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Monday, 2 February 2015

Wigtownshire Ramblers-St Helena Island-Glenluce Abbey January 2015

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.
2010 Walk
2012 Walk

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.  
Leader's briefing

Scones ordered, heading out

Emerging onto Luce Sands

Oyster Catchers

Luce Sands

St Helena Island Footbridge

Happy Wanderers



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

Lunch break

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.


  1. You know, I love to walk and I do a lot of walking but I have never walked in a group, it must be fun. A always, your photos are beautiful and your post is fascinating. It is extremely cold here in Montreal, Canada today and I just love it. If you are dressed warmly it is wonderful, but I can't expect everyone to agree with me. I love winter. :)

    1. I love winter and snow and ice too Linda, but I just wish we could have it a little warmer.

  2. Both photographers captured every fascinating angle of the Abbey ruins. A great day for a non-hilly walk :)
    Curleywee won't go anywhere!

    1. Thank you Rose my love, your comments are always appreciated.
      If any readers think I'm getting too familiar with a fellow blogger then click here.
      Life's journey and its fabulous twists and turns

  3. Your photos present your part of the country very well Jim, they make me want to visit.

    1. Thanks Sandy, I like your end of the county too.
      When my dad was alive, him, me and my daughters got around the east quite a bit. I always wanted to climb the hill above Britain's fifth highest waterfall, maybe I'll do it yet.

  4. Nice set of photos Jim. I noticed gorse in full bloom recently too and it's very early for daffodils. I think poor old mother nature is starting to get dementia and doesn't know what month it is any longer.

    1. Thanks Bob, I think you touched on it in one of your posts. The day will come when mother nature turns round and says, enough is enough, you humans just aren't capable of looking after me.
      I watched that programme about the possibility of a giant tsunami and it's so possible. Maybe it'll come sooner than later. I'd love to see it, what a way to go, riding a giant wave.


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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