This month’s meet was held at the Galloway Activities Centre on the eastern shore of Loch Ken (www.lochken.co.uk).
Five club members attended the meet for the weekend: Alan, Janet, Lindsay, Vania and Jim (coordinator and author). Six places in two rooms had been booked by Alan but there were also other types of accommodation available within the centre grounds; Yuts, camping, eco-bothies and lochside cabins.
The bunkhouse was a modern affair which could accommodate twenty people in five rooms. The rooms were split either side of a central open plan area where the lounge and kitchen was located. Toilets and showers were available but there were additional ablutions in the centre’s main building. A TV, microwave, electric cooker and small fridge with a freezer compartment were provided but it was hard to see how potentially twenty people could function here. The centre has a café so it looks as though they would prefer it if people ate there. We booked a table on the Saturday evening to enjoy the Galloway Gourmet Burger Night.
Alan, Janet and Lindsay stopped off on the way down to climb Cairnsmore of Fleet arriving at the centre around 1730. Jim arrived shortly before with Vania arriving around 1000.
The next day’s plan was that Alan, Janet, Lindsay and Vania would climb Corserine but I opted to not climb due to an Achilles tendon problem. Instead I brought my mountain bike and planned to ride around the SE section of the Galloway Forest Park: this area was south of the A712 and west of Loch Ken. Our Burger Night sitting was time restricted so it was in everybody’s interest to get back in time!
A beautiful morning set us off. Alan’s group route was from the Forest Lodge parking area, skirting Loch Harrow to Summit Corserine then follow the ridge SSE (Rhinns of Kells) to Meikla Millyea then trek back through the forest to the Lodge car park. Lindsay had been thinking about her burger and timing all day so when a slight dispute arose about the choice of the route back she made the executive decision and all made it back in good time. I drove round to the west of Loch Ken to the car park at Mossdale and cycled a short
distance down the dismantled railway to the shore of Stroan Loch. Turning north I visited the Secret Cages of the Red Kite project and to the Bennan Hill view point before following the forest trails north running parallel to the west shore od Loch Ken. The route took me west at Cairn Edward then back south to the Raisers Road then east to the picnic area at the the otter pools. I opted to follow the Raiders Road to the Chatteringshaws Loch Dam Visitors Centre for a coffee and cake before my return south on the No:7 National Cycle Route to the Big Water of Fleet Viaduct. I crossed the viaduct and picked up the old
railway line to head back to Mossdale. Unfortunately the old line here was heavily overgrown in places but passable with caution. At one point I was up to my knees in swamp and had to manhandle the bike off the line but made it to a point where the trail surface was good and headed back to the van in good time for the burger dinner. All in all, 5½hrs riding and some 55km covered with two tics found the next day.
I had a bit of saddle soreness so I headed home on Sunday while Alan’s group opted to climb The Merrick. Somebody mentioned (no names) that this hill was close to Selkirk. Janet found a brochure and pointed out the geography of southern Scotland. I hope they all got home OK! There are other stories to tell about this weekend but will save them for another day, another meet.