Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Dates for your diary.

Christmas meal  A-shock-a-roonie -  Wed 11th Dec 2013
Details - David has beat down the price to nearly 40% less than last year.

3rd Ooters' Burns' Night - Wed 15th Jan 2014 (ALL involved parties have given their approval)
Allan will be our chairperson this year. Other duties, tasks and speeches to be assigned.

Also, Next Wednesday 4th Sept Cumnock Swimming Pool for 0930.
Afton valley - the 4, 3, 2, 1 top walk. Jimmy leading

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

21 August Muirkirk to Dalblair

Alan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Malcolm, Jimmy & Ronnie

There is a great swathe of wild country to the south of Muirkirk, one that is bounded by the valleys of the rivers Nith, Clyde, Douglas and Ayr. On the whole this is hill and high grassy moorland fit only for sheep and forestry and broken only by the valleys of Glenmuir, Duneaton and Douglas waters with their minor tributaries. It is a vast, pathless waste with only farming and shooters' tracks following the watercourses into cul-de-sacs and with no through roads: none that is except for the long-abandoned Muirkirk to Sanquhar turnpike. It was into this waste and on this old turnpike that we set our feet today.
            The logistics of this through walk were overcome when only five of us turned up in Cumnock with three cars. Two of these were left at Dalblair in the Glenmuir valley and the other carried the five of us to the institute in Muirkirk. That’s where we met Davie Mc. and Holly, they having come the short way from Darvel. It looked as though the forecast for the day was to be fulfilled for the overnight rain and the morning drizzle were gone and there was a brightening in the western sky. We had our hopes high as we came along the front of the institute to find the old Sanquhar road.
            The Muirkirk to Sanquhar turnpike has been described in these pages before so no further description is needed here. We wandered on, enjoying the open moor and the brightening sky. Along past McAdam’s Cairn we strolled, round the Whisky Knowe we ambled and, at the Sanquhar Brig we stopped for a rest from all this exertion. Then came the steep bit! The old road used to be maintained for shooters but now it isn’t and is beginning to deteriorate, particularly towards the head of the pass. The use of recreational quad bikes/motor bikes has taken its toll here and the old road is churned into a quagmire. We had to be careful with our steps. So careful were we looking to our steps that we didn’t notice the weather deteriorating as well. Then we reached the head of the pass and saw the rain coming in from the west.
            So carefully did the turnpike’s surveyor, John Ainslie, plan this next section of the road that it rises and falls no more than four feet in the next two miles or so. This might have been great for the coaches, carts and horses of the eighteenth century but two hundred years of weather and rain have turned this flat section into a bog, a bog cut by the occasional drainage ditch, a bog to trap the unwary and soak the feet. We had to be even more careful of the moor grasses on this section, grasses that still held last night’s rain and soaked the legs even when we managed to avoid the bogs. And that’s where the rain hit us. So now we were absorbing water from above as well as below.
At first the rain was a light drizzle, then a heavier drizzle and by the time we stopped in the Range Cleuch for coffee it was a downpour. We sat as long as was necessary for coffee and to let the rain abate somewhat before climbing out of the cleuch and continuing to follow the old road, hopeful that the rain would clear. And it did.

At the sheep buchts we, well Davie Mc and Jimmy, made a decision. We would normally walk to the south end of the buchts and hang high towards the Deil’s Back Door but the decision made was to cut through the buchts, through the long, wet grasses and thistles and head straight down over the moor to the burn and Glenmuirshaw. Easier said than done!  As has already been said, this is a trackless, pathless waste and the going through lank moor-grasses and hidden potholes and sheughs was tough. Stumbling onward, lifting feet over tussocks of grass or out of hidden ditches, we followed Jimmy who seemed to know where he was going. Seemed! Down into one burn we dropped and climbed out the other side. Then into another we dropped and climbed. Then another. And all the time through the long, tussocky moorland grasses. Rebellion was brewing in the ranks. But Jimmy ‘kenned whit was whit fu’ brawlie’ He had spotted the quad bike tracks, tracks that he hoped would lead us out of the wilderness to the safety of the road-head at Glenmuirshaw. And they did – eventually. Taking Jimmy’s lead, we came down to Glenmuirshaw everyman for himself, Jimmy to the front and Ronnie bringing up the rear. And, just to add to our enjoyment, the rain came again and went again as we did so.
Eventually a drookit and starving Ronnie found the drookit rest waiting by the sheep fanks of Glenmuirshaw looking into the gorge of the Deil's Back Door. But were we to have lunch here? No way! Half a mile down the rough, sandy track was the abandoned steading of Glenmuirshaw. We would lunch there. And, much to Ronnie’s relief, we did.
The farm track into Glenmuirshaw appears to have been abandoned to maintenance as well now for grass and weeds were growing thick and wet along it. And the grass and weeds continued to be there, less thick and less wet though, as we walked to the uninhabited farm of High Dalblair. Then the surface improved and we strode out the few remaining miles to Dalblair enjoying the ease of walking after the slog through the moor and watching the weather improve from the west. Too late for us now though for, by the time the sun came, we were at Dalblair.
We arrived at the two parked cars, piled into them and drove back to Muirkirk.  

Our usual howf for FRT at Muirkirk is was closed so we tried a new place, the Empire Bar on the Glasgow road. We think we will change howfs for this one was much more to our liking.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

'Lung-bursting climbs' above Crawford

Davie C, Davie Mc, Jimmy, Paul & Robert

            Five of the hardiest and fittest Ooters gathered in Davie MC’s place in Darvel for today’s outing. Well, when I say the fittest, that is a point for debate for when Jimmy arrived having recovered from his bout of shingles and we started comparing medications, it was found that only the drugs were holding us together. So it was five of the hardiest and chemically supported Ooters that made their way from Ayrshire to the south of Lanarkshire for today’s outing.
            The day was bright and sunny when we left Ayrshire but as we travelled into Lanarkshire the sky clouded over, not sufficiently to foretell rain, just enough to obscure the sun. It would to stay that way for the day and the met office forecasted rain never appeared. In the village of Crawford we turned left on Camps Road, came over the Clyde by a narrow, ancient bridge, over the railway by a much more modern one and parked the cars in a layby near Crawford Castle.
Davie Mc had threatened us with at least two lung-bursting climbs but the walk started off easily enough. We turned left on a wee narrow tarmacked road parallel to the railway, a road that still held the red whin that used to give Lanarkshire its distinctive red roads. But we were only on this for a few hundred yards before came our first ‘lung-bursting’ climb of the day from the floor of the Clyde valley to the top of Castle Hill. You might expect that this slope would cause us old fellows some problems but we took it casually and slowly enough having many stops to admire the view. One such stop saw us looking down on an ancient earthwork which we decided was a Roman camp but which on later researching proved to be another Iron Age settlement. (This area is littered with such monuments) Another stop saw us looking westward to the high tops of the Lowthers capped with cloud. And each and every one saw us look out over the upper Clyde Valley to watch both river and motorway run south to north. When we eventually reached the top of Castle Hill, we turned our steps eastward for Raggengill top.
We never quite made the summit of Raggengill Hill. A hundred yards or so from the crest Davie Mc suggested we ignore this top and head for the Iron Age hill fort on Arbory Hill top, ‘Just to let Jimmy see it’ This necessitated a drop from our present height to a col between two tops and a steep cleugh down the grassy slope of Tewsgill Hill. A path of sorts, no more than a sheep pad really, then skirted Tewsgill and brought us to the rise to the fort on top of Arbory. Here, in the remains of an Iron Age house, we settled down for coffee. (For a description of Arbory Fort see

            ‘There’s a path all the way now’, said our knowledgeable one. If there ever was, we have yet to find it. Oh, there was one  to start with and we followed it away from Arbory Hill towards the top of Tewsgill. Then, either we lost the path or it sort of petered out for we found ourselves climbing the slope of Tewsgill through bent grass and soft, springy moss. Tiring stuff for most but especially for the not yet fully recovered Jimmy who struggled to make the top. But make it he did, along with the rest of us. Bob’s record picture was taken from the trig point on this hill for it was to be our highest point  of the day, much to Jimmy’s relief it should be added.
            Wind turbines are springing up all over our southern hills. This area is no exception and Hawkwood Hill and Rome hill are just as polluted with them as any. But one thing about these turbines is that they need service roads, service roads that would lead us back into the valley. So it was towards Hawkwood top that we now turned our steps. As we approached the first of the whirling, whooshing turbines Davie C was heard to be singing not so quietly to himself. And the song? What else but ‘♫ Oh Power of Scotland ♪’
            The wind had been freshening as we climbed towards Arbory and now it was a full gale. And it was time for lunch. So, coorying into what shelter was made by the column of a wind turbine, we sat down to eat. Our view while we ate was towards the east. Tinto had been with us for some time but was now joined by Culter Fell and is surrounds and to the south the Moffat hills around the Devil’s Beeftub. And away in the east was the faint outline of the Pentlands. A pleasant spot for lunch. That was until the strong wind began to chill. Then we set off down the service road and the short climb to the top of Rome Hill.

            A few shortcuts down the heathery slops between loops of the road took us down out of the wind to the bridge on the Camps Water where another break was called. We had dropped out of the wind completely now and, despite the overcast sky, the air was warm. We need that break. Now our way lay down the tarmacked service road of Camps Reservior. This was taken casually, coming down past Crawford Castle and back to our transport. (For a short history of the Crawford Castle see

            A cracking day in new territory for most and our thanks must go to Davie Mc for finding the walk for us.

            We drove back into Ayrshire for FRT in the Black Bull in Darvel where we were made most welcome.

The Lungbursting hills Crawford

Here are a few pictures from our day on the Crawford hills

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Glesca' 7 August

Allan, Davie C, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Robert, Ronnie

There was light rain as we assembled in the Concert Hall cafĂ© for the walk out to the Commonwealth Arena. True to form, Peter arrived on the half hour, but we were glad to see him nonetheless after a few weeks’ absence.
The rain cleared away as our route took us straight down Buchanan Street and continued to the Clyde walkway and along to Glasgow Green. We skirted the People’s Palace and took time to inspect the new national Hockey Centre where a ladies practice session was taking place. Some of our number had to be prised away before we could follow the walkway as far as Rutherglen Bridge and then cut off ‘inland’ and walk adjacent to the Clyde Gateway until we reached the Emirates (do they sponsor everything these days?) Arena. As we had already identified, we were not to be allowed access to the velodrome today as there was a competition on and, despite our best attempts at blagging our way through for a ‘keek’, the custodians of the building were not to be budged.
Nevertheless, the visit was worthwhile just to spy out the land, and copies of the Commonwealth Games Ticketing Guide were eagerly gathered up.
Being adjacent to Celtic Park brought tears to those who worship at Paradise. Malcolm, not accustomed to knowing what a Premiership ground looks like, was in tears for an entirely different reason. The stadia (no doubt someone will correct me on the plural, stadia or stadiums?) looked brilliant in the lunchtime sunshine, but hunger was being felt by some, well, Robert actually, and we quickly made our way down London Road, past Bridgeton Cross, and on to the West Brewery for lunch and refreshments. Peter took a half pint before leaving us to go Miller’s art shop but his substitute, Johnny’s daughter, Kate, joined us, just as some  were losing the power of speech.
A good day out!
P.S. Both Ronnie and Ian have become grandfathers again, so congratulations to them, and thanks to Ronnie for buying the first round. Our best wishes are passed on to Ian.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Arrangements for 14 August

Meet at Davie's 8.30 for  9.00 for the Crawford/Abington Walk and an account of Davie and Holly's Four Lochs Walk.

4 lochs

Venue: four lochs walk
Participants: Davie & Holly
Weather: mainly sunny
Distance: 14 miles
Time taken: 5 hours 29 minutes
Walk Rating: 10/10
Loch Doon with old castle showing

Loch Finlas

Loch Bradan

Loch Riecawr

arty farty shot

Loch Doon castle

Friday, 2 August 2013

Cathkin Braes 31 July

Alan, Allan, Andy, Ian, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Rex, Robert, Ronnie

Obligatory group photo. Johnny had left his hat in the car.
The morning was bright and clear as we left Ian’s house (thanks for your hospitality, Ian) and headed for our designated starting point i.e. the Croft in Spittal. This region of course brings up many memories for Ian as he was brought up here and was keen to point out that we were in Rutherglen and not Glasgow, and in fact for the best part of the day we were in and out of South Lanarkshire – more of this later.
The travel up to and through Castlemilk Park was as we remembered it (see September 2011) and quick progress was made up to the entry point for Cathkin Braes Country Park. Since our last visit the mountain bike trail has been built for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games and we were keen to see it for ourselves. It contains different coloured trails depending on severity and the first cyclists we saw were testament to the various degrees of difficulty. The first of the group of three negotiated a steep wee downhill section easily but the third lost balance and disappeared headfirst into the shrubbery. He quickly recovered and continued on his way with a skint knee and wounded pride together with shouts of ‘encouragement’ from the Ooters.
Gaun yersel!
We continued up to the top of the Braes and enjoyed marvellous views over the cityscape. The Braes are the highest point in Glasgow, 200m approx., and as we made our way from the radio mast towards Queen Mary’s Seat, where legend has it that Mary, Queen of Scots, viewed her troops being defeated at the Battle of Langside in 1558, we picked out the landmarks, particularly the sporting ones. Of special interest were the venues for the Commonwealth Games, an event at which Jimmy is the Athletics Competitions Secretary – we are not worthy! Well done Jimmy, and we hope to see you fit and well again soon.
Celtic Park, Paradise to some, The Arena, Velodrome and Hampden Park were clearly visible. Malcolm was first to spot Ibrox, stating that he could clearly see the Third Division Title flag fluttering in the breeze. He needs to get out more!
East end including Celtic Park
After coffee we made our way out of the park and crossed the road heading to Cathkin Marsh for lunch. It was on this part of the walk that we encountered a local resident who was keen to make sure we knew where we were going as the landfill site further up had cut off a path. This however would not affect us as we were turning off just before the site but we enjoyed his company for some minutes as he regaled us with the problems the landfill site had given him over the last 13 years and the fact that Glasgow, remember we were now in South Lanarkshire, just, had applied to extend the site and at present were operating there illegally. He then updated us on the dirty deeds Glasgow had done with the nearby wind turbine, which now dominates the area, and stated that they wanted to add another one. Needless to say, the members of Glasgow City Council were not on his Christmas list.
The Ooters doing what they do best - eating
We took lunch at the hide on Cathkin Marsh, enjoyed the sun and watched the Shetland cows graze. These had been brought in especially to improve the pasture and according to the chap from Scottish Wildlife Trust, who was doing some strimming, their introduction had been a success.
Continuing down the road back towards the car park for the Braes took half an hour at most and we were soon retracing our steps, downhill this time, back to the cars.
An excellent four hour walk was followed by FRT in the Croft where we met up with Ian’s brother, Alistair.
Ballageich Hill and Whitelee Windfarm in the distance

P.S. Legend also has it that the Braes were once home to an Iron Age Celtic tribe, no doubt dressed in green and white, called the Damnoni. Hence the call, centuries later, from the commentator ‘Oh naw. It’s no Damnoni oan an’ a’ noo’. Explanations can be provided later for those who do not follow football folklore.