Thursday, 26 June 2014

25 June. Lochranza to Sannox via Laggan Cottage

Gus, Rex, Davie M, Davie C, Paul, Johnny, Allan, Malcolm, Robert and our guest for the day Kate.

It rained all day and we all got very wet.

Every home should have one!
Seeking shelter at lunch
FRT was taken at the Sannox Bay Hotel where we were treated to free chips. Many thanks to mein host!

Another good day.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Kilmarnock to Galston via Loudoun Kirk 18 June

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Malcolm

On the path through Armsheugh Woods
This was forecast to be the hottest day of the year so far, but as we assembled at Davie C’s house in Kilmarnock, the sky was overcast, although there was definitely heat in the air. Davie had done well laying on coffee, bacon rolls, sliced sausage rolls, and scones (full-sized). Entertainment was also very apt with the DVD player showing the 1967 England v Scotland game, so it was 10.20 before we hit the road. Thanks, Davie! The only question was whether we would walk from the house or take the cars up to the Bowling Club at Crookedholm and start from there. The former was agreed and off we went in the direction of the entrance to Dean Park.
Even holly was wabbit
We continued past Dean Park, over the river at the ford and turned off the road to the left on a path which took us up through the plantation before emerging on the nether reaches of New Farm Loch, crossing the A77, and heading in the direction of Moscow. The route then took us down the Armsheugh Path before joining onto the Grougar Path. There had been a marked difference so far between walking in the shade of the trees and on the open tarmac where you could feel the heat coming up through the soles of your boots. At least there was a wee breeze which kept the midges away and by about 12.50 we reached Loudoun Kirk for lunch.
Loudoun Kirk for lunch
By the time we passed up through Galston and on to the Sir Chris Hoy Cycleway the sun was beating down on us. What is it they say about Mad Dogs and Scottishmen? Steady progress was made until our usual resting point on the bridge just before Hurlford where it was agreed that we would take the shortest route back to the cars from here. So we turned off the cycle path and headed on the path towards the A71 at the Galston end of Hurlford. The main road was followed into Hurlford and then on to Crookedholm where the earlier decision not to leave the cars there was regretted, as the ETA was estimated at another hour and a quarter. We turned right on to Grougar Road and continued on to the footbridge over the A77 before negotiating the back courts of New Farm and skirting James Hamilton and St Joseph’s en route back to Davie’s where six wabbit persons – I include Holly, of course – were happy to see the cars.
Four hours and forty minutes in the heat meant that we were ready for FRT which was taken at Wetherspoon’s, where we all savoured that ’Ice Cold in Alex’ moment.

P.S Apologies for mentioning the schools.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Hill of Stake 11 June Parts 1 and 2

Allan, Davie C, Gus, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Robert, Rex

Part 1

The access road to the Visitors Centre at Muirshiel still retains enough potholes to trouble a tank, maybe that’s why Rex brought his wife’s car today – the saga of the collapsing springs still haunts him – so it was with some caution that we arrived for the 10 o’clock start. The weather was fine with the prospect of a good sunny day ahead as we made our way towards the remains of the byrites mine and its welcoming container for our coffee stop. The talk was of Davie’s sore knee, with one helpful comment stating it was because it was too close to the ground, and of Rex’s birthday card from Judith – RESPECT!
Tin Can Alley
The pace, as usual, had been brisk and, with Allan making a comeback after a number of weeks, deciding that he would not tempt fate over the open boggy ground towards the hill and declaring that he would go back down to the visitors centre, Malcolm and Johnny, his minders, decided to join him, leaving the others to progress towards the Hill of Stake and Misty Law. At least they were well equipped with both Paul and Rex having their GPS equipment with them, although a lower tech Holly might have been more useful.

Part 2
The intrepid five headed off up the cleuch and onto Queenside Muir.  It was wet underfoot and we each made our own way over the bog meeting up, sort of, at the fence leading to the summit of Hill of Stake.  Celebrations were rather more muted than on the previous occasion we had been here when we finally conquered the highest peak in ... Renfrewshire.

After a brief discussion we decided to stay high and headed in the direction of Misty Law.  Lunch was taken on the sunny and sheltered north slope of East Girth Hill and after a trek through more bog we were soon at the top of Misty Law.

We descended towards the Raith Burn, but crossed somewhat lower than the map and GPS advised.  The crossing of the burn itself was straightforward but the terrain on the far side was less than ideal.  Paul and Davie chose to head straight up the steep slope to easier ground whilst the other three followed the burn.  We all met up for a fleeting moment before the next split - Robert heading off to the shoogly bridge over the River Calder, whilst Gus and Rex decided the Calder close to the Muirshiel Centre was fordable.  Paul and Davie chose to keep their feet dry and headed for the shoogly bridge too, although should its shoogliness have proved too much, they would have continued to the modern bridge 200 metres upstream. The shoogly bridge proved not too shoogly at all whilst those who chose to ford the river did so relatively dry-footed.

There's more than one way to ascend and descend a hill!

Remember to keep together boys!
Out on his own
The team met up again about 2.30p.m. when the famous five, wet footed, arrived back at base camp. 
FRT was taken at the Corner Bar where a very convivial time was spent.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

4 June Ness Glen (OS Explorer 327)

 Alan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Paul, Peter, Rex & Robert

It has been said before but I will say it again anyway. There are walks which, for many and varied reasons, we have only done once and there are walks which we have done again and again and again. The Ness Glen walk is one of the latter, for its variety of scenery and easy walking will hardly be beaten anywhere. And it was to the ness Glen that we turned our steps this morning.
Due to a misunderstanding – (Now, why does this not surprise anybody? – Ed.) –, a misunderstanding about the works on the dam at Loch Doon, we started our walk in a different place this morning, in the car park at The Promised Land. And, just to make our lives even more interesting, we decided to do the walk in the opposite direction from usual.
So, ten o’clock saw us leave the car park and take the estate road for Craigengillan. The wildlife had already been busy with midgies biting viciously in the warm, damp air as soon as we left the cars. Now swallows and martins swooped on unsuspecting insects over the ponds under Bellsbank and warblers sang in the trees along the side of the road. Though the sun stayed hidden there was a hint of brightness in the sky and the damp air seemed to be drying somewhat. We walked, on enjoying the morning. Just where the road crosses the river we left tarmac and took the old track under Bellsbank to come to the bridge at the foot of the Ness Glen.
            The footbridge here is in a sorry state with planks missing and others rotting. However bravely, or foolishly, we crossed the footbridge and climbed through the trees, past Tracy’s bench to the path on the Brackney Brae, above the Crags of Ness. Again the bird song cheered us though the woodland with our resident ornithologist hearing but failing to see a wood warbler. And he failed to spot the spotted flycatcher that a couple had been watching just before our noisy approach. Then the path dropped and we found ourselves at the face of Loch Doon Dam. A short hundred metres or so and we were at The Roundhouse Café overlooking the loch.
            The loch was not the only thing that the café is overlooking now. A scope set up at the door was trained on the nesting ospreys and we had a good look though to see the birds, the first ospreys to nest in Ayrshire for a hundred years or so. But we didn’t stop long at the café; we walked down to a rocky outcrop beside the loch for elevenses.
In the Ness Glen
            We came down through the gorge after coffee. The river was running quite full today and the roar of the water in the gorge drowned out normal conversation.  We contented ourselves with the occasional shout and watching the black water rush and gush, dash and splash, pour and roar, lunging and plunging before idling and sidling into black pools flecked with white foam.  (Aw the nice! Now get on with the narrative –Ed.) Suddenly, and unexpectedly for Gus who was making his first trip through the Ness Glen, the roaring stopped and the waters flowed smoothly and we were out of the gorge and back at the footbridge over the river.
            Now we turned or steps towards the house of Craigengillan delighting in how the owner has opened up the estate for leisure use so allowing us to walk past the house and on to the main drive. Again we weren’t on tarmac too long. Leaving the drive on the old Newton Stewart turnpike, we came out of the wood and onto the open moor towards the ruined hamlet of Barbeth. Here on the high ground overlooking Bogton Loch and the Doon Valley, on bench for three and short grass for the rest, we stopped for a bite. Though it wasn’t the brightest of days, we sat looking out over the valley and planning walks on the far side of it, towards Ben Beoch one day. Someday! Someday soon? Watch this space!
            From Barbeth we crossed the high moor to come to the ruins of Nether Barbeth where the old turnpike heads over the hill towards Knockdon. We left it to do so and turned downhill to the bridge over the Dalcarnie Burn and looked down on Dalcairnie Linn. We had a brief stop beside the linn while Gus was introduced to this gem of a place hidden in the hinterland of Ayrshire. He was suitably impressed. But we were under midgie attack again so moved on.
Peter at Dalcairnie Linn
            Some chose to take the road down past the farm while some opted for the path beside the burn. Those who opted for the latter wished they hadn’t bothered for the grass was long and wet. But the grass path didn’t last long and all were soon back on tarmac. Now our way lay along the road on the west side of Bogton Loch, a narrow road that would take us to the Straiton road. It was along this road that the first spots of rain for the day hit us and rain jackets were donned. But the rain lasted no time at all and by the time we were crossing the Doon to the Straiton road, it had gone and would stay gone for the day.

            There was nothing left for us to do now but to saunter along the path beside the Muck water and come back to the cars at Dalmellington.  Another good day’s walking was rounded of by taking FRT in our usual howff, The Dalmellington Inn.