Thursday, 27 February 2014

Irvine 26 Feb

Allan, Andy, Johnny, Malcolm

For a variety of reasons the North Ayrshire Chapter decided that the proposed walk from Wanlockhead was not for them and so they assembled in Johnny’s for coffee and scones whilst watching the rain batter down. By 11.15 the rain was easing so we donned waterproofs and headed down Bank Street towards the Low Green. Within a few minutes the rain had disappeared to be replaced with blue skies and sunshine and this was how it was to be for the rest of the walk. (nobody however removed waterproofs so as not to tempt fate). The river was crossed and we made our way down to the harbour and beachpark, following the path south towards the dragon. From here we continued towards the industrial estate before emerging at Harry Fairbairn’s. By this time Johnny’s back was going in to spasms, he had hurt it at the weekend shifting stones at Kirkcowan, and so we took the most direct route back home i.e. under the new ‘Bailey Bridge’ over the river at the footpath at Merryvale, across the Golffields up through the Kirk Vennel, over to Glasgow Vennel and back on to Bank Street. What is it they say?  ‘The sun shine on the righteous’
Well done and thanks to Johnny for providing lunch of soup and burgers as well as insisting that we took away some of his home brew.
As we left for home the rain started again.

26 February A Soggy Day in Muirkirk

Davie C, Gus, Jimmy, Rex & Robert

While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars
frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

            The distinction between hardiness and foolhardiness has yet to reach the Ooters; in fact both of these qualities might be said to be embodied in the same people. Whether it was the five hardiest or the five foolhardiest that gathered in the rain at the Kames car park in Murikirk this morning has yet to be decided, even after the event. But sense of a kind had already broken out when, in view of the forecast, we decided to abandon the hills of Dumfriesshire in favour of a more local and lower level walk. The one chosen was the old favourite – The Lunky Hole at Muirkirk.

            As for the walk itself? Well, waterproofs were worn from the start. Even Jimmy whose aversion to waterproof trousers is well known in Ooterland admitted defeat in this instance and happed up from head to toe. Thus, thoroughly defended against the elements, we set off into the weather. It was not torrential rain, it was more a steady falling, but it was driven on the slightest of south-westerlies and it was wetting. Up the Sanquhar road we came, heads down into the rain. At Springhill we turned right to come down to Tibbie’s Brig and found the rain being blown into our faces. We plodded on heads down partly to avoid the stinging rain and partly to see where the next mucky puddle was. The rain was adding to already saturated ground and puddles were developing into ponds. At Tibbie’s Brig He Who Knows These Things suggested that we stay on the track rather than our usual route down the burn-side path. ‘It will be drier and less mucky’, said he.

            It was drier. At least it was until the wee rivulet that was running down the track decided that it wanted to be a loch and spread its cold, brown waters right across our path. On to the soggy, slippery moor then, to avoid wet feet or worse. Still, first hazard bypassed, we climbed onto the old railway where we were slightly sheltered from the worst of the wind-driven rain. A slight respite was also had at Adam’s Grave but it was only a temporary one. When we reached the river we were back into the incessant rain. And the path was turning into a burn in places. It was difficult to keep to a dry area. Still we plodded on, down the riverside to the Cumnock Road.

            Crossing the road, we kept to tarmac for a while. At least now the feet could be kept out of the water even if the bodies were still being soaked from above. At the Sorn road a decision had to be made. Should we continue with the planned walk or cut it short and return by the main road? On a vote of three to two, we continued up the tarmac to Netherwood. The fellow in the covered quad was amazed and amused to see five bedraggled walkers coming up the road. So amazed was he that he took delight in stopping, winding down his window and telling us how dry he was. Our comments are not suitable for those of a sensitive disposition. We left him smiling his way down the road while we trudged upward, still into the rain.

            We left tarmac at Burnfoot and took to the forest track. This was a quagmire but there was no other way than to grit the teeth and wade through the wet, slimy, mud that used to be a track. Firmer footing was found on the rise on the other side of the bridge and the firmer footing would be with us for a while. Up into the forest we came, up to where the old mine workings were. Now we looked at our route out to the Stra’ven road. Hardly surprising that the road by the wee pond was flooded given the kind of winter we have had. There would be no dry way through here. So He Who Knows told us to go straight on and it would bring us down into Smallburn. This we did. And it did.

            Now you would think that we had nothing else to do than walk along the road to the Furnace Road and come back to Kames. But no! A plot had been hatched by Jimmy and Gus to turn us right, come across the river at Airdsmill to Kames Farm and across the golf course. We followed meekly, splishing and splashing our way over the golf course. Wonder upon wonders! As we approached the club-house, the rain stopped! Now we could finish the walk – all four hundred yards of it – in the dry.

            Whether we were the hardy five or the foolhardy five we will leave you to decide but, boy, were we happy to be finished and changed into dry clothes. This must be the quickest ever round of the Lunky Hole walk. You might have notice that there was no mention of lunch. We did stop for a coffee, a standing up coffee, on the banks of the river but there was no halt for lunch. In fact, apart from the coffee stop and the five minutes with the farmer in the quad, there were no halts at all.
The hour spent in FRT in The Empire Bar was well earned today.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Gogo Burn 19 Feb

Alan, Allan, Andy, Davie C, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Rex, Robert

The forecast was for the weather to clear by late morning so it was with a degree of optimism that we set off from the cars to walk past the Douglas Park Bowling Club and head for the hills above Largs. Although the morning was still a bit dreich, it was mild, and it wasn’t long before the jackets came off as we ascended the first of a series of steps. This is a walk which gains height rapidly and soon we were looking at the final set of steps, 111 the learned one advised us, which would take us on to the open hills beyond. We made the climb at our own individual speeds and immediately made for the close-by viewpoint for a breather. The air was ‘fresher’ here so we didn’t hang around following the track past the cairn and onwards towards our ‘usual’ coffee stop.
Spring has sprung?
Largs on a dreich day
We could see clearly the track back down the other side of the Gogo Burn and it was a question of how far up this side we should go before crossing over. Rolling mist also had to be taken into account as discretion has to be the better part of valour.
Allan, accompanied by Johnny, decided that he had done enough for one day and headed back down retracing his steps, as the others made their way not too far up the glen before crossing over and heading down the other side. Entertainment was provided by Rex who, inspired by the fallers on the half- pipe at the Olympics did a double backward somersault before landing on his posterior. He was heard to say “Oh dear me! What a silly boy I am, slipping on this mud!  And me with my nice clean trousers on!”  - or words to that effect.
A & J take a wrong turning coming off the hill
Now, where have I seen these before?
Allan and Johnny having got back to the cars and changed, then set off to meet the rest coming down, and did so as they reached Largs Academy.
FRT was taken at McCabe’s but, hold your breath, the ooters sat at a different table to their normal one. That was exciting!

Friday, 14 February 2014

12 February A Wet Wednesday Walk in Ayr

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Peter, Rex, Robert. Ronnie

OK, which one of us annoyed Mother Nature? After having bragged last week of not having had a wet Wednesday this year, today made up for it. Fortunately this was to be a short walk anyway for this was the day of Jimmy joining the ‘auld men’s club’ and we were due to go out this evening to celebrate. Still, it was shorter than we even expected it to be.
Yet all seemed well when we gathered in Rex’s place in Alloway to partake of his coffee and home-made Anzac biscuits. The morning was dry though the forecast was for rain later. But have heard this tale every Wednesday since the turn of the year so we were in defiance of the Met Office for we knew that nature smiled on us. And smile on us she did, at least for the first part of the walk.
We left Rex’s and came into Rozelle Park. Among the trees a swathe of snowdrops greeted us, a sign that spring might not be so far away. While Jimmy stopped to photograph them, the rest of us walked on towards Rozelle House and the McLaurin Art Gallery. Being the culture vultures that we are, we halted here for a quick look at the exhibits – all primary school children’s work today. Far too many reminders of our recent past, we were off again.
We came through Belleisle Park and noted the alterations being carried out on the house there; then by Carwinchoch View to the sea front. Some were for holding to tarmac here but the consensus was for the sand and this is where we found ourselves, right down a tide level and turning northward for the harbour.
We never quite made the harbour before the rain hit, light rain to start with but with the potential to get heavier. The sensible waterproofed; the foolish dripped. Yes, we never quite made the harbour; we turned right past the swimming pool to come up South Harbour Street to Loudoun Hall, the oldest building in Ayr. Now came decision time. With the weather deteriorating even from the light rain of earlier, we opted to cut the walk short and make directly back for Alloway.
Up the High Street we plodded, avoiding umbrellas and soggy shoppers, to Burns Statue Square. (One of these days we must find out whose statue it is that stands there.) Now we found the rain driven into us by the lightest of winds but a wind sufficiently strong to sting the rain into faces. Then we squelched on through the rain along Carrick Road and Monument Road to where we had exited Rozelle Park earlier in the morning. Only a few hundred more soggy yards to the cars parked at Rex’s.
We found ourselves back at Rex’s place around lunch time thoroughly soaked and miserable. The Cumnock contingent – they who hadn’t donned waterproof trousers – opted not to accept Rex’s invitation to lunch in his place but to head back home to dry out. The rest enjoyed Rex’s hospitality and his beer.

A much shorter walk than was planned but sufficient unto the day! Our thanks go to Rex for his hospitality at both ends of the walk. 

That evening we gathered in The Jewel in the Crown in Kilmarnock to celebrate Jimmy’s sixty-fifth with a convivial curry and a few beers. A good night was had by all and our thanks must go to our hostess for the complimentary drink for Jimmy’s birthday. We will most certainly be back here.

Friday, 7 February 2014

5 February Sorn to The Haugh and back

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Malcolm, Jimmy, Johnnie, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert & Ronnie

Nature, it would seem, smiles on the Ooters. Despite the wet and windy winter, we have been blessed by reasonable weather for our Wednesday outings; in fact we haven’t had a wet Wednesday walk since the turn of the year. And, despite dire warnings from the Met Office of heavy rain and storm force winds for today, this was another walk that seems to prove that Nature smiles on the Ooters. It would also seem that none of us is afraid of a little rain and wind for regardless of the forecast, thirteen of us gathered in Sorn for our re-arranged walk – even if we had to wait for the tardy one from Cumnock. And the sun shone on us as we set off up the Mauchline road a little after our scheduled departure time of ten.

Sorn Castle looked a picture this morning perched on its rock above the River Ayr and bathed in warm morning sunlight. And this self-same morning sunlight was with us as we turned off the Mauchline road on to a byway that took us past Hillhead Farm to the Catrine War Memorial. It was interesting to note that among the names engraved there were two Italian ones, two Catrine folk of Italian extraction who fought in the Italian forces in WW1. Then we left the War memorial and dropped down the Chapel Brae into Catrine itself.

What a pleasant surprise awaited us in Catrine. Peter had arranged with his brother Edward that we could have coffee in his new café/restaurant. Though the café is not open to the public yet, Edward made us most welcome for it gave him a chance to try out his systems. We thank Edward for his hospitality and Peter for arranging this.

After coffee we found ourselves on the River Ayr Way. We would stay on it for a good while now. Over the ‘timmer brig’ we came, along past the sewage works, up the steps (Or what’s left of them!) and under the Howford Brig. Amazement and wonder spread though the group as we examined the graffiti on the span of the new brig – amazement as to how somebody had the nerve to climb up there and wonder as to why the so-and-sos wanted to do this in the first place.

There was no such graffiti on the old brig though, only a dirty great hole where some organisation or other was laying pipes. But we hadn’t time to look into this hole for long, we moved on up the slope away from the river again.

Again we turned off tarmac and came onto Lady Alexander’s Walk along the sandstone cliffs above the river. Somebody expressed an interest in seeing the cup and ring markings carved into the living rock and a group of us set off in search of these. Jimmy was for into the field but Davie Mc knew a better way. So we struggled up slippery banks, down into glaury holes, underneath branches and over dead tree stumps until we eventually got to the markings. Supposedly bronze-age markings, our pseudo-archaeologist disputes their authenticity but his argument is too long for these scribblings so you will need to ask him yourself. Jimmy was right; the best way to get to the markings is through the field and this is the way we came back to the River Ayr path.

While Peter and Jimmy went to show Ronnie the Fisherman’s Tryst, the rest of us walked on to a lunch spot underneath the span of the Ballochmyle viaduct. Some were for turning back at this point but Davie Mc suggested that it was only ten minutes to the path for Kingencleugh and it would be a better route back. We walked on. 

The company to the front missed the path for Kingencleugh and before we could correct their error, we found ourselves at The Haugh. Now we had a choice of two equally long routes back – right to Mauchline or left to Braehead Farm and Catrine house. Whichever we chose, we would be on tarmac for a while now. We opted for the left and climbed out of the valley onto the higher ground by the farm. A great bank of snowdrops below the farm house cheered us on the ascent from the valley to the higher ground around the farm. And it was on this higher ground that, for the first time today, the sun went and rain could be seen coming in from the south.

But the threat of rain didn’t worry us too much. We walked on past Turnerhill and Merkland. Then we found the River Ayr Way again at Catrine House tearoom. Now we would retrace our steps back to Catrine. Allan, who has not been fully fit since before Christmas, was suffering from distance and speed today so he opted to stop in Peter’s place while the rest of us walked on. And walk on we did, past the Voes over the river, under Daldorch and back to Sorn in double quick time.

While Johnnie returned to Catrine for Allan, the rest of us made directly for Poosie Nancy’s in Mauchline for FRT.

Once again Nature has smiled on the Ooters – another dry Wednesday walk despite the horrendous forecast from the Met Office

Sunday, 2 February 2014

The Ooters Song

The Ooters Song by Davie C (sung to the Work of the Weavers)


If it wisnae for the Ooters, where would you be
You'd be sitting in the hoose or in the library.
So get off your chair, get oot the door and come along wi' me
We're going for a walk wi' the Ooters

The ooters they like curry, the Ooters they like beer.
And when the two come along as one they'll raise a mighty cheer
And then it's off to Wetherspoon's cause the others are too dear
We're going for a drink wi' the Ooters

The bridges walk in Glasgow is one we like the best
Cause when we've finished walking ,we end up at the West
German beer and German food, we'll put them to the test
You're out for your lunch wi' the Ooters

The Ooters they do culture, the Ooters they like art
And Glasgow City Concert Hall is always where we start
A play, A pie, A panto, those three all play their part
But you need to give a pint to the Ooters

The Ooters go to Mosset, to Robert's house in France
And when the spirit takes them they like to sing and dance
But as for rumpy-pumpy, there's not a bloody chance
Tu es en vacances avec les Ooters

When the Ooters do a Burns Supper it's really very good
Wi' poetry, speeches and drinking to complement the food
And for Scottish Independence they're really in the mood
You're gonnae get your freedom wi' the Ooters

The Ooter's dug is Holly, she is fit and she is braw
She runs beside us wi' a stick and sometimes wi' a baw
But to some folk's consternation she'll no gie a f***in' paw
But she always finds the way for the Ooters

Oor Rex is an Australian, in his house we play pool
With promised pies and drinking, the turnout's always full
And in the competition, Robert tells us he is no fool,
But it's in off the black in front o' the Ooters

We like to go to Arran, the island in the west 
A free dram on the ferry, before the walk is best
and the terrace of the Douglas, is where we like to rest
You're going up Goatfell wi' the Ooters.

On  wee trips to the Cumbrae, we wander roon and roon
Fintry Bay, the Gladestone and back into the toon
But the ferry to the mainland it brings us back too soon.
You're going doon the watter wi' the Ooters

Wee Davie he loves driving, the Killie lot he drives
Poor eyesight and poor hearing, against them both he strives
So  they're always very happy when he finally arrives
O the open road's the place  for the Ooters

Oor Ronnie is a hypno and psychoanalyst
When he's no analysing he likes to raise his wrist
So it's best that you consult him before he gets too pissed
You'll find that there's no nutters in the Ooters

Old Davy is the kitty man, he keeps us all in line
A fiver from each one who's there will fill the purse just fine
It's beer and crisps for all the lads, but Rex, he'll have a wine
It's fun in the pub wi' the Ooters.

Malcolm Campbell likes to read, he is a bookish man
He also is a Cubanophile and goes there when he can
And as for Karen Gillan, he'd like to gie her wan
Oh we're very intellectual in the Ooters.

The day we went to Muirkirk , it wisnae very dry.
The rain it poured, the wind it blew, there were dark clouds in the sky
But Bob he used a brolly, he's a canny sort of guy
Oh, you sometimes get a soakin' wi' the Ooters