January 31st 2015
We were due to walk up Curleywee on the last day of January, but weather conditions and deep snow brought about a swap of walks. Instead of Curleywee, the walk was changed to St Helena's Isle to Glenluce Abbey.
A walk we've done a few times. I missed the last one, but here's a couple I attended.
Scoop was the walk leader and once I have her report I'll add it to the post.
I'll also add a selection of her photographs.
Scones ordered, heading out
Emerging onto Luce Sands
St Helena Island Footbridge
More snowdrops, A75 Bridge over the Water of Luce and one dyed sheep
Weir on the Water of Luce
"Blissit be the name of the Lord. This
verk vas begvn the first day of March
1590 be Thomas Hay of Park
and Janet Mak-dovel his spovs."
Blessed be the name of the Lord. This
work was begun the first day of March
1590 by Thomas Hay of Park
and Janet Macdowell his spouse.
A daffodil opening
View north east from Wood of Park
A section of the walk was a circular undulating path through the Wood of Park.
The next seven pictures are of that path
The next six pictures show the walk taking to the fields and stiles over Fine View and Scrimple
Accessing the New Luce road
End of Abbey pictures
Railway bridge at Challoch Clumps
Silage bales at Challoch Clumps
Bombing target Luce Bay
Field back to the walk start at the County Golf Club
The Rear Guard
View of the Galloway hills on the road home
Here's a selection of pictures from our walk leader
Here's the leader's report
Wigtownshire Ramblers Walk 31 January 2015 St. Helena’s Isle – Glenluce Abbey
Recent heavy snowfalls in the Galloway Hills and the expectation of more to come, with the addition of strong winds, caused the postponement of the climb of Curleywee. Instead, a low level walk was chosen as a replacement. Today’s walk leader welcomed a new walker to the well wrapped up group of 25 and set off from the County Golf Club, Glenluce, heading for the pebbly shore. Sunshine made a welcome appearance through the wispy clouds as they walked towards the outlet of water which surrounds St. Helena’s Isle. This is only an island in really high tides. Its name comes from St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1815. The landowner, Admiral Dalrymple Hay, was involved in the transportation and jailing of Napoleon to the island and, upon his return to Scotland, decided to commemorate the occasion by naming this small piece of shore land ‘St. Helena’s Isle’.
Leaving the beach and walking for a few yards on the edge of the golf course, the group followed the track through the recently cleared gorse bushes to the ‘new’ bridge. Some flooded areas of the track were easily avoided before woodland was reached where snowdrops were starting to raise their heads towards the brightening sky. The Water of Luce was in full flow, some outflows needing to be negotiated by the group who slipped and slid occasionally on the muddy track.
On reaching the road, once the main A75 which ran through Glenluce before the village was bypassed, the viaduct came into sight. Passing under this magnificent structure, the walkers took the road towards Castle of Park. The castle, which is now leased to the Landmark Trust by Historic Scotland, is available for holidays. Built in 1590 by Thomas Hay, the son of the last abbot of Glenluce, it's quite an imposing tower house. The translated inscription above the door reads ‘Blessed be the name of the Lord. This work was begun the first day of March
1590 by Thomas Hay of Park and Janet Macdowell his spouse’.
Retracing their steps a short way, they reached the old railway line which is now a wide track running through the Wood of Park in which there is now a signposted circular walk. Taking a track off to the right and then a left fork, single file walking was needed as it curved in a zigzag fashion along a clearing through the trees, bracken lining both sides and then enclosed by rhododendrons, before returning to the track. More woodland was entered on its other side. The sun was streaking though the tall conifers, its rays lighting up the pine needles below them, and one of a myriad of tracks was followed. Eventually the woodland became one of native trees, and the pathway through the shrubby undergrowth became muddier.
Now the Viaduct was back in view and the group crossed the bridge over the Water of Luce. Taking the road opposite and following the Pilgrim’s Way footpath sign, they walked beside the river before turning into a field. Guided by way markers, a stile was reached, beyond which deeply rutted soft ground had to be negotiated. A gate on the other side of the field led onto a track, with its improving surface. After a short walk along a concrete farm road it was a short distance to the New Luce road and the lunch destination of Glenluce Abbey.
Founded around 1192 by Roland of Galloway, Glenluce reflects the influences of Melrose and Dundrennan abbeys, both suggested as the possible mother house. Positioned close to the River Luce and Luce bay it was a convenient stop for pilgrims visiting nearby St Ninian’s shrine. Despite the costs of providing hospitality, the abbey remained in reasonable condition into the early 16th century. The most important part of the abbey was its church. As usual this was constructed along the north side of the site so that its taller height did not cast the rest of the abbey in shadow. Today parts of the south transept wall still stand, but little remains above ground level of the rest of the church. A reconstructed part of cloister arcading leads to an ornately decorated doorway and into the chapter house. This was rebuilt in about 1500. It has a lovely vaulted ceiling, with bosses and corbels rising from a central pillar.
Lunch consumed, it was all road walking from there, using the bridge to cross over the Water of Luce before going under a couple of railway bridges to reach and cross the new A75. A short section of original road was walked before the old A75 was crossed and a couple of fields were negotiated before the County Golf Course was reached and the walkers were welcomed in its restaurant with refreshments. Their scones and cakes are to be thoroughly recommended!
Next Saturday’s walk on 7th February is one of 7.5 miles in Glenwhan Forest starting from Glenwhan Forest Gate (NX 141 619). Meet for car sharing at the Riverside, Newton Stewart at 9.15am, the Breastworks, Stranraer at 9.30am, or at the walk start. For more information, or if going direct to the walk start, contact the walk leader on 01776 700707. Visitors and new members are always welcome but please phone the walk leader in advance.