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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Wigtownshire Ramblers-Knockdolian 2009

It's Saturday the 28th of November.I'm leading todays walk.It's virtually a repeat of one we did in November 2008.
Knockdolian 2008

I've written the press report for this walk,so i'll be using most of that for this blog.

Fifteen walkers met at the car park in Ballantrae overlooking the bay.
There was a slight chill in the air,with just a few scattered clouds.

The Mull of Kintyre looks no more than a stone's throw away.
I've slightly doctored the registration number on this BMW,but it just as near read 'Reaper'.Who owns a car like this.? Could it be an undertaker with a sense of humour.
Heading out of the village the first point of interest was the ruins of the 15th century Ardstinchar Castle,where the walkers learned a little of it's history and of a visit by Mary,Queen of Scots in 1563.

They now followed the road running alonside the River Stinchar.
The Stinchar valley is well known for it's breeding bird community,and buzzards,grey herons,greenfinches and pheasants were among those spotted on the outward walk.

Continuing north east they passed the ruins of a large residence at Balnowlart,which some walkers speculated may have once been a shooting lodge belonging to the Earl of Stair.

Passing Macherquhat and Finnarts cottage they now left the road and began the ascent of Knockdolian.At 265 metres it's not a big hill,but very steep on three sides.Varying degrees of fitness between the walkers created a well stretched line up to the summit.As height was gained the views east along the unspoilt river valley opened up.With frequent stops to catch ones breath,lots of time was afforded to admiring the views.
I intend to suggest climbing Knockdolian again in 2010,but possibly starting from Colmonell and taking a route up from the Lime Kilns on the north side.
The leader points out something.(Thanks for the pic Scoop)
A few of todays blog pictures are from Thursday when i did the recce with the deputy walk leader.Due to unforeseen circumstances i've a new deputy walk leader today.

Eventually the summit was reached by all walkers,and time was taken to identify many of the landmarks in view.Ireland,the Mull of Kintyre,Holy Island and Arran were picked out as was Turnberry Lighthouse and a murky Ardrossan and Irvine.Down on the North Rhins the Corsewall lighthouse was flashing and the regular ferry traffic was turning into Loch Ryan.
The three wise men wonder which way is East.
Ailsa Craig.
Reluctantly the walkers began the descent.Finding shelter from the wind in a rocky outcrop they stopped for lunch.
Here they overlooked Colmonell,the Iron Age Duniewick Fort,and the Knockdolian Estate.Knockdolian House is a large mansion built in 1842 for the MacConnels,and now the property of the Duchess of Wellington.

Duniewick Fort was atop the rocky outcrop in the centre of this picture.

After lunch the descent continued over a harvested Kale field,through some boggy patches and a burn.A lot of fun ensued as the group crossed a difficult high barbed wire fence and a muddy gateway.
There was a really good atmosphere amongst todays walkers.The fun we all had crossing the fence and gate bolstered that mood even higher.An unpublishable photo by Scoop was produced later.
An ornate brick archway built into the hillside was spotted.One intrepid walker hacked through gorse and bracken to discover it contained a water tank.
Now the walkers were back on the road just above the ruins of the 16th century tower house Knockdolian Castle.Todays walk would have seen the group walking through the estate had there not been a shoot taking place.
Coming upon the beaters truck,pleasantry's were exchanged.The walkers were told it hadn't been the most productive of shoots.A fox was spotted amongst the bag of pheasants.

Now they headed down to the Stinchar for the return to Ballantrae.Here they encountered the Ghillie who'd just collected more of the bags.He explained it had been too clear a day,drizzle and mist were the best conditions for shooting.

Continuing past the fishermen's huts which are dotted along this stretch of the river,dippers and more grey herons were spotted.
Crossing a stile,the next stretch of the river is a narrow path through the woods which come right down to the riverside.The recent storms and spate have had an effect,and great care is taken to avoid fallen branches and washed up debris.

This sign is surely proof that the world is shrinking.
With the condition of the riverbank deteriorating the group rejoin the road opposite Macherquhat.They follow this for the next couple of kilometres,before rejoining the riverside for the last stretch back into Ballantrae.
Another view of the ruined building at Balnowlart.Perhaps a reader of this blog can throw some light on it's history.

As we near the completion of our walk,the sun begins to lower in the sky.It's been a good walk.
With spectacular views and the first dry walk for some time,tea and cake at the garden centre cafe finished of a very rewarding day.
On Thursday's recce this was the last view.

I think the walk went well.
Hopefully the fellow rambler who sent me this email won't mind it's reproduction here.
Thank you for a fabulous walk today! We were SO lucky with the weather, I can't remember when we last had the walk, views, weather, laughter and great company all together in such huge brilliant proportions on a Saturday! It all added up to a memorable day. Isn't life fantastic?


  1. Hi!!!

    Where have you been?

    The last pic is perfect. Keep well...

  2. Hi Yağmur,thanks.Been a bit under the weather recently.Back up to full strength soon hopefully.

  3. Good to see you got the weather for it Jim.
    It`s one of the best wee hills I`ve been up this year.

  4. Hi Alex and Bob,you're right it's a little beauty isn't it.I think we'll be doin it again in the spring.

  5. info for balnowlart house - may be worth while visiting derelict places website on this link -

  6. Hi the person who's sent the link for 'Derelict Places'.If you see our 2010 climb of Knockdolian,you'll see I've linked the site there.
    If it's you,well done good work.


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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