|First climb of the day|
|Monument is still standing|
|Lunch in the lee of the wind|
|Circus is in town|
|Some of us climbed an extra hill|
|Looking down on the circus big top|
|Group on top of a very windy Grey Hill|
At present I am having trouble transferring a "Word" document containing the press report of the walk and am awaiting the return of my blog mentor who is away to a Laurel and Hardy convention in Manchester. I have every confidence he will resolve the problem.
Wigtownshire Ramblers – Saturday 3rd May 2014 Byne Hill, Grey Hill and Kennedy’s Pass
Seventeen ramblers assembled at the Woodlands Restaurant, just off the A77 south of Girvan. The morning was overcast with a cool wind blowing from the east. Not much of a May morning! However, there were hints of brightness to the south and we were optimistic we would have a dry day. Our leader explained that the walk had been modified to avoid a field with newly released cows and calves and outlined the proposed route for the day. We duly set off up the steep incline through the woods dotted with wild flowers towards the Craufurd Memorial in the saddle between Byne Hill and Mains Hill.
After a short struggle we reached the monument which is now in a very poor state of repair with no indication of the reason for the construction. However, there were fine views over the Firth to Ailsa Craig and the narrow littoral plain along the shore.
Leaving the memorial we skirted the south side of Mains Hill and negotiated some boggy ground towards Fell Hill. On crossing the burn we found a well-used quad bike track and followed it up the hill to the summit. The wind was now much stronger and swept in over the open ground to the south-east causing the walkers to fasten their coats more securely. The views had opened out and the coastline up to Girvan and beyond was laid out below us to the north. The Ayrshire countryside was spread out below us to the east and the sea, speckled with white horses, to the west. Unfortunately the distant haze concealed the Galloway Hills, the Kintyre peninsular and Arran. Ahead of us to the south the prominent peak of Grey Hill stood out against a small patch of blue sky which had pierced the grey overcast. All around us small patches of sunlight pinpointed various features of the landscape.
We pressed on down into a shallow valley and then tackled the slopes of Grey Hill. Just before the summit a short break was taken in the shelter of some rocks out of the gale force wind. Refreshed, we then clambered up to the trig point and paused for a group photo before climbing steeply down the other side to a shallow pass in the ridge.
At this point two walkers left the group to continue a recce for next week’s Newton Stewart Walking Festival walk from Girvan to Colmonell. The walk is well booked but a few spaces are left for anyone wishing to join the event. See www.newtonstewartwalkfest.com.
We then turned down the south-east face of the ridge and crossing some boggy patches we entered the Grey Hill Grassland Reserve managed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Wildflowers and other plants - including many uncommon ones - flourish on the rare serpentinite rocks. We walked around the lower slopes of Cairn Hill and emerged from the reserve at Drumfairn. Turning north along the farm road we paused for a lunch break in a sheltered spot beside the Bynehill Burn. Two crows provided entertainment as they swooped and harried a kestrel who had trespassed on their territory.
Lunch over; we headed towards the Byne Hill caravan park at Brochneil. Here the group split again as the majority headed up Byne Hill. However, a few of us decided that it was one hill too far and elected to walk around its lower slopes. Here we were accosted by a miniature pony making its presence felt and demanding to be fed. A notice on the fence warned us against this and indeed it did look very well nourished. Further down the lane two donkeys or mules (we couldn’t decide which) were lazing about in another field.
Emerging from the lane we crossed the busy A77 to walk along the path next to the beach. Out to sea was a raft of eider ducks and on our left was the colourful big top of the Circus Vegas. What caught our attention most were the huge, luxurious travelling homes - obviously American built - which must have had trouble negotiating our small roads.
Re crossing the road we arrived back at Woodlands where afternoon tea had been arranged. A short time later the mountaineering group swooped in – victorious at having climbed Byne Hill and producing the photographs to prove it. A delicious tea followed after which the group set off for home. The two intrepid Walking Festival researchers were located in the Boar’s Head in Colmonell having had a fantastic walk along the ridges from Girvan with spectacular coastal views.
Next week Ramblers are leading or participating in the walking festival. The walk on 17th May will be a 10 mile circle behind Cairnryan. Meet at the Riverside Car Par in Newton Stewart at 9.15am or the Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 9.30 am for car sharing. The walk starts at the Merchant House, Cairnryan at 10am. If going straight to the start or joining us for the first time please telephone the walk leader on 01776 870441.