Tuesday, 29 June 2010

23 June Grey Mare’s Tail, Loch Skene & Lochcraighead

Every good spell of weather comes to an end eventually. But why today, Lord? Of all days, why today? The morning was overcast when we met at Davie’s in Darvel. This didn’t trouble us unduly for every morning this week has started off overcast but the sun has burnt the cloud off and left us with glorious mid-summer sunshine. So why should today be any different. We decided the planned walk was on.
We made the long drive through to Moffat and the Grey Mare’s Tail. The Moffat water was dry, a sign of how dry and warm June has been. Yet the sky remained overcast and the mist hung low on the hill. But it would burn off. Wouldn’t it? A coolness in the air greeted us when we left the cars in the Grey Mare’s Tail car park. Some happed up against the chill but the experienced knew that within a few minutes the effort of the climb would have us warmed up nicely so remained in short sleeves. Anyway the sun would come out shortly. Wouldn’t it?
The climb did warm us up for the path is steep, a well constructed stone-paved path but steep. As we expected, not a lot of water came over the falls today, just sufficient to give the new-comers an impression of possibilities and we continued the steep climb with only a few halts for ‘view stops’. As the path levelled out above the falls, we came into the mist. Not to worry though, for the sun would surely burn it off shortly.
The intention was to climb White Coomb, follow the ridge round the top of Loch Skene and drop off Lochcraighead but in the fog our twin navigators for the day, Davie and Jimmy, missed the pad we should have taken and we found ourselves wandering through the drumlins to the shore of the loch. Naturally, the pair denied any hint of being lost, saying that it was their intention to walk to the loch to give the clag time to burn off. It will burn off shortly, wouldn’t it?
We had coffee in the fog on the shore of Loch Skene. We only knew we were on the shores of a large body of water because we were told so for the damp grey clag obscured everything more than twenty metres away and the calm, grey water stretched away into some lost world. Then the fog lifted; not completely lifted yet, but lifted enough to let us spot the tent and the campers some fifty metres away. And this lifting gave us fresh hope for the day. We just knew it would burn off, the sun would come out and we would have a great, clear day on the hill. Then it closed in again and the campers and the wider world were lost to us once more.
A decision was made. In the absence of Robert, the decision was made by our joint leaders that we walk round the loch, find the path that leads towards the drystane dyke on Lochcraighead and see what the day did next. So we walked round the loch to find the path to Lochcraighead.
What path to Lochcraighead? They did it again didn’t they! They lost the path. We ended up tramping though the heather trying to find short grassy areas to ease the travail.The clag lifted again and with it so did our hopes. But it lifted only enough to tantalise us; only sufficiently to show us the loch and the lower slopes of the hill beyond. Then it closed in again and our hopes for a clear day died. We trudged on across the heather slope towards the dyke. And as we did so, we walked further into the fog, trying to ignore the first spots of rain.
But the rain would not be ignored. Long before we reached the drystane dyke, we stopped to waterproof.
The drystane dyke climbs the steeper flank of the hill and a pad of sorts climbs beside it; not so much a constructed path but merely the result of feet on the soft hillside. When we reached the pad another decision had to be made – should we concede to the weather and beat a retreat? Or should we brave it out and climb the hill? The rain eased and the sky appeared to lift again. We would climb the hill.
The climb was steep, hot and sweaty but at least we gained height quickly. But the slope took its toll and the group was split in two – the sensible (Allan, Jimmy and Johnny) bring up the rear at a sedate pace while the show-offs (the rest) took to their heels and shot off up the slope. As the slope eased each group caught a glimpse of the other, one appearing through the clag lower down and one higher up disappearing into it again. And disappear into the clag we did for there was no sign of it improving. Then the rain came again. But the laggards needn’t have worried for, though we couldn’t see it, we were pretty close to the top of the hill and the cairn that marks the summit. In the fog, we huddled round the cairn for lunch, rain pattering on the hoods of waterproofs and nothing to be seen beyond twenty metres.
Another decision was made after lunch. (We seem to be getting the hang of making decisions now.) We would cut the walk short and drop down to the side of the loch again. But we wouldn’t do it directly for the crags of the Lochcraig lay in that direction. No, we would walk round the ridge a bit, above the crags, and come over the Mid Craig ridge.
The sky lifted again as we set off, tantalising us once more with glimpses of the loch below before closing in again. And the rain went. And the sky above the mist seemed lighter. We dropped down off the top of Lochcraighead and found quad bike tracks that eased the way onto the Mid Craig. The sky was definitely brightening and the air had a drier feel to it. Then the clag split and slowly cleared for us. We knew it would for that was the forecast. But it was now too late to retrace the steps and finish the planned walk for we were now on the top of the Mid Craig. The view down into the loch was special even in the overcast conditions and we were glad we didn’t come down the crags of Lochcraig for we could now see them. They were impressive indeed.
Another decision was made – we will come this way again but on a clear day when the weather is settled and the sun is with us for a while. Something like this week?
We dropped down the side of the Mid Craig ridge and came back to the side of the loch where we sat down for a break just in time for the sun coming out and lighting up the ridge we were on. Is this not typical? We have lost count of the times we have just come off the foggy hill and the sun has come out. I dare say we will lose count of the times this will happen in future. Oh well.
Allan was champing at the bit to be off so we roused ourselves and followed him down the path by the Tail Burn back towards the falls. Just above the falls we met a couple with binoculars. ‘We’ve just seen a ring ouzel go into that bracken over there’. The birders seemed excited but we had to ask ‘A ringed whit?’. It was explained to us, but one wee chooky bird is pretty much the same as another to us. While the birders would have stayed for hours to ‘twitch’, the rest of us showed our interest in things ornithological by moving on down the path. The birders were forced to follow and the ‘ringed whatever’ remains unseen.
The path dropped us just us quickly down the slope as it had raised us earlier in the day and we found ourselves back in the National Trust car park slightly after three.
Despite the conditions, this was a fair walk. We will be back, hopefully on a better day.

The Railway Inn in Moffat provided the FRT for the day. The big screen above the bar was showing the third English match of this world cup. Nothing less than a win would do England and are we happy to report that they got it. You guess!

photos by Allan

Friday, 25 June 2010

Annbank to Ayr - last section of the River Ayr walk

Ayr beach

Heads of Ayr and Ailsa Craig

Walking to the end of the pier

Hi Davie!

Stepping stones across the river Ayr

Ooters being ooters!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

For our classicist - he knows who he is.

Odi profanum vulgus et arceo

I hate the unholy rabble and keep them away

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

16 June River Ayr Walk – Annbank to Ayr Harbour

Over the past few years we have, as a group, walked most of the River Ayr Way, some sections more than once. The only part remaining to give us the complete walk is that section from Auchincruive westward to Ayr. Today we were to complete the distance.
On a bonny, bright June morning nine of us gathered at Annbank Bowling Club just after ten o’clock. (It should have been before ten but Peter and Jimmy had to turn back for Jimmy’s forgotten wallet and bus pass, so it was a few minutes after ten when we gathered at Annbank) We set off down the lane from the bowling club towards the River Ayr, Holly leading the way closely followed by Allan who had been desperate to move even before the arrival of the tardy two.
The path through the wood was shaded but, even here; we could feel the day warming nicely as the high summer sun broke through the canopy dappling the floor with patches of brightness. We were in light mood. The birds sang but the blethers of the Ooters outdid the birds for jollity. And in jovial mood we came to the river side and the boundary wall of Auchincruive.
As we climbed the stone stile through the wall, Davie warned us all, ‘Watch out, it’s slippy’ harking back to the last time we came this way back in December of last year when it was coated in verglas and extreme care had to be taken in the crossing. Today there was no danger of ice for the mid-summer sun was warm and the stile was in its full glare. So were we now.
We came down river under the garden of Auchincruive house. A pair of grey wagtails played in the boulders in the river and families of Mallard basked in the sun at the water’s edge. A heron flapped its lazy way downstream towards Oswald’s Brig. We wandered casually after it.
We crossed Oswald’s Brig and came to the Burns/Wallace monument for coffee. We thought that this was to be another of these relaxed days that we are becoming used to, but barely half an hour after we sat down, Davie was champing at the bit to be off. He rose. We rose to follow him. Poor Ian (he of the appetite) hadn’t quite finished his mid-morning snack and scrambled to pull himself together as we wandered away down the path and back to the brig. He caught us up just before the brig.
The official River Ayr path leaves the riverside here and stays away from it for quite a distance. There appears to be no path, not even a fishers’ one, beside the river here so we kept to the official path. We followed it up the roadside path until we found a sign saying ‘Ayr 4 1/2’ and pointing us down a farm track. This is the way we went. It took us beside field where canes marked the growth of some unseen crop, the field workers we saw being too distant to ask what the crop was, through a wee wood, and on to tarmac by Mainholm smallholdings.
For such a wee, narrow road leading to nowhere, this was busy with cars coming and going and more than once we had to step aside to let vehicles past. Yet, if we thought this road was busy, it was nothing compared to the next. The Mainholm Smallholdings road eventually decanted us on to the main A77, Ayr bypass, with traffic roaring by in both directions. Fortunately for us there was a pavement alongside for us to walk on so the traffic didn’t bother us unduly. We crossed the river by the road-bridge and came down to the waterside at the stepping stones.
Lunch was called. A relaxing hour was spent over lunch. While most lay in the sun, Johnny threw sticks in the water for Holly and Peter went on one of his walkabouts – ‘skechs’ was the word Davie used – in search of treasures. What he found was a stick for Holly. What he lost was his bottle of juice from his pocket. Peter would have to remain dry until we reached a suitable watering hole.
But, even relaxing lunches come to an end and we moved off.
We kept to the river now. Under Mainholm we came, on the old Victorian ‘promenade’ and past the old lime works. Where the ‘promenade’ rose to meet the road, Peter and Ronnie, bring up the rear, shouted us back. What had they found this time? Bright orange fruiting bodies of a fungus grew in a rather striking formation on the dead stump of a tree. But what they were no-one could tell, not even the naturalist. But they were photogenic and those with cameras snapped away. We look forward to seeing the results.
We were now in the area of Craigie; the old mansion could be seen across the river. A footbridge spans the river here and the walk crosses this into Craigie Park. ‘But’, said Davie, ‘the path on that side of the water is closed because they’re building the new university’. Jimmy wasn’t so sure for he could see folk on the other side. But Davie was adamant and a ‘debate’ arose. Jimmy won the debate (Makes a change, says Davie) for when we crossed the bridge a woman told us that the path bypassed the works and, yes, we could get through. We walked on.

Davie pointed out the swan’s nest on the far side of the river. We were now well into the town and this was the last place we expected to find a swan’s nest. But this wasn’t the only one. Another was seen as we crossed Turner’s Brig. It was tucked into the wall of the old church cemetery. Both had birds sitting on them. And it shouldn’t be too long before we see cygnets on the river.
The reason we crossed Turner’s Brig was to see the covenanters' monument in the Auld Kirk cemetery. We were standing examining the stone when we were approached by two men of our own age, one Scottish and one with a Northern Ireland accent. Fundamentalist Protestants. So determined are they to uphold the tenets of the reformation that they protested against an ecumenical service held in the Auld Kirk on Sunday past because it included Roman Catholics. They were ejected from the service and removed from the grounds of the kirk. Christians???? But, as Davie pointed out, there was no chance of converting us to their fundamentalist beliefs, ecumenical as we are.
We left the ‘Christians’ to tell others their story and walked on into the town, crossing the river by the Auld Brig (late fifteenth century – Historian) and back over the New Brig (1866). Turning right, we then came to the South Harbour expressing regret that the fish market had gone. The posh new flats were no compensation for the sights, sounds and smells of the old market. But it was between the new flats that we came, to the sea front. The great grey slab of resinous ‘stuff’ that marks the end of the walk just had to be touched just as we had all touched its sister slab at Glenbuck when we had started the odyssey all those months before.
But that wasn’t the end of the walk. We decided to extend it to the end of the pier. After Jimmy had managed to cadge a mint imperial for each of us from a woman who sat there, we strolled to the pier end, as far as we could go on our River Ayr walk.

We returned to Annbank by bus (hence the need for Jimmy to return for his bus pass) and partook of FRT in the sun on the sitootery of The Tap O’ The Brae. ‘This is as good as it gets’, said one to nobody in particular. We had to agree.

Friday, 18 June 2010

9 June Glasgow – Culture for the Boys

In the sunshine of Dunure last week Jimmy requested a shortish outing this week for he had instructions from his better half to be home around five. That’s when we decided to have a short walk in Glasgow and take in Peter’s art group’s exhibition in the Hidden Lane Gallery and the Glasgow Boys Exhibition in Glasgow Art Gallery. When the day dawned, dull, damp and dreich, we were glad that we made this choice. At least there would be somewhere in Glasgow to get out of the forecasted rain.
Eight of us gathered at our usual spot behind the Botanic Gardens to make the final decision on a walk. The damp air was now condensing into spits and spots of rain and the forecast wasn’t at all good so we opted for a very short walk down the Kelvin to the Art Gallery. This was new territory for some and despite the constant spit, a reasonable walk was anticipated. We were not disappointed.
We set off down river on the Kelvin walkway. The naturalist told us to keep our eyes and ears open for it’s surprising what wildlife can be found in the city now. But what surprised us most was the fisherman. When we asked him what he was after he replied trout or maybe a salmon. It is a compliment on how clean Glasgow rivers are now that the salmon and trout have returned after a couple of centuries of industrial pollution. We wished the angler well and walked on.
A hundred metres or so beyond the fisher, we came to the remains of North Woodside Flint Mill. Originally built as a barley mill sometime before 1650, it was converted to grind gunpowder for use in the Napoleonic wars. In 1846 it was bought by Robert Cochran, of Verreville Flint Crystal Glass and Pottery Works in Finnieston, who demolished the old barley mill and built the North Woodside Flint Mill, which processed flint and Cornish stone used by Verreville. The mill closed about 1955 and much of it was demolished around 1964. The process involved taking the raw material, burning it and reducing the result to powder which was sold to the ceramics industry for use in glazes. Their customers included the sanitary ware industry of Paisley and Kilmarnock and the makers of tiles for the posher tenement closes of the city. All that remains of such industry are a few preserved low walls and the base of the furnace. An information board provided us with the history of the place.
Another hundred metres or so downriver and we knew we were lost. How can you get lost following a riverside path? Quite easily when you are an Ooter walking on, deep in philosophical conversation (Blethers – Ed.) and not really watching where you are going. We knew we were lost when the path rose onto a street. While Ronnie knew where we were, Davie suggested we shouldn’t be here at all. The rest of us stood and just listened to the different points of view for we hadn’t a clue where we were or where we should have been. Nor did we care for the rain that threatened earlier had gone and we were in lighter mood now. Davie won the debate and we retraced our steps downhill to the river again. This time we crossed the river by a footbridge.
Ian took the naturalists words to heart. He was the one who heard the splash and saw the beast – a grey beast with a flat tail – swim towards the opposite bank. We all looked carefully and saw - nothing. Whatever the beast was, it was not there any longer. It shall remain another Ooters' mystery.
We came to another site of Glasgow’s industrial past, an open green space that used to be a railway marshalling yard. The wall on the far side, extending to around a hundred metres, was covered with a painted montage of railway scenes. This just had to be examined and admired. Peter admired the artistic technique, Jimmy and Davie admired the scenes depicted while the rest just admired the thing as a whole, a splendid piece of urban art-work and, as yet, graffiti free.
Ronnie seeking information from our own artist - Peter

A great display in the making

We came under a bridge and stopped again, this time as Davie pointed out the entrance to a tunnel, a tunnel which he said went all the way to the old station at the Botanic Gardens. (The Woodside Tunnel – Ed) That’s when we had our Dr. Who experience. As we stared into the tunnel, the brightness came, a bright light from inside the tunnel. Hypnotised by this light, we could only watch as it grew in intensity. Then we heard the noise – something like the roar of a car engine reverberating from the tunnel walls. And the light grew stronger. And it was coming towards us. Then, as we stood transfixed, like a dragon emerging from its subterranean lair the Glasgow Corporation van came into the daylight and its headlights were switched off. The guys in the van had been checking the integrity of the tunnel walls and had driven all the way back from the Botanic Gardens station. Phew!
By comparison, the rest of the walk was uneventful. Or was it!
We wandered through Kelvingrove Park examining Cyprus-shaped ponds, lions attacking peacocks and splendid Victorian fountains.

Highest point reached on the Glasgow visit - lion gorging peacocks.
When we arrived at the Glasgow Art Gallery the time was approaching eleven, coffee time. ‘There’s a coffee shop on the bottom floor of the Art Gallery’, said one of our number. That’s where we headed. A sign by the door put some of us off. ‘Wait here to be seated’, it said. We were not prepared to wait anywhere. By the time Ian had asked for a table for eight, the rest of us were off. The poor lassie trying to organise two tables together must be wondering where we went.
The cafe area on the next floor was busy. ‘There’s another through here’, said Davie. We believed him - well this seems to be a second home to him - and followed on. Wrong, there was only the busy one. So we didn’t have coffee in the Art Gallery. We crossed the street and took a much needed coffee in the Coffee Bean.

Peter’s art group’s exhibition in the Hidden Lane Gallery, Argyle Street was the next destination. The exhibits were a mix of genre and style and elicited the usual comments from the Ooters, comments ranging from ‘Superb’ to ‘Loadashite’. Peter had already shown us some of his pictures but he kept the best one from us. In a corner of the gallery, hung on its own, was one of his River Ayr series. The general agreement was that this the best picture in the exhibition. We look forward to seeing more of this series, Peter.

By the time we left the hidden Lane Gallery, it was past lunch time and a place was sought for eating. Where? The Isle of Islay had a menu but no prices. Assuming that no prices meant high prices, we walked on. Mother India Cafe was suggested, as were a few other places we passed. But none could make a decision. Where was Robert when we needed him? Eventually we decided on the Tennents Bar on Byres Road. Past the Art Gallery again, over the Kelvin Bridge, past the Western Infirmary, up Church Street and Byres Road we marched. Around one o’clock we were seated in the Tennents enjoying a hot meal and a cold pint.

After lunch we returned to the Art Gallery by the reverse of the above route. While some took in The Glasgow Boys Exhibition, others contented themselves to explore other sections of the Gallery. The Glasgow Boys Exhibition is superb and is well worth more than one visit while the Art Gallery itself is always worth a going to. The hour spent here was not enough and some promised themselves another visit soon. But time was not on our side today so we left the gallery earlier than we should.
Up University Avenue we went. Then by a series of turns, found ourselves on Great Western Road. A casual wander along here and through the Botanics brought us to our transport around four.

This was an interesting, educational and cultural outing and one which will be repeated.

Photos by Johnnie

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

2 June Ayrshire Coast – Maidens to Dunure Or Why Can't We Have A Walk Like This Every Week?

Old Rex, the father of the group, joined the ranks of Senior Citizens at the week-end and, as is our wont, we joined him to celebrate this mile-stone in his life. But we didn’t celebrate on the Wednesday evening, as is our custom, for Rex had promised a home-made pizza party and he suggested the Tuesday evening to give him time to prepare the dough. Who were we to disagree with the old fella? So we gathered at Rex’s place to consume a mountain of home-made pizza and copious amounts of red wine. Our thanks go to Rex for his hospitality but not for the way some heads felt in the morning.

Because of last night’s celebration, we opted for a short, local walk today. That’s why we were back on the Ayrshire Coastal Path doing the section from Maidens to Dunure, a very scenic, very familiar and very enjoyable part of the route. And to make it especially enjoyable for us today, the sun shone and the air was clear, soft and warm with just the hint of a sea breeze.

That this was to be a short, relaxed walk was evident from the start when we drove into Maidens, turned right along the sea front and drove on, and on, and on, finally parking just short of the caravan park. When eventually we did start walking, we took to the sandy beach. The nature of this walk is such that there are no extensive inland views, and seaward, there was only Arran and Ailsa Craig. The views today were confined to the immediate locality. But views were ignored as blethers were exchanged and watery sections were negotiated and we wandered along that beach hardly noticing our surroundings. Then the path climbed from the sand onto the crags of Culzean. Up through the burnet roses we climbed, up through the pine wood, and along through the gorse and blackthorn. On a clear area of soft, springy turf on a crag above the sea, we sat down for coffee, the first of the day.

Looking back towards Maidens


What a pleasant spot this is, sheltered as it is by the surrounding gorse and blackthorn and dotted with the yellows and whites and blues of wildflowers. And catching the full sun today was a bonus. We sat for some time over coffee, enjoying our surroundings and looking seaward to where oystercatcher ‘peeped’ above the rocks and gannets wheeled and dived, plunging arrow-like into the water. Yes, this was a delightful spot today. And we sat for a while.
Though Robert didn’t want to be the one to say it, we all knew what he was thinking. So, somewhat reluctantly, we packed up and moved on into Culzean estate.
We came to the Swan Pond.

That’s where the split in the ranks came. The leaders turned alongside the pond but some were for the cliff-top walk. After some discussion – well shouting, actually – it was decided that each party should go its different way, six along the pond and four along the cliffs agreeing to meet further along the path. Davie opted for the cliff path while his faithful companion, Holly, chose to go with the ponders. Some dugs, eh!

No matter which path was taken, Culzean wood was a sensual delight on this early June morning – scented and coloured by wildflower, alive with an opera of birdsong and dappled with warming sunlight. The budding botanists (pardon the pun) tried to identify the flowers while the fledgling birders (sorry) tried to identify and place the different birds by song. On the whole this was successful with only the more difficult remaining a mystery.

The two groups came together at the Battery and wandered casually through the formal gardens. The herbaceous border was coming into full summer flower and Robert showed off his horticultural knowledge by naming the plants, much to the astonishment of the ignorant. Only two escaped identification. While Jimmy came to the rescue with one, the other had to remain a mystery. It was not that they didn’t know what it was but at their age recollection is an increasing problem. So, in ignorance, we walked on.

In front of the castle two men were digging a deep and perfectly rectangular hole in the lawn. The curious were curious. It turned out that there was a burst water main. The two were waiting for the water folk to turn off the water. The water men couldn’t do this until the fire service had a tender in place just in case a fire should suddenly break out. The fire service couldn’t say when they would have a tender available. So the men just stood waiting, occasionally looking into their perfectly dug hole. We left them to it.

‘There’s a tea room at the home farm’, said one. There certainly was. At a couple of tables outside in the sun, we sat and had coffee and cake. ‘This reminds me of Mosset’, said one relaxing over his espresso ‘All this sitting about in the sun drinking coffee’. We had to agree. ‘Why can’t we have more walks like this?’ asked Allan. And why not indeed!

We came back onto the beach just north of Culzean Gas House. Half an hour of sand, shingle and one particular rocky area where Jimmy was asked if he need his hand taken (see 20 May 2009), brought us to a gently sloping sandstone outcrop. We had lunch there. Despite the annoying flies that buzzed about our heads, we had a long lunch break. (Why can’t we have more walks like this?)
But, there comes a time.......

The beach was sandy with a shingly edge on the landward side. The oystercatcher gave herself away by her panicky calling at Holly. ‘There’s a nest in the shingle’, said the ornithologist and set off in search. His labours were not in vain. Though he didn’t find the nest, he did find two fluffy chicks playing possum in the shingle. We all went for a look while the parent bird screamed its annoyance over our heads. The chicks, mottled and camouflaged, lay perfectly still with an attitude of ‘I’m not a bird. I’m only a stone. Go away and leave me alone’. (Poetic birds then? – Ed.) We left them alone and continued along the beach.

A chick in the grass - easily missed - but not our eagled eyed bunch

The path left the beach after a while and zigged and zagged steeply up a high grass slope. What Johnny had in his lunch box we don’t know but we could all do with some. What a cracking pace he set on this up-slope. Conversation, which had been a feature of our relaxed walk, dried up as the slope and Johnny’s pace took its toll. And those at the end thought he would never stop. But he did. Where the path entered a field, he stopped. It was only for a moment or two though, just long enough to let us mere mortals catch up then he was off again but this time more slowly.
We were now high above the sea on the edge of a field where sweet corn and thistles poked their heads through rows of plastic covering. On our left the ground fell away in steep crags to the sea below, a meeting that was hidden from us by stunted shrubby trees and patches of gorse. Some of this shrubbery, which at first glance looked like blackthorn but had strange elongated fruits, was beyond the ken of he who should know and remains another of his ‘must find outs’.*

The path continued to slope upward at the side of the fields, upwards past an abandoned WW2 look-out turret, up towards the Dunure road. At the roadside we reached the highest point of the day and the path dropped seaward once more. Down through the shrubbery it led us. Round a corner and there was Dunure castle in front of us, its short cropped grass park busy with sight-seers. But before we left the rank grasses to join the park, the walk had one more joy to show us. On the very path in front of us more young chicks scurried away in panic. In the long grass, disturbed by Holly, a mother cheeped to attract the chicks. What it was we can’t be quite sure for it hid itself well. The closest the ornithologist could fathom, despite a valiant search, was that it was either a partridge or a pheasant (Well it was running away through the coarse grass with its head down.) It was still a pleasure to see the chicks no matter what they were.

A seat in the sun by Dunure Castle was followed by a small refreshment in the Anchorage Bar. In a relaxed moment Allan was heard to ask himself, ‘Why can’t we have a walk like this every week?’

The Ayrshire coast is a fine place on a fine day. This was a fine day and this part of the coast gave us a great walk. But not as great as The Cobbler.

* The shrub in question was sea buckthorn.

Photos by Johnnie