Wigtownshire ramblers

N.B. A correction to an item in last weeks report: The sheep at North Port o’ Spittal farm were not Jacob Suffolk cross as reported but in fact a herd of Zwartbles. Thanks to Mr Rob McCaig for the correction.

A dreich morning saw thirty walkers arrive at the walk start at Clauchrie Forest road end. Organising the car parking in the limited space available meant a slight delay to the walk start.

The walk began following a farm track north alongside Rough Gib hill to Clauchrie forest edge.

Here a rough track created by tree felling operations was taken to reach a drystone dyke on the edge of the Torhousemuir estate.

After a careful crossing of the dyke a narrow field led to the estate road to Balmeg.

Here the walk leader gave a short account of how Torhousemuir came into being, its succession of notable owners and the creation by James McHaffie of Fuffock of its thirty eight crofts.

On reaching the main estate drive we now entered the grounds of Torhousemuir House.

Here, with the kind permission of the owners we enjoyed viewing the exterior of this impressive mid-18th century and Victorian 2-storey, 3-bay mansion house. Rustic outbuildings and an attractive fish pond complete with island created a scene reminiscent of a Thomas Hardy novel.

By now the weather was on the change and waterproofs were being shed.

We now continued on to Ha’ Hill croft, gardens and nursery. Here the owners gave us an insight into the crofts past, we saw the circular base of a horse driven corn grinder and we wandered the extensive colourful gardens and ponds. Curios included a collie created from old wellingtons, a bicycle that’s become a basket stand of flowers and an old sheet metal ‘Sunlight soap’ advertising board. This delightful gem with donations to charity is open by appointment on 01988 403377.

We continued on past the ruins of Mount Pleasant and Woodside crofts before reaching a wooded plantation. Beyond here was the farm Knockskeog, the only Torhousemuir property still being farmed by the original family.

Turning easterly and with the help of Joe Whiteford’s book “Torhousemuir : Memories of a Wigtownshire Crofter 1935 – 1945”, we now came upon the ruins of Barnanchor croft. An old metal wash tub brought back memories to some of the older group members.

Turning south through a field of sheep and gambolling lambs we reached Mossend. This was the croft of Joe Whiteford’s ‘Memories’ and allowed us to see the layout that existed. To one end was the cow byre. Next to that was the milk house or dairy. In the house itself we saw a cooking range at one end while opposite was a fireplace which would have been in one of the two bedrooms. A brick extension provided the second bedroom. An illustration in Joe’s book shows how compact the living must have been.

Now the road south took us past the ruins of Windy Gap croft before reaching Hillview croft.

By now the sun was shining and a leisurely lunch break was taken looking towards Ha’ Hill.

After lunch we turned east through another field of sheep and lambs. The yellow of bright flowering gorse was in abundance today. A partially collapsed drystone wall was rebuilt after gaining access to the moors. Now an old right of way track, sometimes indistinguishable, took us across Cairnhouse moor to reach Cairnhouse farm. Here we stopped by a mill pond complete with sluice gate. Having a retired farmer in the group proved fortuitous as he explained the workings of the water supply and where the mill wheel would have stood in an adjoining building.

Now a short road walk took us south passing Cairnhouse croft and Glenturk Moor croft.

Originally this road would have gone on through Clauchrie to a junction with the Wigtown Kirkcowan road. Reaching Moorhead of Glenturk however, it becomes an overgrown alley of bramble, gorse and hawthorn bushes.

We now crossed into an adjacent field for a short distance before again accessing the alley to emerge through bright yellow gorse into another field. Here we disturbed the rarely seen but easily recognised small falcon, the hobby.

Now we crossed to the west to the edge of Clauchrie Forest where we made our way over to Meg’s Hill. Following the drystone dyke to a crossing point over a small burn we were soon back on the track of our departure. The short track soon had us back at the cars.

Our day was completed at the Bayview Bistro in Wigtown for excellent scones, cakes and other refreshments. So many of us attended that we ran out of boiling water !

The next walk on Saturday the 3rd of May is a 9 mile B walk over the Byne and Grey hills near Girvan.

Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer 9.15am, Riverside, Newton Stewart 9.00am or the walk start at Woodlands Farm (NX 174 951) at 10am. For further details or if going to the start please phone walk leader 01581 200256. New members are always welcome