Rambling round Gatehouse

After a brilliantly sunny week it was once more a dull day for the ramblers walk this week. However 19 walkers turned out and met at the Murray centre car park, in Gatehouse, for a twelve mile walk of forest, moor and loch.

The ramble started with a gentle stroll through the woods by the Bush Burn where the banks were bedecked with delicate wood anemones and the faint blue of opening bluebells. Robbers’ Gate was the first stop, to read of the apprehension and hanging of villains who had waylaid their victims near this spot in 1819. A short walk along the road followed, by the wall of the Cally park, built in 1823 and renovated in 2010.

It was an uphill trek which took the party to the woods at Disdow and then a gradual climb along the forest road, past recent logging stacks, to a narrow neck of woodland where a barbed wire fence was negotiated to gain access to fields above High Barlay. Views down to the golf course and over to the distant hills of Cairnsmore and the Clints of Drummore were enjoyed where trees have been recently felled.

After crossing a small burn the walkers had a track through the fields to follow, until moorland approaching Loch Whinyeon was reached. As there had not been much rain recently it was not too boggy and views widened, looking over Gatehouse to the south and eventually Loch Whinyeon itself, spread out to the north, calm and lonely. Between the hills here two hut circles were examined, well preserved with entrances quite clearly to be seen.

A sheltered lunch spot was found by the dam where two geese were disturbed cropping the well-trimmed grass and cuckoo calls resounded across the forest. The dam was formed in 1785, using soil displaced from a tunnel, which took the water four miles down to Gatehouse, giving a good and constant supply for its mills.

Water from the loch is now led off to the east underground to the new Glengap Water Treatment works, the route that the walkers took along the forest road, eventually leading to the old works, built in 1939, renovated in 1986 and now slowly being transformed into flats. Along the way rubbish was picked up and deposited in an accommodating farmer’s dustbin just by the tiny village of Glengap.

A short distance along the council road brought the ramblers to Glengap Bridge where once again the forest was entered alongside the Fuffock Burn. A gentle uphill climb led to a crossing point into Irelandton Moor where the walkers ran into cows and calves, making a detour necessary across the tussocky hills instead of walking along a shell road which makes access to this land very easy. The way was enlivened by the sight of kites flying close above, wheeling round so that everyone had a good view. A yellow lizard was also seen scuttling between the tussocks and boggy pools.

Crossing a wall along the edge of the moor a grassy path was reached where dappled sunshine filtered through the trees on Winnie Hill and made a peaceful ending to the off road walking. Good views across the bay and a downhill walk back to the Robbers’ Gate and the cars completed this long but varied and pleasant walk.

Next week, on May 2nd,there is a choice of a nine mile jaunt along coast and hill in South Ayrshire, or a lower coast path walk from Ballantrae to Finnarts Bay (bring your bus pass), both starting at Finnarts Bay fish factory. For both walks meet at Riverside, Newton Stewart, 9am, Breastworks, Stranraer, 9.15am or the Fish Factory, 10am NX 052 727. If going straight to the start or a new walker wishing to join us, please phone walk leader – for the hill walk 01776 703447, for the lower walk 01581 200256. All are most welcome.