It's Tuesday the 15th of May and I'm joining a walk of the Newton Stewart Walking Festival again.
Our leader today is a Glenkens local member of the Mountain Rescue Team, his back up is the chairwoman of the walking festival committee.
We're a group of twenty as the bus drops us off near Balmaclellan.
We start the walk on the B7075 by this seat. The 'Kentucky' on the seat refers to a dwelling that once stood on this spot. Apparently families of the Clelland clan migrated to Kentucky and still have association with the area.
A red kite circles over head.
As we head north we pass the lodge house to 'The Holme'. The Holme gets a mention in Jardine's Book of Martyrs where a passage reads ‘Lady Holme [on 11 October], … depones that about eight days since or therby about nyne houres at night [on Friday, 3 October] she saw Rennick, the rebellious preacher, with above a (doz., deleted) twelve mo[r]e (ride, deleted) went by the house where she dwelles, but knew not which way they were goeing’. (RPCS, X, 615.)
We leave the main road upon seeing a sign pointing to Grennan Mill Bridge.
Our walk leader is very knowledgeable about the Glenkens and continually updates the group on points of interest.
At Grennan Mill Bridge we begin to climb.
A couple of hailstorms sees waterproofs donned.
A steady climb gets us to the trigpoint at the top of Mulloch Hill.
It's only 170m high, but views are far ranging. Our leader identifies all summits in a 360 degree traverse.
Below us is St Johns Town of Dalry , our next stop.
A short break was taken by the town hall. One of the few remaining Victorian post boxes was among points of interest here.
A comprehensive information board gives details of local walks.
We reach a suspension bridge by the name of BoatWeil, the name originally given to the ferry used by pilgrims who included James IV. It's between an ancient motte and the kirkyard containing a Covenanter's grave.
Now following the Southern Upland Way we reach the Earlstoun Power Station and it's fish ladder.
No apologies for the extra fish ladder pictures. Regular readers know how much I like running water.
We continue upwards on the route of the SUW.
This is Waterside Hill.
Again the views are wide ranging.
Our deputy leader and the scenic St Johns Town of Dalry.
Just below Waterside Hill we take a lunch break.
The weather has improved as we continue after lunch.
We pass a number of walkers coming in the other direction.
Once over the Garroch burn our walk leader points out the mosses and lichens. Many of them are only found in this area.
Now we're heading up through Long Wood. The bluebells and other wild flowers create a colourful blanket.
A gradual incline brings us to Old Garroch.
It's wonderfully scenic.
A regular from the Wigtownshire Ramblers, 'The Farmer' is in his element as he finds an old threshing machine and imparts his knowledge of it's history.
Reaching Moss Side we turn south.
Reaching Upper Loch, our leader imparts more history.
At some point during the walk he tells us the story of Adam Forrester and Lucky Hair.
Adam Forrester farmed at nearby Knocksheen. This is an abbreviated version of the story.
This is real story on which Burns based his Tam o' Shanter according to the folks round here,
and transposed it to Alloway, outside Ayr. He even made mention of the upright coffins! Adam
Forrester farmed in the 18th century just west of Dalry. He liked to drink in the inn at Midtown in
Dalry which was owned and run by Lucky Hair. He used to tease her that she had sold herself
to the devil, as she appeared to look younger each year.
One evening she had disappeared before he went home, and when he left the pub mounting his
white horse, he rode down towards the river. On passing the church he was surprised to see
lights and hear dance music coming from the church so he peered through a window and saw
people dancing wildly, most of them old and many known to be bedridden; there were even
some church elders amongst them. The devil was there himself, dancing with Lucky Hair.
Adam called out to Lucky Hair and instantly everything went dark and the people came tumbling
out of the door. There were calls of 'Catch him! Kill him! Drag him off to Hell!’ He jumped on
his horse and rode off toward his home across the river and up Waterside hill, hotly pursued by
the erstwhile revellers. Before he could reach the top of the hill he was being overtaken so he
jumped off his horse and drew a circle round himself and his horse with the words "I draw this
circle in the name of God Almighty: let no evil thing cross over it!" The horse was petrified and
for an instant part of its back end was outside the circle, the devil pulled off its tail and Lucky
Hair got her hand on its rump leaving a permanent mark of a black hand print. All night long the
witches menaced them but could not cross the line of the circle. At dawn the power of the
witches was gone and they departed hobbling down the hill. The ground where they had been round the circle was blackened and scorched. Adam with a fervent prayer was able to continue
his journey home. The mark of that circle stayed on the hill side for a long time afterwards.
(From: Tales of Galloway by Alan Temperley)
Now we reach the bridge over the Dunveoch burn.
Just below the bridge is a footbridge spanning the gorge.
We spent quite a while here admiring the surroundings.
I had to stitch three photographs together to get this next one.
It's a long way down.
Another footbridge down the glen.
Dunveoch Glen is in magnificent colour.
We continued to follow the Dunveoch burn till we reached the Glenlee Power Station road. Here we walked alongside the Garroch burn as it became the Coom burn.
The Glenlee Power Station from the Coom burn
A farmer and youngster round up sheep over at Knockensee.
Reaching the Coom bridge there's water everywhere.
The large flow above right is the outlet from the power station which itself is fed from Clatteringshaws Loch. Bottom right is where it joins the River Ken.
There's an excellent illustrated downloadable PDF on the Galloway Hydro Scheme at Spenergywholesale.com
Our walk leader has a special treat arranged for us now.
He's been in contact with the owners of the Glenlee estate and the lady of the house will guide us up the glen. We pass the converted Glenlee Home farm buildings.
This would make a fantastic base for a holiday.Here's their webpage.
A wooden bridge brings us to the Craigshinnie burn and an uphill path.
There's some tall trees here.
To the left of the prominent tree in the centre is what was until recently the largest European Larch in the U'K. Apparently it's since been superceded (or superseded, take your pick).
The first of the big waterfalls we come to is called Hell's Hole
It's a steep drop.
This is the base of a Wellingtonia.The next picture shows it all.
Again I've had to stitch three pictures together.
It's straighter than my stitched attempt shows.
More waterfalls follow. The next double drop one is called Buck's Linn.
A welcome break is taken overlooking the falls.
A final footbridge is crossed to bring us to the minor road.
This cottage was once the estate kennels.
We thank our guide for a wonderful tour and begin walking along the minor road south westerly.
Reaching a track alongside a triangular plantation we change direction to the south east .
A dam complete with summerhouse, is passed. Further along our leader asked for guesses of the previous use of the above small building. No one guessed correctly it was once an armoury.
We continue along passing Airie, Achie and Gallows Hill
Soon views open up to the east and we can see over to Balmaclellan. Sheep and cattle are in numbers creating a wonderful pastoral panorama.
After crossing the Newton Stewart road we're on the last stretch. This is the Old Edinburgh Road into New Galloway.
To the north the mountains are much clearer than when we started the walk.
Back in New Galloway we say farewell to our leader and thank him for a wonderful walk.
The bus is waiting.
It's been a fantastic walk.