Brecon Baroque Festival

We made our second visit to the Brecon Baroque music festival in October 2019. We arrived in Brecon along with some torrential downpours and there was widespread flooding in the area.

The River Usk in Brecon

Most of the concerts went ahead as planned although one of them had to be relocated from Cantref Church due to flooded roads.

Elizabeth Kenny’s theorbo before her concert in the Plough Chapel
Brecon Baroque in Brecon Cathedral

We managed a few walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park, including a circuit of the waterfalls after the flood waters has receded.

Sgwd yr Eira Waterfall
Sgwd y Pannwr

Gerald’s Last Munro

Carn Liath

Gerald was one of our group of friends who meet periodically for skiing, kayaking and other outdoor pursuits. Unfortunately he died from cancer in early 2019 and his family decided that they would like to scatter his ashes on top of one of the Munros. Carn Liath, near Blair Atholl, was chosen as the location and we had a large group of family and friends to make the trek to the summit.

Gabrielle starting up the steeper section of the path

The route up Carn Liath is pretty obvious and the path has recently been much improved with the installation of stone steps along most of the route where there used to be steep scree slopes.

A toast to Gerald on the summit

A Walk through Rusko Woods

We took a walk up the Big Water of Fleet through Rusko Woods to Pool Ness waterfall. There’s a good track most of the way through the woods but it gets a bit muddy in the last section to the waterfall and back up the hillside to the road.

Track through Rusko Woods
Big Water of Fleet
Inscription on rock at Pool Ness
Panorama at Pool Ness

Galloway Beagle Bash

A number of our skiing friends from “Team Beagle” came to visit in September to sample the delights of sunny Galloway. Outdoor activities included kayaking, swimming, walking and cycling. Local history and culture was encountered in Kirkandrews and Kirkcudbright. The Craig Cottage blackcurrant gin was sampled along with a few other tasty beverages and a stroll along to the local Wine o’ Clock session.

The Devil’s Bowling Green

A hike with Cathy and Ros, starting from Bruce’s Stone along the Buchan Ridge into the heart of the Galloway Hills. The walk started with a stiff climb up Buchan Hill, giving good views back down to Loch Trool.Loch Trool

We followed the Rig of Loch Enoch to Craig Neldricken where a short detour leads round to the “Grey Man of Merrick”, a rock outcrop resembling a face staring back down the valley.

We skirted around Craig Neldricken and Craignairy, heading for the Nick of the Dungeon, passing this little lochan with good views across to Benyellary, Merrick and Kirriereoch Hill.

Cathy and Ros with the Nick of the Dungeon and the Rhinns of Kells beyond.

From the Nick of the Dungeon we hiked up to the granite plateau of the Devil’s Bowling Green for a lunch stop. Craignaw is the hill in the background.

We headed down the slopes of Craignaw to skirt around the right side of Loch Neldricken then followed the long track down the valley past Loch Valley and along the Gairland Burn back to the head of Loch Trool.Loch Enoch

Talnotry

A misty walk from the Queen’s Road up to Black Loch. A steep trail leads up from the Queen’s Road, past Murray’s Monument to reach a forest track that follows the line of the Old Edinburgh Road. Just off the track is an old sheep fold containing some carved heads. These are part of a sculpture installation called “Quorum”. It was created as part of Matt Baker’s residency in Galloway Forest in 1997. There were originally six heads but there only seem to be two remaining nowadays.
Quorum sculpture installation by Matt Baker
A little further along the track is the Black Loch. It features another sculpture, a slender cone of terra cotta called “The Eye”, by Colin Rose.
The Eye, by Colin Rose
Down on the other side of the Queen’s Road, there is a forest track that leads over to an area of exposed granite ridges known as “McMoab”. This is part of the Kirroughtree 7 Stanes mountain biking trail system and gives some challenging riding in a magnificent setting at the head of the valley.
McMoab mountain bike trail

Raider’s Road

The Galloway Forest Park has a couple of forest roads that are open to cars in the summer months. We took a trip along the “Raider’s Road” in September. It goes for about 10 miles from near Mossdale/Loch Ken through the Galloway Forest to emerge near Clatteringshaws Loch and visitor centre. There are a number of places to stop off and take a walk or enjoy the views. At Stroan Loch, there is a viaduct from the disused railway line that used to run from Castle Douglas to Portpatrick and Stranraer. Here’s a picture looking through the viaduct towards Stroan Loch and Cairn Edward Hill
Stroan Viaduct

A wider view of the loch with Cairnsmore of Dee in the background.
Stroan Loch

Further along the road is the “Otter Pool”, where the Black Water of Dee flows over a series of granite ledges. A good place for a lunch stop.
Otter Pool Lunch
Here’s the otter, keeping an eye on the pool.
Otter Pool

Close to the Otter Pool, we found quite a few specimens of this large, black fungus. We think it was probably Craterellus cornucopioides
Black Fungus

There is a set of Rosnes Benches near the Otter Pool. Here are Gabrielle and Betty, trying out one of them.
Rosnes Bench

Close to the western end of the Raider’s Road there is an earthwork called “the Labyrinth”. It’s about 50 feet in diameter and consists of a winding path leading to a central point where it looks like there used to be some kind of fountain or water feature that fed into the channels between the raised walkways.
Labyrinth

Feb 2016

Hestan Island
One of our Wednesday morning walks was along the coast road from Auchencairn to Balcary Bay. It gave us a good view of Hestan Island and the posts that used to support fishing nets. The coastline at the far right is the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria on the far side of the Solway Firth.

Betty and the Coo Palace
Betty enjoying a walk along the coast on a sunny day with the tower of the Corseyard “Coo Palace” in the background.

The round house at Balloch Woods
There is a good network of paths through Balloch Woods near Creetown featuring some interesting sculpture and other items such as the Roundhouse at the Garrochar Wildlife Ponds. It is used as an interpretation centre and meeting point for groups visiting the area.

Sunset across Wigtown Bay
Yet another sunset picture. This one is looking across Wigtown Bay from the coast road near the Coo Palace.

Wood Carving at Cragside
We had a weekend trip over to Newcastle and spent a day up in Northumberland visiting William Armstrong’s Victorian estate at Cragside. There are some very interesting walks around the extensive gardens and grounds visiting innovative features such as the hydro electric power house and a very early iron bridge. We were very impressed with the carvings that had been made on tree stumps and this one on the trunk of a tree that had been felled.

Trying out the new kayak
We have now acquired a two-seater sit-on-top kayak which we hope will be useful for taking people out on trips along the coast. This is its maiden voyage – a quick trip around the bay to check it out. We discovered that the front seat can get a bit wet through the self-baling holes but we have now installed a little platform to raise the seat above the high water mark to minimise the chance of wet bottoms.

Kirroughtree

A few pictures from a visit to Kirroughtree Forest Park, near Newton Stewart, where there is a good selection of forest trails for walking and mountain biking.

This bridge carries the mountain bike trail over the walking trail as they approach the fancy new visitor centre. There’s a cafe, bike shop and showers for the muddy mountain bikers.
Bicycle Bridge

This bridge is where the footpath crosses the Bruntis Burn as it flows out of the Bruntis Loch. You can see the Gem Stane in the background on the left.
Footbridge

The “Gem Stane” is carved from a large block of rose quartz. It is one of the 7 Stanes sculptures at the mountain biking centres across southern Scotland. Each of the sculptures refers to a local feature or legend.
The Gem Stane

Cairnsmore of Fleet with a dusting of snow peeking out from under the clouds as we drove out from Kirroughtree.
Cairnsmore of Fleet

Autumn Scenes

A few pictures from walks around Craig Cottage over the last month or so. The stormy Autumn weather has dumped plenty of rain on us but we’ve also had some very impressive sunsets and cloud formations. Here are a few of them.
Tree and sunset

Clouds over Whithorn

Whithorn Sunset
One of our local fields was home to a small herd of brown belted Galloway Cattle. They also come in a grey variety as well as the more usual black and white.
Brown Beltie
Autumn leaves at Knockbrex
Leaves at Knockbrex
Descending through the oak woods from Mark Hill towards Kippford and a tasty pub lunch.
Oak tree at Kippford
Atmospheric sunlight over Wigtown Bay.
Whithorn Sunset
One heavy rain storm caused the Pulwhirrin Burn to flow over the top of the footbridge to Kirkandrews.
Kirkandrews Bridge
Here’s Betty posing with an Autumnal tree in Doon Wood near Knockbrex.
In Doon Wood