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Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wigtownshire Ramblers-Grobdale to Loch Skerrow June 2011

It's Saturday the 4th 0f June 2011. Today's walk is a circular walk from Grobdale, north of Gatehouse of Fleet, to Loch Skerrow.We're a group of 17 today.
Our walk leader is 'The Weaver',and I'll be pasting her report after the photos.

After parking the cars at the side of the Gatehouse to Laurieston road we begin the walk along a forest track eastwards past the Craig of Grobdale.It's a overcast day,but there's no rain forecast

A log stretch of forest road, gradually turning north, takes us past the White Top of Culreoch over Shiel Rig and across the Burnfoot burn.
We didn't take a close look at the caravan wreck,but looking closely at the above picture it's well furnished.The big dump tuck passed us twice.

At the high point on Shiel Rig we stop to identify the hills and surrounding area.
We can see the three Cairnsmores.To the north is Cairnsmore of Dee and a misty Cairnsmore of Carsphairn.To the west Cairnsmore of Fleet.

After rounding the Rig of Burnfoot we reach what is an all too common sight on Ordnance Survey Maps.
Dismantled Railway.
This is the 'Port Road',affectionately known for years as the 'Paddy Line',this was the Dumfries to Stranraer Railway.
Long sections of it are still walkable,we've now reached one of those sections.
Over to the west is a tributary of the Big Water of Fleet,It's the Little Water of Fleet.

The picture below was the view today. 

Below, from almost the spot, is the view as it was on the 15th of April 1963.
Little Water of Fleet Viaduct
My thanks to John Robin for allowing me to use this picture.

Now we head north easterly on the track.
There's much to remind us of the railroad.Cuttings through rock and remnants of bridges...

 ....and a fencepost from FRANCIS MORTON of Liverpool.We need to take a detour round a waterlogged section.

After a while we get our first glimpse of Loch Skerrow.
My thanks to Scoop for her contribution of pictures today.
Another fine bridge is crossed.
Weren't we a great country when we built and made things.We probably import the stone these days.

Above is a trial run with a photo editor known as GIMP ,It's free to download and can do much better things than I've done here...I just don't know how yet.

We've at last reached our lunch break spot.It's the western platform of Loch Skerrow station.
Below is how the station looked on the 19th of September 1964.
Photo:- Copyright of  W.A.C.Smith copied from the book by Robert Robotham
 Branches and Byways-South West Scotland and the Border Counties available from Amazon by clicking the link.
Someone said they'd lost a half crown here in 1962.!
There's not a lot left of the stationmasters house.(not our stationmaster I might add)

Lunch over and back on the move.Our first stop is to look at where the water for the station and trains was pumped out of Grobdale Lane (Burn).Even though the loch was closer,water was brought from here because it was purer and less likely to cause corrosion.(That's what I've been told anyway)
Now came a long walk along the course of Grobdale Lane.An indistinct track and boggy in places kept the group in single file.Mutterings were heard.

Eventually we reach better ground and smiling faces return.

We're approaching Grobdale of Girthon Farm.
On reaching the farm we were greeted by friendly pets and a friendly chat to the lady of the house followed.

Now we're on the last leg back to the cars.
For a more detailed account read the walk leaders report below.
A very enjoyable walk in the best company !

Ramblers walk Saturday 4th June, 2011

The day was overcast but not cold on Saturday, when eighteen members of the local ramblers’ association met at the entrance to the forest road near Grobdale, Gatehouse of Fleet.

This week’s walk took the wide and well made road uphill through mature trees until the view to the west opened out to show the Big Water of Fleet valley with Rusko castle standing proud in the centre. It was interesting to see the hills of recent walks – Ben John, Kenlum, Cairnharrow – from this vantage point.

As the high point of the road was passed, the quarry that is providing rock to resurface forest roads around the Big Water of Fleet viaduct, showed the ingenious technology of modern machinery with crushed rocks piled separately in their different grades.

As the Rig of Burnfoot was rounded, views to the north came in sight, showing all three of the Cairnsmores – Fleet, Dee and Carsphairn – as well as a myriad of other hills. The walk at last came to the end of its hard surface by the demolished Little Water of Fleet viaduct. The embankment which led to the nine arched rail viaduct is still in place and was explored by some members, whilst others took a welcome rest.

Now an overgrown path along the abandoned railway was taken. The skilfully built bridges and blasted cuttings showed the enormous undertaking of the railway navvies. The railway was opened in 1861 and eventually closed in 1965 with the Beeching cuts.

Before long Loch Skerrow was reached, a lonely spot which had been a railway halt with a passing loop, which enabled trains on the line between Big Water of Fleet viaduct and Castle Douglas to pass each other. Lunch was enjoyed at the side of the loch and the remaining ruins of the halt were explored. As with the Little Water of Fleet viaduct, army vandals blew up the buildings as an exercise. Platforms remain, as does a pile of bricks where the water tower had been positioned, as well as some walls of the railway houses. The water intake from the river, for replenishing the steam trains before their uphill journey to Creetown, had been found by a member to be almost intact, with sieves in place to remove debris, but no lid. It was examined before moving on.

The halt was used by fishermen and railway workers and could only be reached from the Gatehouse road by a track, which has now all but disappeared, alongside Grobdale Lane , skirting Laughengie Hill. This faint track was now followed back to the cars.

The mossy land is an SSSI with an abundance of ancient remains scattered over the long and boggy route. There are hut circles, burnt mounds and an old farmstead with field systems, sheiling huts and a corn kiln on the hill.

The winding burn of Grobdale Lane separates the two parishes of Girthon and Balmaghie. It narrows as the farm of Grobdale of Girthon nears and the ground is difficult to cross away from the track - tussocks, dead grass, deep peat hags, and drainage ditches create an obstacle course.

There was very little wild life to be seen although a deer ran across the hill and lizards quickly disappeared beneath tussocks by the path. The flowers were generally tiny tormentils, speedwells and lousewort, with areas of late bluebells marking drier patches on the hillside and ladies’ smock and bog cotton in the wetter parts.

At last the in bye fields of the farm were reached with well tended dry fields a welcome change from soft squelchy surfaces. The farm itself has been recently beautifully renovated and has a colourful well stocked garden and tidy outbuildings, quite a contrast to its desolate position.

Lovely red Luing cattle and Blackface sheep and lambs accompanied the walkers back to the road and the waiting cars. It had been a long but quite easy and most interesting ramble.

Next week’s walk Saturday 11th June, is 7 miles, Finnarts Bay to Cairnryan via Glenapp. Meet for car sharing 9am, Riverside, Newton Stewart, 9.45am Breastworks Stranraer, and 10am to catch a bus, at Cairnryan North car park NX 062 690. Please phone walk leader, 01776 700707 if going directly to the start. All new members welcome.


  1. An interesting walk Jim I am sure the stationmaster must have enjoyed himself on these old railway lines. Our weather on Saturday appears to have been a bit sunnier than yours.All produce at the barbie was well cooked and I have heard no complaints from the recipients.

  2. Looks a walk with plenty of variety.Glad to see your weather forecast for the week is much the same as ours Jim.Wouldnt want you getting a tan down there.

  3. Thanks guys,there was a lot of nostalgia for the railways on this walk.I suppose Beeching wasn't solely
    responsible,but we really shouldn't have ripped up the rails.Life was never the same afterwards.


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