Thursday, 31 January 2013

23 January Blacksidend Hill

Andy, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Paul, Peter & Robert

This was another short walk but this time in familiar territory for most. The reason for the brevity was the upcoming Burns Supper, our second, and the need for preparations to be made. So the familiar Blacksidend Hill near Sorn was the chosen venue.
            The snows of the week-end still lay on the hill and seamed to gleam under the overcast sky. The morning was dull but the air was calm and not too cold and there was the promise of sunshine coming from the west so we looked forward to a nice day on the hill. To cut the walk shorter we parked the cars at  Laigh Brocklar Farm, an abandoned farm but with signs of work being carried out to restore it. Then we took to the road leading to Blackside and the hill beyond. Any snow that lay on the road was powdery and easily avoided if need be. Not that we need to avoid it for there was plenty of grip there and we walked easily enough up to Blacksidend Farm. Hew we took to the open hill.
Snow drifts beside the road on the way to
Balcksidend Farm
            A herd was feeding sheep from the back of a quad as we approached the start of the climb of the hill proper but he was too far off our route to exchange any greeting with him and we plodded on upward onto the snow-wreathed summit. Behind us, when we stopped to look, the sun was creeping in over the Ayrshire plain towards us and the views were opening out. We attempted to identify the various landmarks of Ayrshire and, on the whole, did this successfully. From the Glen Afton hills through the low-lying areas of Ayrshire to the Renfrew Heights the view was looking good and bright. But we were under cloud yet so plodded on upwards.
            The hollowed out cairn on top provided some shelter from the breeze that had sprung up while we were climbing and we settled into it for a morning coffee stop.
             Any hope we might have had of the sun getting to us were rapidly disappearing as the brightness seemed to stop around Mauchline and our hill seemed to be making high cloud. And any hope some might had of a quick retreat from the hill disappeared as well when Davie announced that we were to take in the neighboring top of Wedder Hill. Enthusiastically in some cases and reluctantly in others, we set of along the snow-covered hilltop towards the cairn Davie had pointed out some mile and a bit away on Wedder Hill.
Looking back from the climb to see the sun lighting the
Carrick Hills above Ayr
The snow didn’t hinder our progress too much and we reached the Wedder Hill cairn just five minutes behind Davie’s schedule. Well, most of us reached the cairn. Peter had stopped for some reason and was way behind the rest of us and when we decided to return from Wedder, Peter hadn’t quite made it there. We found him on the way back and he joined us without getting to Wedder Hill cairn. Poor Peter, or perhaps not, for Peter is not a great lover of hills. When we cooried doon into the scooped out cairn on Blacksidend for a bite of lunch Peter decided that he would walk on down and we should catch him up below, and set off down the way we had come up. We got stuck into our sandwiches.
After eating, and as we prepare to set off downward, Holly took to her heels in pursuit of Peter. That was the last we saw of both man and dog until we reached tarmac again. Robert and Jimmy set a cracking pace downward and, no matter how we tried, we couldn’t keep up with the silly auld so-and-sos. But we found them at Blacksidend Farm talking to the herd. A pleasant chap he was though the scribe forgot to get his name (Again? –Ed.) And he gave us a number to phone just to make sure the hill was open when we next come for sometimes they close access for lambing purposes or for shoots. We thanked him and promised to do just that. Then we left him to his sheep and came back down the road.

We found Peter and Holly at the style by the gate on the Blacksidend road, Peter whittling a stick for Holly to chase. Then we returned to the cars and made our way home resolved to meet later for our Burns Supper.

That night we enjoyed a great night “o’ sangs and clatter” superbly hosted by Johnny. Our thanks go to him and everybody else that contributed to the night.

16 January Erskine Bridge to Clydebank

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

In the seven years of our existence we have been on some high places but never has a feeling of vertigo filled your scribe more than standing on the middle of the Erskine Bridge and looking down at the icy grey waters of the Clyde some hundred and twenty five feet below.
Today’s walk was to be a short one for another of our social events was in the offing for the evening, this time to celebrate the sixty-fifth birthday of Ian. The route chose was a new one for all and a short one; we would walk across the Erskine Bridge then along the Forth & Clyde Canal to Clydebank and back. We, well most of us, parked in the garden centre car park on the south side of the span but for reasons known only to them, Jimmy, Davie and Peter chose to park on the north side. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (mobile phones!) we knew exactly where they were and barely had we started to cross the bridge when we met them coming in the opposite direction. As one body then, we started over the bridge.
 The day was heavily overcast and a snell northerly blew across the height of the centre span of the bridge, a northerly that kept the air fairly clear and we had a decent view both upriver into the city and downriver to Dumbarton Rock and the Tail o’ the Bank. All was well until we looked directly down into the cold grey waters of the Clyde and a feeling of vertigo swept over your scribbler. Still, we stood on the centre of the bridge while Rex manoeuvred his camera on the crash barrier to take a group picture. Then, as the snell breeze cut into us we crossed the river to find the shelter of the canal banks.
The walk along the canal was just that; a walk with no distinct points of interest, just some waterfowl which the birders identified as tufted duck floating on the water. We shared the path with fellow walkers and cyclists, exchanging greetings with all who passed. But this was all to take our attention on what was not a particularly long walk and we soon found ourselves in Clydebank at what we took to be the main shopping complex. Too early for lunch, we decided to split up and do our own thing for half an hour or so. Some milled around the shopping mall, some went looking for the outdoor shop, Go Outdoors, and some walked further along the canal. Then we all came together at Mcmonagles Fish Restaurant for a fish supper. We can highly recommend this eatery for the food is fresh and hot and tasty, and the service is excellent. We will be back!

Lunch finished, we retraced the steps along the canal bank with the same greetings exchanges and the same waterfowl on the canal. Bidding adieu to Jimmy, Peter and Davie for we passed Jimmy’s parked car near the side of the canal, we re-crossed the river to our own parked vehicles and made our way home to beautify ourselves for the evening ahead.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Summit Photo Competition

Here is another candidate for the summit photo competition.

Burns Supper 2013

2013 Burns Supper

Best laid plans!
4 hours of silent video.
Some may say a blessing
I'll pass on the DVD's to the Davids
- they'll no know any better.
Here are some snapshots from the video
caption to your heart's content.
Great night - weel done all.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Ooters on top

I have created a new "label" called "summit photo." 
Here are some of the best. 
Vote for your favourite below. You can vote for more than one!

1 The Cobbler

Ayrshire Quiz Answers

The answers

Click here for the quiz without answers

25. Greenan Castle
33. Tibbie's Brig, Muirkirk

The Answers to the Early Ooters' 2013 Ayrshire Quiz

Congratulations to the winners!
1  Jimmy
2  Allan
3  Paul

Thursday, 17 January 2013

12 Ooters in the Jewel in the Crown celebrating Ian's 65th birthday

Monday, 14 January 2013

9 January Five seconds of sunshine

Andy, Alan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Rex & Robert

            Despite the earliness of the year, eight of us made the long drive into darkest Lanarkshire for an ascent of Tinto Hill. And, for a while as we drove through, it looked as though we would be rewarded for our efforts by having a fine clear day with extensive views. The Ayrshire morning had dawned brightly with a glorious sunrise that raised our spirits and set our expectations high. And they remained high as we drove through towards Biggar though the promising sky was now becoming less so with high cloud obscuring the sun. When we got glimpses of Tinto from the road, it was alternately coated in mist or bathed in week sunshine. Yet our expectations were high and we motored on.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Ayrshire Quiz

Ayrshire Quiz

Straightforward quiz this year - you either know the answer or you don't. If anyone scores 40/40 I'll presume you googled the answer! The Ooter with the highest score will be let off with one week's kitty contribution! Email me your answers or hand in by Wednesday the 23rd January. Any collusion will result in a punishment exercise!
Answers will be posted after the closing date.
Best of luck!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

3 January Annbank to Ayr

Davie Mc, Jimmy, Peter, Rex & Robert

            Five of the hardiest - at least five of the soberest - Ooters turned out for the first outing of the New Year. It was to be a short walk just to work off the excesses of the festive season and to blow away the cobwebs of inactivity. And when we gathered in Annbank, the breeze springing up threatened to blow away more than the cobweb; a chill breeze it was and one that threatened to be in our faces all the way to Ayr. We didn’t look forward to that. Yet it was into this chill breeze that we set our faces and started the walk. The walk has been described too many times in these pages to warrant further description here; suffice to say we would follow the River Ayr way all the way into the town.