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  PHOTO GALLERY GROUP 17
 
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Above: 'And now for something completely different ...' Bob Prigg is a regular contributor to these pages, but in September 2006 travelled to Keswick to complete a sponsored walk in the Lake District to raise money for Water Aid. Bob takes up the story: 'The circuit was around 9 miles with 2,700 ft. of climbing. This was a tough challenge for the majority who had never ventured on to a mountain before, let alone take on a circuit. Our team consisted of nine taking on Great Dodd, whilst we had another team of ten taking on Pillar in the North Western Lakes.' Water Aid exists to supply safe water and sanitation to the third world and has helped 4 million people since it was founded – do click on the link above and have a look at the charity's website. P.S. Keswick also has a great railway path to Threlkeld! (Bob Prigg)

 
Above: In October, Bob and friends explored the former railway line from Stranraer to Dumfries, known by generations of railwaymen as 'The Port Road'. The highlight of the route was to be found just around the curve visible in the distance (see below). As can be seen, the scenery is impressive, and would have made this a memorable railway journey prior to the line's closure in June 1965. Stranraer is still served by rail, but trains travelling from Dumfries must now take a huge diversion via Kilmarnock and Troon. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
 
Above: This was the highlight of the direct rail journey from Stranraer to Dumfries – Big Water of Fleet Viaduct. An impression of the viaduct's size can be gained from the shadows straddling the valley below. As can seen, the viaduct was strengthened with bricks and old rails to cope with the volume of traffic that formerly used it. As far as we are aware, the viaduct is now owned by Sustrans, the cycle path charity, and is open for walking – despite the 'private property' signs left behind by British Rail. The viaduct was lucky to survive since the army was keen to demolish it as a training exercise, as it did with the neighbouring Little Water of Fleet Viaduct. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
 
Above: This and the next photograph give a clear impression of how Big Water of Fleet Viaduct dominates the local landscape. It begs the question: 'How could the line be closed if its traffic volumes required the principal viaduct to be reinforced like this?' The Port Road certainly provided the fastest route to England for passengers and freight traffic coming off the Larne-Stranraer ferries. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
 
Above: Big Water of Fleet Viaduct – again. The reinforcements do the structure no favours from an aesthetic point of view, so perhaps we will be lucky enough, one day, to find a picture of the viaduct before it was strengthened. It looks as if it was once a very elegant structure. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
 
Above: Loch Skerrow Halt was a passing loop on the line between Big Water of Fleet and Castle Douglas. Because of the loop, it was provided with a signal box and water tower, although the locality was (and remains) very remote. The halt was used mainly by railway staff and fishermen coming to try their luck in the nearby loch. These are the remains of the westbound platform, which provides a useful causeway for anyone wishing to keep their feet out of the waterlogged trackbed. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
  
Above: This is Stroan Viaduct, a four-arch structure which carried the Port Road over the Black Water of Dee, just west of New Galloway. New Galloway was an optimistically named station, in the best tradition of Victorian railway companies – New Galloway was 5 miles distant, which resulted in locals referring to the station as Mossdale, after the village in which it was situated. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)
  
Above: Loch Stroan, from which Stroan Viaduct takes its name. While the mountains are a little restrained here, this is a classic Scottish scene – all it really needs is a castle in the distance, reflecting in the loch's still waters. We'll ask Bob to do better next time. However, joking apart, the contents of this page give a good indication as to why exploring old railways can be so rewarding. October 2006. (Bob Prigg)