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Sunday, 9 November 2008

Wigtownshire Ramblers-Creetown to Cairn Holy

It's Saturday the 8th of November and todays walk is a linear walk from Creetown to Cairn Holy.A few of us have parked our cars at Kirkdale for the return.The weather forecast isn't good.

Sixteen walkers today.We're assembled in Creetown carpark.
Creetown, originally Ferrytown of Cree(Port Aiseig a' Chrìch), is a small town of about 750 people in Dumfries and Galloway (South West Scotland), on the north side of the Solway Firth. As the name indicates, it was once a fishing village and at one end of a ferry across the River Cree estuary to the former county town of Wigtown.

Internationally, it is best known for its Country Music Festival and for being at the centre of filming for that unusual film The Wicker Man.
The house in this collage has a date of 1735 above the door.

This first part of the walk takes us through Castle Cary woods...

...overlooking Castle Cary caravan park.

Our first point of interest is a spring/well which brings good luck to all who throw a coin in.

It certainly seemed somewhat magical,and there was money in it.

Now we're above the woods,and for most of the rest of the walk we're treated to wonderful views over Wigtown Bay.

Here's an ancient feature that the archaelogists haven't quite figured out yet.Narrow stone slabs equidistant apart heading down to the shore.Apparently this is one of only two of this type of wall ? in Scotland.

Continuing on we now look down on Kirkmabreck Quarry Quay...

...while behind us the Cree wends it way to the bay.
We've a few obstacles to cross today...

...Curly wonders what all the fuss is about.

Now we're in the area of the Kirkmabreck Quarries.Scattered all around here are remnants from when the quarries were worked.

There's even a nuclear bunker.

At this point we can view all points south down to the Mull of Galloway.

We're visiting three of the quarries.I believe this one is known as the Glebe-same as the blog.Kirkmabreck high quality granite was shipped to Liverpool where it was sent on to worldwide destinations.The dock trustees who also owned the quarry built the Albert Dock in 1845.

When trying to match two pictures,one must make sure that both pictures have been taken either horizontally or vertically-not one of each-or the above results.

I took this picture some time ago.
This granite boulder sits in the layby off the A75 near Creetown.

Here's a passage from the Geological Magazine; July 1955,by Blyth, F. G. H.

The Kirkmabreck granodiorite, near Creetown, south Galloway
F. G. H. Blyth

Near Creetown, in southwest Scotland, an elongated granodiorite, mass intrudes folded Silurian strata. The rock is well exposed in the Kirkmabreck quarries, where it has been worked for construction stone for many years. The petrography, flow layering, and joint system are described, and the last two are related to quarrying directions and the regional tectonic pattern.

I understood every word of that.!

There's a lot of mud around as we trek up to the next quarry.

It was suggested that this might be a cattle salt lick...I wonder ?

There's a lot of young cattle about at the moment.Some of the highest quality cattle in Britain can be found in the Galloway region.

At this point we've just visited the second quarry.For some strange inexplicable reason the pictures i took of the second quarry have vanished.

Now as we reach the higher quarry we stop for lunch.

This is the deepest quarry.Hideo Furuta,a well known Japanese sculptor who died last year practically lived around the quarries.Here's a passage from his obituary published in the Scotsman.

No-one could charm support from even the most unpromising sponsors the way Furuta could. At one point, I found myself writing to a bank manager to vouch for the value of some drawings he was offering as collateral for a loan. He got the loan. More importantly, he persuaded Tarmac to give him the use of Kirkmabreck quarry, near Creetown in Galloway. He made his home there for many years, living in a dilapidated house that went with the quarry and working a seam of beautiful white granite. When Tarmac eventually asked him to move, with the support of the people of Creetown he found another disused quarry near Carsluith, which in turn became his base.

I've also been told by several people this is the resting place of at least two cars.I think the quarry would have to start production again to verify the truth.

I wonder why after almost 300 years they don't quarry anymore.Have the seams run out?

Now derelict this was the original Kirkmabreck parish church.

The present
parish church is the one we passed back in Creetown.

There are some very old graves here.

As we leave the church it's still overcast.We cross over moorland till we reach the road at Bagbie.

There's a well known and photographed standing stone here.I've picture it before,I'll dig it out sometime and show it.

We're now beyond Bagbie farm.It may be dull overhead,but it's a bright outlook from todays walkers.

Now at Daffin farm (is that stating the obvious)we take a short break.

There's a duck a pheasant and a wildfowler on this fence.Is this art?

Now we're heading through the Cleugh of Doon,where a few of us take a little detour to the summit of the Doon of Carsluith.Here's another fine view of Wigtown Bay and all points south...

...while below us sits Carsluith Castle.

Back to the track taking care on the slopes.

Whenever i have visitors,the Belted Galloways seem to disappear.A fellow walker tells me there aren't as many breeders of Galloways nowadays.

A line of telegraph poles head back to the Cleuch of Doon.Cleugh is Gaelic for narrow glen or valley.

Now we're above Stroans glen,and Kirkdale comes into view.

Kirkdale Mains farm and an interesting ruin.

D & G, in their places of interest describe it as
a small detached ruin of a gazebo-like tower.

Described thus
Kirkdale Mains (c.1790): Octagonal steading, perhaps by R & J Adam.
I was hoping to do a 360 degree panorama which I'd have put on CLeVR,but there were too many negative points in the scene,and i'd also gone off line,so i decided against.

Now a view of Kirkdale House.I'm reliably informed that the pronuncation is Kirdle.

A friend of the family was the author John Buchan,who got a lot of inspiration for the 39 steps while visiting.

Now we reach Cairn Holy,two sites of neolithic chambered cairns.

They're believed to go back to circa 2nd and 3rd century BC.

Quite a number of our group belong to the Antiquarian society,so there's a keen interest taken.

There's a Canadian or American gentleman viewing the the tombs.Scoop one gives him her camera to get this group shot.It's good to get in the picture occasionally.Thanks for that and permission to publish.

Now we're nearly done.This is the restored Barholm Castle,the stronghold of the local sept of the McCullochs.It's supposed to have been a hiding place in 1566 of John Knox (1514-1572).Nowadays you can book yourself in for a little bit of historic luxury.Interested? Take a look at
...and we're done.
A very interesting and historical walk,and the weather was fairly kind to us.


  1. Again wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing. I only wish I could join you on your hikes. Yes, you have the correct pronunciation for Kirkdale. Well done!!

  2. Thanks for your comments Andrew.Much appreciated.
    I'll be back around Kirkdale in the near future.

  3. Hi, I wonder if anyone could help me. I have been upto creetown a couple of times looking for fell hill cottages where my mother would have lived with her family back in the 1920's but could not find it. I was also looking for claughreid cottage where my mother was born but could not find that either. I would very much appreciate it if anyone has any information on these places.

  4. Hello Ann,the area of Fell Hill and Claughreid is to the east of Creetown.
    Fell hill is the location of the Fell quarry above Kirkmabreck,Carsluith where the old Kirkmabreck church stood.
    Claughreid is further east,and is accessed from the Cairn Holy road.I haven't been up the Claughreid road,but there's a picture here of the road-
    There are a number of derelict cottages all around the quarry area.

  5. Hi Ann

    Go to the internet site given in the comment above and click on the map below the photo. It then shows the spot from where the photo was taken. Follow the road north from there past the sheepfold (below the summit of Cairnharrow) and you will see the Claughreid cottages, where I'm sure your mother must have been born.

    You can also see the cottages on the 1912 Bartholomew Survey Atlas of Scotland given in the link:

    (Click on the map and zoom in and pan to the area north of Cairnholy)

    You can get through backroads from there to Kirkmabreck so it all makes sense for the time period in question.

    Were you born in the area and where did you go to school?

  6. Hi there. I'd just like to mention that my family actually own Claughreid cottage (the one that you can just about spot in the photo) and I was up there only just this weekend. Drop me a comment if you'd like to know more about it.

  7. Hello there, i was wondering if i could have permission to use your photograph of the Fell Quarry for a project I am completing for the Creetown Initative at the moment?

    I am writing up a set of briefing sheets with background to Creetown, including one sheet about the quarries, and am looking for a contemporary photo of the quarries - yours was one of the best i have found.



  8. Hi Lucy,i've no problem with your using the Fell quarry photograph.Glad to be of help.


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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