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Sunday, 19 October 2014

The Wigtownshire Ramblers Creetown Knockean and Larg Hills October 2014

Saturday the 18th of October.
Today's walk is one we've done a number of times.
The last time, April 2013 gives links to previous climbs.
There are 27 of us out today.
A' OK is writing today's report and I'll include it when received.
My photographs will be followed by a selection from Scoop. 

We start at the Gem Rock Museum

After walking through the village we turn up by the ruins of the old corn mill. 
Not sure what the graffiti represents, there appears to be an evil eye at the front of it.

I didn't get what they were looking skywards at ?

After the cold of earlier in the week, it's almost tropical in Balloch Wood.
Quite a number of top layers come off.

I've wondered about 'Cardoon Ponds' and finally the penny has dropped. There are no Cardoon Ponds !. This is the Cardoon Bridge, and the arrow tells us that the track leads to the ponds. DOH !

Though quite an overcast day Garrocher ponds look stunning.

Creebaby from a different angle to my last one.

Once this fella/lady was a safe distance away, he/she wasn't averse to being photographed.

Swan lake

After a short walk along the quite historic Corse of Slakes road, we turn to the hills.

It's quite windy as we begin to climb. 
There's something in the air today, many of today's walkers have a mischievous glint in their eye. 

Most of the fungi we spotted were coming to their end. I like the way those above on the left have split to look like pretty flowers.

A short break and sweetie distribution before the steeper slopes.

The problems of the world are forgotten on these hills.

Another stop for breath and a picture.

Definitely something in the air !

Not quite the top yet.

Cairnsmore of Fleet is hidden in the clouds just now.

Last stretch to the summit of Knockeans.

Made it, the wind is almost gale force up here.

We lunched in the small gap between the two summits.
Scoop, top left, was lucky not to become airborne.

After lunch we head towards our next target which is Larg Hill (not to be confused with it's larger namesake north of Newton Stewart).

It's a drop down between the two hills.

Spot my mistake, I've included the previous picture in the above collage.

What's going on to the left ?

They're doing the 'Mountain Stomp'

A'OK tells me that the word 'Windswept' might just appear in the report.

It's misty but beautiful out in Wigtown Bay.

We're soon atop Larg Hill.

Many cameras appear as we begin our descent back towards Creetown.

It's a carefully negotiated descent down the steeper slopes.

Meanwhile, down on Larg Farm.

I was almost naughty with the notice on the left above. I decided against the new version, there's nothing aggressive about these ladies.

We paid a visit to the Haiku stones before walking back through the village.
Excellent tea, coffee, cakes and scones in the Prospector's Pantry topped a grand day .

Here's a selection of Scoop's excellent pictures.

A wonderful day's walking.

Here's A'OK's report.

Wigtownshire Ramblers Saturday 18th October 2014 Creetown and Larg Hill

“Wind speeds of 50 miles per hour making walking difficult on the hills” was what the weather forecaster promised on the Out of Doors radio programme at 7am last Saturday. Perhaps some walkers hadn’t listened to the forecast, perhaps some didn’t care or perhaps they liked the idea of being buffeted about by the wind but twenty seven gathered at the Gem Rock Museum in Creetown for the start of the walk. The wind must have got up their tails and they seemed to be in high spirits as they set off through Creetown and up the hill to Balloch Wood. On the way they passed the ruin of an old waulk mill which had been powered by water from the Balloch Burn. The mill was used in the cloth making process in Creetown. Waulking is a method of making cloth thick and felted. After pounding and rinsing, the cloths were stretched on racks of oak bars to dry. The rails were studded with tenterhooks, L-shaped nails that hooked into the cloth to keep it stretched – hence the popular expression “to be on tenterhooks”.   
On reaching the Balloch wood the chatter quietened as the group was forced to walk in single file along the path through the trees. Photographers lagged behind as they strove to get choice pictures of the Balloch burn and the picturesque fungi littering the ground along the way.
 The group eventually emerged from the wood at Cardoon Ponds above the Balloch Bridge where they stopped for sweeties and to admire the metal framed sculpture of the Cree baby. Two swans posed elegantly on the water against a colourful background of autumnal trees. A frog was spotted at the edge and also photographed before escaping to the depths below. 
The walkers now proceeded along the Corse of Slakes road past the Garrochar Christmas tree farm where work was underway marking out those trees suitable to grace living rooms this December.  They soon came to a sign pointing over the moor with the information that it was one mile to the top of Larg Hill and two and half back to Creetown. The walkers followed the direction of the signpost upwards through the sometimes squelchy track towards the summit. The incline soon had the walkers stretched out with the fittest at the front and the determined bringing up the rear. As they reached higher levels the wind attacked in force making the climb even harder. All eventually reached the summit of Knockeans where they were rewarded with views over Wigtown Bay and Cairnsmore with its cloudy hat. There were no takers to pose for the usual picture on the summit as at least one of our vertically challenged members was knocked off her feet by the relentless blast of the wind. Lunch was taken huddled in the lee of the hill where there was some shelter to be had.
Lunchboxes packed away, the walkers resumed their ramble, although with some divergence of opinion as to which route to take as the direction posts which had guided them this far were now conspicuous by their absence. Eventually all reassembled at the bottom of Knockeans and began the climb up to the top of Larg. The views were even more spectacular from here with the Cree estuary mapped out below and a misty view over to Wigtown and beyond. A steep descent was now made and some members recalled their last walk over this spot when patches of snow had caused some to plunge unexpectedly knee deep into the drifts and they had been forced to climb over the gate at the bottom of the hill as a large snowdrift had prevented it from being opened.

On Saturday however, mud was the challenge as the recent rain had turned the path into a quagmire sending ramblers hopping from one tussock to another. Eventually the track into Creetown was reached and now there were trees to be admired in all their autumn glory, a spectacular Indian bean tree, bamboo and other unusual species being noted in an orchard below the route.
The group now made their way back to the Gem Rock museum for a welcome cuppa and tempting cakes. The staff having been forewarned had scones baking in the oven. A scrumptious end to an invigorating walk.
Next week ramblers again return to Creetown for a walk along the railway path and back over Clanery and Blairs hills. Meet at the Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 9am or the Riverside in Newton Stewart at 9.30am for car sharing. The walk starts at Cairnsmore car park at 10am. For more information or if new to the group please contact the walk leader on 01671 403351.


  1. Stunning photos, Jim! I love the views, the pond, the Autumn colours and the frog and swans.

  2. Nice variety of photos Jim. I noticed that huge rise in temperature as well. Sweat was dripping off me with just a waterproof on over a T-shirt.

    1. After the remnants of Gonzalo passes over I've heard we've to expect hail and thunder Bob. It's going to turn cold then.

  3. Absolutely stunning - it was gorgeous last time too with the snow. Garrocher ponds is a photographers dream. The reflection is mirror perfect. No small wonder that so many showed up for the bracing hike. Larg hill.....the views are sensational and I wonder what was in the air that day! What fun.

    1. It was great fun in the snow too Rose. Perhaps Knockeans and Larg have little unseen mischievous residents who cast a spell whenever anyone ventures on to them.
      Here's a Galloway Fairy Story.

      Draw thy stool nearer and I’ll tell ye a true tale that happened when I was a bit gilpin o’ a lassie at Lochinwhirn.

      My cousin Maggie Fairgray was as sonsie a weel-faured lass as ever graces the Ha’ o’ ony farmer atween Gargen Brig and the Corse o’ Slakes. She wasna brought up like the guid-for-naething hizzies nowadays. A’ the tome Maggie could be spared frae the hay or peat moss she gave to tentin’ her daddie’s sheep.

      Well, it happened on a fine afternoon about auld Lammas as Maggie sat spinning on her rock (distaff) on a mickle grey stane near the brow o’ the well that bears her name to this day, she happened to look towards the well and frae a stump o’ moss oak about a foot ablow the water she saw gold chains supporting a kettle as large as ever swung in Lizzie Lowne’s lodging house.

      Awa’ she heid wi’ a’ speed for her faither and brithers, but first she stuck up her rock – spindle and tow – to mark the place. I mind weel to see her coming a’ forfochten up the close, crying, “Faither, Jamie, Will, evert ane o’ ye, come awa to the well at back o’ Bodsknowe and help me out wi’ a pot o’ gowd I saw in’t.”

      “Hout, daft lassie,” quo’ her faither, “ye hae either been dreamin’ or some Elfe has casten its glamour o’er ye to gar ye droon yersel’ in that unsonsie well, but howsomever I’m thankfu’ ye escaped sae weel; and noo we’ll gang and see this wonderfu’ sight o’ yours, though troath I doubt nane o’ us will be muckle the richer o’t.”

      When they reached the tap o’ the hill and Maggie cast her e’en towards Bodsknowe to look for her rock and spindle, the whole moss and moors as far as they could see was a forest of rocks and spindles.

      “Did I no tell ye,” quo her faither, “that it was a fairy concern a’thegether? And look yonders, the verra fowk themsel’s!”

      Wi’ that a dozen wee fowk clad in green, as wi’ ae voice, started the auld sang, “Tea and Brandy,” then cried, “Maggie, Maggie, look aboot! Look aboot!”

      Maggie and her friends did sae, and when they turned round again the elfin singers had set up a loud laugh and vanished. Maggie’s rock was lying at her feet, the whole valley had its usual appearance, but her hale stock o’ tow was spun up.

      And that’s nae carried clash, for it happened amang my ain honest fowks that widna lie for naebody.

      Source: A Forgotten Heritage, ed. Hannah Aitken (1973). Taken from The Castle Douglas Miscellany, vol. 2.
      ©Scottish Academic Press

  4. And what a Fairy least I know the voice now to go with the tellin' of it. :)


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