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Friday, 17 May 2013

Three Walks - Newton Stewart Walking Festival - 2013

After the galavanting done to Southend the other weekend, last weekend was the start of the 11th annual Newton Stewart Walking Festival
I decided I'd do one of the first day's (friday) walks led by Shorty and his missus.
The weather wasn't the best over the weekend and I didn't take many pictures.
Here's the best of them anyway.

Walk 1 - 2 Newton Stewart by the back door
Shennanton Gatehouse

Daffodils below Shennanton House. There was a very good turnout for this walk.

Domesticated quadrupeds spotted on the walk

Lovely local ladies
A nice steady eight miles, I'm warmed up for the walk I'll lead on Saturday.

Walk 2 - 6 Monreith to the Isle of Whithorn
This is the walk I'm leading. I'm limited to a group of fifteen as our return transport is a minibus and the driver is also my backup. As it turned out there were thirteen in total on the walk.
We begin at St Medans Golf Course Car park and immediately go along to Kirkmaiden church. Here my deputy told the story of Francois Thurot. 
Monreith's Home Page has the story

It's one of the oldest churches in Scotland, and the resting place of many of the McCulloch and Maxwell family members, who owned the Monreith estate.
The Galloway Gazette has the story of how Kirkmaiden and St Medan came to be named

The Gavin Maxwell Memorial

Once over the top of the golf course we stopped at the promontory fort of Back Bay.
On the walk with us was Elinor (Ellie) Graham, Research Assistant at SCAPE, University of St Andrews and Natalia a colleague. They're researchers for SCHARP , Scotland's Coastal Heritage At Risk Project
and have come along to explain promontory forts and the WW2 sites that are at risk

The lovely ladies from St Andrew's University

Our first coffee break was below Laggan Camp

I'd quite a fit group with me and dykes, fences and gates were easily hurdled

Climbing down to Port Castle Bay

At St Ninians Cave the appearance of the sun allowed us a relaxed lunch break

Continuing south

A WW2 structure inland from Carghidown
I'm surprised I can't find this on some of the pages of the 'geographers' who occasionally read my blog.
 Any ideas?

Near Blockan Hole

It was around now we had a shower of hailstones, hence the poor seal shot

Burrowhead has the most extensive promontory fort in Castle Feather. It was also an important anti aircaft site in WW2.  
Here's Statutory Rules and Orders No 144 of 1940
Ellie was very enthusiastic about this site and explained much of the layout.

Also at Burrowhead are the stumps of the original Wickerman
This was where Howie (Edward Woodward) met his end while the inhabitants of Summerisle danced round the big burning basket.

A short climb brings us back to the cliff top

A look back at Burrowhead

Just short of the walk finish at the Isle of Whithorn a rainbow appeared.
Feedback from my walk in 2012 suggested the walk was a little further than advertised.
It was the same today with one walker suggesting that if she sees me as a walk leader next year, she'll add a couple of miles. 
A successful walk made much more interesting by the input of Ellie. Thank you young lady, your company and knowledge was much appreciated. 

Walk 3 - 6 Devils Bridge Coastal
It was a miserable forecast for this walk which was led by my fellow ramblers the 'Weaver' and 'Scoop'
I have a new small camera for such days. The problem being that the camera was awaiting collection in the Post Office sorting office.
The first section took us across country in the South Rhins to Salt Pan Bay

The weather was fine for these creatures

I did occasionally get my camera out. This was to try and capture the Shag swallowing a fish he'd just caught. I was too late.

We walked across Ardwell beach, around Ardwell Point to Doon Castle and the broch before heading back inland where we had a little respite from the wind and rain.
Eventually we were back along the cliff edges on the Mull of Logan...........
.....................and the Devil's Bridge

With us was Tim Stephenson from the Gem Rock Museum
As well as imparting very knowledgeable information he handed out the following explanation.

The weather again turned and we were soon on the move again

A few obstacles were surmounted as we continued along the dramatic coastline

We were soon at the next feature intriguingly called..................................

.............................Little Bridge

Lots of photographs..........................

.........................then a scramble.

Spring Squill (Scilla Verna) probably my picture of the day

Port Logan and the walk finish in sight. Is it brightening up ?

The primroses blanket many of the gullies. Stunning !

The last picture is of an interesting bridge with conical corners. I didn't want to finish with a dull picture hence the enhancements.
A lovely walk considering the weather.
Well done leaders and Tim.

My weekend ended at the Belted Galloway where Ellie talked about the archaeology of Galloway’s coast. Our previous day's walk was also a feature of the presentation and slideshow.

It was a very enjoyable weekend despite the weather.


  1. I would have been thrilled to be part of any one (or all) of the three walks. So much beauty, so much history! I've been an age here looking through all the pics but I will return to follow up on the links throughout the post. That will keep me busy until you post Ireland!

  2. Looks a really varied coastline that Jim. Interested to read about Gavin Maxwell. He certainly seemed to go through a lot of otters. Alex met a middle aged guy in a West highland pub once that ruefully admitted he was the unfortunate 'real life' baddie in the film that killed the famous otter in the ditch.
    Not sure if it was true or not but it was in the right area and the rest of the bar staff agreed that this was the guy.
    'Got to keep them in check. They eat a lot of fish'

  3. I noticed the Gavin Maxwell memorial was out that way when I had my run round that area earlier in the year. But at the tail end of a drippy March day with the light going, I found myself out of inclination to go and find it (some signposting might have encouraged me) I shall return in better weather.

  4. Hi Rose, Ireland will be posted when I get caught up, glad you're enjoying my escapades.

    It probably was the guy then Bob. I never realised as probably most people didn't what a complex and morose character Maxwell was.

    Sandy, the story is that when he visited his family in the House of Elrig he brought his pet otter Mijbil down to Monreith Bay to exercise it.


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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