The White Laggan Grid Ref: NX466775, South of Loch Dee
Preperation and Arrival at the White Laggan
Photograph taken of the workers during the construction of the White Laggan in 1971 (Mountain Bothies Association, http://www.mountainbothies.org.uk/)
We organised our expedition to Galloway two weeks in advance, leaving us a lot of time for preparation. We started by making a list of supplies, preparing for all outcomes, including extreme weather, dehydration and long distance trekking. We also rented out Trangia gas burners and parafin for cooking our meals. Next, we planned the route we would take to firstly find Galloway Forest Park and then to the Bothy, which we found on the Galloway Forest Park website, itâ€™s name being The White Laggan. The White Laggan was built between 1971-1974 and
maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA), this association was founded in order to maintain simple unlocked shelters for walkers in remote places throughout Scotland. We found our way there by finding the co-ordinates of the Bothie and entering it into a built in Sat Nav on Chrisâ€™ phone. We also used an Ordnance Survey Map to assist us in finding our way there. The expedition members included Chris, Luke, Nathan and myself, all members being very experienced in outdoor expedition activities. The journey to the Bothy took around 2
hours in total, we arrived at around 4/5 in the afternoon on the 8th March, so we managed the catch the last bit of light for the day to set up camp in the Bothy. This Bothy provided very basic shelter, including two brick-walled rooms and a kitchen in the back. Due to the remoteness of the Bothy, it did not have toilet facilities, so we basically used the forest as our toilet. Some firewood was available but we had to bring our water for water and hydration.
Target Shooting in the Forest
Practise Shooting in the Forrest
Map showing location of Loch Dee, which the White Lggan is just south to. (Galloway Forest Park, http://www.gallowayforestpark.com/folder-26-interactive-map-of-galloway-forest-park)
On our second day of arrival, after a very cold night spend inside a tent put up inside the Bothie, we trekked to the forest close to us and used the time and light we had to practice shooting with the air rifle Chris had previously bought prior to the Expedition. We set up targets around the forest and shot from different directions and lengths. Our reason for practicing with the
gun was for future hunting or to catch something for our lunch. I used this time to get out my camera equipment and take some interesting shots of shooting the target. I used my wide angle lens which allowed this beautiful depth of field in the photos and really emphasised the surrounding area we were consumed by. I really appreciated the colours we were surrounded by,
the were very complementary in my shots. We also used this day to become familiar with the surrounding area and give us a chance to appreciate the beautiful scenery around us and the powerful idea of how we were literally out in the wild, with no human-life close to us.
Map of Galloway Forest park, Showing Newton Stewart. The Red Deer Range is the majority of the deep south of the Forest. (Galloway Forest Park, http://www.gallowayforestpark.com/folder-26-interactive-map-of-galloway-forest-park)
Forest Park and Newton Stewart After a morning of shooting, we then set off back only the dirt tracks in Luke’s car to leave the Forest and we headed for the Red Deer Range. Once we’d arrived, the hide was closed and there were no Deer in sight, this was disappointing as it was our main reason for our expedition. I took advantage of this time and took some photographs
of the surrounding landscapes (photograph to the right). The day was quite foggy so it was a struggle messing around with the camera settings to achieve these photographs. After one night sleeping in the Bothy, we thought it’d be best to drive to the nearest town to pick up supplies which we came to realise that we’d need.
We arrived at Newton Stewart, found the closest garage to fill the tank with petrol and pick up supplies of firewood and candles, the main necessities. Our second night spent in the Laggan was much more comfortable, with more wood to keep the fire going and candles for more light.
Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Red Deer Range Five Doe and a Young Stag On our last day in Galloway, we left the Bothy early in the morning to set off to the Red Deer Range to assure we got a chance to see the Red Deer up close. We saw a total of 4 female red deer and one young stag, which we were very impressed by. Bringing equipment up to the hide was easy as there was a car park down the hill, so I brought up all my camera equipment, including lenses and my tripod. I wanted
to assure I was getting the best photographs possible. I would of liked to spend more time there, to see if we could wait for the Deer to get closer so we could achieve better photography, but I was just chuffed that we finally got to have a look at the beautiful creatures. The Red Deer Range has been established since 1977, to give visitors a great chance to see the Red Deer up close in their own natural
environment, which is a rare sight to be seen. After research, I found out that only around 60 red deer live in the range today, so I felt very lucky that we even got to see 5 Deer that day, especially as it wasnâ€™t rutting season. The hide is also a great way to watch and photograph these creatures, even during extreme weather, which is very likely in the fells of Galloway.
Red Deer Range
Galloway Red Kite Trail Castle Douglas After a few hours at the Red Deer Range, we said goodbye to Galloway Forest Park and headed towards Castle Douglas to find ourselves at the Red Kite Trail, one of Gallowayâ€™s marvels and a beautiful sight to be seen. A feeding station for the Kites has been established at Bellymack Hill Farm, so we spend the rest of the day admiring possibly around a hundred (out of 300 Red Kites which have been released here) of these fantastic creatures and taking enough pho-
tographs to jam up our SD Cards. This organisation has been working in partnership to create a place for wildlife lovers and photographers to come and witness birds up close and personal, in one of the very few areas they have been re-introduced in the UK. I think this had to my highlight of the weekend, it was a beautiful way to end the expedition, especially after two rough nights in the cold, cold Bothy. But it really was an experience of a life time,
living it rough in the middle of no where, in the wild. It almost makes you feel re-connected with nature and how powerful, but beautiful it can be. On our way back, we all decided we deserved to treat ourselves with a nice cold drink at the pub and the luxury use of a toilet!
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Swooping Red Kites
Photographer & Author Sarah Rush-Williams