Auchenmalg to Stairhaven walk reveals no seals, but brochs and donkeys

The Auchenmalg to Stairhaven Circular.
The Auchenmalg to Stairhaven Circular.

After a visiting walker was introduced to the group and a very brief description of the walk to come was given, 24 walkers set off from the Cock Inn at Auchenmalg and set off across the pebbly beach.

Sunshine and a brisk wind accompanied us as we easily crossed the outlet of a fast flowing burn before reaching a track, leading towards the steep slopes which rise westwards away from the bay. Many stops were made to catch our breath and to look back on the view before we reached more level ground from where we spied a number of shags opening their wings to the wind, on the rocks below.

The footpath is mostly a good one but occasionally muddy and boggy patches had to be carefully trodden. Numerous stiles have been replaced by kissing gates, aiding our progress but care had to be taken on the track to avoid a few large holes – these were guessed as originally being formed by badgers.

A small burn was crossed and some particularly marshy ground was ‘skipped’ over – quick movement is always better than taking too much time over it – and there was a wide muddy stretch over which to take care before reaching another gate, beyond which the track became a good one once more.

Slackmore Point was devoid of seals – they had wisely moved off to warmer waters – so we moved on a bit further before reaching a wide clearing and stopped for the distribution of the obligatory sweets, usually provided by the leader or his/or backup! The keen bird watchers in the group had spied a flock of common scoters on the sea whilst a lone raven flew above us.

A short break was taken at Garliachen, where once stood a promontory fort of Bronze or Iron Age origin. This is situated along the coastline above which Laigh Sinniness stands. Sunshine and white clouds reflected in Luce Bay and lit up the South Rhins of Galloway as we neared Stairhaven. After a pause for a group photo, a perfunctory search was made for a sight of Stairhaven Broch but more time was needed and lunch was calling! The steep, slippery slope was a challenge to us all, ending the coastline footpath and a difficult search was on for a sheltered spot near the windswept beach from which to consume our sandwiches. What has happened to the sheltered benches which were once there?

The short road walk from there enabled more conversation between us – so much easier than walking in single file – and, soon after turning off at South Milton, our interest was taken by four donkeys cantering in a field near Challochmun Croft. The gardeners amongst us were fascinated by the ongoing landscaping of the garden there – a big undertaking which seems to be gaining momentum!

Gardens were admired as we reached the outskirts of Auchenmalg and the crab apples on a tree in one of them were remarked upon – hundreds of them on its leafless bearer adding to the autumn colour in the garden. On reaching the beach we again crossed the burn and hurried towards the warmth of the Cock Inn where we enjoyed our scones and hot drinks.

Next Saturday’s walk (26th) is still to be decided although it could include some steep sections – a low level walk will be chosen if the weather is not good. Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer, at 9am and then join others at the Riverside, Newton Stewart, at 9.30am. New walkers and for further information, please contact the walk leader on 01776 703447.