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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Wigtownshire Ramblers Gatehouse of Fleet December 2012

Saturday the 8th of December 2012.
Having been on antibiotics recovering from a chest infection, I was never sure that I'd be leading today's walk. However since it's quite an easy ramble I was sure I'd be OK.
The report will follow the pictures. 

This was the picture from my front door as I was getting ready for today.
"Red sky in the morning,
Shepherd's warning"
Myself, Shorty and the Teacher had reccied this walk a week last Thursday on a bright frosty day.
I'll be using some of the photos I took on the recce in this post.

Bright weather on the recce

Crossing over the Fleet

Stile into the Boreland Hills

Pictish Rock carvings

The top of Trusty's Hill as the mist and drizzle closes in

A boggy crossing


Not so sunny today

Recce views

Ministers Monument

Rutherfords Monument

More rock carvings and more drizzle


Frosty puddles and Rutherfords Well
(I'd kept cleaning the lens on my camera to keep taking pictures, but prolonged exposure to the damp seemed to penetrate inside the camera hence a batch of hazy pictures)

More from the recce

Feeding bulls

Robin Redbreast

Mill on the Fleet

Recce lunch break

The camera dried out enough by now to get this white throated dipper on the river

Bridge in the Cally estate

Cally school for girls

Palace view recce
Palace view walk

Shorty and the Teacher

From Cally Avenue to the Cow Park Plantation

Cally Motte

Mill Lade

The Town Hall

A couple of acceptable pictures of me sent by another regular rambler who I'll call Roy.
She'll understand why !

Wigtownshire Ramblers Report for Saturday the 8th of December 2012.
A bright morning which would soon deteriorate saw eleven ramblers meet at the main car park in Gatehouse of Fleet for the walk.
The walk began by crossing the 18th Century stone bridge over the Fleet, passing the Ship Inn where Dorothy. L. Sayers wrote Five Red Herrings, then along Fleet Street to where the main road bends left. Leaving the main road, the minor road of Planetree Park was taken. A stop was taken at the Brickworks Community Nature Reserve. Unfortunately this habitat of Great Crested Newts has been sorely neglected and the group soon resumed a steady climb along Planetree Park.
 Reaching a gate and cattle grid where the lane ended, a small gate led through the bottom of a private garden before crossing a high stone stile over a wall. The next section of the walk was a mixture of bracken and broom over the rolling Boreland hills. With enough frost still in the ground the muddy sections remained firm. Strategically placed waymarkers showed the way.
Now the path wound round the base of Trusty's Hill passing a very healthy looking ash tree. After rounding its left flank the path doubled back uphill to where an iron railing was seen encasing a rock. The railing is there to protect the ancient Pictish carvings which could be clearly made out. It is rare to find Pictish carvings so far from the main homeland of the Picts in northeast Scotland. The top of Trusty's Hill, once thought to be an iron age settlement was accessed, but by now the fine views of the Fleet valley and Gatehouse were beginning to get lost in the mist and drizzle that was enveloping the area.
A tricky descent led down to a wet area of bog and gorse that required very careful navigation to traverse. A successful crossing led to the base of the highest of the Boreland hills at 84 mtrs. After a short steep climb the trig point was reached.
Close to the trig point was a circular stone clad monument topped with a cross commemorating all the ministers of Anwoth and Girthon who succeeded Samuel Rutherford.
From here a short drop and climb led to the prominent granite obelisk that is Rutherford's Monument. The Reverend Samuel Rutherford who later became a professor of divinity at St Andrews University was minister here from 1627 to 1636. A well-educated man at a time of upheaval in the government and church the authorities burned his political book Lex, Rex and cited him for high treason. His death intervened before the charge could be tried. Built in 1842, as well as extolling the virtues of Rutherford a further inscription states that the monument was hit by lightning in 1845 and repaired in 1850.
Now an undulating and sometimes frosty track led to the hill above Anwoth. A very careful descent due to the original path being obliterated by wood cutting operations led to a field behind Anwoth Old  Church.
Close by was Rutherford's Well. Cone-shaped and made from whinstone it is still used today, with the well's water being used for baptism.
After crossing a slippery wooden bridge the road through Anwoth was reached. After a short break at the old church gates, the road was now taken back to Gatehouse. Passing the intriguingly named Luckie Harg’s cottage, the main Gatehouse station road was reached. A variety of birds and a couple of feeding bulls knee deep in mud were points of interest on this section.
Back into Gatehouse the bridge was taken over the Fleet into the Mill on the Fleet. Here photographs were taken of the giant wooden bird watcher looking towards the river with his binoculars.
Crossing the main road to the picnic area on the edge of Garries Wood, a lunch break was taken. Alongside stood a wildlife sculpture, carved from a 200 year old piece of oak to commemorate the Queen's Golden Jubilee. A white throated dipper flitted about on the Fleet bank.
As the group began the second half of this figure of eight walk, the sky was still dull with occasional mist and drizzle. Entering Garries Wood, a winding path led to an ornate white painted stone bridge. Crossing the bridge and walking alongside the Cally golf course led to the building shell that was Cally Old School. An information board explained how Lady Anne Murray had established this school for girls in the early 19th century.
Continuing along paths still bordering the golf course they arrived at the 13th tee, appropriately called Palace View. Across Cally Lake, the group had their first look at the magnificent Cally Palace. Now a hotel, the Cally Palace dates back to 1763, when James Murray, owner of the Cally Estate, chose this setting overlooking the Galloway hills to build his country mansion.
After crossing Cally Avenue, a winding undulating woodland path through the Cow Park plantation led to Cally Motte, a well preserved 12th-century earthwork. Here is the earliest evidence of  people living at Cally. This was the location of a wooden castle on the summit of  a five metre high artificial mound, which would once have had a commanding defensive position overlooking the Fleet Estuary.
After re crossing Cally Avenue the track led to Garries Park from where the rear of remodelled Town Hall, now a walk through garden, was accessed.
Back at the walk start point walking accessories were stowed away in the cars. The nearby Galloway Lodge provided the tea and scones to finish an interesting and enjoyable ramble.  
The next walk, on Saturday the 15th of December is a 9.5 mile section of the Mull of Galloway Trail from Drummore to Sandhead.  Meet for car sharing at the Riverside, Newton Stewart, 8.30am or at the Breastworks, Stranraer at 8.45am to catch the bus at 9.15 from Sandhead (NX 097 498) to Drummore (bring your bus pass if you have one).
If going straight to Sandhead please phone the walk leader 01776 840254. New members are always welcome.


  1. The dipper photo is excellent,the reflection in the water is captured really well. I have told you before the quality is worthy of an entry in the Herald newspaper or a magazine competition.Usual 10%of course!!

  2. That looks like my kind of walk Jim.Loads of variety round each new corner...interesting mix of history and landscapes.If I,m down that way I'll remember that walk.
    There used to be a private school for wayward girls in Glasgow.Always wanted to pay it a visit it in my hasty youth:)

  3. Now here's a walk I've done most of myself. The Pictish stone carvings are great - rare for the area and really quite a long way outside Pictland.
    I didn't know about the Cally Mote - I'll have to go and find that at some point.
    Anworth is the setting for many of the scenes in the Wickerman.


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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