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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Wigtownshire Ramblers Cairngaan December 2012

Saturday the 29th of December 2012.
It's the last walk of the year and we're down near the Mull of Galloway.
Today's walk leader is 'The Weaver' and the deputy walk leader is 'The Milkmaid'
The walk starts at the West Cairngaan farmstead.
Here are the links to a couple of previous walks from here.

I'll leave it to 'The Weaver' to give her (always excellent) account of the walk after the photographs.

Farm track heading south from West Cairngaan

A happy group at the narrow section of land between East and West Tarbet Bays

Portavaddie to Chapel Wells

The story of Medana
We still haven't ventured down to this cave. Next time I'm in the area !
This is the story.
In the 8th Century, Medana, a beautiful Irish princess and a convert to Christianity, fled her native land to settle with some of her handmaidens in a cave near East Tarbet Bay and, from that bleak spot, ministered to the early local Christian community.
One day, to her horror, Medana was confronted by her former lover who had followed her from Ireland.
To escape him the saintly virgin simply stepped onto a rock which conveniently floated across Luce Bay to Monreith and, in thanksgiving for her escape, she built a chapel at Kirkmaiden in Ferness.
Undaunted, however, at her speedy departure, the besotted Irishman chased her to the Machars and, on being asked what made her so attractive, indicated that her eyes were so beautiful that he could not live without them. At this point, the pious lady plucked them out and cast them at his feet shouting "take them then", whereupon he rushed off homewards very much shaken.
However, on washing her now bleeding face at a small well, known today as St. Medan's Well, Medana's sight was miraculously restored.
She then resumed her religious life and travelled all over Scotland founding several churches, before becoming governess to a Saxon king's daughter


Salty or Sandy kept an eye on us.
I had to eat my words here.
I'd said that you didn't get seals along the eastern shore of the Rhins, like you seldom get seals along the eastern edge of the Machars. It's the first one I've seen on the eastern coast.

There's all you need to know about these gorgeous creatures at Seal Scotland

Descent to Marion's Isle

No shortage of seabirds today

It's lunchtime at Maryport.

Thanks to Scoop for this picture. I avoided the incoming wave.

The gulls are great to watch as they pick away at the seaweed, then lift up just as a wave is about to engulf them.

I take a short bit of video.

It's a steady climb up to Creechan

Here's a wide view

Crossing fields, fences and the Mull of Galloway road to reach Auchie Glen

The last stretch

The Weaver's report
Ramblers’ report Saturday 29th December 2012
The day for the last walk of the year dawned clear and dry, although very windy on the Mull of Galloway, where the last piece of the coast path was to be slotted into place. The east side of the Mull was quite sheltered and the wind was behind the walkers for much of the way, as they walked northwards.
Sixteen ramblers felt in need of exercise after  Christmas indulgence and were well wrapped up to cope with the mud - the result of the last few weeks of rain. From West Cairngaan the way took the farm lane and then a well-made track over to the Mull road, where tarmac ensured a little cleaner surface until East Tarbet was reached. The road was empty, a ferry was being tossed in the distance, and the lighthouse stood in solitude high to the south, the wind scraping the ground free of debris.
With thankfulness the party turned north in the lee of the fields, looking over Luce Bay along the coast path. Stopping to read one of the notice boards, provided by the local Rotary club who had worked hard to make up the coast path, the ramblers learnt the story of St. Medan who for a time is said to have inhabited a cave below the cliffs here, to escape from a persistent paramour. When he eventually caught up with her and remarked on her lovely eyes, she plucked them out and threw them at his feet, escaping by floating on a boulder across Luce Bay to Kirkmaiden, near Monreith, where she miraculously had her sight restored by the healing waters found there. Not one of the ramblers wanted to descend the cliffs to inspect the cave below.
A ladder stile took the company into a field for a few yards before descending lower and walking the rocky foreshore accompanied by the roaring incoming tide. A hare ran by the walkers and a seal bobbed in the water below, curiously watching as they passed. The kirk burn was crossed, where a peculiarity of the pebbly beach means that the burn disappears below the surface for some feet before reappearing to enter the sea - this ensured dry feet for most, as the cliffs were climbed once more, gaining a slippery and muddy path alongside a fence.
After descending once again past Marion’s Isle – a higher piece of land out to sea, which is usually covered by the tide - the beach was walked, and Carrickcundie passed. The tide here was almost to the base of this rocky outcrop, the pebbles slippy and covered with banks of seaweed brought up by the rough weather.
The lunch spot was now in sight, a boulder embankment in front of Maryport Caravan site where the seaweed had brought scores of gulls to feed on the rich pickings of the tide line. They rode the waves and rose in banks as the sea crashed against the shore. This was a highlight of the walk, so many birds around, that the rest of the countryside must have been denuded of their presence. The tide became higher splashing at the feet of the picnickers, carrying the pebbles forward as the water surged and then dragging them back rattling against each other as they went.
It was with reluctance that the walkers continued on their way steeply up through Creechan farmyard and once more on to a farm track which led through fields, high above the cliffs already walked and giving wonderful views backwards to the benign countryside with its rolling pastures, around Drummore, backed by a sea sparkling and dotted with white horses. The sun even made an appearance for this stretch of the day.
The Mull road was crossed to walk the woods of Cairngaan, still muddy but nicely sheltered back to the farm lane where the walk had begun. Tea was served in the farmhouse, a very sociable end to the walks of 2012.
The New Year’s programme starts on Saturday 5th January, 2013, with a 6 mile stroll from the sea shore to the woods, Crook of Baldoon to Kilsture forest. Meet for Car sharing Breastworks, Stranraer 9 am, Riverside, Newton Stewart, 9.30 am or the Crook of Baldoon Car park, NX 442 531. 10 am for the walk start. If going directly to the start please phone walk leader for up to date information 01988 840268. All visitors will be made most welcome to join the ramblers on the walk.


  1. I am sure that is the same seal that visits us at Killantrigan every time we walk there, certainly looks the same!! Love the seabirds and video. Happy New Year come Tuesday James.

  2. Excellent photos Jim. The Ramblers all look to be a very cheery bunch.

    All the best for 2013

  3. The Ramblers looks so smart in their raincoats and hiking boots. Hope you had tons of fun!

  4. Jim! Wonderful wonderful photos! the seals and birds are awesome. I must say I'm awfully pleased you avoided that wave and stayed dry-it looked quite cold for your last walk of the year. On the plane, I sat next to a Scottish lady from Edinb. and her accent was so strong I have never in my life said so many "pardon?" or "sorry?" or befuddled looks. During one comment she made she had to repeat it 4 times and then it was the passenger behind us who leaned over and said what she was saying. It was hilarious and she was in stitches the whole trip. Honestly though? I'm sure she thought I was a bit slow! and perhaps I am - So Jim if we ever meet in person, it could be a bonza time and lots of laughs.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!! I don't know if I'll see midnight here but I'm going to give it a whirl.

  5. Thanks for all your lovely comments folks. Wishing you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR and all the best for 2013

  6. Can't say I've ever seen a seal down this way. We often had one in the water when we were fishing in the sea near Dunoon. It was after the bait (or in unlikely cases catch) I think and I was always a bit concerned about hooking it.

  7. Just back from a trip up North. Looks a good area Jim. I like the coast at this time of year.


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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