It's Saturday the 15th of September and I'm leading today's walk up Cairnsmore of Dee and Benniguinea.
I'll rephrase that to "surviving today's walk up....."
As a group we've done a version of this walk before.
It was just over 5 years ago.
I've been up here a few times myself since, but the last time it was on the programme it was cancelled due to stormy weather when an alternative walk was brought into play.
My easiest traverse of these two hills was A frosty day in March 2010
Today's walk report will follow the images.
Along the Raiders Road.........
..................and down to the Labyrinth called 'The Path'.
The Black Water of Dee
Red Deer at Laggan o'Dee
Into the tussocks and heather.
Onto the Rig of Craig Gilbert
View over to Clatteringshaws Loch
Lunch and identifying landmarks
Group photo overlooking Clatteringshaws
The Nick of Benniguinea (The lonesome rowan tree is in this picture)
A friendly wave !
Clatteringshaws Visitors Centre
Clatteringshaws eastern bank
The dam outflow...........
............to the Black Water of Dee
Here's the report.
Wigtownshire Ramblers walk report
Saturday the 14th of September
A fine morning saw seventeen walkers gather at the forestry car park opposite Clatteringshaws dam. Here the forestry commission have been busy erecting information boards promoting the 'Dark Sky' aspects of the forestry.
The walk began along the Raiders Road, the forest drive leading to Bennan near Mossdale.
The first point of interest was the Labyrinth, part of the Art in the Forest project 1998. Created by Jim Buchanan and called 'The Path' it's a 50 metre raised winding path.
After a circuit of 'The Path' the walk continued to Laggan o'Dee. Along here the group's forestry expert pointed out the damage being caused by the spreading Larch disease.
A clearing in the forest afforded a scenic view of the Black Water of Dee wending it's way south east.
At Laggan o'Dee a small enclosed herd of Red Deer were in residence.
Now the route left the Raiders Road north along a short forestry track before turning east to follow a path crossing the Laggan Burn. In the edge of forest dampness Fir Clubmoss and Butterwort thrived.
Now a boggy abandoned field led to the slopes of the Rig of Craig Gilbert and the beginning of a tough climb.
Large tussocks, heather and occasional rocky outcrops made this relatively short section the hardest part of the walk. With no discernible paths progress was slow. Often a leg would vanish below the knee or a stumble produce a muttered profanity or a laugh. Bodies would occasionally appear to vanish only to reappear none the worse for the tumble. Numerous rests were required for the majority while the few gazelles of the group made more rapid progress.
On reaching the Rig of Craig Gilbert the going got easier until the craggy southern end of Cairnsmore of Dee was reached. A final push up this steep section saw the group reach the cairn and trig-point at the summit.
Now a lunch break was taken during which the extensive views could be enjoyed. Distant views included the Cumbrian mountains and the Isle of Man, while closer by, the Glenkens and lochs, the Galloway Hydro lochs and the Galloway hills and villages were easily identifiable.
After lunch the group descended to the Nick of Benniguinea with some walkers finding the tussocks almost as troublesome as on the climb. Amid the heather and tussocks stood a lone rowan tree with it's branches full of berries, perhaps a contender with the rowan on Rannoch Moor which is called the loneliest tree in Britain.
After following an animal track across the Nick, the ascent of Benniguinea began.
Though not as hard a climb as Cairnsmore of Dee lots of effort was still required to reach the large radio mast on the summit. Overlooking Clatteringshaws loch another break was taken to allow the walkers to regroup.
Now a zigzag forest road led down to the Clatteringshaws visitors centre.
Here welcome refreshments were enjoyed on the outdoor tables overlooking the loch.
Recently reopened under new management, the cafe staff are still finding their feet, but eventually succeeded in serving all seventeen walkers some of their delicious fare.
Suitably refreshed the group now took to the A712 for a short road-walk before dropping down to the outlet of the Clatteringshaws Dam, having earlier seen old photographs of it's construction. Built in 1935 this amazing feat of engineering saw the Black Water of Dee dammed to feed water via a train size tunnel to the Glenlee Power station.
A short section of the original road now took the group back to cross the A712 and the walk finish.
The next walk, on Saturday the 21st of September is a 12 mile circular walk taking in Loch Whinyeon and Cally Woods followed by supper at the Ship Inn, Gatehouse of Fleet. Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks Stranraer, 10 am, the Riverside, Newton Stewart, 10.30 am. The walk starts at the Cally Woods Car Park (NX 605 561) at 11.00 am. New members are always welcome.For more information or if going direct to the walk start please contact the walk leader on 01776 840226.