Rambling up Cairnsmore of Fleet

The Rambers at the mile post near Creetown
The Rambers at the mile post near Creetown

On Saturday, July 15, Wigtownshire Ramblers set off up Cairnsmore of Fleet.

Once again the weather took its toll of our plans for Saturday’s walks. With the clouds sitting low on Larg Hill behind Blackcraig and no reports of improvement from the met office none of the 18 members who assembled at Cairnsmore viaduct car park wanted to risk a murky climb to the summit of the Cairnsmore of Fleet. Accordingly, new plans were rapidly formed. One group decided to make a low level walk up the Bargaly Glen and the rest decided to follow the cycle route along the old railway to Creetown.

The first group set off up the usual route through the Estate but when we reached the fields below the forest we cut off down to an old Estate track and crossed the Cairnsmore Burn and then followed it through soggy pasture and shelterbelts until we reached the lower edge of the forest. A section of the track ran like a river but this was soon passed and we emerged onto the hill road. Climbing towards the low clouds we soon turned off to follow the “Core Path”. This involved balancing on tussocks, leaping burns and wading through tall bracken until we reached the lower edge of the trees again. A brashed route through the trees climbs easily to the forest road which skirts the lower slopes of the hill. As went we noticeded that it was becoming hazy and realised we had reached the base of the clouds at a height of about 150 metres (Less than 500 feet).

On reaching the forest road we paused for some light refreshment then headed north on the undulating road, crossing the Mill Burn and Blairbuies Burn which thundered down through piped bridges. These burns once provided fresh mountain water to the communities around Palnure and Wigtown. The water main crossed the Cree on the main railway bridge and reportedly continued to work after the bridge was removed and the pipe dropped into the river.

We followed the road, mostly surrounded by tall conifers, through the misty weather. As the road started to descend we came across recently felled areas which provided the opportunity for some views but little could be seen through the murk. The rain now started in earnest so we decided to stop for lunch in the shelter of some mature spruce. Stumps provided excellent seats and little rain penetrated the dense canopy. After lunch the rain eased off and the clouds lifted a little. We could now see across the valley to the attractive woods on the other side. We descended Jock’s Brae where the Palnure Burn crashed through a narrow gorge in the rocks and we followed the burn down to Bargaly Farm. Crossing the Bargaly Bridge we climbed up to the county road and followed the road down the west side of the valley to Little Park with its amazing collection of vintage and modern tractors. From there we cut off along the track through the woods to the Forestry Commission’s Kirroughtree Visitor Centre.

The second group took to the old railway line through the farmland above the A75 and followed the route to the old main road near Creetown. Eschewing the muddy route down below Barholm farm they followed the road into Creetown and made their way through The Hollow playing fields and up to the Gemrock Museum where they enjoyed a protracted coffee break. They then reversed their route made their way back to the cars, after which they drove to the Kirroughtree Visitor Centre, where, in a piece of remarkable timing, they arrived at the same time as the first group. Warm drinks and cakes were enjoyed by all.

Next week’s walk will be a walk from Portpatrick to Stranraer, largely following the Southern Upland Way. Meet at the Riverside Car Park in Newton Stewart at 09:15 to share transport to Stranraer. Otherwise meet at the Portrodie Car Park (NX 063 610)at 10:00 to catch the bus to Portpatrick. New walkers are always welcome but please contact the walk leader on 01776 705061 for full details.