Thursday, 27 June 2013

Annbank to Ayr 26 June

Alan, Allan, Andy, Davie C, Davie McM, Ian, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Robert

For Davie, whose battery had run out

The day was sunny, but as so often so far this year, with a wee edge to the breeze as we assembled at Annbank Bowling Club. Some, who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, had already availed themselves of filled rolls and sausage rolls from the baker’s prior to departing on what was to be good and dry (except for sweat) day out.
Going against the usual protocol, we headed down the main street before cutting off past the fishery and making our way on the path beside the river. A short coffee stop was called for at the view point overlooking the river before proceeding to the Wallace and Burns monument for our next stop. Here those who wanted coffee, took it, those who wanted to have lunch, had it, and those who just wanted to rest, rested.
No introductions necessary
The talk was of embarrassing bodies - Robert’s, Ian’s, Davie’s,… and of how the Canigou had been conquered. Robert said it was so easy, the most frightening part being the journey up in the jeep, that next year he is going to do it carrying a 25kg bag of cement – wee hard man right enough.
All good things come to an end and soon we were off again making our way past the smallholdings and using the stepping stones to cross the river where lunch, or whatever, was called.
Walking under the A77, using the footpath obviously, we continued on the path adjacent to the river before crossing it at UWS and then walked into town where the Annbank bus had just drawn up at the stop – good planning or what?
There was a short debate about whether to go straight home (remembering tonight’s curry) or go to the Tap o’ the Brae for’ just the one’ pint. In the event there was no argument and we sat in the sit-ootery* enjoying the views and the refreshments. Just the one pint?  Some hope. Had it been not for the night out, this could have been at least a 3pd**.

P.S. The curry at the Jewel in the Crown was most successful with Peter and Rex joining us and Paul travelling up for the banter in Wetherspoon’s where, disappointingly, they had run out of the malt of the month – Lagavulin

*Where the Ooters sit oot and the dug can join us in intelligent conversation.
**Ooter-speak for a moderate libation.

Monday, 24 June 2013

canigou video

the videos give a better idea of what it was like on the walk.

The CANIGOU conquerers

Three Ooters finally made it to the top of the Canigou on Wednesday 19th June 2013. Rex  , Alan and myself made it to the top from the Chalet de Cortalet with a little bit of help from a Mr Colas and his Jeep.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Cumbrae 19 June

Allan, Andy, Davie C, Davie McM, Ian, Johnny (minus beard), Paul

(This walk has been often described before, hence the lack of any great detail)

Enjoying the view on the way down from the Glaid Stone
The day was ideal for walking, bright but with a wee edge to the wind which would keep us from overheating. Having left the 9.45 ferry, we made our way up to the Glaid Stone for coffee. Something strange was happening today - the pace was gentle and there was time to blether and take in the views – the shape of things to come?
Fit fit fits fit fit?

Kilchattan Bay on Bute, from where we started a few weeks back
Costa Clyde right enough
Next stop was the front at Millport where an early lunch was taken at about 11.45. As we sat in the pleasant sunshine overlooking the bay thoughts turned to our next stop. Ian had already mapped out the itinerary for us, so before too long we were on our way up to the Golf Club for the first of today’s refreshments. This truly is the life!
The tearoom at Fintry Bay was our next resting place where ice-creams, Magnums and Soleros were the order of the day.
 The 3 o’clock ferry was made and we retired to McCabe’s for our post walk FRT and debriefing.
Midday snooze for the warrior
A fine day out!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Loudoun Hill 12 June

Tunnel vision

Are there too many people on the hill for Peter?

Summit meeting

The glaur at the bridge causes a problem

Peece at last
Oldest swinger in town

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Ya Butey! - images from Bute 5th June

Time to remove outer layers at the golf course

Looking north from the beach

Coffee stop looking across to Arran

Andy takes in some local history

Lunch at an idyllic spot

The birdwatchers were in raptures at spotting an osprey
The pub was reached just before the rain hit us

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Some Windy standard Photos

Looking south-west from Jedburgh Knees

Examining the wind turbines

Wind turbines on Jedburgh Knees

At the summit trig point on Windy Standard looking towards the Glen Afton hills

Approaching the last turbine on Windy Standard

22 May Windy Standard

Ian, Jimmy & Robert

Only three made the walk this week again. It might have been four had we waited at the meeting place long enough for Peter to join us, but we didn’t so there were only three today on the walk today.
            The weather was fair; the sun shone and the air was clear but the persistent northerly that has been with us for most of the month kept the temperature down. Still we anticipated a good walk as we drove to the water treatment works at the head of Glen Afton. In the glen we were sheltered from the full effects of the wind, and the start of the walk to the dam face was relatively warm in the morning sunshine. But, as we climbed up the path by the face of the dam, we could feel the wind rising. And a chill wind it was.
            Work is being carried on at the dam at the moment and men in hard hats could be seen mulling around the middle of it, too far away for our inquiries. Nor was there anybody about at the works headquarters - a port-a-cabin surrounded by land-working machinery and a temporary fence - so our nosiness about what work was being carried out went unsatisfied. We continued up the track to find the forest road that runs from here toward the Dalmellington to Carsphairn road.
            Now, as we climbed with the road, we could feel the full effects of the northerly wind – strengthening and chilling – and we were only too happy to crest the ridge and drop into the shelter of the trees in the valley of the Water of Deugh. It was here that we met the cyclist. A man of our own vintage was labouring upward pushing his mountain bike by his side. As you know, we are not the people to miss the opportunity for a blether so we stopped to encourage our new friend in our inimitable fashion. ‘Only another four miles to the top’, said we seeing how he was enjoying himself. We can only hope he made it.
            We walked on easier than he did for we were now going down into the valley of the Deugh. ‘Coffee’, said Ian and we stopped on the bridge over the Deugh for a break. The morning was warm in the shelter of the trees and we, even Robert, were happy to take our time over coffee.

            After coffee we left the forest road and stated the first serious climb of the day. This climb through a firebreak was wet underfoot and warm from the effort. But it was not as wet as it might have been given the weather of the last few months. Nor was it as warm as it might have been for, as we rose, we found the strong northerly again. By the time we cleared the trees and came to the first wind turbine on Jedburgh Knees the wind was strong and chilly. But, as we turned on the wind farm road towards Windy Standard, it was on our backs and we walked on comfortably taking in the view as we went.
It was the northerly wind that kept the air clear and the views took in the Ayrshire plain and as far north as Whitelee wind farm, as far east as the Lowther Hills, as far south as the Cumbrian fells and as far southwest as the high Galloways. But there was no Arran in the west. Somehow a haze hung over the sea and Arran was obscured today. And the view changed subtly as we walked along the road towards the short climb to the Standard itself.
We came across a turbine with one blade missing. The blade lay along the hillside awaiting repair or re-fixing and the turbine stood forlornly still while its neighbours waved at each other in the strong wind. The bladeless turbine needed investigating and we made the fifty metre diversion to examine it and the blade. This is where Ian’s engineering knowledge came to the fore. He used words like ‘ergs’ and ‘torques’ and ‘kilowatt hours’ and we nodded in intelligently and hung on his every word. Then we walked on before he could come up with more words.
The short climb to the top was easy and we found ourselves standing by the trig point with what seem like no effort at all. A figure was seen coming to the top from the opposite direction to us. She had come from the Ken Valley and was making her way along the wind farm roads to Clennoch bothy and back to the Ken. (She was asked her name but the scribe’s memory is not the sharpest and he has forgotten it, hasn’t he! If this lady reads this blog she might give us her name in a comment – Ed.) The wind was beginning to really chill now so we left our new friend to continue her walk and started our descent towards the Afton again.
Hunger was beginning to call as we came down the fence towards the Afton but the wind was strong and cold and there was no shelter until we reached the edge of the forest again. We left our downward progress and crossed to the edge of the trees where we were out of the wind and settled down to eat.

After lunch we came round and down the hill towards a sheep pen we could see in the valley bottom. This, said Jimmy, would avoid the wet of the bog that is the Source of the Afton. Avoid the bog we may have done but there were still some wet patches to be negotiated before the sheep pen was reached, and even after this. But negotiated they were and we found the path that would take us down the right of the burn to the head of the reservoir. Some work is being done here as well with a new road being driven in, but whether this has anything to do with the work at the dam we don’t know for there was still nobody about to ask. No doubt we will find out in due course.
A pair of sandpiper lifted from the bank of the burn as came down the road to find the forest road that would take us back to the dam. The walk along the road by the side of the reservoir was a delight in the afternoon sun and we arrived back at the cars sun-kissed, wind-blown and thoroughly pleased with the day’s walk.

FRT was taken in The Sun in Cumnock, a vastly improved place since the first time we came here seven years ago.

15 May The Ness Glen Again

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Robert & Ronnie

            A squad of young army cadets, at least one of whom was from Newton Stewart, were feeding their faces at The Roundhouse CafĂ© by the dam of Loch Doon when we gathered there for an old favourite, The Ness Glen walk. The weather was much kinder than last week. The sun shone and the morning might have been warm but for the persistent northerly that has been blowing since the week-end. Still, we were undeterred by the chill wind and once in the shelter of the trees above the Ness Glen we were quite comfortable.
Johnny had returned from his sojourn to the antipodes and regaled us - bored us some would say - with his tales of down under. The morning was fair, the woodland a delight, the crack was good and the walk along the top of the gorge passed quickly. There was some talk, when we reached Tracy’s bench*, of a visit to The Dark Sky Observatory but those who know these things suggested it would be better to visit on the return journey so we walked on down to the bridge over the Doon.
Another party of what looked like young army cadets in civvies under the instruction of uniformed adults were preparing for a canoeing adventure on the river just at the bridge. It seems that it was a fine day for the cadets to be out. We didn’t hang about for the usual blether today but walked on down through the glen to the ponds under Bellsbank where coffee was called.

Post coffee, we ambled, well ambled as much as the speedsters would allow, down to The Promised Land #. Here, without stopping we turned along the footpath beside the Muck water. The local scouts and cadets have created a garden along here and new woven statues have been erected. It was just like us to indulge our boyish natures and have our pictures taken doing silly things with these statues. Big weans! Then we walked on along the burn side, turned left on the Straiton road, took another left and came along to Dalcairney Farm and Dalcairnie Linn. Here we stopped for lunch.
What a pleasant spot this is overlooking the gorge of the Dalcairnie Burn with the water dropping like hair into the cauldron below, particularly so this spring day with the sun shining through the fresh green of the beeches that overhang the gorge. But the sun wasn’t to last. As we sat, the sky greyed and just as we were preparing to set off again the first spots of rain were felt. Rain jackets were donned just in time for the shower came quickly.
 But the shower passed just as quickly as it had come and by the time we had climbed to the split in the path, one branch to Knockdon in the Girvan valley and one to Barbeth and Craigengillan, it had gone and the sun was re-appearing. We walked on to the ruins of Barbeth before dispensing with the waterproofs for the day.
This section of the walk over the moor is always a delight especially on a day like this with the sun shining and the rain scudding on the wind down the Doon Valley. We savoured this section until we dropped once more to the valley floor and the wooded policies of Cragengillan.
Just beyond the house itself the road spits, one branch to the bridge at the foot of the Ness glen gorge and the other to climb the ill to the Dark Sky Observatory. As we had promised ourselves earlier, we turned upward to the observatory. At first we thought it was shut but a young woman opened the door and welcomed us in despite muddy boots. The young lady (sorry, we forgot to get your name) gave us an interesting and informative insight into the workings of the observatory and gave us all a leaflet to take away. Some of us promised to return for the evening session some clear night.
Wishing our hostess farewell, we left the observatory and mad our way past Fort Carrick, the wild-west looking log fort built by the local scouts and cadets, and down past Tracy’s bench to foot of the Ness Glen Gorge. How we enjoy the walk in this gorge will be understood by regular followers of this blog. Today was no exception. The water rushed and gushed over the rocks echoing from the rocky walls and drowning out any other sounds, the fresh spring greenery overhung the rock walls and spring flowers showed wherever there was soil enough. We can thoroughly recommend this walk to anybody who hasn’t done it. We savoured it today.
But the gorge comes to a sudden end and we found ourselves in the wee wood below the dam of Loch Doon sooner than we hoped. The cars were still parked by the Round House but the young cadets had departed hours before we arrived back, happy with another days superb walking.

FRT was taken in the usual howff in Dalmellinton. We were entertained today by a party of women who were attending the funeral of a friend. This was not the sober and sad funeral expected now-a-days but the women were determined to see their friend off in the way she would have liked – by having a party. Their laughing and ribald suggestions had us entertained for the hour or so we sat there. Is there ever a dull moment in Dalmellington?

*The story of how we came to name this bench should be known only to us. Suffice to say that it stood at the top of a wooded slope providing a view down over Craigengillan Estate. It disappeared some years back and we suspected Tracy might have taken it as a souvenir. However the bench has been reinstated minus the graffito that gave it its name.

# For the story of how this came to be called The Promised Land see the information board at the entrance to Craigengillan Estate on the Ayr road just to the west of Dalmellington.

8 May The Luss Hills Revisited

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Paul, Rex, Robert & Ronnie

Rain! Rain! Rain! What is it about the hills to the west of Loch Lomond and us? We have seen many pictures of splendid views from these hills but have yet to see these for ourselves. Yes, we have had a sunny day here but even then the view was restricted by a March haze that kept the distance to around a mile or so. The rest of the times we have had rain or hill fog. Today it was to be rain.
            Yet the day was dry when we left Luss, crossed the main road by the footbridge and started on the climb of Beinn Dubh, the first top on our Luss horseshoe. This dry wasn’t to last long though. By the time we had climbed to the thousand contour and stopped in the lea of a wee bank for coffee, the first spots could be felt. Allan and Malcolm had the right idea and, after coffee, started on the descent back to Luss. The rest of us, the foolhardy crew, continued upward into the increasingly heavy rain and strengthening wind. We met a couple who had gone before us but were beaten by the conditions and were returning from the top. But we are stronger or more foolish than they and continued upward. Eventually, when we reached the fence that was almost on the summit of Beinn Dubh we called enough for the wind was now severe and the rain persistently heavy, not nice conditions to be out in. Even we were beaten and opted for the descent.

The descent was a lot quicker than the ascent and we were back down in Luss in less than the hour. We met Malcolm and Allan in Luss and drove back to Fenwick for a more than welcome FRT in the King’s Arms.