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The Taking of the Last of the Machars

By Andy Farrington

The Machars also known as the Plains of Galloway is a peninsula in South West Scotland roughly extending from Glenluce in the west to Newton Stewart in the east and all points south of the A75 to the Isle of Whithorn.

The word is derived from the Gaelic word Machair meaning low lying or level land. Although there are no high peaks in the Machars, it is not flat and would best be described as undulating or rolling. The North Atlantic Drift or Gulf Stream creates a mild climate in which plants normally associated with the Southern Hemisphere can thrive, and dolphins and basking sharks are frequently seen in the seas.

The area is a treasure-trove to study for historians of every period, from pre-history stones to major historical features of the last century. Chambered cairns, cup and ring stones, stone circles and individual standing stones dot the unspoilt landscape. There are Iron Age forts, crannog sites, ancient wells, early Christian sites, medieval castle and church sites, with the remaining evidences of early harbours, roads, causeways and bridges that connected this area to the wider world.

After moving to the Machars in 2009 and joining Geograph in April 2010 I have slowly but surely been working my way around the area and whilst I have not covered every grid square yet, I have chipped away at all the green squares until there were only two remaining NX3936 LinkExternal link and NX3737 LinkExternal link to complete the NX33 hectad LinkExternal link and finish off the Machars as a land area.

After several days waiting for an improvement in weather conditions (cliffs and shores need treating carefully) I finally set off on Sunday 8th May 2011 to bag the last two grids, the Cliffs at Laggan Camp and Lochanscadden (Herring Pool) plus several others on route.

Cliffs near Laggan Camp NX3936 : Cliffs near Laggan Camp by Andy Farrington in NX3936 LinkExternal link.

The route to get here to bag this first was a combination of driving to Home Farm from the A747, then mountain bike down a track to NX4036 LinkExternal link and then walk across open fields and a small cliff top path to finish the trip at the top of the cliffs overlooking Luce Bay. Clambering down the cliffs to the beach is doable but I wasn't up for it on the day I visited and had to move on to other grids.

Lochanscadden NX3737 : Lochanscadden by Andy Farrington in NX3737 LinkExternal link.

The route to get here to bag this first started at Cairndoon Farm at the farmhouse which is in NX3838 LinkExternal link then it was just a matter of following a farm track which ran down to a sheep pen on the shoreline north east of Lochanscadden. The next part was slightly trickier involving a clamber around Lochanscadden and across very slippy rocks to the shore. It was then I realised I'd slightly misjudged the tide times and although the tide was going out I had to stand up to my knees in water to get into this grid square and take the pictures I needed to claim the grid. Heh Ho, another day Geographing!

On the way down to Lochanscadden I had spotted what I thought was a cairn near to Cairndoon Farm and made a mental note to take a detour on the way back to the farm to have a look at it. What I found was not a cairn but an unusual purpose built stone monument with a seat on three sides appropriately named on OS Mapping as the 'Seat'. It was a rare find for me that I had never seen before nor my walking colleagues who know the Machars well.

Seat at Cairndoon NX3738 : Seat at Cairndoon (4) by Andy Farrington in NX 3738 LinkExternal link.

So .... the last Hectad in the Machars was bagged ... so I thought. After lengthy discussions it became clear that additional land had been sighted (land ahoy!) on improved mapping used by Geograph, resulting in two new additional grid squares being added to NX33 LinkExternal link ... after I thought I had well and truly bashed the hectad.

When I had a closer look at OS 1:25000 mapping and satellite imagery, both squares do appear to have a smidgen of land on them, so .... when the next moon is full and the tide is low I'll be off to check them out ... with my boat and subaqua kit!


Loading map...
Marker only shows grid square

When
Wed, 11 May 2011 at 16:46
Grid Square
geotagged! NX3737
Chosen Photo

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