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Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Wigtownshire Ramblers Beneraird November 2012

Saturday the 3rd of November
The last time I climbed Beneraird was two years ago. 2010 Walk
Today's walk is being led by my good friend the Ayrshire Blogger
As regular readers will know there are a few nicknames for those walkers who are consummate walkers.
Gordon has been known as Slew Train after a hill we've come across often.
I've decided on a new nickname for him. Since he has retired, Gordon is game for any walking challenge.
Hence the nickname 'The Gopher', because if asked Gordon will 'Go For' it.
I'm taking a leaf out of 'The Gopher's' own blog by publishing a picture of the leader.
I believe what he holds here works as well as any GPS device, so we shouldn't get lost.
We're a group of 19 as we set off, but soon into the walk the figure changes to 20 with the arrival of a latecomer. After a heavy morning frost it's a lovely day.

Abundant views over the north channel were many today. Ailsa Craig must be one of the most photographed volcanic plugs in the world.

Mud is another feature of  today's walk as is another favourite hill of ours, Knockdolian. 

Ailsa Craig again. Will there be any more ?

Our route initially took us east passing the Auchencrosh converter station and below Auchencrosh, Benawhirn and Smyrton hills .

I can't resist taking pictures of Ailsa.

We're soon circling South and gradually climbing..........

.........and thanks to Scoop, back from more adventures, I get in the picture.

We make good time and are on the summit of Beneraird before lunch time. It's quite cold and breezy up here.

If I was a flush bracket collector, then here's BM S1808 

We drop down from Beneraird on the Lagafater Lodge track, the original Ballantrae to Stranraer road.
A short climb brings us to a nice spot for lunch. After lunch we'll be looking for wreckage.

Here's a couple of links to accounts of the 1945 air crash of a US Airforce Liberator.

A short distance north of where we lunched we find whats left of the wreckage.
My next door neighbour has the book 'The RAF in Galloway' by A.T.Murchie. Here's a passage from the book.
"On 14 June 1945 a gamekeeper leaving his cottage at Lagafater Lodge found a seriously injured airman lying on the pathway leading to the cottage. Though barely conscious, the airman managed to indicate that he had come from an aeroplane which had crashed some distance away. Lagafater Lodge is a shooting lodge in a remote moorland area about seven miles north west of New Luce. The alarm was immediately raised by contacting the civil police who in turn contacted the RAF in Castle Kennedy. A search party were soon on the scene to find that a US Air Force Liberator, which had been reported to be missing over thirty six hours previously, had crashed on Pildinny Hill, 1200 feet above sea level and almost two miles from Lagafater Lodge. Two more seriously injured survivors were found together with seventeen bodies.The injured men were taken to Lochnaw Hospital and the bodies to Castle Kennedy before being handed over to the US Air Force Base at Prestwick."  

I wonder what happened to these, the survivors.
John R. May, Staff Sergeant - Kenneth R. Nelson, Sergeant - Richard G. Pokorny, Technical Sergeant

We're heading back now. We retrace our steps back down the slopes of Beneraird so far before taking to the heather and tussocks.

After crossing a burn that eventually becomes the Water of App, we're ready to climb up Smyrton Hill.

It's quite a steep haul, but the last of the climbing today.

A rest at the top where far reaching views and landmarks are identified.

Views of Kilantringan Loch, Knockdolian and the town of Ballantrae as we descend.

I've no problems descending.!

We're soon back at Smyrton Bridge and the track back to the cars.
I've enjoyed today's walk. As always the 'Gopher', has excelled in his leadership and imparting geographic and historical information. Good on you sir.

Here's the leader's report.

 Wigtownshire Ramblers – Saturday 03 November 2012
On Saturday November 3rd Wigtownshire ramblers did an eight mile circular route up Beneraird and Smyrton Hills which are just two of the many hills situated in the Glenapp area.  Twenty walkers met at the crossroads just off the A77 where there is ample car parking for the cars that came from Stranraer, the South Rhins and Newton Stewart. The leader welcomed and introduced three new members to the group and hoped they would enjoy today’s walk. Setting off on a clear sunny but cold morning along an old farm road they passed the electricity convertor station which takes the power to Northern Ireland. The equipment hummed loudly in the quiet morning; more intrusive than the traffic on the nearby main road.
After all the recent heavy rain that has fallen recently in this part of Scotland the going was very muddy, slowing their progress until they reached the old road that takes you from Ballantrae to New Luce, a distance of some 19 miles . As this road once carried horse drawn traffic many years ago the ground was somewhat easier to walk on. The first stop was at an area described on the map as hut circles where we learnt that these were small dwelling places with low earth sides and a timber structure was erected above this. Today all that is left are several circles in the grass where the houses once stood.
Making their way up to Beneraird they met the farmer on his quad bike taking feed to the animals grazing on the hillside. This was a relief to some of the group as the beasts turned their attention to the food and ignored the walkers completely.  Once on the summit the leader pointed out several hills visible today mainly towards the Galloway ranges.
Heading down the road towards Lagafater Lodge the leader took the group to the remains of a Liberator aircraft which crashed on the hillside in 1945 resulting in 17 deaths out of the twenty that were on board on that dreadful day. The plane was on its way from Northern England to Prestwick when, in thick fog and perhaps due to the lack of reliable navigation aids, the plane hit the hill. One of the survivors crawled to the lodge to raise the alarm and when the rescue services finally got to the site they discovered two of passengers were still alive. This was made even more remarkable in that two days had passed since the accident happened. A lunch stop was taken there beside the wreckage whilst they remembered all who had perished on that fateful journey.
After lunch they retraced their steps to the top of the pass and then crossed over a grouse moor to the headwaters of the Water of App.  A brace of Red Grouse took off noisily and swept down into the valley. After crossing the burn a short steep climb took them to Smyrton Hill with its panoramic views of the Clyde and Loch Ryan with the ferries making their way to and from Ireland.  From the summit it was a very steep descent down to Smyrton Bridge and the track back to the start.  The group thanked the leader for an excellent walk in the autumn sunshine before retiring to Stranraer for coffee and scones in “Stir It”, one of the many fine tearooms to be found in the town.
Next Saturday, November 10th, the walk will be an 8 mile circular moderate route on farm tracks, woodland paths and open moorland from Castramont to Loch Whinyon. Please meet for car sharing at Breastworks car park, Stranraer at 9.00AM and Riverside, Newton Stewart at 9.30AM. If going to the start at Knocktinkle Car Park on the Gatehouse to Lauriston road (NX608 602) or for any other queries please contact the leader direct on 01776 840226. 


  1. Gopher here thanks for all the nice comments.Perhaps my next walk should be a wee bit more demanding so that I can live up to my new nickname. As usual James an excellent blog of what was in my opinion a "guid day oot".

  2. you just never know what you will come across on a walk. it is a bit of a treasure hunt, whether meaning it to be or not. Fun to have a glimpse into yours.

  3. Seems a bit remarkable to me that there is still wreckage from an aeroplane lying in the surface so freely after 67 years - If nature hadn't grown over it, I'm surprised it hasn't been taken away by the air force or some collectors of these things (there's a museum in Birkenhead whose main exhibition is made up of plane crash wreckage)

  4. Jim it sure looks like there is a chill in the air, I'm sure the wind does not help for warmth! Beautiful views & all worth the chill! We have been cold for awhile now but today +12c! Tomorrow cold again.

    Cheers. : )

  5. It was certainly a "guid day oot" Gordon. Next time can we see the Memorial Cairn to James Henry 1891 pictured three quarters of the way down on this webpage.

    Thanks Tammie, it's a fact that we sometimes miss a historical treasure and have to look for it the next time.

    Apparently on moors as bleak as this Sandy, there's not a lot of growth other than the heather, and aircraft metal being so light it gets carried up on the growth, I'm reliably informed. Galloway has certainly seen quite a few air crashes. Aircraft crash sites on SW Scotland hills

    Thanks Michael, we're getting plenty of morning frost now. Other places have had snow already. No doubt Alberta will soon be a winter wonderland. The snowmobiles up in Swan Hills will be getting checked out and polished up in readiness.

  6. My kind of walk Jim.Green lush and fertile.I dont mind a bit of mud.Good turnout of folk as always.


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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