8.89 miles 4h 31m ascent 267m
Big Water of Fleet Viaduct- Craigwhinnie
The plan was to walk up to Loch Grannoch Lodge. Forestry tracks all the way, what could go wrong?
We parked near the viaduct and set off in the sunshine. The first jacket-less walk of the year, though there were still plates of ice on puddles in the shade. The ground off track was very wet. So much so that getting to Little Cullendoch promised wet feet. Christy wouldn’t care but we decided to delay the wet feet until we were on the way back.
It was a lovely day. Snowdrops, Coltsfoot, the sound of running water and wee waterfalls, views of Cairnsmore of Fleet and a woodpecker we could hear but not see. Then after about an hours walking we heard chainsaws. A sign warned us that trees were being felled. I might have gone on anyway to see if the harvesting was actually in progress, but as we stood by the sign I saw a tree fall.
Somewhat disappointed we turned round and headed back to the main track. We didn’t see the Loch from this end, or Maggie’s Memorial but here are some photos from a few years ago.
Our fallback was to carry along the cycleway 7 forestry track. We walked up to the rock we had stopped at last month and stopped there for a slug of water and a jelly baby. (And a dog biscuit each for the dogs).
We decided to walk on a little further just to see if we could glimpse the loch along a fire-break, but it wasn’t to be.
Once back near the viaduct we headed across to Little Cullendoch. I chose one route, Audrey another but we both ended up with wet feet. I’ve been on these ruins many times and this is the wettest I’ve known the ground.
The sculpture “Heart” is still there. Here is an excerpt from a previous visit.
The first we came upon was “Heart”, a pair of carved heads chained in the ruins of Little Cullendoch. I have often wondered why this head has the hilt of a knife in its neck and my thoughts had usually strayed towards romance and murder but the artist’s concept is that the relatively light touch that humans have had on this landscape will gradually fade and that this process will be mirrored as these faces become obscured by moss and lichen as they are subsumed into the ground with the ruins about them.
The ruins are close by the forestry track but are defended by a boggy ditch and scattered rocks overgrown by bracken, all the better to twist ankles. The ditch is not an ancient defence but due to the modern forestry track interfering with natural drainage. We had a bit of an adventure getting into the ruins because a nearby scrum of sheep required the dogs to be on their leads. The dogs leaped about making it difficult to choose safe footing. Audrey was dragged off course, Sweep pulling her like an invisible current into the bracken, so she had to manhandle the dog over a wall to get back to the artworks. Poor old Sweep can only jump up walls when it suits him.In search of Galloway’s Chained Art, 2015
The ruins are still defended by the boggy ditch and carved heads are certainly less distinct than they were.