Adventures of the Early Ooters

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Gogo Burn 24 April

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Hugh, Ian, Kenny R, Kenny T, Malcolm, Paul, Rex

Twelve of us left our parking spot just after ten o’clock and made our way up to Douglas Park. The morning was bright and dry, but there was a chill wind blowing (more of this later) meaning that some of us decided to start off wearing jackets. As we moved through the park, we were met by Kenny T accompanied by Freya the spaniel who was desperate to get off the lead and go for a run. Kenny wouldn’t let her though, as he wasn’t sure he would ever see her again. The initial climb up to the steps gets the heartrate going before the steady slog up the steps and on to the moor. The wind up there was gale force and we only hung around for a few minutes to draw breath and get the obligatory picture taken. At this point, Kenny left us with Freya as the big walk would have been too much for her.
As we followed the path further up into the hills the wind seemed to strengthen and, as it was directly in to our faces, it made for difficult progress. Nonetheless we reached some shelter by eleven o’clock and sat down for a wee-deserved cuppa. Ten minutes later we were once more into the breach making steady progress until the path ran out. At this point we normally turn left and head for the open moorland, but this time, Davie Mc, Gus and Rex decided to go straight on up the hill and see if that was to be a better option. The rest of us took the normal route over the rough grass, skirting the hill, and trudged on until the bridge, our turning point, came into view. By this time, we were well scattered and made our individual ways down, Alan even going direct and crossing the burn. As we hit the road at the end of our descent the three others appeared saying that their route was to be recommended as, once you are up top, there is a quad-bike track which can be followed right down to the access road. It is then a simple matter to follow the road down to the bridge. Just after twelve o’clock saw us all assembled again and the wind-assisted walk down to our lunch spot at the Greeto Falls only took us half an hour. Lunch was idyllic, sunny, warm and sheltered, but too soon and it was time to move on down the road and into Largs, passing the rubble, which is now the old Largs Academy, and back to the cars.

The outward journey had been a real challenge today and more than the cobwebs had got blown away. However, the 8.1 miles had been done in three and a half hours, possibly our quickest time.
The Hard Walk Café was eschewed in favour of the dog-friendly Drouthy Neebors for FRT. On this occasion we sat down outside but agreed within minutes that it was just a tad draughty and went indoors for drinks and chips.
There were some tired bodies, but all agreed it had been a good day out. The wind had been an issue but the underfoot conditions, mercifully, had been the best i.e. the driest, we had ever encountered on this walk.

The Largs Thistle v Troon Juniors football match was abandoned later in the evening due to high winds.

Sanctuary for lunch

Continuing the series on exposed parts of Gus's anatomy

Davie retrieves Malcolm's piece bag from the burn

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Arrangements for 1st May

Meet at the usual spot in Durisdeer at 10am for the circular walk taking in Morton Castle.

Thursday, 18 April 2019

7 April Wanlockhead to Sanquhar

Alan, Davie C, Dougie, Gus, Hugh, Ian, Jimmy, Rex & Robert

Nine stalwart Ooters gathered in Sanquhar to wait for the 8:52 bus to Wanlockhead. Nine stalwart Ooters boarded the bus much to the delight of the driver for now he had passengers aboard – nine passengers. Fifteen minutes later nine stalwart Ooters decanted from the bus in Scotland’s highest village.

The morning was lightly overcast but there was the promise from the met office for a better day and we were not to be disappointed. So, in boyant mood and with a light but cool breeze on the back, we set off down the gently sloping valley of the Wanlock Water following the signs for the Southern Uplands Way. We were to stay on the Way until our destination in Sanquhar. Down then, past the brightly whitewashed houses of the village; down past the remains of the village’s lead mining past with queries being made as to the function of each; down past the old church which we noted was being given a fresh coat of paint; down past the old cemetery and into the open country we went, following an estate road.

Much to our surprise and slight consternation we heard the purr of an engine behind us and, on looking round, found this to be a quad bike of some dimension. Attached to the rear was what looked like a giant lawnmower. When the driver drew the machine to a halt we found out the reason for such apparatus. He was on his way to cut a fire break through the heather in preparation for those coming behind to fire muirburn and his giant lawnmower was just the job for this. This muirburn, he said, was to encourage new heather growth. We wished him luck and went our separate ways – we to continue following the Way and he to climb the side of the valley and start his heather cutting.

It was not long after we left the heather cutter that we also left the road to take the old pony track over the hill towards the ruined farm of Coghead. The gentle downslope of the valley gave way to a steeper though not too steep upslope. With the day warming up and the slope taking its toll, those who started off with jackets against the breeze were soon stripping them off down to more comfortable gear. The sun now made an appearance to add to the heat as we climbed the flank of Glengaber Hill. And as we climbed the views began to open out for us. Though an April haze obscured the more distant landscape we could still see, up the Wanlock Valley and beyond the village, the giant ‘Golf Ball’ on Lowther Hill.

As the road zigged and zagged its way upwards we were spread out over a hundred metres or so as the slope took its toll. But, in true Ooters style, the fit waited at the top of the coll for the less fit to catch up. (See us, see compassion………) Now the way was downward towards Coghead. Nearing the ruin we came across a new-born lamb, the umbilicus still hanging from it. Robert was lucky to get a picture before we quickly moved of to let mum back to baby. At the ruin we stopped for coffee.

Fully refreshed, we set off to tackle the only other climb of the day – a short but steep climb on to the flat of Conrig Hill. Each tackled the slope in his own manner and we gathered again at the fence near the summit. That was the climbing finished for the day and we started our descent towards Sanquhar. Normally there is a great view from this height above the Nith valley but the haze restricted it today. ‘Is that Corsencon?’ asked one pointing westward and was delighted to be assured it was. But all beyond the further edge of the valley disappeared into the April miasma.

In front of us, half way up the slope, we could see two figures coming towards us. They turned out to be a young man and woman who had left Portpatrick eight days ago and were following the Southern Upland Way to its finish at Cockburnspath. We wished them all the luck and continued our descent. As the slope eased, we found a wee, scooped out former quarry and settled down out of the breeze for a leisurely lunch in the warming spring sun.

Half an hour later we stirred ourselves to move again. Still the route was downward. The Black Loch had been mentioned to those who were doing this walk for the first time. A great image had been built up in their minds by the glowing descriptions offered by the others. So, when we came to a sign pointing to ‘Black Loch 420M’ The newbies were game for a visit. How disappointed they were when they saw it and what comments were made will remain unpublished in these pages for the sake of decency. 

After an unrewarding half mile detour the newbies were reunited with the main party. Again, what comments were made should remain unpublished. Sufficed to say that the old hands had a great laugh at the expense of the newbies.

A short flat and then a steep descent saw us casually wander into Sanquhar via The Coo Wynd. The monument to the Sanquhar declarations was examined in the passing and the cars were reached around one thirty – an early finish from an early start. But our day wasn’t finished. We took a pleasant hours FRT in The Crown where were greeted in the usual amiable fashion by mine host.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Some photographs from Wanlockhead to Sanquhar walk.

Arrangements for Wed 24th April

Meet in the parking area beside the Gogo burn ,Largs at 10.00.a.m. The route planned is to walk back to Douglas Park to access the steps and stairs up onto the moor . The rest of the walk entails a circle round eventually to the Gogo Burn and the walk back to Largs.