It was a wonderful turnout on the first Ramblers walk of the New Year as thirty-two walkers met at the Grey Mares Tail car park on the New Galloway road from Newton Stewart in Wigtownshire.
This is not to be confused with the much higher waterfall of the same name in the Moffat Hills. The six mile scheduled walk was to visit Murray’s Monument, Black Loch, Lilies Loch and return the other side of Black Loch and Grey Mares Tail waterfall.
The walkers were welcomed and an idea of the route given with a mention of the burn that would need to be crossed. They set off up the short steep climb to Murray’s monument. This monument was erected in 1835 in memory of Alexander Murray, a local shepherd who later became Professor of Oriental Languages at Edinburgh University. Not far away is the derelict Dunketterick cottage where Murray was born.
The waymarked path was then followed to the cycle track that went past the Black Loch. The needle sculpture at the south west end of the Loch was much admired. Various sculptures were commissioned by the Forestry art programme to celebrate fifty years as a park in 1997.
The Tonderghie burn, with pretty waterfalls, was reached where a week before the burn had been crossed with no difficulty. On Saturday, however, the water was deeper and the decision taken not to cross. Therefore the original plan of following the old Edinburgh road to have a picnic overlooking Lilies Loch could not go ahead. The leader found a detour for more exercise before stopping for lunch further down by the burn side. The return walk, by now through a very fine drizzle, followed the track on the other side of Black Loch. The quirky quorum of faces in the dykes around the sheepfold were observed and the lovely path alongside the Grey Mares Tail Burn was followed. Various comments were made on what a lovely picnic area this was on drier and sunnier days. The path led up to the top of the Grey Mares Tail waterfalls and pools. Previously wild goats had been seen but they were scarce on Saturday.
When they arrived at the car park the majority had decided to drive to Clatteringshaws loch and to make up the mileage to walk the mile return to Bruce’s Stone. Beautiful views of the still loch with misty clouds accompanied them. Then it was back to Newton Stewart at the time arranged with the Riverside cafe for excellent refreshments, beautifully served. Everyone seemed to appreciate the exercise, fresh air and catch up chat with friends new and previous!
When possible there are two walks available for ramblers to avoid walking in such a large group and providing different grades to accommodate different abilities.
The next walk on 14th January is a moderate eight miles along the Southern Upland Way between Craigenbay and Dalry. Starting point NX 543 790 at 10am. Meet at 8.45am Breastworks, Stranraer; 9.15am Riverside, Newton Stewart. Please contact leader on 01671 402733 if there are any queries and if you wish to meet at the starting point.