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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Wigtownshire Ramblers Portpatrick Knockinaam April 2014

Saturday the 19th of April 2014

Today's walk is one we've covered by various routes in all weather.
and one I missed in 

Our leader today is G.I Joe. He's acquired that moniker due to his surname being similar to an offshoot of  the Cobra Terrorist Organization in the G.I.Joe universe.  He's no terrorist, but wiry enough to fight off any !
I'll be writing the report and it will follow the pictures as usual. 
After a quick introduction to the walk by our leader we're on our way climbing the steps to the south.
We had the pleasure of the company of our Ayrshire Blogger, and no doubt he'll upload pictures in due course.

Dunskey Castle, seagulls and weekend caravanners.

We're a group of seventeen today. Other walkers have opted for a more difficult recce today.

Crossing the Craigoch burn.

It's a fabulous spring day. Sadly there are no distant views because of solar haze.
I've just found out about a shipwreck at this point. On the 1st of February 1835, the 'Lion' was on a voyage from Liverpool to New Orleans. The master and ten of the crew were drowned while four were saved.
Apparently there are graves in Portpatrick's graveyard. I don't know why I haven't visited Portpatrick's graveyard. Wreck details are Here on Canmore. 

Out in the North Channel there are pleasure and working craft.

The narrow coastal path generally requires a single file advancement.

Overlooking Morroch Bay.

Shhhhhhhhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've commented on this before. Private signs do annoy me.
The Morroch Bay land manager would do well to read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code
Particularly the section that states the following.

Where and when you can exercise access rights
2.2 Everyone, whatever their age or ability, can exercise access rights over most land and inland water in Scotland, at any time of day or night, providing they do so responsibly (2). These rights do not extend to all places or to all activities (see paragraphs 2.11 to 2.15). Provided you do so responsibly (see Parts 3 and 5 of the Code), you can exercise access rights in places such as: • hills, mountains and moorland; • woods and forests; • most urban parks, country parks and other managed open spaces;  • rivers, lochs, canals and reservoirs; • riverbanks, loch shores, beaches and the coastline; • land in which crops have not been sown; • on the margins of fields (3\) where crops are growing or have been sown;

Looking down on Knockinaam Lodge.

There's a marquee up and quite a few visitors, a wedding perhaps ?

A quick coffee break and a midget gems distribution.

Spring flowers abound..............'s some more. 

A fine steed and a sign at the Chestnut Lodge junction.

Port o' Spittal.
The peacock is unusually shy today.

I believe these are known as Jacob Cross sheep. The result of a cross between Jacob and Suffolk/Lleyn sheep.
Thanks to the farmer, Mr Rob McCaig of North Port o' Spittal Farm for bringing me up to date on these sheep. They are a specialist sheep known as Zwartbles, originating in the Friesland region of the north Netherlands.

I can only imagine the odd white one is either an orphan or needed a surrogate mother due to rejection.

The road across Craigoch Moor looking to Portpatrick.

A full zoom brings up Dunskey House.

Shelties and Belties.

The previously empty croft/smallholding on the left appears to be under renovation. New windows give the game away.

G.I.Joe makes a decision to lunch by the waterfall on the Craigoch Burn.

There's obvious signs of mill construction in the past. This from Canmore.
'Traces of the foundations of three mills for corn, carding and lint, may be seen on the SW side of Craigoch Burn, below the waterfall. They are marked on Ainslie's map of 1782, and were in use until the mid-19th century.' 

Deer and a fox were other wild animal sightings today.

An eastern themed garden.

Calf training :- How to scratch behind your ear.

A friendly hound in Dunskey estate.

Approaching Port Mora.................

...................known locally as Sandeel Bay.

Clifftop walk alongside the golf course.

My first wild orchid of the year and the disused Portpatrick Radio Station

While someone goes for a white knuckle boat ride, intrepid explorers cross the high wall, bottom right.

The group wait for tail end charlies.

A regular mode of transport during holidays in Portpatrick. I think the stagecoach driver goes by the name of Jim too.
A very nice walk. The place was packed on our return. We headed to Brambles in Stranraer.

Here's the report
Saturday the 19th of April

On a dry spring morning with the sun shining, sixteen ramblers gathered at Portpatrick's South Car Park for today's coastal and countryside walk.
Already people were congregating in this popular village to enjoy the Easter weekend at the seaside.
Climbing the many steps to the cliff tops we were joined by another rambler to take the group total to seventeen.
We were soon passing the ruins of Dunskey Castle and dropping down to cross the bridge over Craigoch burn.
Early day caravanners were setting up on the best sites.
Even this early in the walk we were seeing an abundance of spring flowers. The daffodils at Portpatrick were giving way to primroses, bluebells, violets and celandine. Later in the walk we would see wood sorrel and anemone and a lone wild orchid.
Solar haze meant the absence of distant views, but we were treated to nesting seabirds and a variety of fishing and pleasure craft out to sea.
After passing through a number of kissing gates we were soon looking down on the holiday cottages of Morroch Bay.
Here too was the intriguing sign declaring the 'Path to Hush-Hush'.
A gradual descent brought us down to the Antonlew Glen, Port of Spittal Bay and the Knockinaam Lodge Hotel.
It's remote location made it an ideal setting for a secret meeting between Sir Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower during the Second World War to discuss the D-Day plans. It also featured in John Buchans 'The Thirty-nine Steps' as the house to which Hannay fled. An erected marquee in the hotel grounds gave speculation to a possible wedding party later in the day.
Accessing the beach, we enjoyed a fifteen minute tea and coffee break.
Reluctantly leaving the beach we climbed the road alongside the tumbling Port of Spittal burn up to the Portree road. Here, as we turned north a brightly coloured peacock made an appearance.
Gypsy Vanner horses grazed in adjoining fields.
A gradual climb brought us to North Port o' Spittal where delightful Jacob Suffolk cross bred sheep and lambs eyed our passing with suspicion.
In other fields we saw Belted Galloways, Shetland ponies, pheasants and rabbits.
Soon we were alongside the ruins of Hush-Hush, once a world war two radar listening post hence it's name. The name has more appeal than the actual indistinct rectangular brick building.
With views over Portpatrick and the surrounding countryside we made our way back to Portree where we lunched by the waterfall on the Craigoch burn.
After lunch we made our way past the increasingly busy holiday parks to Portree Terrace from where a short steep climb brought us to Heugh Road.
Here we passed an intriguing garden filled with oriental ornaments, standing stones and Easter Island type statues.
A short walk along the A77 brought us to the farm track to Dunskey Mains Farm. With a profusion of wild garlic along the verges we now made our way down the wooded Dunskey Glen to emerge at Sandeel Bay.
On our way back along the coastal path to Portpatrick, we occasionally had to give way to the increasing number of casual walkers and daytrippers out this Easter weekend.
Back in Portpatrick, the place was awash with people. The outdoor seating areas of the hotels and bars were filled to capacity while cars drove around the car parks looking for spaces.
Knowing how busy Portpatrick would be, our walk leader had arranged our after walk refreshments at Brambles in Stranraer.
Our car spaces were quickly filled as we left the port. Now we made our way to Commerce Road in Stranraer. Fruit scones, cherry and apple pie, tea and coffee capped a wonderful day out in the spring sunshine.

The next walk on Saturday the 26th of April is a new moderate walk in the central Machars.
Meet at the Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 9.15 am or the Riverside car park in Newton Stewart at 9.30 am for car sharing. The walk will begin at 10am at Clauchrie Forest Gate (NX 401 556). For more information or if going direct to the walk start telephone the walk leader on 01671 403351. New walkers will be warmly welcomed.


  1. That looks like a cracking day and walk Jim. Factor 20 weather at last! I must admit I've never read the Scottish outdoor access code mainly because I've never had a problem with access. I just go where I want to go- but I do it quietly... or even secretly! On the hush hush as it were.

  2. wow so pretty---love those houses and i have never seen a wild orchid before---brilliant color!

  3. I generally do too Bob, I've had people getting upset just as they're about to shoot a pheasant. I'd have heeded their sign if they'd had one up. The weather's certainly improving.

    The wild orchids are just coming out now Lynn, I hope to photograph a few this year. Here's one I took a couple of years ago.


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