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Sunday, 30 March 2014

Wigtownshire Ramblers The Lost Villages of Ayrshire March 2014

Saturday the 29th of March
We're heading north to Waterside for today's walk.
Previous posts for this area can be found at

I'm today's leader and the report will follow the pictures. There'll also be a few pictures from Monday's recce with the 'Ranger'. 
Thanks to both Scoop and the Ayrshire Blogger for their contribution of photographs.

The leader.
Thanks to the aforementioned blogger for this first picture.

The Drumgrange Burn and Patna.

The Drumgrange Incline.

This one from Scoop.

A collage from the recce.
It was cooler but brighter.

Just about to enter the village of Lethanhill.

This is looking along the Auld Schuil (school) Row.

White Brick Row and Briggate

An interesting photographic portrait from Scoop.

More from Scoop.

A wonderful piece of civil engineering.

It probably would have withstood our crossing, but it wasn't attempted.
My call of "Yer on yer own", became the catch phrase for the group's wags for the rest of the walk.
The 'Weaver's' warning however carried more threat and weight.

The crossing to the  war memorial at Benwhat on Benquhat Hill.

It's still well looked after and frequently visited.

A group photo from Scoop.

Pictures from the recce showing snow on the Galloway Hills. During the recce there was barely a moment when we didn't see an aircraft above us.

Lunch at Benwhat.

Crossing to Burnhead.

Lots of slagheaps and bings.

Burnhead and Corbie Craigs by Scoop.

She also waited for this beauty.......

................and this.

Corbie Craigs Village.

More from Scoop.

Alongside the Rough Burn.

A well built tunnel. The flower, thought to be a Colt's Foot, was growing completely submerged. 

Abandoned vehicles and stone carvings.

A group photograph from Gordon.
Cheers !

Another cracking collage of Scoop's pictures..........

..............and more from the recce.

Pipe across to a disused mine shaft.

More recce pictures. The two Hercules were so quiet that I only just got a picture of the one at the back. I wouldn't have got that but for the 'Ranger' being alert.
There's a photographic video by Abandoned Scotland of Dunaskin on 
The site is also up for sale at a giveaway price.
There must be a billionaire out there, possibly with Scottish roots, willing to fork out and save this site for Scotland's heritage ?

These last ones are from Scoop. Looks like she fancies herself as an engine driver.

Thanks to Google for this last picture.
It's the Eglington Hotel in Dalmellington. Thanks for a delicious and sumptuous spread Tom.

Here's the report.
Wigtownshire Ramblers 29th March 2014  

Twenty one walkers gathered at the entrance to Dunaskin Ironworks for the walk. The weather forecast was for a good day.
Starting out in a north westerly direction, our first point of interest was the grade two listed building that is the Waterside Institute. Here we saw the first of three war memorial that we’d encounter today.
Now we climbed a few steps up to the disused rail line leading to open countryside. Here the open fields were dotted with odd brick buildings once associated with the mines and ironworks. At the Drumgrange burn a line branched uphill. This was the track of an incline drum and steel rope haulage system for raising and lowering rail bogies. A steady climb led us to the ruins of the drum housing. Open cast coal quarries lay abandoned to the west.
Here we saw and heard the first of the many skylarks that nest on these moors.
Now a level track took us past the second war memorial where those remembered were mostly conscripts of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. It was hard to believe that this was once a busy street separating the villages of Burnfoothill and Lethanhill. Further on, a large white painted stone declared 'Long Live the Hill'.
At the ruins of what was once the village store we entered the wood that encompasses the former village of Lethanhill. Here, thanks to an old map we walked along Whaup Row, White Brick Row and Briggate. The terraced houses now mostly reduced to rubble gave a fascinating insight to an age gone by.
Leaving Lethanhill we now headed east along a track. Only used by shepherds, walkers and wild animals these days, this track once carried bogies filled with coal and iron ore.
The track now took us to the edge of the former hill village of Benquhat.
From here we walked across a somewhat swampy moor to climb to our third war memorial, this one also remembered conscripts of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Wreath laying ceremonies still take place annually. A short break was taken to enjoy the somewhat misty views.
We now retraced our steps to Benquhat where we walked among the ruins of the school. Broken porcelain identified the toilet block.
Slag heaps and ironwork mounds are scattered across this area and it was between these we found a sheltered spot for lunch.
After lunch we made our way across more moor and old workings to the head of Corbie Craigs. With the sun now breaking through misty skies, we took our time to view the tumbling waterfalls in the deep gorge below.
A little lower down we came to Corbie Craigs Village. This was a single row of terraced houses built by the Dalmellington Iron Company in the 1850's. The village was abandoned in the 1950's and left to ruin.  A local man we encountered remembered visiting his grandfather here back in the nineteen forties.
Now we followed the Rough burn uphill to cross an old bridge where several initials were carved into the stonework. Once on the opposite bank, we followed the burn to where it converges with the Burnhead Burn to become the Dunaskin. Here we followed the undulating track overlooking the beautiful Dunaskin Glen. A disused rail track ran alongside.
At a high point where the burn turns sharply south we came to the site of Laight Castle, belonging to Alpin, King of the Scots. He was defeated and killed in battle in the 9th century; there are conflicting reports of where and when he died. He is our present queen's 34th Great Grandfather. Nothing remains of the castle, but we could imagine the drawbridge. We took another short break here to enjoy the ambience of the area. A peregrine falcon was spotted across the gorge.
Back on the move and with the giant chimneys of the Ironworks in view, we were soon walking into the grounds of the Dunaskin heritage centre.
Boarded up and abandoned were turbine houses, ovens, kilns, and a wonderful 1847 Italianate blowing-engine house. redundant relics of an industrial age that once was the lifeblood of South Ayrshire. There's still life here though, volunteers from the Ayrshire Railway Preservation Group are always around preparing for the Steam Open Days in the summer.
Back at the cars, we now made our way into Dalmellington and the Eglington Hotel where we enjoyed scones, cakes, tea and coffee, an indulgence likely to counteract the good healthy work of the walk !

Next week walk; the 5th of April will be an 8 mile circular from Stranraer to Castle Kennedy. Meet at the Riverside in Newton Stewart for car sharing at 9.15am or the walk start at 10am. The walk starts at the 10am in the Breastworks car park in Stranraer (NX 059 610). New walkers are welcome but please speak to the leader first on 01776 840226.


  1. What a great walk this was, lovely views and fascinating finds.

  2. "Lots of slag heaps and bings". My kind of walk. I've not bagged a bing for ages. Corbie Craigs looks good Jim. Also looks like you have plenty of competition on the photography front now. Good! :o) I've lost count of the number of photographs I've taken and thought that's a cracker, then seen it on your blog first. I'll ditch the vapour trails from planes now I took last week.. :o)

  3. Someday I am gonna come and visit warned!

  4. Thanks Linda, it's a real treasure of a walk.
    Cheers Bob, I fear that Dunaskin will go the way of Laight Castle and just become a mound and legend. I've already ditched photos because of of what youy've you've published Bob. I just occasionally get lucky.

    Lisa, looking forward to it !


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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