Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Project and Walk/Cycle for 4 July

Saturday and Sunday, Helen and I framed out the rest of the timber work.
The weather beat us on Monday.
Next weekend should see the windows and doors in place.
Weather permitting -  Is this summer?

Wet boots rather than a wet saddle?
Hope to see you all Wednesday

OK   -
Here is how it might turn out.
We meet Chez Moi 0930 for a 1000 start.
Bacon rolls/coffee-tea have been requested and every effort will be made.
A Group - Cyclists will take off for Ardrossan and return for beer and stovies.
B Group - Walkers will journey to the hinterlands of Eglinton Park and return for beer and stovies.
A return time to Bank Street between 1330 -1400.
The weather will not be a factor.
Presently B Group was thought to be the 2 Davies, Andy and Holly
but this might change?!*
I will organise eats and drinks.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Project update

Arran was good. Missed wee Davie, me mucker!
We are such a gooood influence on each other.
Last weekend saw Helen and me squeeze in 36
hours at the cottage.   Significant work achieved
on this visit.  Last bit of full-height timberframe built
and the sills for the patio doors and the back door
were put in place.  Next visit should see subtantial
progress.  Peter -  I have the window in Irvine.
Largs walk looks an interesting first - hope weather holds.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Arran 20 June 2012

Allan, Andy, Davie, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Rex

‘I’ll tak the high road and you tak the low road’

Schism : division into opposing groups because of a difference in belief or opinion, especially in a religious body. Well that’s us then!

Seven Ooters were discussing whether Jimmy had slept in again for the Arran ferry as it left Ardrossan on a fine, clear morning or, whether he had had enough of Arran the previous week, when the bold James suddenly appeared announcing that he had been on the deck below probably wondering if the rest of us had slept in. Anyway Jimmy had plans for the day and as we partook of coffee and rolls in the cafĂ© he said that, given the clear conditions, he was going high, taking in the Three Beinns (Nuis, Tarsuinn and a’Chliabhain -  the scribe thinks!). Davie agreed to keep him company and, despite our protestations, he took Holly with him. What cruelty! She had only just met up with her pals and had had a good sniff at our rucksacks as we came on board to ascertain what delights there might be for lunch.
The remaining six took the bus down to Lamlash before heading back up towards Clauchlands Point and the climb up to the trig point on Dun Fion. Here lunch was taken whilst we took in the views of the Holy Isle, Brodick and the hills beyond. Despite our best efforts we were unable to spot two men and a dug on the hills in the distance but, as Jimmy’s photos show, they were being blessed with superb views of their own.
Soon it was time to continue over Clauchlands Hill and down towards the main road. We did this walk back on 28 July 2010 and even since then the landscape had changed due to swathes of trees having being felled. Over the road we went and continued down the forest road towards Glen Cloy only stopping briefly for drinks before turning towards Auchrannie and back to Brodick.
Here we partook of ale at Mac’s Bar, as we do, but, being less than satisfied with the beer there, we reconvened at the Douglas which was more to our satisfaction.
A four hour walk on a fine summer’s day was complemented with chips on the boat home. The splinter group had set a target of the later crossing and we look forward to their minority report.

Report from the high* toppers

Even before the ferry left Ardrossan Jimmy’s mind was made up. The fact the he had done the proposed walk the week before and the fact that the morning was bright, sunny and warm and that the light morning hill fog was already burning off the hills made up his mind for him: He was for the high tops. When he mentioned this to Davie when he eventually found the group (having waited patiently on the lower sun deck while the rest waited on the upper one miscalling him), the latter agreed to accompany him. Even Holly looked pleased with this change of plan. And as we got nearer to the island and the hill fog continued to break up, the resolve hardened. We were definitely for the high tops.
The walk up Glen Rosa in the late morning sun was very pleasant indeed. Good natured chitchat was exchanged with like minded folk as we passed them and even birds were identified for those who were unsure what they were watching. A chap from Kilmarnock – sorry we forgot to get your name – followed closely behind us. He, likewise, was bound for the ‘Three Bens’ horseshoe and followed us along the glen to the bridge on the Garbh Allt. At this bridge we left the floor of the glen to start the first steep climb of the day, up the side of the burn on to a high moorland stretch.
The Garbh Allt or Rough Burn is just that, a steep flow of rushing water tumbling over and gushing between granite boulders in foamy white waterfalls or flowing more gently over smoothed granite slabs. The path alternately brought us to the burn side or raised us high above it depending on the drop of the water. Then it dropped us down into a deep gully, across the burn and up the other side and we could see our first objective, Ben Nuis, rising steeply in front of us for the hill fog had now completely gone and the peaks were free and clear.
It’s amazing how much steeper and higher they have made this climb in the twenty-six years since Jimmy last did it, or even in the ten years since Davie last did it. The climb was steep and hot and long but we consoled ourselves with the fact that our new Kilmarnock friend hadn’t passed us yet. Then, quite suddenly, we were on the top and could settle for a bite to eat. We were joined few minutes later by the Kilmarnock chappie.
It was two o’clock when we eventually made the summit of Ben Nuis - the climb taking longer than Jimmy thought - but it was well worth putting in the effort for the views presented to us today were spectacular. (See Jimmy’s pictures below) Yet, for a wee while it looked as though we would be deprived of these views for, as we climbed to the summit, a drift of cloud floated in our direction and we thought the worst. But, as we sat, it broke up around our summit revealing tantalising vignettes of the western hills and Loch Tanna below. To the east though, the high tops leading on to Goat Fell were clear and bathed in sunshine. Our ridge to the north looked ominously steep and forbidding under the cloud that broke up around us. Then the cloud was gone and a wonderful hillscape opened up for us, with vistas as far as the Galloway hills in the southeast, Ireland in the southwest, The Paps of Jura in the west, the Goat Fell ridges in the east and the ridge on to our next top, Ben Tarsuinn, running away northward.
It was along this ridge that we wandered after lunch, stopping frequently as Jimmy tried to capture with his camera the impressive scene of rock walls and steep gullies that make up this ridge. We passed a structure of fractured granite slabs known as the Old Man of Ben Tarsuinn and of course this just had to be photographed as well. Then, just as suddenly as on Ben Nuis, we were on the summit of Ben Tarsuinn.
Ben Tarsuinn gives great views of the peaks and rock faces of all the northern hills of Arran and we spent a wee bit of time identifying the tops and possible walks over and amongst them. But we didn’t spend too long doing this for we were conscious of distance and time, and the last ferry. We left the top of Ben Tarsuinn a little after two-forty-five.
Now there came a steep and rocky descent where we lost the path, found it beyond a granite slab and almost immediately lost it again. This pattern continued for a good quarter of an hour of ever downward progress. Eventually, after a few more drops off granite slabs, we found the path on a more level slope. This descent was not easy and was made very much with use of hands as much as feet but it did drop us on to the path coming through the Bowman’s Pass. Through the rock arch and we were on better footing again on the path for Ben A’Chliabhain.
We reached the summit of Ben A’Chliabhain at four o’clock – bang on Jimmy’s schedule – and another halt was made to replace lost fluids.
The descent from Ben A’Chliabhain is by way of a gritty path through the peaty areas and by many easy-sloping granite slabs, ‘The Pavement’ Davie’s children called it all those years ago. Now there’s one thing about Davie; there’s no holding him back on an ascent but his dodgy knees and sair back prevent him from exercising the same speed on the descent. The down slope was taken in three distinct groups of one – Holly to the fore chasing mice and voles in the long bent-grass by the side of the path, Jimmy striding casually down the ‘pavement’, hands behind his back, and Davie bringing up the rear trying hard to protect his knees. Then the ‘pavement’ gave way to wet moorland and the group was together again. But the path down the Alt Garbh caused Davie the same problems and Jimmy and Holly had to wait at the bridge in Glen Rosa. Davie wasn’t too far behind though, and we all gathered at that bridge at five o’clock. Again, bang on Jimmy’s estimate.
It was at the bridge here that we were joined by David from Bishopbriggs. He had done the first part of our walk but instead of turning to Ben A’Chliabhain he had continued towards Cir Mhor, a walk we had identified on Tarsuinn. But, said he, he had bitten off more than he could chew and had come back down into the glen by a steep path on the flank of Cir Mhor. David kept us company for the rest of the walk.
The walk down the glen was taken at a more leisurely pace than the walk up it earlier in the day. The six kilometers or so back to Brodick took just over an hour, plenty of time to replace lost fluids in Mac’s Bar before the evening ferry back to Ardrossan.

This had been a long day – seven hours – but it is one that will live long in the memory of the two who did it. We feel sure that they will have recovered in time for next week’s walk.

*For the benefit of our Californian readers (and Ronnie), 'high' here refers to altitude not to chemical enhancement.

Some images from Arran

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Project update

Hi All.
Hoping to see the gang for a good day on Arran.
The picture shiows me hard at work layng bricks.
Present progress sees big changes as the walls start to rise.
Good fun.....

Thursday, 14 June 2012

13 June - Blacksidend and Wedder Hill

A select group of five Ooters (Paul, Davie x2, Ian and Peter) gathered at Sorn Kirk on a fine morning - a sentiment no doubt shared by the midges which greeted them.

Peter had arrived by bike and had informed us he was just going to do half the walk - a cracked windscreen and the need to buy paint being his excuse. Peter, of course, has a reputation for doing things by halves, so this announcement came as no surprise.

Whilst the rest took the high road out from the kirk, Peter went via his sister's house to exchange his bike for Holly's soulmate Nula. On the grassy lane above Sorn the nature of the ancient hollowed out stone was again speculated upon and again no conclusions were drawn.

We met up with Peter and Nula at the end of the lane and we turned left  to ascend the minor road towards Blindburn Farm. Holly appeared incredulous with a 'you can't be serious' McEnroe-esque glance at us and at the road ahead. Davie explained he usually turns right at this junction.

Past Blindburn and the deserted Brocklar we continued. At this point Peter took us to see a limekiln he had found by the bridge over the Cleuch Burn. We left the tarmac and wandered through a wooded area but Peter could only half-remember were the kiln was. All we could see was a water-filled hollow. Disappointed, we turned back, but soon to our left we saw the half-hidden limekiln.

Peter suggested we could follow the Cleuch Burn up to Blacksidend Farm but the response was half-hearted at best, for the majority wanted nothing to do with a trudge through the undergrowth, so we retraced our footsteps to Brocklar and a took the tarmac towards Blackside Farm.

Not much progress was noted on the building to the right of the road although one small part was now habitable and seemed to be occupied.

We chose not to stop at the wood for coffee because of the midge menace and instead we carried on to the junction with the Blacksidend Farm track.  There we had coffee on the open hillside. The wee beasties soon found us and Avon 'Skin so Soft' was passed around and proved effective. Break over, Peter and Nula bade us farewell and a vague agreement was made to phone Peter to let him know when we would be partaking of FRT.

A large group of cows and calves, along with one very well-endowed bull, had chosen to wander down the track ahead of us. When it seemed we would all meet up at the gate and stile they kindly headed off to graze. At the gate we stopped to chat to a friendly farmer on his quad bike. As we departed he asked for Holly to be kept on her lead and Davie, ................. now you're getting ahead of yourselves here ............ who already had Holly on the lead, acquiesced.  A dead sheep was noted on the trailer being towed by the quad bike.

It was good to see that the farm was being occupied again as we started our ascent. The group soon split into two - Davie senior and Holly in the leading group, with the rest struggling on behind. This was how it was to be for most of the walk 'on the top'.  We all met up at the trig point (411 m) on Blacksidend and then the leading group disappeared into the distance again.

Underfoot conditions are notoriously bad up here but today it was all relatively dry and easy going. We dropped down to the gap between the two hills and crossed the tributary of the Burn o' Need. By now things had warmed up nicely and without further ado we arrived at the impressive cairn on the summit of Wedder Hill (430 m). Here lunch was taken.

For relatively little effort the views from Wedder Hill were tremendous, even though there was some haze. The coastal plain of Ayrshire with Arran beyond lay to our west, with silhouetted hills in all other directions. It would have been useful to have had Jimmy with us to put a name to all we could see. There were some showers to the south but we were dry.

Then it was time to retrace our footsteps. A large hare was seen running through grass as we rejoined the tarmac beyond Blacksidend Farm. Also seen here at the side of the road was the dead sheep we had spotted being transported down the track. Was it waiting for the brown bin collection?

The beehives on the edge of the small wood were a ...erm ... hive of activity. In amongst the hives,  a satellite dish was spotted - not Sty TV this time, but Bee Sky Bee.

This was an enjoyable walk in good conditions - certainly the first time your scribe was been on Blacksidend without being assailed by rain, wind and cold, and what the day's Ooters lacked in quantity was made up for in quality.

FRT was undertaken at Poosie Nansie's hostelry where, it should be recorded, beautiful pints of Houston Brewery's Slainte were served. Peter joined us later ...for a half.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

30 May Merrick

Alan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Rex & Robert
In the seven years or so of our existence there are some outings that live long in the memory as classic outings – the Rhinns of Kells, The Cobbler, Pic Del Madres are some. Our last visit to the Merrick (15 July 2009) has entered Ooters folklore for completely a completely different reason. This was the day of the monsoon; a day that will live in infamy, a day that will be told down the generations as the greatest rain storm since Noah’s flood, a day that we hoped wouldn’t be repeated.  We had high hopes for this visit for the heat-wave that scorched Scotland over the week-end was gone and the weather yesterday was considerably cooler but just as sunny. Today might just continue the pattern.
Yes, we hoped for a better day but as we drove down the hill road towards Glen Trool the sun disappeared and the hills gained a cap of cloud. Would our hopes for a great day be dashed? That remained to be seen.
When we decanted from the cars at Bruce’s Stone in Glen Trool our hopes were lifted again for the sun had returned and the morning was warming up nicely. Liberal lashings of sunscreen and midgie repellent were applied for the sun was strong and already we could feel the wee blighters biting. And we have had experience of Glen Trool midgies before. As the lotions were being applied Jimmy said that on Sunday morning when he was here, there was a pair of young peregrines just taking to the wing off the crags above us. And just as he spoke the two young birds appeared in the place Jimmy pointed to, swooping across the heather and crags. We took this as an indication of a good day to come.
The climb away from the glen up beside the Buchan Burn was hot, partly to do with the slope and partly to do with the sun which was turning increasingly hot. But our spirits were light for before us we could see Benyellary bathed in sunshine. Surely Merrick must be the same. Yet, it was a pleasure and relief to get into the cool shade of the conifer forest that lay between the lip of Glen Trool and the Culsharg basin for the sun was hot on our backs. But this shade didn’t last and too soon we emerged into the sun on the flat basin around the old shepherd’s cottage of Culsharg.
For many years the old cottage has remained as a shell with a roof but now work is being done on it to make it into a comfortable bothy, new windows, new door and new roof and chimney. But the inside is still untidy with branches and dirt and bird droppings so despite the improvements we sat outside for coffee.
Now came the steepest and possibly the hottest part of the day. Or would it be for the first clouds drifted across the sun? By the time we had climbed through the trees to the open hillside the cloud had thickened and the morning was turning cooler.  Was this because the slope was easing off or was the temperature really dropping? We would find out.
Halfway up the gentlest part of the slope we met a chap on a quad. We distracted him from his task for we are blethers and nosy and just had to find out what he was up to. He was planting willows by the wee burn that runs down beside the path. We told him that we would return in twenty years to see if his work was worthwhile. With that he looked at the sky and told us it would be raining before long. We thanked him for his optimism and continued upward.
Now we could see where the tree-planter was coming from for as we rose towards the drystane dyke on Benyellary’s flank, we could see the rain sweep across the moors on our left hand side. And it looked as though it might come our way. We pressed on. The steep slope to the top of Benyellary was taken easier than any of us remember it before and we gained the top exactly an hour after leaving Culsharg bothy. But we weren’t alone in reaching the top, the cloud and the rain also reached it. Though the cloud blanked out the landscape and hid the Merrick from us, the rain came to nothing and we hoped that it would stay that way.
We dropped off Benyellary to cross the Nieve of the Spit, the nearest thing we have to a ridge in the Galloway hills. This is usually a good part of the walk with views to both sides of the Nieve but today we might have been anywhere for there was no view, not even of Merrick which we were rapidly approaching. Leaving the drystane dyke to run up to the lip of the gairy, we took to the Broads of the Merrick, that gently grassy slope that would take us all the way to the summit.
It might have helped our ascent of the grassy slope if we could see where we were going but the fog had closed in and it looked as though it would stay. It did and we walked into it towards the summit. As we approached the summit we met three ladies of a certain age making the descent. They promised that when we got to the top the sun would be out and the pub would be open. We gained the cairn on the summit of the highest of our southern hills in the fog and there was no pub! And now the fog was accompanied by a wind, a fresh wind and a wind that chilled sweaty bodies. We didn’t spend too much time on the summit - there was no point for the swirling fog looked as though it would remain for the duration – just long enough to have a bite and then we set off downward.
The intention was to return by Loch Enoch and down the Gairland Valley but we had had enough of walking in the fog so the decision was made to return by Benyellary again. Jimmy led us along the lip of the gairy. At the top of a steep gulley called the Black Gitter we stopped for a look down. Far below us we could see the wet rock sided Gitter merge into a grassy slope before it was swallowed up in the fog. Nothing else could be seen. Little wonder, on a day like this, that the Gitter gained the appellation Black. But one of our number is not too sure about steep, rocky places and had us move on.
We found the drystane dyke and followed this towards Benyellary. Now the rain came seriously, well serious enough to cause us to waterproof. But this didn’t last and we gained Benyellary top for the second time in the fog, but at least not in the rain. A few spots came as we dropped down the steep slope beside the drystane dyke but, like earlier it came to nothing. And as we dropped down, we came out of the fog altogether.
Now that we were on the down-slope the reckless among us decided that it would be easier to jog down and took off into the distance. Most of us ignored the joggers yet took the slope fairly quickly as well. But he who speeds up the hill has dodgy knees and difficulty coming down so the poor soul was left trailing at the end. But are we not compassionate? We waited for him at the deer fence and promised to slow up. We did but it was still a brisk pace that brought us down through the trees to Culsharg.
That’s where we met the ladies of the sunshine and pub. They were a group from Crief in Perthshire having a few days in Galloway. We blethered to them, they telling of walks in Perthshire and us of walks in the south-west. We presented them with our blog card, wished them well for the remainder of their stay and went on our way.
A relaxed walk brought us down the old Culsharg pony track, through the trees and down the Buchan Burn to Bruce’s Stone having had a fair stretch of the legs on Merrick. It was nothing else than a stretch of the legs for there were no views and the stop on the top was too cold to hang about.

The FRT (Fluid Replacement Therapy) for the day was taken slightly out of the way at Willie Wastle’s in Crosshill.