead of me.

Here's where the Kirkdale burn reaches the shore.This isn't as easy to cross as it looks.The picture doesn't show the real perspective.The boulders are quite big and the water's deep and fast in places.I took great care in selecting my stepping stones.

Great care is needed over all these rocks.Even with my best boots on it's easy to slip.

This must be about where i want to be.

It's up here i need to be.Again care needs to be taken.The ground is uneven,slippy and still wet from the earlier rain.

Here's another group of pictures for stitching together...

...and the result.
So this is Dirk Hatteraicks cave mentioned by the Reverend C.H.Dick in 'Highways and Byways in Galloway and Carrick' published in 1916.
Here's a passage from the book.
'The cave is not easy to enter.It begins with a narrow slit in the rock shaped like an isosceles triangle,the floor is somewhere about twenty feet below,and you look down from the opening into deep darkness'
He's right about that.

There's two ropes of different thickness to aid your descent.I got about two yards and decided against.
The Reverend Dick continues..
'For the first yard or so you can keep yourself erect,but must then stretch yourself on the earth and slide or wriggle down the chimney until you are able to rise without knocking your head against the rock'

He then goes on to mention the dimentions of the cave,about forty feet in length,no more than six feet wide,and height from seven to twelve feet.
I'll get myself equipped with a torch and suitable clothing next time i come.I'd really like to have a look in.

The cave's had quite a few visitors judging by the carvings.I noticed one dated 1894.

When i'm ready to leave,i wonder could i take a shortcut upwards?Perhaps if i'd had some rock climbing training.I don't think so.

Heading back along the shoreline now,this pockmarked and criss crossed rock takes my eye.It's more than likely nature has created it's appearance,but imagination could take you to the smugglers cave and a 'Tally Stone' to keep count.

Back at Ravenshall woods where i'd made my descent,i disturbed a red squirrel who began leaping and running through the tree branches.I pointed my camera in the general direction-took four pictures and it looks as though i missed it.

I'm taking a closer look at the Kirkdale burn as i head back upwards...

...I don't envy those responsible for the maintenance of this bridge.
I'll be back for more exploration sometime,but i doubt whether this would be suitable for a ramblers walk,although knowing how intrepid our group is it wouldn't surprise me if they haven't already done it.


  1. Hi, Brilliant photos and interesting reading too. I think you're trying to test us with the tree and the squirrel - 'cos I found it - its there ok. Look again.

  2. Glad you found the squirrel,i'm still looking-must be my red/green deficiency

  3. I can see the squirrel too, it's almost exactly in the middle of the picture.

  4. Good for you Jayne,i'm still looking.

  5. Wonderful pictures. They bring back so many memories. I was born in Kirkdale House in 1951. Yes this was the original bridge for the A75. I'll be very interested to read your blog after you visit the House. Lots of nice pictures please!! House - Gardens - Farm - Views to the Sea

  6. Wonderful pictures. They bring back so many memories. I was born in Kirkdale House in 1951. Yes, this was the original bridge for the A75. I'm looking forward to your blog after you visit the House. Hope I don't miss it!! Lots of pictures please: House - Gardens - Farm - Sea Views to Wigtown and IoM

  7. Which photostitching software do you use? You do a marvellous job with it

  8. Hello Andrew,glad you're enjoying the blog.You might enjoy next Saturday's Ramblers blog.We're above Carsluith way.Trouble is i'll only have my back up camera-my good one's got to go for repair.
    The photos are stitched by Autostitch-i found it by a Google search.It's excellent.Made by Matthew Brown and David Lowe of
    University of British Columbia.(mbrown[at]
    Would recommend it anytime.


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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