Rambling round the Nick o’ the Balloch

The Ramblers at Haggis Hill
The Ramblers at Haggis Hill

Last Saturday 19 Wigtownshire Ramblers travelled the single track road over the Nick of the Balloch into Ayrshire in order to explore the hills to the East of the village of Barr. The tops were in cloud as we left the cars, but we could see much of the horse shoe of hills we intended to climb. From the road we headed downwards at first over rough ground, wet and slippery after several days of rain, but with a quad bike track making the going easier for much of the way. We crossed the Corn Roy and Balloch burns, both quite full, resulting in wet feet for some. Ahead of us the steep shoulder of Haggis Hill, our first objective, looked pretty daunting. Off we set, some gritting their teeth and tackling it head on and some “zig-zagging” up at a more relaxed pace. The “hares” had to wait at the top but there was very little wind and it was mild so it was a pleasant break. By now we were in mist so we needed to keep in close contact. Our secretary had provided the leader and the “back up” with walkie talkies which we were using for the first time, and this made it easier to keep the large group together. Continuing round the horseshoe, the next hill, Changue, looming out of the mist looked enormous, but it was an illusion and we were soon up it and the cloud began to lift. We had good views of the steep sided Balloch Glen and it’s surrounding hills, but the Awful Hand range beyond, was sadly still cloud covered and the views seaward to the west were very limited. After Pinbreck Hill we stopped for lunch using some distinctly damp peat hags as seats. Refreshed, we climbed gently over Polmaddie Hill and then to the trig point on Craigenreoch, these two mere “pimples” compared to what we had already done! With the mist covering us again we had decided to miss out the last hill, Glengap, which completes the “horseshoe”, and take the easier descent over Rowantree hill to join the road at the top of the pass. Perversely, the cloud lifted and we finished our walk, down the road to the cars, in pleasant sunshine, but we were satisfied with what we had achieved and glad that we still had plenty of time to return to Newton Stewart for tea and cakes.

This weekend’s walk is a nine mile linear walk from Lendalfoot to Ballantrae graded B- moderate to easy. Meet for car sharing either at Riverside Car Park Newton Stewart at 8:30 am, or at Breastworks Car Park Stranraer at 9:00am. Or go directly to Ballantrae Car Park, NX 094 404 at 9:45 am in order to get the bus to Lendalfoot. (Remember your bus pass!). New walkers are most welcome, but they, and anyone going direct to Ballantrae, should contact the walk leader on 07449 557949 for more information.