Rambling round Auchenmalg

Ramblers had to negotiate swollen burns en route
Ramblers had to negotiate swollen burns en route

Following the New Year holidays the Wigtownshire Ramblers walk this week had been delayed until Monday so 18 survivors assembled at the shore in Auchenmalg for a short walk.

A member wrote: “Our jolly company set off along the road towards Craignarget into a stiff, cold breeze and threatening clouds. Once past the rocky headland we turned down towards the beach and followed a narrow track above the shingly foreshore. The waves were breaking gently on the stones some way out but the scattered seaweed and small boulders in the path told of the violence of Storm Frank. From time to time we had to take to the shingle to avoid overgrown vegetation. Someway down the beach we had to turn back to the road to cross the Gillespie Burn which was roaring down from the surrounding fields. Returning to the foreshore we headed along the now sandy beach. A few mournful oyster catchers patrolled the sea’s edge but no sign of the multitude of small waders seen on the recce.

“We crossed the main road and took the forestry track across the field avoiding the old Craignarget farm which is now a smart house and garden. The forest road went on northwards below the steep slopes of Craignarget Hill. The new road veered off to the right to climb the flank of the hill but we continued on the level route of the farm track up the valley. A second fork to the right was the old forest access, again ignored. The farm track now deteriorated somewhat and a slitter of mud covered the track. Squelching onwards we came to a small field where a herd of young cattle expressed a great interest in us. They swirled around us as we sought out the driest route to re-join the muddy track at the far end of the meadow. A little further on a small burn had decided the track formed a more desirable route so we splashed onwards until we could cross the burn. Beyond the burn the track began to climb steadily and became a little less muddy. As we climbed the sun poked out between the clouds and we paused to admire the views back down to the sea and the faint outline of the Mull of Galloway in the distance.

“The improving track was followed through a series of new gates to the derelict Barhaskine Farm. The house was ruinous but the old byres seemed to be in some use. We soon reached the top of the hill and views opened up to the north and east. Knock Fell stood out clearly to the north and the Creetown Hills just visible to the east. The clouds had closed in again and there was rain in the air. We hurried on down the far side of the hill and soon attained the old Whitefield Loch to Challochglass road, now reduced to a cycle route, and the edge of the unfortunate Annabaglish Forest. Unfortunate because it suffered the only major attack by Pine Beauty moths south of the Flow Country, was seriously damaged by a forest fire and is now threatened by the development of a large windfarm. We turned eastwards for a short distance and sought the shelter of the trees for our lunch.

“After lunch we emerged onto the road and followed it westward and recrossed the now much smaller Gillespie Burn and turned off towards Culroy Farm. With permission from the farmer, we walked through the farmyard and zig-zagged around the fields as we made our way towards Culquhassen Farm. At the top of the last rise we met a farmer who was cheerfully mending the dykes in spite of the now rather wet weather and biting wind. We turned off the track and crossed the fields by a series of gates towards Auchenmalg House. As we went a brown hare bounded away up the hill and could be seen jinking its way over the next three fields. At Auchenmalg House we joined a track which skirted the property and followed the concrete road back towards Auchenmalg where we retired to the Cock Inn for excellent tea and scones provided by our generous hosts, accompanied by Elvis songs.”

The Ramblers next walk is on Saturday and is a short, strenuous walk in the hills above Glen App. Meet at Riverside car park in Newton Stewart at 09:00 or the Breastworks car Park in Stranraer at 09:30 to share transport. he walk will start from the Auchencrosh cross roads on the A77 (NX 095 789) at 10:00. New walkers are welcome but please contact the walk leader on 01776 700926 for full details.