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Monday, 7 October 2013

Wigtownshire Ramblers St Medans to the Isle of Whithorn October 2013

Wigtownshire Ramblers 
Saturday the 5th October
Fifteen of us turn up for the 11 plus mile walk from St Medans to the Isle of Whithorn.
I'm today's walk leader and the report will follow the pictures.
As I'll be at the front for most of the time I'll be using quite a few of Scoop's excellent photographs. Other pictures from my recces will also be used.
Regular readers will know that this is probably my favourite coastline.
Normally I'd take the group along the beach, but a late start means we're a little behind schedule so the edge of the golf course will get us on our way.

The initial climb to the clifftop fairly surprised most folks.

The next couple of pictures courtesy of Scoop 
At the front of this group is a 77 year old 

Above Callie's Port

Pictures from one of my recces around the Grey Mares Tail waterfall.
(There must be hundreds of Grey Mares Tail waterfalls in Scotland)
Can anyone identify my bird ?

Another recce collage

This is the Bright Horizon skippered by Andrew Lochhead. 
The first local man to sign up for the Fishing for Litter environmental project.

Another of Scoops, close to the Fell of Carleton.

I had to take this picture as I crossed one of the many wee burns flowing to the coast.

 Another Scoops collage looking over to Laggan Camp promontory fort.

The cattle aren't too worried about the trespassers.

Knockgulsha ruin.
The 'Ranger' wasn't with us today, but did she notice as 'Shorty' pointed out, that looking at the grain it's two halves of the same stone !

I'm glad Scoop took these pictures. Probably the most vegetation we had to plough through today.
This 'path' took us down to Port Castle Bay.

More from Scoops camera. The top right picture in the above collage has a view of St Ninians Cave 

Scoops picture above shows the group walking down to a burn by what is one of the most historically interesting areas of today's walk. The Tonderghie Copper Mine may well go back to the bronze age.

From below the previous picture.

Before reaching the Tonderghie mine we'd just passed another very historical promontory that looks so ordinary I've neglected to take pictures, or if I have on my recces I can't find them.
The place in question is Carghidown Castle
The above picture from Future Museum shows three lead beads found during excavations which I believe are currently in the Stranraer Museum.

Scoop takes this photo as we head for our second break.

We're having our tea break at the Wickerman Stumps. They get shorter every time I see them.

Looking back to Burrowhead as we begin the last stretch.

This last three miles is the most popular with walkers

I wonder how old this fella is ? 

Time for group photos. The above from Scoop's camera..............

...................and this one from mine.
(spot who moved)

I must admit I like this picture. There's the fisherman, there's the ruins of St Ninian's Chapel and there's Stein Head, the headland that has Trigpoint 6173 FB S8232

Our shadows lengthen as we come into the Isle of Whithorn.

A colourful display outside the Post Office

The Isle of Whithorn Castle

We'll have our after walk refreshments here at the Steam Packet.

I think the walk went well.

Wigtownshire Ramblers Walk Report
Saturday the 5th October

On a dry but breezy morning, fifteen walkers gathered at the beach car park below St Medan’s golf club for the eleven plus mile walk start.
To catch up on a late start they made their way along the fairways to reach the sunken feature known as Boden Walls Well. Little information is known about this, but it’s thought it may have been for religious worship.  
Now they made the precipitous climb to the cliff-tops. Here they were shown the outline of the first promontory fort of the many along the route. Looking down on Callie's Port and the Red Gate caves, the varied and irregular rock formations were noted. One rock indentation in the shape of an upside down heart has been christened Neptune's Seat. Cormorants were seen standing in a row on shoreline rocks.
After passing the point where the Grey Mare's Tail waterfall tumbles onto the shore, the path comes a little away from the shore. Occasional barbed wire fences, gates and drystane dykes were carefully crossed.
After passing Cairndoon they reached a derelict farm building at Knockgulsha. In one of the walls, two symmetrically placed diamond shaped stones created an interest. One eagle eyed rambler spotted that the grain on each was a mirror image of the other and were obviously two halves of the same stone.
A little further on the group were now able to look down on the Carleton Port shoreline. Here this isolated stretch of coast has more than its share of washed up litter including a great variety of fish boxes.
With the Fell of Carleton looming above, the large pear shaped promontory fort of Laggan Camp came into view where its double ramparts were easily identifiable.
Out to sea the Bright Horizon fishing boat was busy checking on fishing creels.
After crossing another barbed wire fence by means of a conveniently placed boulder the cliff side was again accessed. A short trek uphill through bracken and heather brought them to a field below the Fell of Glasserton. Pheasants, Snipe and rabbits were disturbed along the way.
Now the going got easier to reach the Claymoddie road above Port Counan. Here a lunch break was taken. 
Back on the move and refreshed they now negotiated another drystone dyke and barbed wire fence to reach the Physgill Glen plantation.  Climbing another dyke and fence they now carefully descended through bracken, bramble, sloe and a steep slope to reach Port Castle Bay. Because all of today’s walkers had made previous visits, St Ninian’s cave was given a miss.
From here on, the coastal path is regularly walked, and a more comfortable and discernible path became the norm. 
Now as the group reached a small dull looking promontory the walk leader read out some astonishing facts. This was the site of Carghidown Castle and excavations in 2003 and 2004 revealed that the unusual fortifications were suddenly and inexplicably abandoned by the Novantae, an early Scottish people. A roundhouse with three successive floor surfaces was uncovered. The last one being unfinished and evidence of the dismantlement of a stone rampart led the team to believe it had been abandoned in a hurry. Stone tools and a considerable amount of charcoal date the site as 2200 years old.
A little further on evidence of 18th century activity came in the shape of the Tonderghie Copper mine workings. The walk leader produced a map from a 2003 survey which identified various mine workings.
On reaching Burrowhead the walk leader pointed out the promontory fort and ruins of Castle Feather and WW2 remnants from when it was an RAF Anti-Aircraft Training camp.
Now they moved along the shore to where two wooden stumps were embedded in concrete, an ideal place for a tea break. Those who didn’t know learned that the stumps were all that remained of the structure burned in the final scene of the Wickerman where Howie alias Edward Woodward met his fate.
Again refreshed the group now made their way back to the cliff tops for the final three miles of the walk. After passing the isolated WW2 pillbox an inquisitive seal kept popping up to watch the group go by. 
Soon the Isle of Whithorn and the distinctive square white tower came into view. The tower has been a mariner's landmark for close on two centuries.
As the group descended into the village the sun shone on the harbour providing a picturesque finish to a long hike.
After walk refreshments were enjoyed outdoors overlooking the harbour at the Steam Packet Inn before car drivers were ferried back to the walk start to collect their vehicles.
Next Saturday's walk on the 12th October is a 6.5 mile circular round the lower Luce Valley. Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer 9.30 am, the Riverside, Newton Stewart 9.30 am or the walk start at Glenluce Golf Club (NX 178 562) at 10 am.
For more information or if going direct to the walk start contact the walk leader on 01776 840636.


  1. I think the bird you photographed is a female wheatear. I would be interested if any other twitchers have an opinion. Another excellent blog Sir keep up the good work.

  2. As I look through your lovely photos and am taken away by the gorgeous background you have chosen for your blog, I am making a nice cup of ginger/lemon tea with a little honey, great and refreshing after my supper. Every time I look through your photos I am taken to another place...and a beautiful one, one I have never had the opportunity to see. Thank you so much for sharing.

  3. Looks a great walk Jim. That's still one of my favourite films, loads of good quirky songs in it and fine performances. Tell tale eye-stripe on the bird.

  4. Cheers Gordon, I think you're right about the bird, as Bob of Blue Sky Scotland says the eye stripe gives it away. I first thought it was a wagtail as was also suggested by another walker.

    Thanks Linda, I often enjoy a green tea with honey, at the moment I'm off Lemon tea.

    Cheers Bob, I also learned that because Britt Ekland was pregnant at the time, most of the nude shots were her stand in, supposedly a local lass from Creetown.

  5. I can certainly see why that is your favorite coastline, absolutely gorgeous! I would love to hike there. I'm glad to see the ramblers are still going strong. Have a great weekend Jim! : )

  6. The cliffs and the coastline really are magnificent Jim.

  7. I thought that bit of wall was familiar - it appeared two blogs ago, except not with an explaination.

    Good seal sighting.


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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