Thursday, 29 March 2012

Leaning on a Lampost

In his report of the Mochrum Hill walk, the scribe forgot to mention that as Johnny was reversing his car at Rex's place, a lamp post jumped out behind him and assaulted his car. Davie C, our new songwriter-in-chief, has composed an epic to commemorate this event. This is the song as performed by wee Davie at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall before our cultural visit, with, of course, apologies to George Formby.

I'm leaning on a lamp post in the centre of the street,
Until a certain dirty Volvo goes by.
Oh me, oh my, I hope that dirty Volvo goes by.
I think I know who's driving it, I'm certain that he's driving it,
It's Johnny with his one good driving eye.
Oh me, oh my, I hope that he will keep passing by.
He says cleaning shows up the scratches, the paint jobs and all the patches.
He don't care that none of it matches, cleaning it would be too far,
It's only a f****** car.
He's absolutely adamant, positively truculent, and anyone can understand why,
I'm leaning on a lamp post at the centre of the street
Until a certain dirty Volvo goes by.

Hee, hee. It's turned out nice again.

Following his overwhelming success at the Glasgow Concert Hall, Davie is keeping the venue of his next concert a secret in case he is mobbed by all his fan.

North West Highlands - March 2012

Stoer Lighthouse

Stoer Point

Suilven and Cuilmor

View from top of Sidhean Mor

Fionn Loch and Suilven

Fife Coastal Path

Some photos to tempt you to easy walking along the Fife Coastal Path between Leven and Crail.
leavin' Leven

railway section after Lower Largo
St Monan's

finish the walk with a yummy fish supper



Caiplie Caves near Crail

Cellardyke harbour

only high bit approaching Earlsferry

Crail harbour
See also

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Val Thorens March 2012

Here are a few pictures to let you see some of the conditions in Val Thorens this year. The Cime Carron lift drops you at 3200 metres.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

21 March Mochrum Hill, Culzean

Allan, Davie C, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Rex & Ronnie
It’s always a good idea to see what other walking groups have been doing. This is what Alan was doing when he came across a report from the Ayrshire Ramblers in one of the local papers. They had an excellent day on Mochrum Hill just above Culzean and left a route plan with their report, a route that Alan presented to us last week. As this was new ground to all of us, his suggestion was readily accepted.
Due to holidays and other things, it was a depleted band of Ooters that gathered in Rex’s; even Alan with his route plan was missing. Still the eight who turned up motored to maidens where we were sure the route started. And Ian had a map so we had a fair idea of where we were going.
The morning was bright with the promise of sunshine later but a cool breeze blew off the sea to remind us just how early in the year it was. This breeze was on our backs though, and proved no great discomfort as we set off north-eastward along the Ardlochan Road of Maidens.
The tarmac soon gave way to a farm service road, a road that would ultimately end at Kintarran farm at Morriston. But we would not reach Kintarran. Like all sensible farmers*, the one at Kintarran has put in paths through his land and it was along one of these paths that we now turned our footsteps, along the track of the old Turnberry railway. Even from this low vantage point the landscape was opening out for us. Below us lay Maidens and beyond this, Paddy’s Milestsane rose out of the firth. Arran looked particularly inviting. And the Ayrshire coast was becoming increasingly visible. But, then the old railway track ran into a cutting and the view was lost.
We stayed in that cutting, coming through a pleasantly wooded section, until a sign indicated the path turned off and back towards the sea. We didn’t turn off. We continued with the old track for Ian’s map indicated that we should, at least until we reached Kennels Bridge then we should come on to the main road for a bit. But we have amongst us those who abhor walking on main roads. Jimmy and Ian between them made the decision to stay with the old track for a while yet. We should know not to trust them. The track continued in the cutting, getting progressively wetter and muckier. And the muck got deeper. The leader’s ears were ringing with the comments from the rear. Eventually, approaching the Glenside Burn, we found the cutting to be filled in and a steep b ank, a steep slippery bank, blocking our way. This was scrambled up as best we could and we found ourselves twenty metres from the main road. And there was a track to take us there. This brought us out on the tarmac barely fifty metres from the Thomaston and Glenside service road, the road that would take us to the foot of Mochrum Hill.
Near Glenside Farm a forest road led through the trees. We took this and followed it to its end. Then a path, a trodden way rather than anything constructed, led us to the end of the plantation. Now we came on to the open hillside beside a straggly wood of weather-stunted birches, hazels and alders. And it was beside this open wood, on a spot that gave us a view southward over Girvan, Byne Hill and the Hadyard Hill wind farm that we settled down for coffee.
With our caffeine levels topped up, we set off again. Now the ground steepened for we were on to Mochrum Hill itself. But this hill is not high, 270m, and the climb didn’t last too long and we found ourselves at the trig point that marks the top with little effort on our parts. What a magnificent viewpoint this wee hill is. Below lies Culzean Castle and Maidens. Ailsa Craig stands proudly out of the waters of the Firth. Behind Girvan the high ground of Byne Hill and Hadyard lead round to the south where the high Rowantree Hills beyond Stinchar form the skyline. Then the High Galloway Hills fill the horizon from the Awful Hand through the Loch Doon gap to the Rhinns of Kells and Ca irnsmore of Carsphairn. And Maybole and Crosshill lying below us. Then, in the east, the hills around Glen Afton – Windy Standard and Blackcraig. Then, turning northward, Cairn Table at Muirkirk, Blacksidend at Sorn and the Ayrshire plain below them – a plume of white steam showing where the chipboard factory at Auchinleck was. To the north, across the low ground of Ayrshire, the Renfrew Heights showed well – ‘There’s Hill of Stake bathed in sun’, said one. And then there were the hills of Arran, always Arran, rising magnificently in the west. This is a top worth visiting again and again just for this view.
But needs must and we had to get ourselves down of the top for we were only half way through our walk. A path of sorts ran away to the east but for some reason we ignored this and turned directly for Culzean, a route without a path. Still, we could see where were going for below us was the forest road we should be taking. But, coming off the steep part of the hill, we found the straggly wood and our forest road disappeared. So, it appears, did our sense of direction. Zigging and zagging, avoidi ng overhead branches and stumbling among dead bracken fronds, we cleared this wood only t o be confronted by a spruce plantation. Fortunately, Rex, showing the way-finding inst inct s of a true Ooter, found a wee burn running down through a narrow fire break. This broug ht us to the forest road.
The forest road decanted us onto the main road some two hundred metres west of Balchriston lodge. Opp osite the lodge a road runs down to Maybole Shore. (No, you won’t find this name on the map; it’s the local name for the stretch of beach around Goatsgreen cottage) This is where we went. The sun made an appearance now and the day turned unseasonably warm. Jackets and fleeces were removed for the first time this year and we enjoyed a pleasant walk down the road to the beach. Now, with the time approaching half past one, we settled down on a fallen tree trunk for lunch.
The walk along the beach was very pleasant indeed. The cool breeze of the morning had dropped a bit and the sun was warming as we came along the beach to the Culzean gas house. Eighty-one upward stairs later we were at the castle itself. We came past the Battery and through the woods – they are making a clearance of all the rhododendrons here and the woodland is beginning to open up to the sunlight – to the Swan Pond and the Pagoda. Then, taking a path beyond the Pagoda, we came back down onto the shore at Maidens Beach and back to the cars.
This is a walk that is worth doing again. Perhaps we got the time of year right for vegetation wasn’t too high and the views through the leafless trees were good but a change of season might bring it own interest.

FRT was taken in the rather up-market surroundings of Souter Johnnie’s in Kirkoswald. Don’t anyone tell the keeper of the kitty how much a pint costs in here.

*Sensible in that, given the freedom of access laws, paths channel walkers through the land and prevent incursions into crops or livestock fields; people will always prefer a trodden path to finding their own way.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Glasgow Group Exhibition

14 March Hill of Stake - Dispelling the myth

Alan, Allan, Andy, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert & Ronnie

According to the map, The Hill of Stake is a top that sits in the hills separating Ayrshire and Renfrewshire, in the triangle between Lochwinnoch, Largs and Greenock. Those who follow this blog regularly will know that we have attempted to reach this top four times in our existence and each time, for different reasons, we have failed to do so. So, like El Dorado and the Yeti, Hill of Stake has attained something of a mythical status in Ooterland; we know it is there but we haven’t yet proved its existence. That’s why nearly a full complement of Ooters decanted from their cars at the Muirshiel Visitor Centre at ten on an overcast Wednesday morning – we would prove once and for all that the hill of stake exists or not.
The day was overcast with heavy air and a fresh south-westerly that just failed to scatter the miasma that obscured anything more than two or three miles away. But, despite this we were sure of success this time for the met office promised that it would get no worse and we had plenty of time today. So, in confident mood we set off for Hill of Stake.
A group of four consisting of Peter, Andy, Robert and Jimmy set the pace along the old barytes track towards the abandoned quarry. The birders had told us to be on the look-out for hen harries but apart from a couple of covey of grouse and a solitary singing skylark, nothing was to be seen among the heather of the moor as we made our way towards the old quarry. Small chunks of pink barytes littered the track, getting larger as we turned upward into the old mineral workings. Here, in a metal ship’s container that serves as a makeshift bothy, we settled down for elevenses.
Thus far we have been before. And up the path to the top of the quarry we have been before. But for lack of time or for lack of enthusiasm or conceding to rotten weather, we have always cut our route short here. Today we would push on for Hill of Stake. There are no distinct paths beyond the top of the quarry and the going is through rough grass and heather. Nor is the top of our hill visible from here but an estimated compass bearing pointed us in the right direction and we set off upward into the rough stuff. While most followed Jimmy and Rex along the vestiges of sheep pads and short stretches of quad-bike tracks, Paul and Ian chose to plough their own way through the rough stuff. No matter which way was chosen though, the going was easier than it might have been for the winter-dead vegetation was at its shortest - we wouldn’t like to come up here when the vegetation is in full growth, though – and the slope was gentle. The top of Hill of Stake was gained with less effort than has been expended on many a hill.
Celebration was the order of the day. A Celtic-type huddle was formed round the summit trig point, a few whoops and yells were heard and congratulatory slaps on the back were made for at last we had conquered the mythical Hill of Stake. (Steady on chaps, it’s hardly Everest. – Ed.) But the wind was strong and chilling so we didn’t hang around too long on top and Robert started the move off the summit.
Flushed with our great achievement and high on adrenaline and with the clock barely passed noon, we turned our attention to Misty Law some mile and a bit away over some rough ground. But, hey, what’s a wee bit of rough stuff to folk who have experienced the Carsphairn Lane (see 28/9/2011). We would take in Misty Law as well.
But there was some dissension in the ranks. Peter, who is not too fond of the hill, Allan, whose liking for climbing is well documented in these pages, and Johnny who had been feeling under pressure for a while today, chose not to accompany us but made their own way down a burn valley. The rest, though, followed the county boundary fence towards Misty Law.
The down slope was easy; the short grass and the equally short springy heather giving us a comfortable descent. And there was the semblance of a sheep pad beside the fence that eased the way down. But the ground between the two tops was wet. Bright green sphagnum-covered traps lay in wait for the unwary. But we are wary. By dint of our excellent long-jump skills and by making long detours we managed to avoid the worst of these and most of us arrived at the foot of the up-slope to Misty Law with relatively dry feet.
The climb to the top was short and easy. But, like on Hill of Stake, we didn’t tarry long in the wind, just long enough to realise that here was a hill with potential for a clear day. Then we made our way to the lea of the summit to sit down for a bite.
Now, as has been said before, it was all downhill from here. Again, there is no distinct path from the top of Misty Law and we had to judge the route for ourselves. But we had Rex and Jimmy who, between them, managed to find a set of quad tracks that looked as though they might take us down towards the burn where the rebellious trio could be seen on the far side. We made our way down towards them.
It was on this down slope that we saw it. Well, the trailblazers saw it but as yet the scribe is unaware whether the rest saw it. Slinking among the heather then making a bold dash across a grassy area to more cover was a fox. ‘All tail with a little bit of fox attached’ was how Rex described it as it slunk away from us in the direction of the burn gorge. And it was towards this same burn gorge that we now turned our steps.
Going down into the gorge and crossing the burn was more difficult for some than it was for others – remember we have hydrophobes in our midst – but all safely ascended to the safer ground on the other side of the gorge. Now we had only half a mile of grass and heather to negotiate to find the bridge on the barytes track. We crossed the burn by the old bridge – though it was closed off, it was the closer – came on to the track and sauntered back to the centre feeling fair chuffed with ourselves. Another myth dispelled!
Now that the Hill of Stake has been proven, what else needs proving? That there is a view from Ben Lomond? That there is a road from Drumjohn to Woodhead Village? That there are some friendly farmers in Fenwick? The list is open for additions.

FRT today was taken in a bien wee snug in the Corner Bar in Lochwinnoch where Alan treated us all to some of his home-smoked trout. Our thanks to Alan for this and to Johnny for his usual hospitality before the walk.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Hill of Stake

At last the Hill of Stake has been officially ticked along with Misty Law. No more mystery - no more legend,

The Hill of Stake - piece of cake, Misty Law - nae bother at a'!

Monday, 12 March 2012

22 February - Neilston Pad

The problem with writing up a blog of a walk, three weeks after the event, is that at an advanced age one tends to forget virtually everything about the walk.

And so it is with the Neilston Pad walk.

Paul, Rex, Allan, Johnny, Ian, Ronnie, Robert, Andy, Davie Mac and Alan might have been present.

It was definitely wet and windy.

The views from Neilson Pad (an old volcanic plug) are said to be stunning, with a 360 degree panorama of the area. Unfortunately your scribe doesn't remember seeing anything apart from low cloud.

This would be a good walk on a good day. This wasn't a good day.

Refreshments were taken at the Travellers' Rest in Neilston. The welcome was warm but the beer wasn't up to much!

A short walk was opted for so that we could prepare for the curry and the sloe gin tasting at Ronnie's. It was generally agreed all the sloe gin entries were of a high standard this year and Ian walked away with yet another splendid trophy worthy of his victory. Thank you again Ronnie for your hospitality.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Spring at the Greenock Cut

Spring is sprung the grass has ris
I wonder where the AA is?
The AA sent a garage bloke
Who said the spring and Rex were broke.
Auld Davie said it was a pity
We're no payin that from oot the kitty!
Another momentous tale for the annals of the Early Ooters today.
Nine Ooters (Alan, Johnny, Andy, Davie C.,Ian, Malcolm, Rex,Robert and Ronnie) gathered at 10.00am at the Cornalees Visitor Centre to walk the Greenock Cut, a walk which most of us had done before. Allan in particular was looking forward to the walk as the sun was shining and the route was relatively flat. As we donned our multilayers of warm clothing as the wind was chill, there was an almighty crashing sound of metal on metal. This was very strange as there were no other cars in the car park. On further investigation Rex's car was looking decidedly droopy at the front. The consensus of opinion was that a spring on the front suspension had gone(a reflection on the state of some of the roads in Ayrshire). Obviously Rex's car was now gubbed for the day.
Checking mobile phones within the group, we found one with a signal and Rex contacted the breakdown services who said they would be out within the hour. A serious decision now had to be made and we Ooters are renowned for our decisiveness. The Kilmarnock chapter would continue with the planned walk while the Irvine chapter who had travelled with Rex would stay with Rex to comfort him and hold his hand while he contemplated the cost of a new spring for his Merc.The alternative was to do the walk and then walk the 8 miles back to Largs and use their bus passes. And so five of us set off to complete the planned walk.
We walked swiftly up the hill track up past Loch Thom, so swiftly in fact that we had to stop and remove several layers of clothing to cool down. No sooner had we started again when along came a big black squall which required the reverse procedure. Ian got a few pelters for keeping his shades on but as he explained for the slow of thought, this kept the now driving sleet and hail out of his eyes while the rest suffered.
After 5 mins the squall passed as we descended towards Overton cottage where the road meets the actual cut or canal. The sky cleared and we had fine views across the mouth of the Clyde towards Helensburgh and Kilcreggan with Greenock and its Ocean Terminal below. There were no cruise ships in today as it was probably too early in the season or they were being rescued elsewhere. On a wall opposite the cottage there was a small cast iron well with the stamp of Glenfield and Kennedy, Kilmarnock. Apparently such wells can be found in towns and villages all over the world. We turned left and started on the walk along the cut back eventually to Loch Thom.
This impressive piece of engineering was created by Robert Thom in 1825 to channel fresh water from the Great Resevoir, now called Loch Thom, to provide drinking water for the people of Greenock and hydro-power for its factories which included a paper mill and sugar refining. There was a fair amount of water in the cut compared to earlier visits but this may have been due to some remedial work which had taken place in the form of new V-shaped weirs in the cut under the numerous stone arched bridges across the cut at regular intervals. There were many gates across the path presumably to keep the local sheep in their respective fields and each had a small kissing gate at the end to allow walkers through although these gates proved to be a problem for people like our Robert whose stomach protrudes at the front as much as his rucksack does at the back. However Davie C came to the rescue by explaining to Robert the function of a cunning device fitted to the end of each main gate. This allowed a latch to be released that opened a section of the gate to allow more portly members to pass with ease. With this new knowledge Robert was able to storm ahead (why the rush?) and open all the gates to let us through. Alas in his haste, he managed to get caught by a sharp edge of a gate post which tore a mighty hole in his good goretex skiing jacket. Oh dear, his wee lower lip started to tremble when he wondered what Kate would say when he got home. We suggested that it was a good excuse to treat himself to a new jacket for his imminent trip to the ski slopes of France. But no, his mate Rex knew how to repair such damage with a piece of Gaffer tape and he would disguise it by covering it with some kind of badge. A suggestion that Rainbow Inks of Kilmarnock could make him a badge with the logo "Kilmarnock's Shanker" was not appreciated despite being an accurate reflection of his golfing skills at present. Other suggestions were put forward but they cannot be printed here lest South Lanarkshire Council ban our blogg again for use of inappropriate language.
With the weather now brightening we continued our way along the cut with changing views of Loch Long, Strone Point, the Holy Loch and Dunoon. Although neither of our resident ornithologists were with us today, we can confirm with certainty that we spotted 4 dippers, a male and female mallard duck, and two fields of about 50 Canada geese resting en route to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Just after lunch, we arrived back at the car park passing lovely views of water in spate tumbling down from the reservoir and a magnificent waterfall with swirling mist and rainbows dancing in the afternoon sun. We were pleased to see that Rex's car and occupants were no longer there and must have been rescued.
There was no FRT today as we were saving our drouth for the curry night to celebrate Alan's Old Age Pension.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Greenock Cut Wed. 7th March.

Part 1
We got a few strange looks and one enquiry as the stricken four huddled at the entrance to the public toilet to shelter from the frequent violent and squally winter showers. Around 1130 a breakdown truck arrived and sedately navigated the Brisbane Glen south to Largs, then on to Irvine to drop off Allan, Malcolm and Johnny. Rex, no doubt, continued to enjoy the company of our young rescuer from the RAC(subcontracted) who made a necessarily slow trip pass in jig time. Another ooters' day to remember. Allan missed a walk on the flat. We four missed the pub chat and FRT. Surely the day can only get better. A curry beckons. I wait with no little anticipation. Johnny
Part 2
Alan's birthday celebrations - curry did not disappoint and company excelled. Alan received the ooters' good wishes, wine and hospitality and most generously responded with loadsa drink later in the pub. I include three pictures - I've added a few more words to the thousand - hope it helps the meaning of each. A - Party B - Strange sky C - reason I might miss a few walks

Reduced numbers mainly due to a broken spring on Rex's car.
Approximately 50 canada geese grazing in the field.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Sportsman's Dinner, Irvine Cricket Club, 02/03/2012

Many thanks to my fellow ooters who dug deep and shelled out handsomely to support ICC with their annual fund raiser. I hope they enjoyed all they were able to see before they were whisked away in their pumkin. Rex left me in charge of your kitty. I have £12.50 to pass on to David(senior). It might lighten our treasurer's mood cause he wis sare upset that last Wednesday cost the kitty £5. Look forward to hearing the chat. Is Alan really only 65? Kidding! Saving up for next Wednesday. Should be another great night of curry, companionship, chat, carousing and catching a pub quiz. Johnny

Friday, 2 March 2012

29 February Knockdolian and Ballantrae

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Peter, Rex, Robert & Ronnie
We knew there was a reason for having Ian in our group. Despite the fact he keeps winning our competitions – our sloe gin contest being the latest – there is one good reason we keep him; he knows some good walks in the extreme south of our county having spent many long boyhood summers in Lendalfoot. Today’s was another of Ian’s walks.

Jimmy and Peter were late. Not that this worried them particularly for they were ensconced in a nice warm car, but we stood shivering by the cars in the car park at Bennane Head, backs turned to the chill February breeze blowing off the sea, cursing the tardy pair. (Silly auld buggers might have waited inside the cars – Ed) Eventually they arrived and we could start the walk in what was new territory to many of us.

Though the morning was lightly overcast, there was the promise from the met office that at the very least it would get no worse and there was the possibility of some sunshine later so we anticipated a decent day as we set off southward along the A77. Ian set a cracking pace along the side of the road, partly to generate some body heat and partly to get off the busy drag as quickly as possible. And at an Ayrshire Coastal Path sign pointing across the road, we did just that, taking an unclassified road past Little Bennane Farm. This took us across country to a junction with the B734 at Liggatcheek.
Now we had a decision to make; should we turn left and come to the shoulder of Knockdolian that we could see on the skyline, or should we leave tarmac and take the grass track directly opposite that would take us to the old lime kiln that we could see barely quarter of a mile away on the side of the hill. We opted for the latter.
The track took us directly to the limekiln – a stance for shooters by the looks of the heap of spent cartridges that lay in the angle of the wall. But a few minutes examination of the kiln was enough and we set off again, up past the abandoned limestone quarry, now filled with water and forming a small lochan. For some reason known only to them, Robert and Jimmy then made directly for the steepest part of the hill and, like sheep, we followed. This was a mistake for, when we had all cleared the rusting barbed-wire fence without damaging the fence or ourselves, we were confronted by a grassy slope that rose ominously steep in front of us. But we were assured by those in front that it was a shorter climb than it appeared and that the slope eased off after that. Ha! Some fifteen lung-bursting, leg-burning minutes later we topped the steep and, though the slope did ease, we found that it was still rising. However those in front took pity on the rest of us and, in the lea of a crag, on a spot that offered a great view up the valley of the Stinchar, we collapsed for a well needed cuppa.
We were now on the craggy volcanic outcrop of Knockdolian itself and after coffee we continued the upward progress, coming round the foot of our present crag to a fence we could see on the skyline, a fence that we thought we could follow to the summit. Wrong. The fence ran out against the crag. But there was a gap in a lowish section of the rock and we clambered through this to find an easier, grassy slope that would indeed take us to the summit.
Rex and Davie (who else?) reached the summit trig point first with Ronnie and Allan acting as ‘lanterne rouge’ and the rest somewhere between. And what a view greeted each one as we reached the trig point even under today’s overcast sky. The three-sixty degree compass included: Below us was the Stinchar valley running eastward to the hills around Barr and Rowantree, hills that were still clothed in hill-fog: To the north Byne Hill sloped down to the sea: the northern hills of Arran were smothered in clag but, as is common, Holy Isle stood out and the south end of the island was clear: Ailsa Craig stood out like a sair thoom in the near distance, the lighthouse showing white: to the south the moors of Wigtownshire and the hills above Glenluce were clear, Beneraird standing proud above them: altogether a superb viewpoint. ‘And for so little effort’ said Davie Mc.
A wee while was spent on the summit admiring the view and taking pictures. The Belfast ferry steamed its way out of Loch Ryan, turning Corsewell point as we watched, giving Ian a chance to try out his new binoculars. But the wind that chilled us at the car park also chilled us here and the time came to move on.
We came off the hill to the south, avoiding the crags and the steeper slopes. The tarmac strip of a road could be seen below us. Down a grassy slope and through a stand of flowering whin we found a farm track. But this appeared to run too far up the valley for us so it was decided to cross the field directly for the road. Easier said than done for between the field and the road was a wee copse of hazel scrub. Robert found the ground here to be both slippery and extremely wet on the backside. Ian found the barbed wire to be stronger than his skin. And all of us found some difficulty coming through that copse. Still we made it and found ourselves on a road heading for Ballantrae.
Rex and Jimmy, well to the front, found a sign pointing down towards the river and indicating a ‘Riverside Walk’. This was the way we went. And we were glad we did for the pad took us down to a delightful, sheltered riverside picnic spot complete with table and seats. This is where we chose to lunch. The sun made an appearance now making the lunch stop even more delightful. We hoped that this was an indication of Wednesdays to come for the rest of the year. In the field across the river some dozen or so whooper swans grazed, adding to our wildlife count for the day - two buzzards, one raven, a brown hare, a single rabbit and two roe deer already. Delightful though the picnic spot was, we had to move on.
We followed the riverside walk down to Ballantrae Bridge and on into the village. Now we would pick up the Ayrshire Coastal Path and follow it back to Bennane.
A strange thing about the human mind –at least the strange minds of the Ooters – is that it tends to blank out bad memories. We had forgotten just how bad this part of the coastal path this is. It goes on to the beach, a shingle beach here. The tide was high and there was no alternative but to take to the shingle, shingle that moved under the feet, shingle that gave no purchase, shingle that exhausted already tired legs. And shingle that stretched in front of us for the best part of a mile. Conversations dried up as each retreated into his own private hell, got his head down and slogged his way along that blasted shingle.
Welcome relief came when we crossed the Bennane Burn and found the old road at Snib’s Cave. (See A short break was had here to allow legs to recover from the travail of the shingle and allow those of that kind of nature to investigate the cave. Then we continued up the old road, the road that was abandoned when the new stretch was opened over the Bennane in the last years of last century. Conjecture was made as to the possibility of keeping this section of the road are a tourist only route with parking areas and picnic sites. If anybody from South Ayrshire is reading this, it shouldn’t involve too much money for parking areas already exist here and the road is still in good nick. And it was up this road in good nick that we came. This was easy enough going until near the top. The farmer obviously uses the old tarmac as a place for feeding his cattle and the area around the feeders is inches deep in wet slurry. We had to take to a field to avoid the gunge. Still, this was only on the last fifty metres or so before the main A77 again. Then we had only fifty more metres to the car park at Bennane.
There was a pre-walk suggestion  of a visit to Sawney Bean’s cave just underneath the car park but the shingle had taken its toll and such was the energy left at the end of the walk that not one of us considered even more exertion with a visit to the cave. ‘Next time’ was the consensus.
This was a good walk – highly recommended except for the shingle – and a great suggestion, Ian.
FRT for the day was taken in the Harbour Bar in Girvan where the welcome was somewhat different from we are used to.

APOLOGY: At the sportsman's dinner last night it was drawn to the scribe's attention that when he was at the front, head down and slogging along the Ballantrae shingle, a drama was being enacted behind him. Robert and Allan thought that the best plan of action to avoid the slog was to step over the fence into the cow-muddied field. While Allan negotiated the fence without incident, Robert put his hand on the top wire only to find it was electrified. Oyah! The scribe is sorry he missed this incident.