Earlier this year, IAT Scotland's Mull of Galloway Trail - which was created by the Rotary Club of Stranraer - sustained substantial damage as a result of severe winter storms in January and February. Plans were drawn up to repair and improve the route, and as a result, the trail is once again in good condition, and in places even better than before.
After surveys were carried out, Robert Clark drew up estimates for the work required and following quotations from local firms, contracts were awarded to Donnan Construction and Luce Bay Plant Hire. These firms cut new paths, not only where parts of the trail had been washed away, but also created new paths between the shore and the road at various locations from the Grennan Plantation to Mull Hill Wood north of Dyemill. As a result, walking on the rough shore has been considerably cut down, making it much easier for walkers. Parts of the new route have also been rolled to improve the surface of the path.
In other locations, diversions have been created inland and where the trail was covered by stones, seaweed and litter, clearance work was carried out by Rotarians and friends, Community Service Workers and Apex service users. Due to the diversions, it has been necessary to put up new waymarkers along the trail, as well erect several new stiles, with this work being undertaken by Apex personnel. Jackie Rae and his team have been a great help in many different ways with the ongoing work. New discs with the trail logo were sourced from Scott Signs which also relocated the information board near Logan Mill, where the grassy area surrounding it was washed away in the storms. Directional discs were donated by the local Council.
The members of the Rotary Club of Stranraer are very grateful to the Ardwell Estates for kindly giving permission to make new paths on land owned by the estate between Point Cottage and the MOD property north of Ardwell. One of the advantages of taking the trail away from the shore is that it keeps walkers away from nests on the foreshore at this time of year. The cooperation of tenants and landlords along the route is greatly appreciated; without this there would be no Mull of Galloway Trail and this valuable asset would be lost to the community.
With limited resources available, the Rotary Club was delighted when Dumfries & Galloway Council made a grant of £5,000 to assist with the costs of repairing and improving the trail. Without this funding, the amount of work would have been drastically restricted. With strong growth on the trail during the spring months, it has been necessary to arrange for vegetation to be strimmed back at a number of locations. The work has been carried out by the local Council, Community Service Workers, Rotarians and friends. This will be ongoing until the end of the summer.
In view of all the tremendous work since the storm damage, it is good to know that the trail continues to be well used. In addition to locals using the trail, parties from further afield have been attracted to the area, including walkers from Coatbridge who recently walked part of the route. Early this month 29 members of the Midlothian Walkers stayed the weekend in Portpatrick and walked from Sandhead to Drummore on Saturday. It was reported that the bus driver, when arriving in Drummore, was astonished to find that he had 29 passengers awaiting to board his bus! The leader of the group indicated that she intended to send an article to the local newspaper which will give more publicity to the trail.
Another event, when walkers from various parts of Scotland, England and even France took part, was the Newton Stewart Walking Festival walk from New England Bay to the Mull. In contrast to the walk last year, when due to atrocious weather conditions, the majority of the walkers gave up at Drummore, conditions were generally favourable with only a light shower in the afternoon and all 21 walkers made it safely to the Mull on schedule. The walk was again led by Robert Clark and Tom Stevenson with Jon Ayres from RSPB identifying various birds sighted on the route.
As reported in the Free Press, McMillan Cancer Support held a successful sponsored walk from Stranraer to the Mull with over 70 walkers taking part. The next big event for the trail was the repeat of last year’s Trail and Sail organised by the Rotary Club of Stranraer, which took place on Saturday, May 31. The number of runners entered was well over last year’s figure, and some of the individuals that took part were from as far as away as Edinburgh and Glasgow.
There is little doubt that the award winning Mull of Galloway Trail is attracting walkers and runners from far and near, which can only benefit local hotels, guest houses, caravan sites and other businesses in the Rhins. It is also encouraging that the publication 27 Circular Walks based on the Mull of Galloway Trail by Robert Clark continues to be popular, and over 1,000 copies have been sold. Some are purchased over the trail website www.mullofgallowaytrail.co.uk by walkers from different parts of the country who are planning a walking holiday in the area. Clark had requested that, after sales cover the cost of printing, surplus funds were to be donated to ShelterBox, a charity supported by Rotary. Towards the end of last year £1,180 - which covered the cost of two boxes - was sent to ShelterBox, and from more recent sales there is already sufficient funds to cover the cost of a third box.
Efforts continue to be made to publicise the trail, which has been recognised as one of Scotland’s Great Trails, with over 5,000 leaflets now having been distributed. Twenty-two Power Point presentations have been given (mainly to local organisations) and the website, which is kept up to date with news items, now contains adverts for local accommodation, cafes and restaurants.
While it has been possible to walk the full length of the Scottish section of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) from the Mull to Cape Wrath for some time now, the section from Skelmorlie to Milngavie is due to be officially opened in late July. The formal opening of the stretch known as the Firth of Clyde Rotary Trail (from the Mull to Milngavie) is likely to take place in the autumn and further publicity for the Mull of Galloway Trail will come at that time. News items on the trail are also occasionally featured on this website.
The President of Stranraer Rotary Club, Gary Small said, “I am delighted that the repairs and improvements to the trail have now been completed and walking is even better than before. There has been a huge amount of hard work over the past few months and the Rotarians very much appreciate the help from friends, as well as from the Community Service Workers and Apex service users. We have continued to work in partnership with the local Council, which has provided practical assistance as well as funding. Great support has been forthcoming from local contractors, including Donnan Construction, Luce Bay Plant Hire and Scott Signs, and our thanks go out to these firms. We are also much indebted to Robert Clark, who has been actively involved in the repairs and improvements and even enlisted members of his own family! Everyone at Stranraer Rotary would also like to thank Past President Tom Stevenson for the tremendous enthusiasm and leadership he has given to the entire project. Without Tom's commitment, it is unlikely that this fantastic public facility would be in such good order today."
“The local Rotarians are committed to maintaining and improving the trail and feedback from the public is always welcome. We hope that local residents will continue to enjoy using it and that even more visitors will come to the area, which will help local businesses. The local Rotary Club continues to serve the community in many ways and we are delighted that the Mull of Galloway Trail is undoubtedly proving to be a valued asset to the area.”