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Sunday, 25 March 2012

Wigtownshire Ramblers Glenluce Abbey March 2012

Read the 'Weaver's' excellent report at the end of the post

Saturday 24th of March 2012
Today's walk is a repeat of one we did in June 2010
The County Golf Club near Glenluce is our start point.
There are 35 walkers today
From the golf club we go west to Luce Sands, where we make our way north alongside the Piltanton Burn

We haven't had this many walkers for a while, must be the good spell of weather we're having.
A field takes  us over to the busy A75, where a careful crossing brings us to East Challoch and the back road to the Abbey.

There's a new sign on the railway bridge. Health and Safety ?

Crossing the Water of Luce.
It doesn't take too long a dry spell before river levels drop.

It's a short walk to the Abbey

Time for a look round......

.....and an early lunch

There's no hurry today

The light mist is burning off as we leave the Abbey. A few spring flowers blossom.

The hardest part of the walk

As well as walking, there's lot's to be discussed

Glenluce Viaduct

Wood Anemone (Anemone Nemorosa)

Available for hire

Wood of Park

Noisy, but friendly, dog

St Helena's Isle

Birds, more birds, sand and seaweed

Back to the clubhouse and refreshments.
That was a very pleasant outing.
Here's the Weaver's report.

Ramblers walk County golf club circular passing Glen Luce Abbey March 24th 2012
A record number of ramblers turned out on a beautiful morning at the County Golf Club, Glenluce. Thirty five walkers set out round the 18 hole links course to the shore, skirting the northernmost section of Luce Bay. The route was to be a leisurely, circuit of the Luce valley, taking in Glen Luce Abbey, the woods of Castle O’ Park and St. Helena’s Isle.
As the tide was out along the first section along the shore, there was a good view of the meandering course of the Piltanton Burn as it gained the freedom of the bay. The beach here is deep in shells and the walkers crunched their way along over razor, cockle, oyster, mussel, tellin and whelk shells, some members collecting the skeletons of sea urchins as they went along. After crossing a soft and spongy section covered with decaying seaweed, fields led the way, across the A75, to the quiet country road which would take the ramblers to Glen Luce Abbey.
Promises of many flowers to come were seen along the verges, but the sunshine had not yet tempted any to show their faces. The road led by the former Challoch junction of the Paddy line. The disused railway stretched away to the right, and the line from Stranraer to Barrhill wound its way across and back on bridges over the route of the walk. Soon there was a view of Glen Luce Abbey in the rising heat haze, quietly contemplating its position, a splendid ruin set amongst perfectly calm and peaceful Arcadian surroundings.
After crossing the Water of Luce, an early lunch stop was called for, in order to fully appreciate the work of the early monks who toiled so hard to build their magnificent place of worship. The abbey was founded in 1192 and survived, as a Cistercian monastery, to the sixteenth century, when alterations enabled it to become the home of the Commendator, who administered the abbey estates. One of the more unusual features of the ruins is the water- supply system of clay pipes interspersed with circular clay inspection units.
As the walk continued back towards Glen Luce, the source of the abbey water, St. Margaret’s well, was pointed out, now an insignificant spring, emptying below a tree clad bank alongside the road. This bank was climbed, the only hill on the walk, and continued as a farm track, giving wonderful views over the valley below. Next, the route took the walkers to the Viaduct, down a back road, where a bank of celandine glowed in the dappled shade of trees lining the accompanying steep sided burn.
Castle o’ Park, a seventeenth century tower house now administered as a holiday let by the Landmark trust, was found at the end of its service road from the viaduct. This was built with stones from the abbey, by the son of the last abbot, Thomas Hay. The castle was then circled through woodland – some broadleaves, which enabled wood sorrel, wood anemones, stitchwort and dandelions to brighten up the new green growth, and then tall, straight pine trees giving little light to the woodland floor, but providing a soft surface for the tiring feet of the ramblers.
Dog’s mercury flowers decorated the banks of the disused railway line which was the return route to the viaduct where the pre-bypass road led to a path by the river, under the A75, and back to the shores of Luce Bay. Gulleys were gradually filling as the tide had turned and a broken, but safe bridge was crossed by the 11th hole of the golf course.
St. Helena’s Isle was supposedly named by Admiral Hay, when he brought back cuttings of trees to plant here from the island prison of Napoleon. It is nowadays, rarely if at all, an island, needing a very high tide to cover the surrounding salt marsh.  The sea was now advancing across the sands, giving a totally different view of the shore than at the outset of the walk with the monks fish trap at the outflow of the Water of Luce, barely showing above the water.
The closing section of this week’s walk led along the edge of the golf course before the cars and the Club house beckoned with a warm welcome and delicious refreshments waiting for the weary foot soldiers. It had been a glorious day, a hopeful foretaste of good weather to continue into spring.
The next walk on Saturday the 31st of March is a 13 mile walk in the lower Stinchar Valley taking in Big Fell and Beneraird.
Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer 9.30am,the Riverside, Newton Stewart 9.00am or the walk start at Ballantrae New Cemetery (NX 087 814) at 10am. For further details or if going to the start please phone walk leader 01292 441268. New members are always welcome  


  1. A very commendable 35 walkers is tremendous for the group . As in my weekend walks weather plays a big part in attracting people to venture out lets hope for some more of the same next weekend. Great blog.

  2. Hi Jim.
    Just noticed today the primroses are out already in the highland glens.
    That,s a full month early.Spring might be over by mid april at this rate.Looks a smashing walk.

  3. Jim, seemingly no end to the sheer beauty of this country and the history (loved the previous post too)
    How fortunate am I to enjoy such walks from my armchair.
    There's just nothing for it - this has to go in my 'bucket list' !

  4. Jim, 35 people, wow I did not realize your group could get that large! 35 people in a group here would be like some kind of political rally! I'm just kidding of course. Nice photos, nice hike Jim..

  5. Thanks Gordon, see you Saturday.

    You're right Bob. I reckon it'll snow in August.
    It was a smashing walk. How are you feeling. I'm still looking for good health this year.

    Hope you've got a big bucket Rose. Thanks for visiting.

    Hello Michael, we're a real political mix in the group. We don't often discuss politics or we'd all be falling out.


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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