Sunday, April 08, 2012

Walk 287 -- Port Logan to New England Bay

Ages:  Colin was 69 years and 336 days.  Rosemary was 67 years and 113 days.
Weather:  Overcast, but remaining mostly dry.
Location:  Port Logan to New England Bay.
Distance:  10 miles.
Total distance:  2837 miles.
Terrain:  A little beach, a good track, quiet roads, then a not-so-quiet road.
Tide:  Coming in.
Rivers:  None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan on a site at New England Bay on the South Rhins.  This morning we drove to Port Logan and parked in the seafront car park where we finished the last Walk.
At the end we were at the caravan.  After our tea and biscuits, Colin walked the two miles to Port Logan to collect the car while I cooked our dinner.

We went down on to the beach from the car park where we finished the last Walk, and strolled along the sands towards the village.  The tide was out, so this was very pleasant.
We came to the local pub where we had enjoyed a drink when we were in this area last September.  (It had featured in the CAMRA ‘Good Beer Guide’, and therefore was a ‘hit’ with Colin!)
But now it was boarded up, and looked as if it was undergoing a major refurbishment.  Whilst waiting for the bus yesterday, we had asked a local bus passenger about it.  She told us, barely disguising the disgust in her voice, that it had been bought by a “brash Yorkshireman”.  He had immediately started altering the building without gaining planning permission.  These alterations included Roman columns across the front of the building!!
He tarmacked the car park opposite and put in a number of seats.  He said he was going to start a fish’n’chip shop, an amusement arcade etc to turn Port Logan into a ‘real resort’!  When the locals saw what was happening they were up in arms, but he just called them “morons” and carried on!  When the local Council told him to stop because he hadn’t got planning permission for any of these things, he ignored them.  They said he must remove the Roman columns and restore the building to its original size and shape.  He replied that if he couldn’t do what he wanted he would leave the building in its present uninhabitable state.  At present the situation is stalemate, the pub is closed and an eyesore.  How sad!
We continued past a row of colourful fishermen’s cottages behind a seawall.  That and the tiny harbour is more or less the sum total of Port Logan — by no means a ‘real resort’, just a tiny Scottish fishing community.  The sea wall was built in front of the cottages in the 19th century to stop them being flooded.
On the sea wall was a single memorial seat – under which someone had left two bunches of flowers in cellophane – and a modern children’s playground.  We walked to the end of the harbour wall — there was a single boat in it, beached on the sand because the tide was out.
Retracing our steps along the harbour wall, we then left this tiny hamlet on a track leading uphill to the south.  According to our map this track was supposed to dogleg — but it didn’t, it just went straight up.  This puzzled us momentarily, until we realised what had happened.
By a gate we came to a sign similar to one we had passed near Prestwick, only this one was reminding us to shut the gate, whereas the Prestwick one was about picking up litter: 
Be ye man, be ye wumman
Be ye gawn, or be ye comin
Be ye early, be ye late
Be ye share tae shut the gate! 
It was a good track, easy to walk.  Part way up we came across a ‘Public Footpath’ sign, but it hadn’t told us that at the beginning — we just had to guess.  Further up a ‘Public Footpath’ sign pointed us the wrong way — but we had our eyes on the map by now.  And still further up another notice told us we were still on the public footpath!
Like the last Walk, the signs around this part of the Rhins were put up by somebody somewhat lacking in navigational skills.  But it remained a good track all through, we had no ‘adventures’ like yesterday.  We were walking along parallel to the shore about a quarter of a mile inland.  But because we were uphill we had good views across to the sea.
We sat on a wall to eat our pie/quiche.
We emerged on to the road at Clanyard where there is the scant remains of a castle in a field.  Actually only part of one wall is left, and it is obviously a nuisance to the farmer because he had ploughed very close to it on all sides.  Why do we keep these useless little ruins?  We can’t keep them all, just because they’re old.  We got chatting to a local, and joked about there not being much left.  He thought it was no good to anyone either.  Blink, and you’ll miss it!
Previously we had pored over the map and tried to plan how we should go on from this point.  There was no more coastal path towards the Mull of Galloway, and the roads radiated out from the centre like spokes in a wheel.  They mostly led to farms, few of them actually reached the coast.  Nearly all were dead ends, and most of the tracks didn’t connect.  So we decided to walk across the South Rhins from this point to the village of Drummore, then turn north and walk along the east coast until we could exit the Rhins.
The road was very quiet and narrow with hardly any traffic.  A cloud came over and it began to turn damp.  We wondered whether to stop and put on our overtrousers, but we didn’t and eventually the weather improved.  This dodgy weather (will it or won’t it rain?) influenced our decision not to walk to Maryport before turning north on the coast — other reasons being that I was tired and there was no beach because the tide had come in — All right!  All right!  I was making excuses, I plead guilty! 
We climbed a hill to Kirkmaiden, walked through a cemetery, then descended to Drummore on the coast.
We were disappointed, we thought it an ugly little place!  At least, that’s what I wrote in my notes at the time.
Perhaps it was the dull skies, perhaps we were feeling disenchanted with our Walk that day, perhaps it was the scuppered boat near the harbour, or perhaps it was because we couldn’t find a seat to rest ourselves and admire the view.  Whatever, we weren’t very impressed.
We passed the local shop, advertising itself as “Scotland’s southernmost store”.  Yes, the Mull of Galloway is the southernmost place in Scotland, and it is only three years since we were at Dunnet Head, Scotland’s northernmost point.  We have walked that distance along a very indented coast, via Cape Wrath, Ardnamurchan Point and the Mull of Kintyre, in exactly three years.  No wonder we felt tired!
We walked both sides of the harbour — no seats.  There was a general air of untidiness about the place, and the cold wind nearly cut us in half.  We walked across a stony beach, and there tucked away was a seat out of the wind.  Perfect!  Except that it wasn’t — it turned out we were sitting on someone’s front lawn!
We were enjoying our sarnies when a woman came out of one of the cottages behind us with a cup and saucer in her hand, crossed the road and informed us that the seat belonged to her and we were sitting in her front garden!  Well, it didn’t look like it.  It looked like a seat you would find in any resort on the seafront, there for ‘Joe Public’ to use as he wished.  We apologised, and offered to move on, but she relaxed a little and said she didn’t mind us sitting there really — but come to think of it, she didn’t offer us a cup of tea!  It turned out that the cottage was her second home, she actually lived not far from us — in Redmarley in Worcestershire!  Her husband was already retired, and she planned to retire soon and live permanently with him in the cottage.  Despite her apparent friendliness we felt awkward, so we ate up quickly and moved on.
About a hundred yards further on, we did come to a public seat hidden away behind a bush and completely out of the wind.  It would have been ideal, but it was a little out of Drummore, and so well hidden we didn’t know it was there until we practically fell over it.  Ah well!
The tide was right in by then, and the beach was stony or non-existent.  So we had no choice but to climb up to the road and walk along there.  We were disappointed because we had been looking forward to walking along the beach, which would have been great if the tide had been out.  The road was quite busy, and we didn’t enjoy the experience much.  But the views were excellent, and the weather cheered up, so that helped.
I photographed some oystercatchers on a concrete wall, using my zoom lens.  It was only when studying the picture at a later date that I discovered they were resting by standing on one leg!  I thought only flamingos and storks did that.
Further on we had a bit of a fright because we thought we saw a body in the undergrowth!  Had someone been killed by a hit’n’run driver, and no one knew they were there?  But it was only a pair of waders, left with the ‘feet’ sticking out into the road.  How on earth did it get there?  Or was it deliberately put there as a joke?
Mostly it was a case of plodding on.  We admired the beautiful wild flowers, when we weren’t dodging traffic.  A notice on one beach told us that the removal of gravel was strictly prohibited — well I wasn’t thinking of filling my rucksack with it! 
At last we caught sight of our caravan site at New England Bay — why is it called that?  I don’t think you can see England from there.
 We thankfully walked in and along to our caravan.
That ended Walk no.287, we shall pick up Walk no.288 next time from our caravan parked at New England Bay.  It was half past two (a very civilised time to pack it in for the day), so the Walk had taken us six hours exactly.  We had our tea and biscuits in the comfort of our little home on wheels.  An hour later it started to rain, and the car was still parked in Port Logan!  Colin got a bit wet walking the two miles there to collect it, but now that we have an awning to our caravan we have a lot more space for removing and hanging wet clothing.  I heated up an ‘instant’ Indian meal while he was gone, and when he got back we opened a bottle of wine to celebrate Easter.

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