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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Wigtownshire Ramblers - Door of Cairnsmore Recce and an entirely different walk - December 2012

The first part of this post is of the recce that myself, Shorty and the Teacher did for the walk scheduled for Saturday the 22nd of December.
The second part of this post is of the walk we actually did on the 22nd of December, which, because of the diabolical weather, was completely different from the recce.

Part 1 - the 13th of December

The recce should have started from Cairnsmore hill climb car park, instead for a change we were dropped off at Crinan at the top of the military road above Creetown.
After passing through Clanery Farm, we came across the above iron casts in the track. Anyone know what they are ?

With having an early start the sun was low in the sky, the incoming tide showed the Bishopburn and the Cree estuary. The ground was quite solid with frost.

Cairnsmore had a covering of snow.

On reaching the north side of Blairs hill, we followed a drystane dyke northwards. Over towards Cambrett hill, lochs, lochans and floods added to a colourful misty glow.

Reaching Knocktim we found the track leading to the 'Door of Cairnsmore'
We followed the track up to the rocky edifice that is the 'Door'
We managed to disturb at least four Red Deer.

Above on the rocks we spotted some mountain goats.

I zoomed in for a closer look.

Making a 90 degree turn we took to the moorland to head southeast to Craig Hill. The sky's now seemed to silhouette everything. This is quite a desolate outlook here. Occasionally we'd be able to follow a quad track and the frost helped us underfoot.

To the north the Clints of Dromore came into view. Approaching a stile into the forest of the estate the ground was extremely boggy and tussocky necessitating a very careful crossing.

Upon reaching a forest track we took the opportunity to have a spot of lunch.

After lunch we followed the track as it turned west.
Icy pools and waterfalls caught our attention.

On reaching the old 'Paddy Line' we continued west.

One group of nervous cattle gathered to let us past, while those in the next field showed us their backsides.

Over towards a small coppice of trees at Craig Yard we spot a number of Red Kite circling.

They are so fast in their movement, this was the best picture I could get.

We came off the old railway track at the bridge where the Gatehouse Station road crosses it.
When I've looked at the carving of Hitlers coffin before, I've never really looked at other names carved into the bridge. I don't know anything about D.Nutt or HxP, but I believe the coffin was the work of a Polish Stonemason who happened to be billeted close by.

We now have a short stretch of road walking. Here we're passing a lonesome Scot's Pine.

Now we reach the 'Teapot' cottage. Here we pass the time of day with the owner who tells us how it got it's name. Apparently when the navvies were building the railway, there was occasionally a supply of whisky from a nearby still. If the teapot was in the window of the cottage it meant that distillation was complete and a dram or two could be purchased. They were always wary of the excise man of course.  

After crossing Culcronchie Bridge we followed a farm track to Falbae farm, then a path that led us back to our start point.

The sun was again low in the sky as we walked along the military road awaiting our transport.

Part 2 - the 22nd of December

Because of the weather, high winds and rain forecast for all day, Shorty decided we'd have a more enjoyable walk around the lower western plantations of  Cairnsmore. I agreed with him. His report will follow.
The turnout reached a new record low. Five of us. There was myself, Shorty, Scoop, the Weaver and the Cabby. I didn't take my main camera with me, and the small one I had, had battery problems. I'm borrowing a few of Scoops pictures for this post.
We did a large part of this walk on the last day of January 2009
2009 Walk
We were also around here in the snow in January 2011.
This is Scoops report of that outing.

We began from the hill climb car park.

Finding a path through the trees, Shorty soon got us onto this forest track.
Myself and Scoop were often at the back hoping for photographs.
I was having problems from the outset.

Here I inadvertently got taking video. So for fun I've stretched it and added appropriate music.

The next two pictures are Scoops....

...........though I took the bottom one.

Although the rain barely ceased, we were all well kitted out with waterproofs and having fun.
After crossing the Cairnsmore, Mill and Blairbuies burns we again take to the woods.

Lunch is taken with a modicum of protection from the rain.
My camera had just about packed in and apart from the last picture in this post, the rest I've borrowed from Scoop.
After a short distance walking west we're heading south alongside the Knock burn.

Above Bargaly Farm we're in among some great old beech trees.

Scoop gets busy snapping the variety of fungi around.

After walking through the woods above Bargaly House, we drop down to Woodend Bridge and Bardrochwood. From here we climb Machars Hill and veer off towards Greenheights Plantation. 
I somehow recall this bottom rung.

Once through the ruins of the old mill and dairy at Strathmaddie, it's a short walk back to the cars.
On arriving at the car park I'm in a spot of trouble. There's no sign of my keys.!
I emptied every pocket, looked in my rucksack and found nothing. I'm now thinking of what I must do. 
First get a lift home and hope my neighbour is in so I can get in my house to get my spare car key. Get a lift back here to collect the car, then come back tomorrow to retrace my steps to where I think I lost my keys. Damn!
I take off my gaiters, then take off my waterproof trousers and begin rolling them up. As I get to the leg bottoms I feel something in the lining. I've been carrying my keys around my ankles! What a relief. There was a very small hole in the pocket of my waterproofs, hardly the width of a pencil, but my keys had worked through. Must remember to get the needle and thread after they come out of the wash.
After walk refreshments which included Mulled Wine, Cakes, Mince Pies and other delicacies were enjoyed back in Newton Stewart, courtesy of Shorty's good lady, our secretary.

Shorty took this picture with his phone. 
I've no idea why I'm laughing ! I haven't looked that happy for years. It must be an age thing !

Shorty's walk report will appear here. 

Wigtownshire Ramblers 22 December 2012 – Below Cairnsmore

The weather on Saturday morning was atrocious with heavy rain and a cold, gusting south easterly wind.  The numbers were depleted by a mixture of pre-Christmas preparations and the weather so only five members assembled at the car park near the Cairnsmore viaduct.  After a short discussion the group decided not to attempt the planned walk which would have involved a long walk over exposed moorland towards the Door of Cairnsmore.  Instead they decided on a less ambitious walk through the forests on the lower slopes of the Cairnsmore.

The group set off up the traditional summit path until they had crossed the first section of recently replanted forest.  On passing the dyke they turned into the forest out of the wind and rain and followed a brashed track through the trees which climbed gently towards the forest road.  It was rather dark under the trees but the wind had disappeared and the rain was confined to a few drips from the forest canopy.

A short climb brought the group out onto the forest road just below an area of Larch which had been felled as part of the control measures for the Phytophthera disease.  They passed the piles of logs at the roadside and crossed the Cairnsmore burn which roared through its culvert below the road.  Here they emerged onto open land and once again felt the force of the wind and rain.  Misty views towards the Cree valley were admired briefly then the group crossed quickly to the northern section of the forest.

The forest road wound northwards through the trees.  Along the way they were fascinated by the moss and fungi which grew on the roadside banks and old logs.  They obviously appreciated the dank conditions.  Two more areas of felled Larch were passed and the group soon reached the top of Jock’s Brae.  Here they turned off the forest road and followed an old track down into the valley of the Knock Burn.  Once they crossed the burn they found a sheltered area under large spruce trees for lunch.

After a leisurely lunch the ramblers continued along the grassy track and eventually reached the end of the wood and emerged once again into the wind and rain.  A short passage across the field led them to an old track which descended through the older woods towards Bargaly Farmhouse.  However, the group turned off the track and walked between some old beech trees which had grown into fantastic shapes and were festooned with moss and bracket fungi.  After passing these trees they walked through Larch and Spruce woods seeking an old track which led down to Bardrochwood.  Eventually they found a track which connected a series of old charcoal burners’ platforms and they reached the valley road just before the Mill Burn bridge.  Across the burn they could see an unusual elongated motte with one sheep proudly surveying the countryside from its summit.

After crossing the bridge they turned off the road and followed the farm track past the steading and up the long slope up to the Machars Hill.  After viewing the motte there, a more traditional round one this time, they followed the tractor tracks across the fields to Strathmaddie farm.  They descended to the road again and were soon back at the cars, a somewhat dedraggled but cheerful bunch.

Another group, who had declined the more strenuous walk, met at the secretary’s house and took a short walk around Doonhill Wood and Blairmount Park in Newton Stewart where they followed the paths which had recently been upgraded by the Cree Valley Community Woodland Trust.  They particularly admired the boardwalk and dipping platform which had been constructed around Blairmount Pond.  They were disappointed to find that the swans had emigrated for warmer, or drier, climes.  After the walks both groups met up back at the secretary’s house for the traditional pre-Christmas mulled wine and mince pies.

Next week’s walk, on Saturday 29th December, will be a circular walk around the Mull of Galloway and the new coastal path starting from West Cairngaan at 10:00am.(Grid Ref. NX 129 319)  Meet at the Riverside Car Park, Newton Stewart at 09:00 or the Breastworks Car Park, Stranraer at 09:30 to share transport.  If meeting at the start or for any other queries please contact the walk leader on 01776 840226.
The following week’s walk, on Saturday 5th January, will be a leisurely 6 mile walk from the Crook of Baldoon to Kilsture Forest.  Meet at 09:00 at the Breastworks Car Park in Stranraer or at 09:30 at the Riverside Car Park in Newton Stewart  to share transport.  The walk will start from the Crook of Baldoon (Grid Ref: NX 442 531) at 10:00am.  Please contact the walk leader on 01988 840268 for any queries or if intending to meet at the start.  New walkers are always welcome.

1 comment:

  1. What with the weather and time of year, you don't look nearly as numerous as usual. Still there seems a determination to have a good day in there.

    Teapot - good name for a cottage.


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