Feb 8th, 2015
We visited my parents this weekend. As I think I mentioned before they live near Loch Ken in Galloway which is another really beautiful part of the country. It was particularly lovely this weekend because the weather was superb the whole time: bitterly cold but clear and sunny. In fact they have had more snow than us, and unlike in Argyll where it has now more or less gone, it is still lying thick on the ground.
On Friday R and I walked down the old railway line to Loch Struan. The loch was almost completely frozen over, with only the areas of flowing water near the entrance and exit rivers still liquid. R couldn’t resist throwing stones on to it to see how thick the ice was, and it seemed to be a few inches at least. In the distance we could see a flock of geese at the far end of the loch sharing the one small pool which was free of ice.
On Saturday afternoon (having spent the morning spending money in Dumfries with my Mum), R and I set out to walk further down the railway line to Loch Skerrow, where there used to be a station (well a halt) on the Portpatrick line. The path was extremely snowy, icy and in places treacherous and we made such poor time that when it got to 3pm and we hadn’t even got to the loch, we had to turn back for fear of not getting home before dark. It was a shame because Skerrow is a really evocative (and even spooky) spot. The line closed in 1963, and you can still see the much decayed platform, the remnants of the spring that must have watered the steam engines, and the ruined station buildings. I would have liked to put my own pictures on – but you can see what it looks like now and how it would have looked in 1963 here – http://www.railbrit.co.uk/location.php?loc=Loch%20Skerrow No human had been along to Skerrow since the snow came, and the path was completely covered with the tracks of deer and of some carnivore (I think a fox although it may have been a badger).
This morning we walked up past Mossdale Loch (which again was completely frozen up), up on to the ‘Raider’s Road’ and then back round to Struan. As we still had time before lunch, we carried on and did the ‘Mushroom Walk’ (so called because in autumn I have never seen so many brightly coloured fungi as on this walk). It ends at a place on the river that I always find rather sad. Until 1900s there was a school in Mossdale (actually in the house where my parents now live) and children would come from the surrounding farms to study there. To accommodate this there was a metal footbridge over the river to give them access (people were hardier in those days because it is at least two miles just from the bridge to Mossdale). Anyway, when R and I first visited 15 years ago, the old bridge was still there (though rusted over and quite impassable), but a few years later, presumably for ‘health and safety’ reasons, it was removed. Another piece of history gone for no good reason – but I can never stand on the bank without thinking of the long dead children in their petticoats and moleskin trousers with lunches in hand swinging over the bridge on their way to school.
Anyway – we had a very nice time and thanks to my Mum and Dad for having us.