Thursday, 24 January 2008

Greenock Cut

23 January The Greenock Cut
Alan, Davie, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul & Rex
We gathered at Johnny’s place - his homemade scones and coffee went down a treat. Well done J - and debated whether we should do the sensible thing and stay indoors or brave the elements and get some much needed exercise. We are all too old to be sensible and definitely in need of the exercise so the hike was on. The weather god who blessed our last two outings deserted us this day for the sky was heavy with clouds that hung low down on the tops blocking out any extensive views. Rain fell more often than not, whipped along on the fresh westerly and limiting visibility even further. And six of us attempted to have a pleasant walk.
The car park at Cornalees belied the conditions. The trees sheltered us from the wind and the rain was off for the moment but we were wary enough to don the waterproofs from the start. Just as well, for rounding the shelterbelt we found the wind lashing the water of the loch into dull grey-green peaks topped by dingy white crests. It looked cold even if the thermometer said it wasn’t. We strode out to stir the blood and warm us up. The granite fronted natural spring was noted in the passing, and it was in the passing, for this was not a day to hang about. Loch Thom was no less depressing than its wee brother, perhaps even more so for the hills on the far side were obscured by drizzle. Then the rain hit. It was not particularly heavy rain but it was wind-driven and wetting. Fortunately it was on our backs. And, in the downpour, we climbed to the head of the pass.
No elevenses at the wee jetty as we had the last time we were here but the, now downward, progress was continued. We found The Cut just above Greenock. The ruined house that was here at our last visit and which might have given shelter enough for coffee, was now partly re-roofed and a gang of workmen were busy in and out of it. They looked as thrilled to be in the weather as we were but, at least they were being paid for it. We were doing it for pleasure/fitness/endurance/masochism*. So it was onward yet. Without coffee!
We now followed the cut westward. The rain went and the sky lifted sufficiently to show the hill above Helensburgh brooding, black and sodden on the far side of the estuary. A sheltered spot by the lea of a wee cleugh was found for a break. Elevenses and, as it was now quarter past twelve, lunch as well.
Peece-time was just finished and we were packing up when the first spots of rain hit us. Out of the shelter of the cleugh we found the wind as well. Rex said, as the wind driven rain stung into every bit of exposed flesh, ‘At least it stops us from overheating’. (It must be an Aussie thing. Or see * above). The weather god must have found this comment to his liking for the rain subsided and that was the last we were to see of it for the day though the wind continued and the waterproofs stayed on.
The Kingfisher was spotted by the advanced pair as it flashed up the water but, by the time it was reported to those behind, it had gone. Jimmy had us all stopped further along as he spotted the bird again but it mysteriously turned into quivering leaf as we approached. Jimmy is good at spotting quivering leafs.
We came up under the dam to Cornalees car park where, thankfully, all our dry clothes were.
A wet day, but somehow enjoyable. (See* above)

*Delete as appropriate to yourself.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Lowther Hills 16 january

16 January Lowther Hills
Alan, Davie, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Rex & Robert
Bright and sunny with a cold northerly wind.

How the righteous are blessed. Here was another bright, sunny day to cheer our outing following a week of poor weather since our last walk. Our postponed visit to the Lowthers was put back on schedule for today and seven of us made the journey to Wanlockhead for the start. It was Davie’s walk and we knew he knew where he was going.
Wanlockhead, the highest village in Scotland at over fourteen hundred feet therefore not too far to climb to the top of the hill at just over two thousand three hundred. So why did we start off walking back down the Sanquhar road that we had just come up? For a good mile as well. All was revealed in the course of the downward march as we saw the path before us - the ‘Dempster Path’ Davie called it -skirting up the flank of the first hill we had to climb, Threehope. But between the road and the path lay the burn.
The sensible ignored the plank bridging the water but there’s always some, aren’t there? Two went to the plank to discover it too flimsy. But they also found the widest part of the burn. Paul, having failed miserably to demonstrate his long-jump skills, landing on all fours in the freezing cold water, now attempted to demonstrate his paddling and bank climbing skills. He eventually scrambled to dry land soaked from knees to toes and from elbows to finger-tips. Were we sympathetic? Of course we were.
The road and burn dropped away beneath us as the Dempster Path slanted upward and afforded us superb views of the Mennock Pass we had just left. And the going was easy, too easy. The path was left as it swung round the hill and we took to the heather disturbing red grouse as we climbed, much to Holly’s delight. But the heathery travail didn’t last long for elevenses were called and were taken out of the strengthening wind in a shallow cleugh. Alan’s Christmas Chocolate Orange did the rounds and was much appreciated.
Whether it was this chocolate or something in his coffee that affected Davie is impossible to say but after elevenses he took off like a supercharged exocet leaving most of us in his wake. Bob struggled. Jimmy struggled. Eventually Jimmy adopted his ‘Prince Phillip’ pose and sauntered to the top of the hill admiring the ever-widening view. And what a view it was, limited only by the horizon. Tinto rose up on our front left; to the north was Cairn table at Muirkirk, Corsencon at New Cumnock and Black Craig above Glen Afton; to the west Cairnsmore of Carsphairn held snow cornices on the lip of the gairy and, in the distance, the Galloway hills gleamed white in the sunshine; below us Nithsdale ran south to be stopped by the blue-grey bulk of Criffel. Magnificent. And the red grouse continued to rise at our approach. The summit was gained but there was no halt here. The onward march was to East Mount Lowther. The view indicator on this summit was reached and, at last, a welcome break was had as the view was admired.
Then it was on again. And now we were in colder conditions with a slight crunch underfoot and the strength of the north wind in our faces. The medieval track of Enterkin was crossed and the service road for the ‘golf ball’ reached. This was iced over and proved somewhat difficult to walk on and the sensible walked on the verge while some others tried their ice-sliding skills. The summit of Lowther was reached without mishap and lunch was taken in the lea of the aviation buildings with the sun warming our fronts to the extent that some stripped to T-shirts.
This Mediterranean attitude didn’t last though, for after lunch we rounded the building to come into the teeth of the fresh northerly. And it was here that we encountered our first snow, frozen to concrete consistency. Some brisk walking along the road to Green Lowther warmed the blood again and this summit was gained easily enough. We stood for a few moments deciding our next move, admiring the view - eastward now towards the Moffat hills - and watching ice chunks fall from the radio pylon as the wind and rising temperature loosened their hold on the metal.
Our next move was to be downward. The sun was still with us and the strength of the wind was lost on the descent and it was a warm group who gathered at the reservoir to take an early afternoon rest. And by this time Paul was nearly dry. The going was easy now. The grass track that serviced the reservoir was followed to find the farm road the would take us to Leadhills. The old railway was met with at Leadhills station and the narrow gauge line was followed west toward Wanlockhead, We walked into the setting sun for the last mile or so to the starting point.
A superb day in a super walking area made for a great walk and Davie was complimented warmly for his choice.
PS We pinted in the oldest hostelry in Sanquhar, indeed one of the oldest in the country, The Crown, established 1723. It won’t be the last.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

last walk of 2007

Johnnie loaded lots of pictures of the Glasgow Canal walk and curry in the Ashoka onto my machine. I thought you might like to see some of them if I can load them in successfully.I will also load them onto Flickr and eventually organise a link to them and all of the old ooters photos.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Durisdeer Wed 9th Jan 08

First walk of the new year could easily have been cancelled due to the severe storm on Wednesday early a.m. The hardy boys turned out and were rewarded by the weather, Baltic but dry and sunny. Present were Paul, David, Jimmy and me of course. We revisited the small bothie to the south of Durisdeer for morning coffee. On exit we spotted a barn owl which had set up home in the wrecked house nearby. We proceeded onwards towards Thornhill reservoir and eventually to Morton Loch and Castle. Lunch in the lee of the castle in a very idylic spot. Jimmy assured us that we would be back at the car by 2 p.m.. We managed to be there by 2.15 which proves that Jimmy miles are getting shorter. On the day we spotted a barn owl,a kestrel, pheasants, grouse, field fare, shelfies,buzzards and lots of wee broon burds. A small refreshment in Kirkonnell and a blether in the pub rounded off the day.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Name that walk

Following on from Johnny's name that pub, here is one for you. Name the walk on which this photo was take. There is a fantastic prize of a day's walking in the company of the country's favourite walkers for the person who comes within a hundred miles of the scene.
Please note that anybody known to have consulted Johnny's Early Ooters photos will be delt with in a severe manner, so severe that it has not yet been thought of . So be warned.
Look forward to your efforts

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year

Wishing all the early ooters and families a good New Year with lots more walks!
Kay and David