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Monday, 12 March 2012

Wigtownshire Ramblers Corsewall Lighthouse to Kirkcolm March 2012

Saturday the 10th of March.
Today's walk is a cracker. It's one we've done in parts before.
Today's walk leader has had a mishap and is hobbling around at home. I've been persuaded to take the reins since I'm leading a version of this in the Newton Stewart Walk Festival £10 registration on Saturday 12th of May 2012.
The walk report follows.
We begin at the beautiful Corsewall Lighthouse.
There's still some whisky off Corsewall Point apparently.On the 27th of August 1898 the lugger the Firth of Cromarty was dashed on to the rocks here.
More here Peggy's Post

It's a walk of varied terrain mostly adverse

The waves are fantastic

I get in the picture.Knockdolian's in the distance.
 Scoop took 383 pictures on the walk, and I thank her for allowing me to use a number of them for my posts.

Above Port Mullin looking back to Corsewall

Another of Scoops. I'm green with envy, I wished I'd taken this picture.

Port Mullen
From Wednesday's recce.
In the information I found, Bernard (Barney) McGhee was either born in 1811 or 1816. So he was either 89 or 95. The Free Press had him as a Nonagenarian so that's what's in the report.

With his wife Janet Bonar they had 11 kids (according to the ancestry pages I've looked at)
I can't quite match the two photographs but the terrain is right.  There were further improvements after the book cover pictures were taken though.
This ancestry page gives his age as 89. Butch's Home

This walk's terrain is the epitome of 'Rugged'

Primrose and Celandine

On the recce, Shorty and I caught a pair of very big birds which we couldn't identify.
I think they might have been Guillemots.
We also saw Little Ringed Plovers on the recce

There was nearly always a ferry somewhere in view

Port Mullin to Port Leen
Well done to all today's walkers, I think a few of us found it fairly tough going.

Port Leen. (That stone wall is a work of art !)

Lunchtime at Milleur Point

The European Causeway

Stena Superfast VIII Belfast

Is the sign a warning or an instruction ?
This is the stretch I may have most problems with on the festival walk.
In the next two months, the bracken and bramble will be thicker.
Must fetch my secateurs on the recce.

Lots of geese both on the recce and the walk

Lady Bay

Boat winch, Portmore

On the recce, we spoke to a dog walker who called these Salmon bothies, but one of our walkers remembers shellfish at Portmore.
 It probably was both, but my research hasn't uncovered anything about these

Port Beg

Hilltop view of Ailsa Craig

Wigtownshire Ramblers 10th of March 2012
A dry but slightly overcast morning, saw 21 walkers gather at the parking area by Corsewall lighthouse for the walk to Kirkcolm.
Although there was little wind, the incoming tide created spectacular waves to the delight of the group photographers, this was a feature for much of the walk.
 From the walk start to the entrance to Loch Ryan at Milleur Point the going was varied and testing. Though designated as a coastal walk there is no apparent path. Muddy cattle tracks, rocky clambers and scrambles, steep grassy inclines, burns, and bogs were the order of the day and progress was steady.
Picturesque waterfalls created a pleasant diversion from the rough terrain.
Iron age forts at Dunskirloch and Caspin were passed en route. Also en route at Port Mullin, was the now derelict cottage once occupied by Bernard (Barney) McGhee. An item from the Free Press 12th of January 1905 read "Death of Nonagenarian. Kirkcolm has lost its oldest inhabitant by the death of Bernard McGhee which took place at the Old Mill Port Mullen, on 2nd inst. Bernard had reached the advanced age of 95, and died on his birthday within a few yards of where he was born. For 42 years he occupied the Old Mill and acted as assistant keeper at Corsewall for 28 years. Deceased had been over 70 years a member of Kirkcolm, Parish Church which he attended regularly as long as he was able to walk. He was much respected in the Parish."
At Port Leen, the cart track used for transporting sea kelp was easily identified. Here too, a well built stone wall at the end of the track caused speculation as to it's use.
Celandine, primroses and coastal lichens were among the flora and fauna that added colour to the walk. Among the sea birds spotted were gannets, shags, herring gulls, oyster catchers and curlews. Fox, deer, hare and rabbits also made an appearance.
Ferries in and out of Loch Ryan were rarely out of the picture. Distant views were often non existant, but at various times Ireland, the Mull of Kintyre, Arran and the Ayrshire coast put in an appearance.
Rounding Milleur Point, lunch was taken on a rocky outcrop on the shoreline of Loch Ryan, where pleasant views over to Finnarts Bay were enjoyed.
After lunch and with a close up view of the P & O ferry, the European Causeway, the clifftop path south was taken. Crossing the geological features of the Beef Barrel and McMeckans Rocks, Lady Bay was reached.A large flock of noisy geese flew overhead.
A sandy beach, a track and a winding rocky path were now followed past the bothies at Portmore to reach Jamieson's Point and Portbeg.
The walk was completed by road, uphill past Clachan Hill Farm, then downhill into Kirkcolm. Drivers were now ferried back to Corsewall to collect the cars.
A testing but visually delightful walk was topped off with tea and cake at the Soleburn cafe.

The next walk on Saturday the 17th of March is a strenuous 7.5 mile circular walk of steep hills, burns and forests via the White and Black Laggan Burns. Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer 9.00am,the Riverside, Newton Stewart 9.30am or the walk start at Craigencallie (NX 504 781) at 10am. For further details or if going to the start please phone walk leader 01776 840636. New members are always welcome.

Here's some interesting stuff about Kirkcolm from 'A topographical dictionary of Scotland-Samuel Lewis 1846'


KIRKCOLM, a parish, in the county of Wigton, 6 miles (N. by W.) from Stranraer; containing 1793 inhabitants, of whom 391 are in the village. The word Kirkcolm is evidently corrupted by usage from Kirk-Columba, a name at first applied to the church, which was dedicated to St. Columba, and afterwards used as a proper name for the parish. The place is of great antiquity, the original church having been built at, or shortly after, the time when the saint flourished to whom it is dedicated. It is doubtful whether St. Columba was of Irish or Scottish origin; but he was in high repute in Scotland in the 6th century. He fixed his residence in the isle of Icolmkill, or "the chapel of Columba," and spent his whole life in endeavouring to convert the natives to Christianity, and in sending out missionaries into the western parts of Scotland for the same purpose. The remains of Corswall Castle, said by Sympson, who wrote in 1684, to be then a heap of ruins; an ancient church dedicated to St. Bride; and the chapel of the Virgin, called Kilmorie, also testify to the great antiquity of the parish.

Kirkcolm is about five and a half miles in length and four in breadth. It forms a small peninsula, being bounded on the north and west by the sea; on the east by the bay of Loch Ryan; and on the south by the parish of Leswalt. The surface, in its general appearance, is irregular, sloping gently towards the west. From Portmore bay northward, then westward round Corswall point, and southward along the Irish Channel, the scenery is varied by the bold rocky elevations of the coast. There is a considerable stream, turning the mill of Corswall; and near the middle of the parish is Loch Connel, about a mile in circumference. Springs of good fresh water are found in every direction. The soil in the interior is a productive loam; but near the coast which encompasses the larger extent of the parish it is poor, and so thin as scarcely in many parts to cover the rock. The number of acres under cultivation is between 10,000 and 11,000; there are upwards of 1200 acres waste and pasture, and between 100 and 200 planted. The crops of wheat, oats, and barley on lands covered fifty years back with whins and heath, show the great progress of the parish; but the climate is bleak and rainy, and not favourable to the highest improvement of the soil. The farm-houses, with few exceptions, are substantial and comfortable dwellings. The best black Galloway cattle without horns are numerous; but the cross of the Ayrshire cow with the black Galloway bull is generally preferred in the dairy-farms. The subsoil is gravelly and rocky; the rocks are of the greywacke transition class, and there are considerable quantities of red sandstone, as well as greywacke-slate, clay-slate, and pure clay. Quartz and granite are also sometimes found. The rateable annual value of the parish is £6267. Corswall House, standing in an elevated position on the margin of Loch Ryan, in the midst of spreading plantations, is seen from a distance as a pleasing object. The only village is Stewartown, where the young women, as in most other parts of the parish, are chiefly employed in embroidering muslin webs. Little traffic is carried on; but the basin called the Wig, on the coast of Loch Ryan, is a convenient and safe retreat for vessels, two or three of which, under forty tons' burthen, belong to Kirkcolm. Corswall lighthouse, finished in 1816, and situated on a rocky projection on the western side of the parish, is a noble and commanding structure; it is built of whinstone, and has a revolving light on the top of the tower, which is eighty-six feet high, and embraces a very extensive view, comprehending a large part of the Irish coast.

The ecclesiastical affairs are subject to the presbytery of Stranraer and synod of Galloway; patrons, James Carrick Moore, Esq., &c. The stipend of the minister is £216, with a good manse, and a glebe of ten acres, valued at £15 per annum. The church is a commodious and substantial edifice, accommodating 650 persons; it was built in 1824, and is in good repair. There is a parochial school, in which reading and writing, English grammar, arithmetic, and book-keeping, with mensuration, navigation, and Latin, are taught; the master has a house and garden, with a salary of £27, and about £ 18 in fees. Among the relics of antiquity are the ruins of Corswall Castle, distant a mile from the sea, in the northern part of the parish: a cannon seven feet long, a gold ring, some coins, and a silver plate with an inscription, were found here some years since. About a mile from this castle are the foundations of the ancient church dedicated to St. Bride; and on the southern part of the coast of Loch Ryan are the ruins of a wall belonging to the chapel of Kilmorie. A stone from this chapel was placed over the west door of the old church of Kirkcolm when it was repaired in 1719, and left in the churchyard when the church was taken down in 1821. It is a rude specimen of ancient sculpture, so much worn by time that the figures can scarcely be traced with any accuracy. One side appears to bear a shield, with an animal sculptured on it, and, on the top of the shield, a large cross; the other side is distinguished by a figure having the arms extended on a cross, with another figure beneath. The stone is of grey whinstone.


  1. The two large birds were oyster catchers . Gulliemots will be with us onshore shortly for the breeding season. Scoop certainly had a busy time taking all those photos. Well done looked a great walk in an area that is a firm favourite of mine.

  2. Hi Gordon, you misunderstand me. It's not the birds in the photos.I didn't get photographs of the pair I'm talking about. They seemed to be the size of Herons, but their flying actions were anything but. After taking off they flew in perfect unison in a large arc across Loch Ryan. We saw plenty of shags, and they weren't those either.
    Perhaps they were rare visitors.

  3. Jim, a magnificent pictorial into yet another amazing world for me. Just stunning. Thank you again.

  4. Hi Jim.
    Looks a smashing stretch of coastline.
    Like the varied terrain comment.I tend to find that ground a lot on my travels but I normally race ahead at that point to be out of complaining range from folk behind me.Works every time :)

  5. Thanks for visiting Rose, always nice to see you.Glad you're enjoying the walks.
    It's a great stretch of coastline Bob.I'll be recce-ing it again soon.
    Thought of you while watching the news tonight.Were you the Greg Boswell of your youth?

  6. documenting a walk like this shows how very much one experiences in a walk. treasures galore!

  7. wish i could crank that old boat winch. cool shot!


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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