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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Wigtownshire Ramblers Kilsture to Wigtown November 2011

Saturday the 5th 0f November.
We're a group of 24 for today's walk.
It's a glorious morning.This will be the first dry walk for ages.
It's a linear walk and some cars have been left in Wigtown.The start point is the Kilsture forest car park on the Garlieston road.
We'll pass the Osprey's nest on today's walk,but because it's supposed to be a secret location I'll give no more away.

After crossing the main road we take the South Balfern farm road.

Some fine looking horses regard us with interest.

At South Balfern the road turns north.
We next pass through the very popular Drumroamin Farm camping and caravan park.There's not many caravans about today,but when I passed through here in the spring/summer it was packed solid.

Now we pass through a couple of green fields to get to the stone track at Skellarie.
Although sheep graze out here on the Cree and Bladnoch estuaries,there's nothing else apart from the stone track which we'll follow north.(there's a feature on the OS map called Skellarie rock, but I don't recall seeing it).

Here's some interesting information on the area we're walking today.
This is from 'History of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway' by Peter Handyside MacKerlie published in 1906,now out of copyright.
As regards the derivation of the names, Baldoon is from baile-duin, the town of the castle or fort. East of North Balfem there is the site of a camp. In Pontes Map, we also find a place called Castelarwick, near to the point opposite to Wigton, with a burn between it and Baldoon Castle. Balfern has been derived from baile-fearna, the town of the alder tree, or fearn, alder trees. The Gaelic fearna, for the alder tree, has certainly been a useful one to topographers to fill up a want which evidently has been felt. North and South Balfern may be rendered the town of the alder tree or trees. Under Carsphairn in our account of the parish, we have entered on the subject concerning the word fern ; but the position of Balfem does not admit of the same solution. Pont spells it Balfairn, and possibly it may be a corruption of the Gaelic baile-fearain, the prefix for a village, etc., and the suffix used to express land in contradistinction to water. At the period the name was given, the low lands of Baldoon wore probably partly under water, as part of the Bay of Wigton. They are close to Balfern. On the shore near Bal-doon, there was a farm called Skyith by Pont. It is now absorbed, but the name, as mentioned elsewhere, is from the Norse skag, ska, or skagi, a low cape or ness, which applies to the position as it was known. Another farm was named Skel-larlie (spelled Skellary by Pont), but which name has also disappeared. There is a rock, however, called Skellarie off the shore of Wigton Bay, where the land is. The name seems to be from the Norse word skeljar, meaning shells.
On the south side of the mouth of the Bladenoch, on that part of the Baldoon property reclaimed from the sea, are the cockle shell beds which Symson (1684) mentions as furnishing incredible quantities thrown up by the sea, and which then, as now, were used over the whole shire for lime, after being burned.

We continue north passing the remains of what was the 'Tracked Target Range' of the former Wigtown R.A.F camp.

We continue up alongside Baldoon Sands.We see quite a number of geese in the air.A Mumuration,Chattering or Flock of Starlings (take your pick of collective nouns) are performing great aerial feats.

After passing the Crook of Baldoon,we stop for lunch.

Stones are arranged to make comfortable seats.

After lunch we retrace our steps to the Crook of Baldoon.This picture makes me think of our government.
'Sheep leading the blind' .

Even more geese flow over as the sheep leave us to make our own way.

At the Crook of Baldoon we turn inland.

The above map is courtesy of Secret Scotland .

We make our way to the Control Tower.

The main runway points towards Cairnsmore of Fleet.
It's a fun look round the control tower.
Lofty didn't volunteer to show a parachute landing.

Along on the main runway myself and Scoop take some interesting pictures.

Our next target,the ruins of Baldoon Castle seem close as the crow flies........

........but we aren't crows.

Eventually we reach Baldoon.
It's haunted by the ghost of Janet Dalrymple.

Here's an extract from Gazetteer of Scottish and Irish Ghosts by Peter Underwood, Souvenir Press, 1973.

The ruins themselves, quiet and deserted and with an air of tragedy about them, are haunted by the ghost of Janet Dalrymple who walks here in the small hours, her white garments splashed with blood. In the middle of the seventeenth century Janet, the eldest daughter of Sir James Dalrymple, was forced by her parents to marry David Dunbar, heir of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon, although she loved the practically penniless Archibald, third Lord Rutherford. Dutifully, and worn down by her parents' persistent objections to Archibald, Janet at last married David Dunbar in the kirk of Old Luce, two miles from Carsecleugh Castle, the old home of the Dalrymples. Her two brothers took her to the church and both declared later that her hands were cold as ice on that hot summer day.

There are three main versions of the events that gave rise to the haunting. In the first version the bride stabs her bridegroom in the bridal chamber and dies insane; in the second version the bridegroom stabs the bride and is found insane; and in the third version the disappointed Archibald conceals himself in the bridal chamber and escapes through the window into the garden after stabbing the bridegroom. Whatever the facts, Sir Walter Scott immortalised the story in The Bride of Lammermoor and describes how the door of the bridal chamber was broken down after hideous shrieks were heard from within and how the bridegroom was found lying across the threshold, dreadfully wounded and streaming with blood, while the bride crouched in a chimney corner, her white night-gown splashed with blood, grinning and muttering and quite insane. She never recovered and died shortly afterwards, on September 12th, 1669.

Dunbar is said to have recovered from his wounds but refused to discuss the events of his bridal night. In due course he married a daughter of the seventh Earl of Eglinton and eventually died from a fall from his horse in 1682. Archibald, Janet's true lover, never married and died in 1685. A macabre touch is added to the story by local tradition that it was the Devil who nearly killed Dunbar and who tormented poor Janet until she was demented. Whatever the events of the night, they seem to have left their mark here forever and there are some who claim to have seen the sad and awesome ghost of Janet wandering pathetically among the quiet ruins, most often on the anniversary of her death.

It's too early in the day to catch sight of Janet, but I believe this is a popular venue for ghosthunters.

Leaving Baldoon we pass cows housed for the winter and looking comfortable.

Now we make our way to Bladnoch.The river is very reflective over to the distillery.

After passing through the village we make our way back to the rivers edge to access the railway track.
There's junk along much of the path.Perhaps it isn't junk to the owners !

As we pass Maidland Pond,Wigtown comes into sight.

Emerging onto Harbour road we can see a number of swans on the RSPB ponds.

Now we regain the old railway path taking us past the site of the Martyr's Stake ,a monument to the two women member of the Covenanters who were drowned deliberately here.

A heron ignores our passing.

A short climb up the church brae gets us to the cars and the walk finish.
After reclaiming the vehicles from Kilsture, coffee,tea,scones and other delicacies were enjoyed at the Wigtown House Hotel. 
A very nice walk indeed.


  1. Excellent blog as usual. what is not a joy to be out and about on Saturday in the glorious sunshine.see you soon.

  2. I,m surprised that concrete WW 2platform,s safe Jim.Looks pretty thin to be standing on it!

  3. Much of the area we walked now belongs to the RSPB who've just recently acquired the Crook of Baldoon,so 'Awfa Braw' could become 'Bwrilliant Gillian
    You're a joy Gordon.Happy blogging.
    Never noticed at the time Bob,but your right it looks scary.Maybe a good job not too many stood on it at the one time.


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