Six mile walk this week for ramblers

Ramblers on the Gatehouse circular walk
Ramblers on the Gatehouse circular walk

This week’s Wigtownshire Ramblers walk is a 6-mile Category C+ walk (leisurely) on Saturday 10th December, from Finnart’s Bay to Cairnryan.

Meet at 9:30 am at the North Cairnryan Car Park, in order to catch the bus to Finnart’s Bay (NX 062 691). Meet for car sharing at the Breastworks, Stranraer at 9am or at the Riverside, Newton Stewart at 8:30am.

If going directly to Cairnryan please inform the walk leader. New walkers and visitors are always welcome after phoning the walk leader on 01776 840636 for further information.

Nineteen ramblers assembled in Gatehouse car park for last week’s walk through the fields and woods to the east of Gatehouse, along country roads, tracks and open fields. With six miles to go before lunch, a good pace was set through Cally Woods to the Robbers’ Gate.

From here, they took the road opposite going up past Girthon Old Manse and onward uphill all the way to Upper Drumwall.

Beyond the property the metalled road deteriorates markedly among rough pastures, eventually reaching the high point, Rig of Cairn, at 197 metres above sea level, where they stopped to regroup, appreciate the panoramic views and take the opportunity for a well-earned sweet to replace some of the energy spent on the long climb.

The track then goes over Irelandton Moor, past the lonely Cairn cottage.

With the sun shining and the view clear for miles, it was a scenic walk over the exposed moor, though it would be a rather different proposition in bad weather.

We left this track at Irelandton cottage to turn south to the old farmhouse of Auchengassel, an impressive edifice that is now looking the worse for wear, although the nearby Auchengassel Cottage is in good shape, hosting a young family if the swings, trampoline and sandpit in the garden are anything to go by. The track emerges onto the Old Military Road that runs down into Gatehouse, though we turned off after just a few yards at Muiryard Bridge, to make our way by the farm at Barbey and the nearby cottage, until we reached a gate that opens out onto the A75.

After carefully crossing the highway and the wooden fence beyond, we found ourselves on a stretch of the old A75 that leads towards Glenterry. A visit in previous years found a backwater being nicely recovered by nature, increasingly peaceful as the new road is distanced, a developing haven of wild flowers and singing birds in the spring. Sadly, this is no longer the case, as all the old tarmac scraped from the A75 during the course of recent resurfacing had been dumped along the road in a heap extending for over 200 metres, while the roadside trees in the vicinity had seemingly been trashed in the process.

Beyond this eyesore the old road still retains its charms, particularly the old stone Glenterry Lodge. On reaching the Glenterry junction, a brief section of road walking led us to a gate just before Glenterry farm, giving access to a track behind the farm that leads to a tunnel under the A75, presumably for livestock use, although we saw no signs of recent passage. The tunnel, with its low concrete step along either side, provided an ideal and comfortable lunch stop. More interestingly, the tunnel’s acoustic properties provided an excellent opportunity for some ramblers to exercise their singing voices. Applause was brief but well deserved!

Very soon, however, the hills were alive with walkers making their way across the fields to a small road that cuts through from the A755 Kirkcudbright road to the A75, which we crossed once more to reach the minor road beyond. This byway was presumably continuous prior the building of Gatehouse by-pass, and leads on up by Gaitgill House to Littleton Farm. Rather than pursue this route, we turned along a track alongside a narrow stretch of woodland to Gategill Bridge. The way runs straight as a die over the shoulder of Camp Hill, by a large but empty slurry tank and down past the old cottage below Mine Hill Wood. Aside the cottage we saw a grey wagtail prospecting a muddy patch for food, while all around we were afforded views of the surrounding hills to Wigtown Bay and beyond. Ahead of us, the Clints of Dromore were briefly highlighted by the sun against the cloud-girt Cairnsmore of Fleet, while behind us the northern Lake District fells were standing proud.

Our little track emerged onto the old road into Gatehouse, opposite Cally Park Lodge, one of the entrances into Cally Park and woods. We filed past this charming listed building with its attractive gardens, making our way along a succession of tracks, kicking up the autumn leaves, to eventually emerge behind the Fleet Cold Store. From here it was but a short walk past the bungalows on Cally Avenue, the Galloway Cricket Club, Ivy Cottage and the Old School back to Gatehouse car park, to finish with a welcome tea and scones at the Galloway Lodge.