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Sunday, 20 June 2010

Wigtownshire Ramblers-St Helena's Island June 2010

It's Saturday the 19th of June 2010.
Todays walk is a circular starting at the Wigtown County Golf club near Glenluce.
We'll be dining in the club after the walk.
A leisurely walk like todays is usually well attended but it's also holiday time.Nevertheless the group is well into double figures.
Suitable attired for the lovely day it is (even I'm wearing shorts today), we begin by heading to the shoreline of Luce Bay and head north along the Piltanton Burn Estuary.There are a fair number of seabirds and swans around Ringdo Sands.
A little long grass and a few nettles brings us to the A75 trunk road near Challoch.It's busy as usual,but we're over safely.A theme throughout todays walk was remembering oldies music and adverts.
Now we're on the minor road which will bring us to Glenluce Abbey.At Boreland the main Ayr/Stranraer railway line crosses overhead.This bridge is well built and well reinforced.Stationmaster takes a particular interest.
Wild roses,foxgloves and gorse are particularly brightly coloured at this time of year.Large thistles are in preparation for blooming next month.
Reaching Boreland Bridge over the Luce, a break is taken.Low water levels slowly flowing give us a chance to observe the small trout darting around in the water.Here in Galloway we have an excellent body looking after the fish stocks in our rivers and burns.The Galloway Fisheries Trust do sterling work to maintain levels.They've also got an excellent website here at The Galloway Fisheries Trust
Now we've reached Glenluce Abbey where we'll take a tea/coffee break.
Glenluce Abbey was founded in about 1192 by Roland, Lord of Galloway.
An information board details Robert the Bruce's pilgrimage.
More on the abbey here
Glenluce Abbey
Colourful plants and a field of Jersey calves are another pleasant distraction here.
Back on the road we head south for a while on the New Luce/Glenluce road before turning east towards a place called Scrimple on the OS map.Records show it should be Scrimple Hill.

Scrimple.Com is a company in the U.S.A which give out discount coupons.
I think this Scrimple comes from the old scots scrimply which meant barely or scarcely.

Down flowed her robe, a tartan sheen,
Till half a leg was scrimply seen.
And such a leg ! my bonnie Jean
Alone could peer it.
-Burns :- The Vision

Now at Number 3 Holding we've turned south heading past Fineview Holdings and it is a fine view.Luce Bay and The Isle of Man being predominant.
Something interesting's going on as we arrive at Glenluce viaduct.
Three young canoeists were intending to have some fun in the Water of Luce, but somehow have managed to sink one of their pair of canoe's by dropping it off the viaduct.They're having no luck trying to fish it out with their canoe straps.Some of us are urging them to get diving.We caught up with them later and they still hadn't retrieved it,but had a plan.

Now we do a circular walk through the Wood of Park,returning along the disused railway line to reach the Castle of Park.Leased to the Landmark Trust by Historic Scotland it's available for holidays.Castle of Park

Built in 1590 by Thomas Hay,the son of the last abbot of Glenluce it's quite an imposing tower house.
The inscription above the door reads

"Blissit be the name of the Lord. This
verk vas begvn the first day of March
1590 be Thomas Hay of Park
and Janet Mak-dovel his spovs."


Blessed be the name of the Lord. This
work was begun the first day of March
1590 by Thomas Hay of Park
and Janet Macdowell his spouse.

There's also a web page which makes good reading by a descendent of Thomas Hay here.

Back on the bridge the canoeists are about to leave minus one canoe.One said he'd been down,but it had been too deep.Plan B was now in force.Lets hope it worked!

Now we join the track along the bank of the Luce.After a while we reach the footbridge that takes us onto St Helena's Island.I believe it's only an island in really high tides.Apparently the name comes from St Helena in the South Atlantic ocean where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1815.The landowner was involved in the transportation and jailing of Napoleon to the island and upon his return to Scotland decided to commemorate the occasion by naming this small piece of shoreland St Helena's Island.

Now emerging onto Luce Sands, old tree trunks and stumps are seen as animals and other things.An elephant,a dinosaur and a praying indian holy man were among those imagined.
Now a walk along the shore takes the group back to the club house.A seabird nest that had been located by the walk leaders on the recce was amazingly re located.
A strange short ceramic pipe produced a musical note,(that took some puff),and more rock and roll and pop was remembered and sung.
After a quick freshen up it's into the clubhouse for dinner.
My starter's a pint of Guinness,then it's the Haggis and Chicken followed by Mint Parfait followed by coffee.
It's been a very enjoyable day in very enjoyable company.

Now for those who like a lot more detail than I include here's the walk leaders report.

St Helena ’s Island , Saturday 19th June, 2010

The ramblers enjoyed another glorious day out on Saturday, this time around Glenluce. As it was nearly the longest day it had been decided to have a late start followed by supper at the County Golf Club . Accordingly it was 12.30pm when the lightly clad group set out along the shore for a leisurely eight mile walk.
Most of the early flowers had died away to be replaced by duller orache, glasswort and sea spurrey but the tide line was littered with cockle, mussel, and razor shells along with other interesting beach detritus.
After a trek through long grass, a field full of cows and a crossing of the A75, the quiet road to Glen Luce Abbey was followed with lovely views of the surrounding countryside. With nearby fields being cut for silage and passing tractors trailing unwieldy agricultural implements it was good to be out at leisure, enjoying the weather with such convivial company.
The bridge over the River Luce was a convenient stop to look for small trout darting about in the shallow water, soon followed by a longer stop, on the lawns at Glen Luce Abbey. The picturesque ruins were admired whilst learning of the last pilgrimage of Robert the Bruce from the information board.
The old Pilgrim’s Way was now followed uphill and through fields giving good views of the Luce Valley with the viaduct in the background. The road bridge by the viaduct was reached in time to watch some lads searching for a canoe which had sunk below the bridge – unfortunately the river was too deep there for it to be retrieved.
Castle O’Park woods were next, an oasis of birdlife, followed by cool pine forest and a breathless grassy track along the old railway line, to bring the party back to the viaduct and on to the path to St Helena ’s Isle. Under the A75 road bridge the dark peaty water of the River Luce disappeared completely to reappear some yards further on, a telling sign of how little rain there has been in the district of late.
Out onto the salt marsh there were little flat fish and tiddlers to be seen under the footbridge over a gulley, and a soft grassy path to follow to St Helena ’s Isle. This would only be a true island at an exceptionally high tide, and is said to have been named by Admiral Dalrymple Hay, the local landlord, after a visit to Napoleon’s place of incarceration. He is also said to have planted willows here which came from Napoleon’s grave but there were no signs of these now, only a proliferation of Burnett rose, this month adorned by its beautiful flowers.
The last leg of the walk took the shoreline again where oyster catchers’ nests had to be avoided and over thirty swans glided in the distance where the channel of the Piltanton Burn met that of the Water of Luce.
The County Golf Club was reached once more and after the party had refreshed itself a delicious supper was enjoyed by all, a welcome end to a warm, relaxed and gentle walk.

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