Thursday, 31 October 2013

Muirkirk Circular 30 October

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Malcolm, Paul, Rex, Robert

At nine-thirty we met at Kaimes
See above for all the names
Waste no time and avoid the rain
The recent weather has been a pain
Follow the trail to Tibbie’s brig
Where fellow travellers would have a cig
Make our way to the covenanter’s stone
Have a coffee and a bit of a moan
Underfoot it’s getting wet
Though nothing to worry about just yet
Stop at the open cast hole in the ground
It’s filled with water and not a soul around
Cross the road, on tarmac now
The weather’s holding , Paul, take a bow
Cut off at the farm with the strange-looking sheep
A dead one at the bridge made us weep
Up the hill and stop for lunch
Shelter in a copse, was our best hunch
‘It’s time to move’, faither commanded
Make haste before the first rains landed
The trail beyond was flooded in bits
Jack and Victor had the rest in fits
‘Show no compassion,’ was said with a wink
As the two backmarkers were left to sink
All reassembled at the lunky hole
Soaking feet had taken its toll
Down through the wood seemed to be par
Whilst J and V went straight for the car
The Empire Bar was most convivial
As usual our talk was insane and trivial
A good day out, and we got it dry

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Arrangements for Wed 13th Nov.

Meet in the car park on the seafront below Greenan Castle around 9.30.a.m. The walk will be along the shore and then up Brown Carrick and return. Pies,pints and pool to follow at Rex's residence. Allan will have to sharpen up his game if he is to retain his trophy.

Arrangements for Wed 6th Nov.

Meet In Waterside at 9.30.a.m. in the usual parking place in the middle of the village. Some cars will be used to transport the group to Whitelees Windfarm. Coffee will be taken in the cafe before the walk back to Waterside. The drivers can then be ferried back to Whitelees to pick up the cars. F.R.T. will be taken in the King's Arms Fenwick along with many plates of chips. ( I am in charge of the kitty.)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

23 October - Portencross circular

Davie C, Andy, Paul. Robert, Jimmy, Gus, Alan.

Having studied his weather app, Robert had taken an executive decision on Tuesday evening to abort the proposed walk from West Kilbride to the Hayley Brae, and instead we opted for the wet-weather standby of the Portencross circular.

Since we have done this walk several times this is a very brief report.

Dark clouds loomed in the northern sky and within 10 minutes of departure, as we walked along the tarmaced road, badly flooded in places, the rain started.  Those who hadn’t already donned waterproofs did so and we were prepared for the forecasted day of rain.

However, the prognostication was wrong and the rain soon eased off. The remainder of the walk was done in the dry and we even had spells of sunshine.  Robert said something about his app having only given him a forecast for Ardrossan for Wednesday evening  but we all agreed he had made the right decision, since the planned route is very wet even when it’s dry and the recent rains would have made it extremely difficult.
Suffice to say we stopped for coffee and (early) lunch at the usual places. We all looked at the Latin inscription on the sundial and admired the gnomen. As the newcomer, Gus was invited to translate. His translation sounded plausible, but since Davie M wasn’t present no one could come up the Ooters’ official translation.

For a possible  first, we returned to the car park (not long after 1 pm) dry! In a rare display of Ooters’ positivism we all agreed it could have been worse.

Refreshments were taken  in Ardrossan at the Laurieston.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Penpont 16 October

Alan, Allan, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Paul, Robert

The weather forecast for later in the day was awful, so a decision had to be made at Cumnock as to whether we would do the scheduled walk at Penpont or do a local walk, and hope to complete it dry.
Autumn colours were just beginning to show
‘Go for it’ was the concensus of the two who heard that a vote was taking place, and so we set off down the road for Penpont and our round trip of the Scaur Valley. One of the reasons for this walk is to pick sloes for our annual sloe gin competition. Having said that we didn’t have one last year due to a poor season for sloes, and them that know suggested that this year might not be much better. Undaunted we took our more usual clockwise route out of Penpont and cut off up the wee road to the right. As we walked, we started to find the elusive sloes, not in the quantities we’ve seen in other years, but, after perseverance, enough were picked to satisfy the needs of Alan, Gus, Paul and Robert. The other three helped with the picking but decided to pass on the idea of participating in the competition.
The route is amply described i.e. Corfordine, Auchenhessnane, Druidhall and back to Penpont, on previous blogs and the post of November 2011 contains a route map, so suffice it to say that we took a well –earned coffee stop at our usual spot on the bridge before pressing on. Holly had been enjoying herself chasing pheasants and it brought back to mind a previous visit when we encountered a host of well –healed shooters and their entourage. Scary to think that it was five years ago!
Alan wonders why he has to clear up after Holly
We pondered taking lunch at the bridge just beyond Druidhall but it was felt that we should get as much of the walk done while it was still dry and so we continued up to the junction with the Penpont to Sanquhar road before sitting down for sustenance.
“Thirty-five minutes back to the cars from here”, said Davie, “and it’s all downhill”. For once he was right, other than a wee incline which, even to Allan, was nothing, and the cars were reached with the weather still holding out.
It wasn’t until we were in the Crown in Sanquhar that the rain appeared. A much better day than we had hoped for, rounded off by some reminiscences of previous walks spurred on by the copy of our calendar proudly on display in the pub.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Arrangements for Wed 23 Oct.

Meet  at the station in West Kilbride  at 9. 30.a.m. The walk is over the hills to the Healy Brae on the outskirts of Largs. Return by bus to West Kilbride, bus passes required for those that have them.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

9 October Blacksidend Once More

Davie C, Malcolm, Jimmy & Paul

‘Blows the wind today, and the sun and rain are flying,
Blows the wind today and now’
R L Stevenson

            This must have been the kind of day Stevenson was imagining when he wrote the above lines to S R Crocket from his new home in Samoa. The westerly wind of the past two or three days was veering north-westerly to northerly and strengthening, sending scudding, stinging rain showers and patches of warm autumn sunshine across the Ayrshire landscape. We were still in Ayrshire because the forecast conditions of strong winds and heavy, blustery showers caused us to abandon our proposed outing to Coran of Portmark in favour of a more local one. And the one chosen was to an old favourite in Blacksidend above Sorn. 
            The cars were parked at the empty farm of High Brocklar in bright but cool conditions. ‘Not to worry’, said our optimist, ‘the wind will be on our backs for most of the walk and the rain will miss us’. As he said, the wind was on our back as we set off along the tarmac for Blackside Farm, but the rain didn’t miss us. Those optimists who started off without jackets were quickly rummaging in rucksacks for waterproofs as the first shower of the day hit. But barely had we covered up than the shower scudded on somewhere else. Though the rain didn’t last long - just skidding through on the wind - the jackets remained on for the rest of the day.
            Along the tarmac we came then. Where the road splits - one branch for Blackside Farm, one branch for Blacksidend Farm - we chose not to take our usual route on the left-hand branch but to continue straight on and try to get some shelter from the wind on the ascent of the hill. This we achieved by following a farm track eastward for a few hundred yards then striking off diagonally uphill. The ascent was casual with many stops to take in the view. And as we climbed higher the more view we got. From Arran in the west, through the Ayrshire plain to the Heads of Ayr and Brown Carrick, the high Galloways and the Glen Afton hills to Cairn Table in the east, the view was getting better and better. Sometimes parts of it were obscured as the forecasted blustery showers swept across like a moving curtain; sometimes patches of bright sunlight spotlit the various landmarks of this part of the county; but always the view got more extensive as we climbed.
            It wasn’t until we crested the summit that we realised how sheltered we had been. Now we found the full strength of the northerly, a northerly that threatened to blow us back down the hill. But at least it was a dry northerly and we fought our way through it to the shelter of the cairn on the summit. Now the northern part of the county opened up for us as we sat for a bite – from Arran again, through Irvine Bay and the Cunninghamme countryside, the Renfrew Heights to the giant wind farm of Whitelee filling the horizon for miles. And we took in the northern aspect as we sat in the hollowed out cairn of the summit for a cup of warming coffee.

We thought we were sheltered in the cairn but the wind was still getting to us and beginning to chill so we moved on. We had been well sheltered in the cairn for when we rose up to move on the full force of the gale caught at us rocking us about as we clambered out of it. It seemed a daft idea to fight our way through the gale to Wedder Hill today so an alternative was sought. Jimmy had a plan. (Have we not heard this kind of thing before? - Ed.) We would hang fairly high, drift round to the ridge in the east and drop down towards West Auchenlongford Farm.
Like all Jimmy’s plans, this seemed like a good idea at the time but like most of his plans it involved extensive dougaling*. We struggled over the dougals, climbed over a rusty fence, came through some peat-hags and eventually on to the broad ridge that would drop us towards West Auchenlongford Farm. Then we found some quad-bike tracks that eased our way through the worst of the rough stuff and we wandered casually down the slope losing the extensive view with every stride. A mountain hare, just changing into its white winter coat, started up before us and bounded down the slope much quicker than we ever could but we followed it downward, quickly losing sight of it in the rough vegetation. Near the bottom of the hill we crossed a track that Jimmy said would take us back to Blackside Farm if we wished to take it. The alternative was to come through West Auchenlongford Farm, follow the farm track to the main road and follow this back to Brocklar. We opted for the latter.
The weather had been improving as we came down from the summit of Blacksidend, the scudding showers had all but gone now and the spells of sunshine were lengthening. It was in very pleasant conditions that we came down to the farm. Three dogs, two border collies and a brown labrador, barked what we hoped was a friendly greeting as we approached the steading. They were friendly enough for, though they continued to bark, they never approached within fifteen feet and were quite happy to see us on our way down the farm road.
The road came close to the burn at one point and down to our right in the wee wooded glen, in a wee bend of the wee burn was a wee green, flat holm with a wee low dry-stane dyke holding back the rough slope – the kind of place you might expect the wee people to have their midnight dances. To us it was the perfect place for a wee spot of lunch. We sat on the wee, green holm with our backs against the wee dry-stane dyke and enjoyed a long, leisurely bite.
            ‘But pleasures are like poppies spread....’ The hour approached and we had to be on our way again. Down the farm road we came, and on to the main road between Mauchline, Sorn and Muirkirk. A main road it may well be, but a very quiet main road it proved to be today with only four vehicles passing us on the two mile or so we were on it. Then we turned off this main road onto the minor one for Brocklar, arriving back at the cars in pleasant afternoon sunshine.

FRT was taken in Pussy Nancy’s in Mauchline where for most of the time we were the only customers – ‘A merry core o’ randy, gangrel bodies’

* A term coined by the Ooters to describe the challenges of walking, stumbling and struggling though lank and tussocky moor grasses, the tussocks reminding Rex of the dog Dougal from the TV programme ‘The Magic Roundabout’.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Oktoberfest 2 October

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Malcolm, Paul, Rex, Robert

We met at Asda’s cafĂ© in Ardrossan before setting off for Johnny’s house in Irvine where lunch awaited. The rain had just about cleared up although we decided that discretion was the better part of valour as, to a man, we donned waterproofs. In the event the rain never returned and the walk to Irvine along Saltcoats ‘promenade’, through Stevenston, along Dubbs Road into Kilwinning and then over Irvine Moor to our destination was completed in clammy rather than wet conditions. In a little over 3 hours we got to Bank Street and were met there by another four of our company who obviously were only there for the beer.
Seriously, it was good to see Jimmy, Peter and Ronnie and especially good to see Ian.
Johnny’s lunch was fabulous, superb, excellent: butternut squash soup and homemade bread, Killie pie, beans and mash, followed by dumpling (kindly provided by Malcolm). Furthermore, Johnny’s home-made beers were voted a hit by those who can remember being there.
Many thanks to Johnny for treating us to Oktoberfest. Novemberfest beckons!