Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Walk- Wed 6th January 2010.

Meet at Jimmy's house around 9.00a.m. If it is a good day we will go to the Lowther Hills and if it is a poor day we will walk from Cumnock.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas snow

Hi Guys,
Nice to see your pictures of the snow. Johnny, that's no snaw you've got in Irvine. that's just a heavy frost. Here's some real snaw from Cumnock.

Christmas morning and we still have four or five inches lying on the road here.
To all of you, have a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Travelling difficult - but easy walking round Irvine

The better half had the idea to walk round the town. So off we set on the two hour jaunt to Eglinton Park. The road conditions and pavements were treacherous but once on to the New Town Walk the going was excellent under foot - thin layer of crunchy snow allowing easy walking. A low winter sun gave life to super views.
The first two pictures are from last weeks visit to Glasgow.
Seasons Greetings - Hope the weather allows our walk next Wednesday.
Her indoors - just doesn't do the slagging thing.

Solitary walk in the snow

The weather may cause havoc on the roads, but the snow transformed the valley into a veritable winter wonderland today.
After I had retrieved my car which I had abandonned in Newmilns yesterday on my way home from my swim in Troon, I decided not to miss my Wednesday walk and headed off up the cottage road walk in Darvel. I was on my own as Holly is still hors de combat because of her injured paw. Here are some of the photos that I took.

near Lanfine House
Looking down on Darvel
Looking up to Greenbank
Darvel park
Looking across Darvel park (Why so empty? Where are the snowman-building weans?)
deux sangliers

papa sanglier

For Jimmy: hunners of wee burds - bullfinches, robins, blue tits, great tits, 1 coal tit, grey wagtails, goldfinches, blue dykies, shelfies, blackies.

All in all a first class wee walk. Davie

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

River Ayr Walk

The arrangements for Wed 23rd Dec have now been transferred to Wed 30th Dec , weather permitting. Meet at Annbank bowling club at 10a.m.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

9 December: Kilmarnock-Irvine route

Distance: 16.1 km (for those who caught the bus back to Kilmarnock). Now with a slightly amended route for the approach to Irvine, following advice from our local guide.

9 December Kilmarnock to Irvine

1. It came to pass that a decree went out that all the Ooters should be gathered unto one place. And the gathering should be in the abode of Alan the Carpenter and his good wife Ann in the city of Kilmarnock. And the appointed time was in the first week of the sixty-first year of Allan of the Complicated Sums.
2. The Ooters came from all of their cities, from Killie and from Darvel, and from Irvine and Troon and Alloway yea, even from the distant places of Catrine and Cumnock. And a great multitude filled Alan’s conservatory even unto the bulging of the walls for they fed on the leavened fruitcake and the mince pies baked in the oven of Alan. And they fed well and were thankful.
3. Gifts were given according to the custom of the Ooters for this was the season of Yule. The discs with the digital symbols were offered and the cards with the sacred messages were given even unto all. And thanks were given each unto the other.

(Hey, enough o’ the King James stuff, jist get oan wi’ it! He hisnae been richt since he discovered that quote fae Isaiah a fortnicht ago. - Editor)
OK, Ed.

After the exchange of Christmas cards and the devouring of Alan’s baking, we took to the road, a full complement of us for the first time in weeks. Ian was returned from his cruise in the Caribbean and that he enjoyed it was evident from the way he told us about it. And told us about it. And told us about it. By the time he had told us the forty-first thing about the breakfast, dinner, supper and the snacks in between, we had wandered the streets of Killie and found ourselves on the Western Road, on the bridge over the old Irvine railway.
A sign on the bridge told us that the old railway was now part of the Sustrans National cycle network route 73 and that Irvine was eight miles away, Ardrossan, seventeen. We weren’t going as far as Ardrossan but we were going onto the cycleway, and to Irvine.
A cycleway it may be, but directly under the bridge the old railway is being given a new lease of life with new track being laid as this is written. A gang of workmen toiled at the end of the new-lay. We asked why they were reinstating the track here but, by the time the leader, obviously the joker in the pack, had joked and capered and threw his hard-hat to the ground in despair, we were none the wiser. ‘They don’t tell us, they jist send us tae drill holes’, said he, before they all lifted tools and walked back towards the station. So, in our ignorance, we walked on, towards Irvine.
The walking was easy for the old railway is level, tarmaced for bikes, reasonably straight and runs through the flat lands of the Ayrshire plain. The scenery was uninspiring, low bankings and shallow cuttings combining to keep the views short, but the birders were delighted for many of their feathered friends fluttered among the saughs and scrubby trees, possible Tree Sparrows – ‘these are getting scarce now’ – and a flock of fifty to seventy Whooper Swans being the highlights. And Ian told us about his cruise.
The cycleway took us through the gently undulating countryside of the Ayrshire plain, by Knockentiber, over the Carmel Water, under Crosshouse and past Springside. By the time we gained the outskirts of Dreghorn the time was approaching eleven. ‘Too early to make directly for the town’, said Johnny and turned us up the road Jimmy was already walking up. Somebody called for coffee but there was no real place to sit for the ground was damp and the roadside verges were far from clean. We walked on ignoring the hungry and thirsty. (Whatever happened to compassion?)
The tarmac took us by various directions, by minor roads, main roads and short-cuts to the walled garden of Annick Lodge. A dip in the road brought us down to a bridge on the Annick water. A stiff climb that brought comments like ‘Thought this was a flat walk’, took us back up to the level. And on the level, on a wee bridge over a sheugh we concede to the thirsty and stopped for coffee. And Ian told us about his cruise.
We were to be at Johnny’s for soup and beer around one. It was now just after half past eleven and only a lang Scots mile or twa to his house so, despite the dampness of our seats and the coolish air, we spent longer over coffee than we might otherwise have done. The rain was forecast to come around half past eleven and, right on cue, we felt the first spots. We walked on.
As we approached the outskirts of Irvine, a man of mature years walked towards us. The advanced group walked past the man but Alan recognised him as a former teaching colleague, long time retired, and stopped for a blether. By the time pleasantries had been exchanged, another few minutes towards the soup hour had gone and now appetites were being sharpened for the feast.
We came into Irvine via the Girdle Toll and arrived at Johnny’s around the appointed hour.

4. And they feasted well of the warming soup and quaffed well of the ale. And each was satisfied and gave thanks unto Johnny even for this bounty he prepared before them.


Saturday, 12 December 2009

2 December Loudoun Hill - Fourth Visit

(photo taken 30/11/2009 as the sun was sinking)

The view from Loudoun Hill wasn’t as nearly as impressive today as it has been on previous visits, the overcast sky and the damp conditions cutting the distance to a few miles. Still, it was good enough for a view westward down the Irvine Valley to the flatter ground around Killie, northward over the Darvel Moor to the wind farm of Whitelees and eastward to Drumclog and Strathaven. In the south, Blacksidend and Wedder Hill filled most of the skyline with Cairntable at Muirkirk forming the rest. But there were no Afton Hills, Arran or the southern Highland hills today. Yet, we enjoyed our time on the top, resting in the lea of a rocky outcrop, taking a bite of peece and taking in what landscape was shown to us.
We had come to the hill by the south side of the Irvine valley, leaving Davie’s in Darvel around nine thirty. Nine of us gathered at Davie’s before taking to the road in light-hearted mood. Already Jimmy was getting it in the neck from all directions for his newfound sartorial elegance.
‘Ooh, new trousers!’
‘Nah! Old trousers, just that you haven’t seen them before’.
‘New shirt?’
‘Nah! Same reason’
‘New stick?’
‘Well, I have got a sair knee’
‘New Grandpa bunnet’
He had to concede there. Walking stick, Grandpa bunnet, it seems Jimmy is turning into an auld man and he took some stick for it. It was suggested the pipe and slippers would come next. And all this before we’d even left Darvel.
We did leave the town shortly after leaving Davie’s, crossed the bridge to the south side of the river and took the road eastward toward the top of the valley.
The walk up the south side of the valley is interesting for the variety of terrain and scenery. We started off on a road beside a wood, climbing above and away from the river to the new house at Bankhouse. Compassion is the new watchword of the Ooters and compassion was felt for Jimmy who hobbled on the climb. ‘You’d be better with twa sticks’ was the consensus. ‘Then we could call you Two Sticks Jimmy’, said Bob. There ended the compassion. Two Sticks Jimmy hobbled on.
Then a track through the open fields brought us down to Greenside and a wee bridge over the Gower Water. We turned into the burn-side trees at the bridge and came along a path beside the burn to find tarmac again after a few hundred metres. This brought us to the farm of Bransfield. Turning right here, we followed tarmac to the Mason’s Brig. Davie, he with the local knowledge, was asked why the Masonic compass and square were carved into the parapet. We were disappointed. He didn’t have an answer, not even a made up one. And we like a good story whether true or not.
The tarmac climbed away from the bridge. Did I say Two Sticks hobbled? There he was, at the front on the climb, setting the pace with Robert and Davie. And a fair old pace they set. At least they had the ‘compassion’ to wait on the high ground at Loanfoot for the rest of us to catch up. Now Loudoun Hill looked impressive, showing its rugged face to us. And we walked on towards it from Loanfoot; on by the Long Cairn and the footbridge over the Gower again; over the high grazing of Parbeth and nearer to the craggy face of the hill.
(the Spirit of Scotland monument by Richard Price, taken on 9/2/2009)
We stopped before the hill, at the Spirit of Scotland monument placed under the hill to commemorate both Wallace’s and Bruce’s victories here in Scotland’s struggle for independence, for the sculpture just had to be inspected and admired. We looked at the monument with different eyes. The artists admired the concept and construction. The historian picked out the historical meanings of the carvings. The poets recognised the patriotic words of Scott, Burns and Blin’ Harry.
‘At Wallace’s name what Scottish blood,
But boils up in spring-like flood?’
Our tame Englishman said very little.
Whatever way we looked at it, the monument is an outstanding piece of work and very appropriate to its surroundings. We spent a few minutes here but then took to the hill itself.
The lame one was asked if he wanted to climb the hill or go round the side. Allan was relieved when he opted for the top even slower o the climbs than he was. The two were kept company by Johnny while the rest walked on, halted until they caught up, and then walked on again. This happened more than once, ‘compassion’ coming to the fore again. Some opted for the quick, steep ascent while those with more sense (or sair knees) chose the longer route. But, whichever route was chosen, we all reached the top, sat down in the lea of a rocky outcrop, took a bite of peece and took in what landscape was shown to us.
The descent was by the easier, grassy northwestern slope and through the beeches there. If it was Jimmy’s turn to be the butt of the comments on the way towards the hill, it was Davie’s turn now. He had warned us that the slope would be slippy. When we reached a rocky step, he compounded his error by announcing that the ground was slippy here. And it was. So it was further down and the general cry went up, ‘Watch out, slippy bit!’ ‘Slippy bits’, were now announced to Davie on a regular basis as the walk progressed, particularly when we gained the old railway and styles separated fields. Thus began the McGarry scale of slipperiness.
Each style was given a numerical grading by Robert according to slipperiness. A level one is just a slight ‘oops’ as a foot slips an inch or so; level ten is a complete down on the a*** job. The rest are somewhere in between and yet to be defined but we did get level four shouted at us as he made his way over another. And it was by climbing styles of different degrees of slippiness and avoiding mucky sections where the cows had been, that we made our way back along the old railway towards Darvel.
We did stop once, ‘compassion’ coming on us once more. For some reason Johnny struggled and we waited compassionately for him to catch up. And we waited compassionately for him to recover. Then we walked on.
We came back to Darvel, turned down the side of the Glen Water and came back to Davie’s around two having had another pleasant walk in the Valley. Then it was over to the Black Bull for FRT.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas lunch walk

Meet at the back of the Botanic Gardens, off Kirklee Drive, (turn right at Kelvinside Academy), at 10 am. Bring coffee and we'll stop at Maryhill Aqueduct. The Ashoka is booked for 1pm.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Catrine walk 25 November - map and links to some old photos

Distance 11.7 km

Photos courtesy of Ken Baird, Sorn

Old Howford Bridge:
flood damage 1966

Construction of new Howford Bridge
Photo 1
Photo 2

There are hundreds of photos in the collection. Either press L/R button at top of a photo to move through slides or click on "slideshow" to see all titles.