N.B. Our training weekend has made the news on the Ramblers main website.
It's here Wigtownshire Ramblers Training Weekend
Saturday the 27th of April
I'm today's walk leader so the report will follow the pictures.
This is my third trip up here this week. On Monday, five of us walked up the Caldons Burn and across Cambrick Hill till we were just above the Nick of the Lochans. The strong wind,rain and mist (we couldn't see much more than fifty yards in front of us) made us retrace our steps and go back the way we came.
On Wednesday I thought I'd take a look at a more direct route I'd learned of when bumping in to a walker a couple of years ago. This recce was successful so I decided we'd go this way on the walk..
Thanks to Scoop for her contribution of photographs to this post (she's also given up blogging for the time being, but perhaps she'll get her diary published at year end)
The last time I climbed Mulldonoch was in 2008. September 2008 Walk
It's a grand morning. Just off the Loch Trool paths we spot a small herd of goats...............
..........complete with a couple of kids
Glentrool Lodge looks inviting
We begin the climb up to White Bennan
My deputy today is the Milkmaid who's usually like a gazelle on hill walks. Today she get's to look at the views more often
Hey ! I'm in the picture
The higher we get, the more expansive the view
The initial climb up to White Bennan must be almost a one in two incline in places
The view over Loch Dee
A tub of fruit to give the leader sustenance for the descent
An out of sequence collage
A Mulldonach lochan
The steep descent to the Nick of the Lochans
The forest edge looking back to Mulldonoch. (note the Weaver shaking snow from her right hand, she'd been up to mischief)
There are still large swathes of snow up them thar hills
A forest ride to the Caldons burn........
............and the crossing
It's difficult to capture the depths of the gorges on the Caldons, but the top right picture shows a little bit of perspective
The flora and fauna appears on the last stretch of the walk
Here's my report for the papers.
Saturday the 27th of April
Nineteen ramblers assembled at Caldons Car Park on a bright fresh morning for the walk start.
The weather forecast promised a clear day with the odd cloud.
Crossing the Water of Trool the first part of the walk took the group east along the southern shores of Loch Trool. The recently renovated trail made for easy walking.
Approaching a clearing in the woods the group paused to watch a delightful family group of wild goats complete with two adorable kids. Tall and straight larch trees still unaffected by the disease P. ramorum and looking like columns of ships masts bordered the trails. Apart from the noise from a pair of geese on the opposite bank, Loch Trool looked a picture of tranquillity.
On reaching the Steps of Trool a pause was taken before the serious business of climbing began. Almost opposite Bruce’s Stone, and somewhere near this point was where the Battle of Trool 1307 took place and where Bruce’s 300 men overcame Sir Aymer de Valence 1500 strong army.
A slow steep potentially hazardous but steady ascent now began. After surmounting remnants of forestry operations and strewn boulders the going underfoot became easier. Emerging from the trees, the rocky crags of White Bennan were reached.
As height was gained views became more expansive, soon all the slopes and peaks of Buchan Hill, Benyellery and the Merrick could be viewed. Ravens, Larks and other small birds made the occasional appearance.
The climb was now one of heather, tussocks and rocky outcrops. Occasional animal tracks assisted walkers.
Reaching Gawintoms far reaching views were now enjoyed. Ailsa Craig and the Mull of Kintyre could be picked out. Closer to hand were Neldricken and the Glenhead Lochs. To the east stood the Rhinns of Kells where snow still covered slopes sheltered from the sun.
Eventually the group reached the summit of Mulldonoch, the pinnacle of today’s walk. Lunch was taken overlooking beautiful Loch Dee. To the south east a group of walkers could be seen high up on the slopes of Lamachan.. To the south west the Mountains of Mourne could be identified. To the west, helicopters involved in the last day of the Joint Warrior exercise could be seen hovering and manoeuvring.
A cooling wind and more cloud brought a leisurely lunch to an end. The group now took to the steep grassy slope down the Nick of the Lochans. A few walkers found the easiest way to descend was in a seated position causing the occasional whoops of joy or maybe pain.
A boggy quad track was now followed west. Occasional patches of frog spawn were spied.
Reaching the forest edge a drift of snow was crossed. For some walkers this was the ideal excuse for some fun and frivolous behaviour. Thankfully no injuries were sustained.
A reasonably solid track was now joined to take the group over to the Caldons Burn which was crossed to access the path opposite. Great care was needed on this descent due to the path being muddy in places with steep sided gorges.
The group now followed the glistening burn and cascading waterfalls down to the forest road below Sheil Holm. At this point it’s been custom to cross the burn and follow the right hand path back to Caldons, but at the suggestion of a knowledgeable walker who remembers the main path being on the left, this was taken. Apart from a few missing duck-boards, it seems it’s still in use and this brought the group to the forest road west of Caldons.
On the short walk back to the cars a lizard was spotted darting about the grass. Celandine, wood anemone and daffodils were abundant and if there was any doubt that spring had arrived the appearance of dandelions dispelled that thought.
It was a weary but happy group that made its way to the House O’ Hill for after walk refreshments.
Next week’s walk, on Saturday the 4th of May will be a moderate plus six mile coastal walk in the South Rhins. New walkers are always welcome but please contact the walk leader before joining. Meet at 09:30am at the Breastworks Car Park, Stranraer or at 09:00am at the Riverside Car Park, Newton Stewart to share transport. The walk will start from Logan Gardens Car Park at 10:00am (Grid Ref: NX 097 425). If going direct to the start or any other queries please contact the walk leader on 01776 840636.