|A and C walkers at the start|
|We always stop here for a moments silence|
|Perhaps a farmer with a sense of humour. (it is only the fleece)|
|Hill group on top of Pinderry|
|Our leader with his pompous look.|
15th of November 2014
Twenty seven walkers gathered at Auchencrosh crossroads above Glenapp for the walk start.
Due to recent adverse weather it had been pre determined to have two walks of differing difficulty.
The harder high level walk would traverse the range of hills from Penderry to Smyrton hill, while the low level walkers would do a circular from the Interconnector station to Ballantrae, returning via the Glenapp Castle – Smyrton Glen.
Low level circular.
Fifteen walkers opted for the low level walk and began the walk taking the track north east past the Auchencrosh Interconnector. This is a high voltage link connecting Ballycronan More in County Antrim with the National Grid.
The track continued past Willie’s Wood to cross Smyrton Bridge. It was a sunny day with very little cloud.
Before long the route afforded views across to Knockdolian Hill and to Ailsa Craig out in the North Channel. The rooftops of Glenapp Castle stood out in the sunlight. A strange rubber tracked dumper, an old tree lined avenue and odd fungi also caught the attention along here.
The track, occasionally muddy, led us to the crossroads at the old Ballantrae to Stranraer road. It now leads to New Luce via Lagafater and is part of the Stinchar Valley Trails.
Here we took a left turn to head north west. At Kilwhannel road end a group of tall sheep seemed to have arranged themselves into a family group for a photo sitting session.
Continuing north-west the track brought us to farm buildings of Laggan Stables where the farmer passed the time of day with us.
Just below the farm the Auchairne burn flows into the Crailoch burn where a number of waterfalls delighted the group’s photographers.
The track now took us down the course of the Crailoch burn passing the walled garden of Lower Laggan House. Carved wooden sculptures spotted in the garden included a golden eagle and a tall crane.
On reaching the road junction with Laggan cottages, we accessed a field to continue alongside the Crailoch Burn to its confluence with the river Stinchar.
After crossing another field we made our way into Ballantrae and the sea front for a sea view lunch break.
Though still a little misty in the distance, Arran and the Mull of Kintyre could be identified. What looked like a large marine research vessel, complete with helipad and crane sat off Corsewall Lighthouse.
After lunch we made our way south to the gates of Glenapp Castle. Now we began the climb up the delightful glen still in autumnal colours. The path followed the Smyrton burn up through mature woodland, large bamboo plants, past tumbling waterfalls and across wooden bridges. This was the most colourful section of the walk. We emerged from the glen at Smyrton. After carefully crossing the busy A77, we made our way past the village hall to a track to the east through open country. This brought us back on to the Auchencrosh track and another ten minutes back to the cars.
We could see the hill group descending Smyrton Hill. They would arrive back ten minutes later.
Many walkers from both groups then made their way to the Merchant House in Cairnryan for wonderful after walk cake and other confectionery delights.
High Level WalkIt was a dry morning with a fairly brisk wind as the somewhat grumpy walk leader addressed the other 11 hardy souls who decided to participate in the more challenging of the two walks being offered.
After moaning about his dental health and the appalling conditions during the dry run (hah!) undertaken the previous Wednesday, the leader described the challenges to be faced.
Despite this, the group set off quite happily from the cross-roads at the top of Glenapp along the road opposite the electrical sub-station. After about 3 miles, we left the road ( having encountered some people in large vehicles out to destroy some of the local wildlife), and turned sharply left up Penderry Hill. The views of Ailsa Craig and the coastline below were spectacular. Once at the top, we headed for a wall, which we followed for a couple of miles toward Carlock Hill, the conditions underfoot being wet, although not as bad as the previous Wednesday!
Once at the top, we paused at Ellie's Memorial, before enjoying lunch.
We set off down the hill to the A77, skirting the Postman's Memorial, then walked about 300 yards to a track on the other side, leading to the radio masts at the top of Auchencrosh Hill. After reaching the top, it was decided to head on down towards the sub-station. Despite the fact that the weather was improving, with the wind dying right down, it was getting a bit late in the day to tackle Smyrton Hill as well.
During the 10 mile walk, sightings were reported of raptors, roe deer and red grouse.
By the time the group got back to their vehicles, the leader had cheered up enough to thank everyone for being cheery, sticking together and contributing to a very enjoyable day in the hills.
Next week’s event will be a coastal walk from Cairngarroch to Ardwell Bay on Saturday the 22nd of November. The walk will start from the Cairngarroch (NX 052 494) at 10:00am. Meet at the Breastworks Car Park in Stranraer at 09:30 or the Riverside Car Park in Newton Stewart at 09:00 to share transport.