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Monday, 28 April 2014

Wigtownshire Ramblers Torhousemuir April 2014

26th of April 2014
Today's walk sees me as leader. It's a new walk in the central Machars I've worked out.
Thirty walkers is the most we've had this year, must be the fact that there's no hills.
The walk report will follow the pictures.
I'd passed the big gateway with the sign saying 'Clauchrie Forest' several times over the years before finally parking up and having a look in 2013. It's only since my first recce that the trees have been felled. What is good to see though is that replanting is taking place too.

On the recce with G.I.Joe, we'd spotted half a dozen ewes in a field with triplets. They'd melt the hardest of hearts. More work for the shepherd though.

Illustration by Chris Sandbach
After a fairly easy clamber over a drystone dyke we are in the Torhousemuir estate close to Balmeg (bottom right above)
Joe Whiteford, the author of 'Torhousemuir' passed away in 2008. His obituary can be read on this Galloway Gazette page.  

Now we move up to Torhousemuir House, a C(S) listed building.
Thanks go to Mr Ian and Mrs June Robinson for allowing us to view the grounds around their beautiful house.
Previous illustrious owners include Sir Archibald Woollaston White, Lt.-Cdr. Charles David Orr Ewing, Lord John Percy Samuel FitzRoy, and James McHaffie, born Fuffock, Scotland 27 Jan 1775, died Wigtown, 22 Nov 1865, served 23 North British Regiment of Foot, retired Lt General. married Hannah Douart Rankine 29 July 1805.  

Kids growing up perhaps?

A short way up the road we come to the settlement of Ha' Hill (the adjoining small hill goes by the same name). The home of Ha' Hill Gardens & Nursery. 

Liz McLaughlin and her husband Adrian have worked hard over most of the last decade to develop new features on this wonderful garden, originally created 30 years ago by Lady White of Torhousemuir.
The garden is open by appointment on 01988 403377. Donations will go to charity.

The Welly Boot Collie

We were going to give it a miss, I'm so glad we were persuaded not to!

It really is a hidden gem, being out of sight of the estate road.

I got these two lovely ladies to pose to enhance the beauty.
(Right click and 'Open in new tab' for a full size view) 

The ducks were on the base of what was the horse driven corn grinder.
Thank you Liz and Adrian, that was a thoroughly enjoyable diversion.

The ruins of Barnanchor croft.

South east from Barnanchor croft towards Mossend.

Mossend, the former home of Joe Whiteford.
To the left was the byre and the milk house/dairy.
From the central wall right was the living/dining (and bedroom for sisters Lena and Jean) then the bedroom. A double bed for the parents and a double bed for Joe and his brother or three/four if they had visitors. If cousins cycled down from Ayr, there'd be up to 12 sleeping in the house overnight. The brick attachment was added when improvements were occurring on the estate.
Reminds me of my first visit to Ireland !

Artefacts from the past.

We continued on down the lane passing the ruins of Windy Gap croft......... 
...............before stopping for lunch in front of Hill View croft.

The emerging sun makes for pleasant al fresco dining.

I took an earlier look inside Hill View.

The drystone wall was rebuilt and left in a much better condition than we found it.
Thanks to Shorty and the Farmer.

Crossing Cairnhouse Moor.
Wuthering Heights springs to mind.

Possibly one hundred year old iron.

The fluffy white tail of a deer scampering away.

Wood Anemone.

Millpond at Cairnhouse Farm.

Once again the Farmer and Shorty are the heroes.

A group photo in a field near Clauchrie.

Now there's a strange thing, we're on the track back to the cars and I've ended up at the back !
Scones anyone ?

Here's the walk report.
Wigtownshire Ramblers Walk Report
26th of April 2014

N.B. A correction to an item in last weeks report: The sheep at North Port o’ Spittal farm were not Jacob Suffolk cross as reported but in fact a herd of Zwartbles. Thanks to Mr Rob McCaig for the correction.

A dreich morning saw thirty walkers arrive at the walk start at Clauchrie Forest road end. Organising the car parking in the limited space available meant a slight delay to the walk start.
The walk began following a farm track north alongside Rough Gib hill to Clauchrie forest edge. 
Here a rough track created by tree felling operations was taken to reach a drystone dyke on the edge of the Torhousemuir estate.
After a careful crossing of the dyke a narrow field led to the estate road to Balmeg.
Here the walk leader gave a short account of how Torhousemuir came into being, its succession of notable owners and the creation by James McHaffie of Fuffock of its thirty eight crofts.
On reaching the main estate drive we now entered the grounds of Torhousemuir House.
Here, with the kind permission of the owners we enjoyed viewing the exterior of this impressive mid-18th century and Victorian 2-storey, 3-bay mansion house. Rustic outbuildings and an attractive fish pond complete with island created a scene reminiscent of a Thomas Hardy novel.
By now the weather was on the change and waterproofs were being shed.  
We now continued on to Ha’ Hill croft, gardens and nursery. Here the owners gave us an insight into the crofts past, we saw the circular base of a horse driven corn grinder and we wandered the extensive colourful gardens and ponds. Curios included a collie created from old wellingtons, a bicycle that’s become a basket stand of flowers and an old sheet metal ‘Sunlight soap’ advertising board. This delightful gem with donations to charity is open by appointment on 01988 403377.
We continued on past the ruins of Mount Pleasant and Woodside crofts before reaching a wooded plantation. Beyond here was the farm Knockskeog, the only Torhousemuir property still being farmed by the original family. 
Turning easterly and with the help of Joe Whiteford’s book “Torhousemuir : Memories of a Wigtownshire Crofter 1935 – 1945”, we now came upon the ruins of Barnanchor croft.  An old metal wash tub brought back memories to some of the older group members.  
Turning south through a field of sheep and gambolling lambs we reached Mossend. This was the croft of Joe Whiteford’s ‘Memories’ and allowed us to see the layout that existed. To one end was the cow byre. Next to that was the milk house or dairy. In the house itself we saw a cooking range at one end while opposite was a fireplace which would have been in one of the two bedrooms. A brick extension provided the second bedroom. An illustration in Joe's book shows how compact the living must have been. 
Now the road south took us past the ruins of Windy Gap croft before reaching Hillview croft. 
By now the sun was shining and a leisurely lunch break was taken looking towards Ha’ Hill.
After lunch we turned east through another field of sheep and lambs. The yellow of bright flowering gorse was in abundance today. A partially collapsed drystone wall was rebuilt after gaining access to the moors. Now an old right of way track, sometimes indistinguishable, took us across Cairnhouse moor to reach Cairnhouse farm. Here we stopped by a mill pond complete with sluice gate. Having a retired farmer in the group proved fortuitous as he explained the workings of the water supply and where the mill wheel would have stood in an adjoining building. 
Now a short road walk took us south passing Cairnhouse croft and Glenturk Moor croft.
Originally this road would have gone on through Clauchrie to a junction with the Wigtown Kirkcowan road. Reaching Moorhead of Glenturk however, it becomes an overgrown alley of bramble, gorse and hawthorn bushes.
We now crossed into an adjacent field for a short distance before again accessing the alley to emerge through bright yellow gorse into another field.  Here we disturbed the rarely seen but easily recognised small falcon, the hobby.
Now we crossed to the west to the edge of Clauchrie Forest where we made our way over to Meg’s Hill. Following the drystone dyke to a crossing point over a small burn we were soon back on the track of our departure. The short track soon had us back at the cars.
Our day was completed at the Bayview Bistro in Wigtown for excellent scones, cakes and other refreshments. So many of us attended that we ran out of boiling water !

The next walk on Saturday the 3rd of May is a 9 mile B walk over the Byne and Grey hills near Girvan.
Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer 9.15am, Riverside, Newton Stewart 9.00am or the walk start at Woodlands Farm (NX 174 951) at 10am. For further details or if going to the start please phone walk leader 01581 200256. New members are always welcome.


  1. Such lovely scenery, and the lambs are precious!

    1. I love pastoral scenes Linda, when it's lambing season all is well with my world.

  2. A rustic walk this one Jim, and very nice of the Robinsons to allow you to roam.
    Triplets weren't uncommon for us but was dependent on the season. They are a delight.
    You cannot deny that your ducks are prettier than mine!
    Oh, and no not all Aussies are in one with nature, most wouldn't know a gum tree if it fell on top of them :/

    1. Thanks Rose, I haven't met too many Wallies or Dingos breakfasts so I guess you're right.
      We may have some prettier birds than you, but never more colourful.

  3. looks like another wonderful walk
    love the baby sheep
    and all the flowers
    how fun!

    1. Hi Tammie, yes it's great fun. I see spring has arrived in Montana, your pictures depict it beautifully.

  4. Very varied walk leader. That pond looks amazing. Mine was planned to be that size until I discovered how hard it was to dig out a four foot hole by hand and how much dirt you ended up with. Still have piles of dirt hidden away in odd corners of the garden years later.


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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