Wednesday, 28 September 2016

On Wednesday 21st September a small group of 5 Biggar Ramblers walked around Portmore Loch. This was an easy 5-mile half-day walk around this extremely beautiful small reservoir, which was opened in 1878 to provide a supply of drinking water, and is now popular with walkers and fishermen. The walk also took in the Northshield Rings, an Iron Age fort still in remarkable condition. At one point there was an unusual sighting of a group of fallow deer quietly grazing; on being disturbed they jumped gracefully over a nearby fence and disappeared into woodland.
Walks Leader: Bernard Airlie
As the song says we do like to be beside the seaside. That was certainly the feeling of 15 walkers from Biggar ramblers on Saturday 18th September. They enjoyed a fabulously sunny day at North Berwick. In the morning a 3 mile walk from Yellowcraigs Country park along the coastal path towards Gullane afforded spectacular sea views across to Fife. Nearer at hand were the Bass Rock and other small islands. A lunch stop was taken sitting on rocks near Marine Villa. Afterwards the group headed for North Berwick Law. A stiff short climb was well rewarded. There was a 360 degree panoramic view of sea and land. Everything twinkled in the sunlight! To end the day what else but large ice-creams and other refreshments! A fantastic day out in East Lothian - and so near to home.
Walk Leader: Jan Airlie
The weather forecast wasn't promising for Thursday the 8th September and so it proved to be, but despite this, 11 stalwart Biggar Ramblers set off to walk the 7 miles of the Duchess's Drive on the Bowhill Estate near Selkirk. In good weather this is an easy walk with stunning views over the Yarrow and Ettrick valleys and the Eildon Hills near Melrose. It was used as a carriage drive for guests of the Buccleugh family in Victorian times. The track skirts round Fastheugh Hill and Newark Hill, eventually descending to the impressive ruin of Newark Castle built in 1423. It was a good opportunity for the group to test their waterproofs for the coming winter season! A cup of tea and cake at the Waterwheel Café at Philiphaugh was well deserved.
On Sunday 4th September eleven Biggar ramblers met for what has become an annual event- a walk from the village of Durisdeer  followed by afternoon tea in the lovely historic church hall. This year the walk was up the track onDirsdeer Rig and the 'off piste' down to the route of the old Roman Road. While traversing some thick heather a sheep was found on its back, trapped by its horns. By turning it over avoiding thrashing hooves, it's life was saved!
The weather was perfect - and so were the eagerly anticipated sandwiches, scones, cakes and meringues!
Kitchen Moss report
Biggar Ramblers held a walk as part of the Ramblers nationl Walk About festival of walks. This walk on Saturday,writes Brian Henry, started at Ninemileburn passing Spittal Farm to North Esk Reservoir where the first break was taken. During this stop the group chatted to the owner about its use in the BBC serial 'Hunted' as Melissa George's hideaway. From the reservoir the group of 10 met with cyclists undertaking an orienteering course. At the Bore Stane some searching and debating took place as to which was the actual landmark. A geocache hidden under the drovers' sihnpost confirmed the large stone with a coating of lichen.
Turning off Buteland path the group turned north east to cross Kitchen Moss, a peaty area covered in purple heather and following the dyke which is a county boundary to Red Gate. Here there were some scout leaders setting up to monitor a group undertaking the DOE bronze awards. With rain forecast they were in for a wet night. From the nearby lunch spot views were over Edinburgh and the Forth Bridges and the Fred Olsen cruise ship 'Black Prince' could be seen at Rosyth. After Red Gate the walkers ascended to the base of West Kip and everyone declined a quick run up to the summit. The route then came across Monk's Rigg with a stop at the Font Stone. The return to Ninemileburn confirmed the distance of 8 1/2 miles and a total time of 5 hours.
On Wednesday 24th August, 8 ladies from the Biggar ramblers set out to walk the 13 miles of the Loch Leven Heritage Trail which is also a well used cycle path. It was a truly beautiful day with plenty of sunshine and blue skies. We started at Kinross Pier where it is possible to take the Ferry to Loch Leven Castle on the island where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner until she managed to make her escape.
We made our way in the direction of Kirkgate Point and Kirkgate cemetery which is full of interesting gravestones. The big mausoleum in the center is the Mausoleum of the Bruce family who built Kinross House. You can see this imposing house through the trees further along the path.
The Trail has many items of interest, hides where you can look for water birds and many lovely and welcome seats some with interesting inscriptions in old Scots on their backs. We had a welcome lunch break and ice cream at the Loch Leven Larder which has a very nice shop, restaurant and picnic tables with lovely views of the loch.
The path then led away from the Loch side through pleasant woods with some welcome shade, we passed The Scottish Gliding Centre where we saw several gliders in the sky above, we continued toward the RSPB at Vane farm where we had a short break overlooking their wetlands trails.
We now continued on the last leg of the walk which included the East Brackley Viewpoint a beautiful structure where we could see not only the whole Loch but the physical landscape in which the Loch is set. It is hard to imagine that this was once the floor of the ocean 300-400 million years ago. The hills are capped by columnar rock derived from Volcanic activity one is called Carlin Maggie where a witch called Maggie had a disagreement with Old Nick. He threw a thunder bolt and turned her into stone.
We finally passed the Loch Leven Mill which still produces Cashmere and back to Loch Leven Pier. Some of us had dinner at the Boathouse Bistro and watched the sun setting over the Loch. A satisfying end to a beautiful day.
The Loch Leven Heritage web site has a huge amount of information about this walk including some shorter circular walks.
Walk Leader: Lesley Glidden
On Saturday 20th August eight walkers, Isobel MacDonald as leader started from Castlebank Park, Lanark with a visit to the new William Wallace wood carved statue in the much improved Rose Garden, the Fairy Dell with its many wood carvings and finally to the Lanark in Bloom greenhouses and nursery garden. From there the walk continued down to St. Patricks Road to Kirkfieldbank. up past the caravan park to the Ditches with the view over the river and into Nemphlar. The rain had become heavier but the visit to the Open Garden of Anne Sinclair with contributions going to the East Kilbride Hospice was well worth the visit. A large garden of various plantings and with a welcome marquee where the Moth Man showed his interesting number of different moths collected the previous evening in the garden and there was tea, and cakes. The rain had eased a bit for the return to Castlebank and the cars.
On Thursday 11th August, Biggar Ramblers had a " bring a dish" evening preceded by a short walk around The Mount. Good food, good company and a slide show summary of the year's walks made it a memorable evening.
On a bright breezy 6th August, 17 walkers including a visitor from another Group, assembled at Stroanfreggan Bridge, beyond Moniave, for a ramble along the Southern Upland Way. As the party climbed up through the extensive remains of an Iron Age fort, wonderful views opened up all around. The Carrick Hills, the Rhinns of Kells, the Merrick and nearby, the bulk of Cairnsmore of Carsphairn and numerous smaller hills were all there as a pleasing accompaniment to the rest of the walk. The party soon joined the Southern Upland Way which, at this point, is quite rough and boggy and indistinct in places and continued to Manquhill Hill where a stop was made for lunch in the lee of a small hillock out of the brisk wind. At this point, some of the party decided to make a leisurely return to the start, while the rest continued on  to Benbrack. After passing beneath Craigencarse and then a couple of dark hidden lochans, they embarked on the stiff climb to the 1900ft summit of Benbrack where they encountered one of the big red sandstone "Striding Arches" designed by Andy Goldsworth to celebrate his remote beautiful corner of Galloway. Two other arches could be seen on nearby hills and there is another down in the valley at Cairnhead. The party felt this was an impressive and fitting climax to the walk. After descending the hill, they followed an easy forest track for a mile or two before joining the SUW once more and following it slowly and carefully back to the car park. A tough but enjoyable 11 mile ramble in a beautiful part of the country- we will be back.
Walk Leader; Michael Heale