For my next three walks I will be travelling around The Machars in Galloway. I must admit I had never heard of or visited this area before, which is a large promontory of land jutting out into the Solway Firth. I believe The Machars is derived from the Gaelic “Machair” – low-lying land.
A very early start was required as I needed to catch the 08:05 #415 bus From Garlieston (where I parked) to Newton Stewart. The #415 bus service services most of The Machars, where it criss-crosses the area with regular services.
The bus dropped me off in the High Street in Newton Stewart and I made my way down to the River Cree. Here I followed a good footpath which took me out of the town towards the A75 – but not before calling in at the local sainsbury’s to stock up on cake and cookies.
The cycleway come footpath passed underneath the busy A75 and continues to run parallel with the A714. After about a mile I turn left and take a quieter side road which I would be on all the way into Wigtown – my next destination. The road follows more or less the course of the River Cree as it makes its way out into Wigtown Bay. The road is flat, straight and offers the occasional views across the Bay to my previous walk in the area. After a mile the forecasted light rain starts, it would be with me for the majority of the day.
Basically, I knew three things about Wigtown:-
i) It gave its name to County of Wigtownshire – sadly long-since dissolved
ii) It lays claim to be Scotland’s town of books
iii) The Wigtown Martyrs
I knew some basic facts about the sorry happenings in 1685 in Wigtown regarding the persecution of Covenanters. In particular the barbaric act of two local women Margaret McLachlan and Margaret Wilson to a stake in the River Bladnoch and letting the women drown. I visit the Martyrs Stake, which is actually a rough-hewn granite pillar erected in 1931 claiming to be the site of the executions. The River Bladnoch, at the time cut a deep channel through the area. I move onto the ruins of the old kirk and graveyard where the two women are buried along with another Covenanter martyr. I make my out of Wigtown towards the first bridging point of the River Bladnoch. Adjacent to the bridge is the Bladnoch Distillery, one of 6 remaining Lowland distilleries.
After crossing the bridge I turn immediately left and follow a small side road which passes around Baldoon airfield, formerly RAF Wigtown and long since used. I continue down a cul-de sac road towards the RSPB reserve at Crook of Baldoon. Here I pick up Core Footpath #403 which directs me to South Balfern. The thing about Core footpaths in Dumfries and Galloway is that although the D&G website describes and shows the route on their website, the actual path may not exist on the ground. Fortunately, todays (and tomorrows) would be exactly where they said they would be! I pass along the green lane and met a small herd of cattle, I must go through them, they become inquisitive and try to get close, but I simply keep my walking pole between me and them.
I head back to the main road, the B7004, and have a few miles before I turn off again down a small lane towards Culscadden farm and Innerwell Fishery. At Innerwell I pick up another Core Footpath #338, which will be my route into Garlieston some 3 miles away. The path is a delightful woodland walk. I meet an elderly gentleman who is looking for places to fish, we talk at length before he is joined by his friends. The path emerges onto a small road as it sweeps into the small bay at Garlieston. I complete the walk in a leisurely time of 7.75hrs.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
Distance today = 21.5 miles
Total distance = 1924.5 miles