Field Trip Reports 2010Field_Trip_Reports.html

July 4th to 7th - Dumfries and Galloway, Introduction

Our long field trip this year was to Dumfries and Galloway, which we had last visited in 1994 and once again we were based in The Creebridge House Hotel Newtown Stewart. The excursion secretary is indebted to Philip Doughty who planned and delivered the extensive, informative and interesting geological aspect of the trip. The botanical sectional secretary, Margaret Marshall was well prepared and knowledgeable about the local flora and she has written a separate botanical report.

We travelled by ferry to Stranraer where we were met by the coach which was to be are method of transport for the four day excursion.Our first stop was Portpatrick where not only did we learn about the geology of the place but those people who didn’t more quickly enough, got drenched by a huge wave at the slipway. We had an opportunity to view the memorial to those who lost their lives on the Princess Victoria on 31st January 1953. Marion Allen provided us with the information about the disaster.

On the way to the hotel we stopped at the coastal area of Glen of Luce/Auchenmaig for a spot of botany.

Monday 5th July

There was a brief geological stop at Creetown before travelling the short distance to Creetown Gemrock Museum. After our tour of the museum there was time for some retail therapy in the gemstone shop. After lunch at the museum we visited Cairnholy  where there are the remains of two remarkably complete Neolithic burial cairns, of the Clyde group of long cairns.

Our final visit of the day was to Barstobrick Visitor Centre which is part of the Red Kite Trail where the more active members of
the party walked to Neilson’s Monument (see left) from where there is a panoramic view and they were rewarded with sightings of the Red Kite (Milvus milvus). For those who did not wish to do the walk there were several short, easy walks around the ponds near the car park and there was a wealth of botany here. The icing on the cake was a flying display by the red kites which everyone was able to witness from the visitors centre before we departed.

Back at the hotel in the evening our President rounded off a perfect day by entertaining us with her piano playing and singing.

Tuesday 6th July

We travelled south today to the Dumfries area and our first visit was to Locharbriggs quarry where among the interesting things we saw the preparation of sandstone to repair the façade of Belfast Central Library. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the quarry but soup and sandwiches at Caerlaverock Castle beckoned.

There has been defensive building on this site since 950 AD. Around 1220, Alexander II of Scotland granted the estate to his chamberlain, Sir John de Maccuswell (Maxwell). Sir John built the ‘old’ castle and over the centuries it was extended and improved. Caerlaverock’s triangular shape is unique among British castles. Why it was built this way is not known. There was much to see at the castle including zoology and botany. As this was our last evening after dinner we had a mini conversazione and as usual the range and quality of displays was excellent.

Wednesday 7th

Wigton, famous for its second hand bookshops was our first stop today and the excursion secretary had planned a short visit of 20 minutes but she had not reckoned on the live cam of an Osprey’s nest. The result was that the ornotholigists and bibliphiles had a heyday. The next port of call was Whithorn where we were expected for a tour of the priory and the adjoining museum. Whithorn's history as an Early Christian centre cannot be doubted. Archaeologists have uncovered clues from the earliest settlement in the 5th century. The people were trading and importing luxury goods from the Mediterranean and were working the land to produce food together. The Latinus Stone, which is the earliest Christian monument in Scotland shows that the community was Christian. Historically we do know that from the 7th century people have made a pilgrimage to visit the shrine of St Ninian in Whithorn believing in his power to cure illness and perform miracles. Carved headstones and crosses from the 10th and 11th century that were excavated at St Ninian's Cave which is a small sea cave, only 7km from Whithorn Abbey are now displayed in the Priory Museum at Whithorn. Local tradition says that St. Ninian used this quiet and secluded spot as a place of solitude and retreat. The cave was used by pilgrims since the early middle ages. We were to visit St Ninian's Cave but because of the stormy weather and high seas most people opted to spend more time in Whithorn so only an intrepid few braved the elements on the coast.

Thankfully the weather calmed down for our sea trip back to Belfast and we arrived back safely vowing to return to this beautiful and interesting part of Scotland.

Joan Semple, Excursion Secretary.


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Red Kite (Milvus milvus)

Dumfries Botanical ReportDumfries_%26_Galloway_Botanical.html
Dumfries Geological ReportDumfries_%26_Galloway_Geological.html



Latinus Stone

Osprey’s nest

Ready for Locharbriggs Quarry

Caerlaverock Castle

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