Geese and seals brighten Stranraer walk for ramblers

On Gallow Hill.
On Gallow Hill.

On a walk titled Stranraer West a group of twenty-two Wigtownshire Ramblers set off on their weekly walk starting this time from the Breastworks car park to go around the harbour and along the shore towards McCulloch’s Point.

The group were delighted to see a seal lolloping around in the harbour. A most unusual sight. The weather was grey and misty with a continual threat of rain.

There was very little breeze and the waves lapped gently on the shore.

A little further along the promenade we became aware of honking and saw several skeins of geese labouring westwards over the loch. We wondered where they might be heading as migration routes are usually north to south. Perhaps they were looking for better weather in Ireland.

At the end of the promenade we climbed up through Broadstone Wood and then returned to the shore to walk as far as the golf course. After crossing the busy golf course we made our way up an overgrown track to the Leswalt road. Over the road we started up the hill towards Auchneel and the water treatment works. Conversation died down as we puffed up the hill. We then dropped down to Dindinnie where we were greeted by some vociferous dogs. Ignoring the signposts we followed the old track to the base of the Dindinnie dam. We climbed the steep bank and crossed the causeway between the lochs. The water levels were exceptionally low and a small algal bloom was spreading from the shore. The ground was remarkably muddy considering the recent dry weather and we squelched around the loch and headed towards the mast on Slewtrain Hill. At the top of the hill we looked down on the almost empty Knockquhassen reservoir. The wind turbines to the south gave an unusual appearance as the tops of the blades disappeared into the low clouds.

We paused for lunch on the dam, sheltering from the rising breeze and spattering rain. Fully refreshed we followed the undulating road back towards Stranraer until we crossed the Piltanton Burn where we turned into the recently planted Gallowhill woods. Well mown grassy tracks led us up the hill to the ridge where we found lovely views over the town and Loch Ryan. The weather also finally decided to co-operate and a watery sun appeared through the grey clouds. The area is well used by local dog owners; we met several, but we were disappointed to note that many careless owners had failed to clean up after their pets. Treading carefully we followed a loop of track through the new woods and across to Springbank Farm which we skirted and followed the roads back to the waterfront. On the way down the hill a patch of Japanese Knotweed, mellowing into its winter colour, shone like a patch of captured sunlight, brightening our way. Perhaps an explanation for the introduction of this pernicious weed. Passing Agnew Park we watched the flock of Swans and cygnets on the pond and paused briefly at the Princess Victoria monument before returning to the cars. Tea and scones were enjoyed at Brambles where we were joined by several members who were unable to make the walk.

Next week’s walk is a strenuous expedition to find Billy Marshall’s Cave. Meet at the Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 08:30 or the Riverside car park in Newton Stewart at 09:00 to share transport. The walk will start at 09:30 from the Talnotry car park (NX 487 716). Please contact the walk leader on 01776 700926 if going direct to the start.

An alternative, easier, walk is being organised along the Water of Minnoch. Meet at the Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 09:00 or the Riverside car park in Newton Stewart at 09:30. To share transport. The walk will start from the car park near the Brigton Bridge on the Water of Minnoch (NX 363 749). If going direct to the start or for further details please contact the walk leader on 01776 840636.