Thursday, 23 October 2014

Cumnock to Ochiltree 22 October

Back Row: Gus, Peter, Paul, Davie C, Alan, Robert, Davie Mc, Kenny, Johnny, Rex
Front Row: Holly
Cheap Seats: Allan

The same shot was taken a couple of months earlier. So, what is new?
The weather forecast and the dreichness of the morning led to us decide to do the Cumnock to Ochiltree walk rather than travel to Penpont. Having waited for the late arrival of our doyen from Darvel who admitted that he had had a problem getting his ‘posterior’ in gear this morning, we set off on the familiar route which follows the Lugar, and took us into the Dumfries House estate. Since the rain was just a smir and wasn’t a problem we took time to go up to the House and view the new fountain.When we were here in the summer this feature hadn’t been built and it certainly finished off the general appearance of the place. Davie was late, yet again, for the photo-shoot, but arrived to say that he had just passed the time of day with HRH who indicated that he and the Duchess were big fans of the Ooters’ blog. Davie was invited for a free curry at the big hoose but, not being a royalist, he asked for a carry-oot, or was it a takeaway?
Swingin' in the rain, or how to embarrass those in front of you.
At this point Peter said we should go and look at a large stone crucifix built in the grounds, so we took a path for a couple of hundred yards before finding it. It turned out to be in memory of one of the earlier incumbents of Dumfries House. Whilst Gus, Davie Mc and Alan climbed up to translate the Latin inscription, the rest of us were taking bets as to who would slip and fall on their way back down. However, the spoilsports found an easy descent at the other side of the monument, much to the disgust of the others. It never ceases to amaze when it comes to the things that amuse the Ooters.
Gus, or is it Gaius?, translates from the Latin
We decided not to take coffee in the tearoom but went down to the pagoda next to the arboretum for our break. From there we went into the walled garden for another look. Alan was able to explain that the impressive artichokes were only picked for eating after the thistle-like flower had appeared.
The garden itself lacked the colours of summer but winter veg abounded.
Moving on, we followed the path out of the estate and up to the Barony A Frame for lunch. Then it was back to follow the river down into Ochiltree where we were in time for the 12.55 bus, although it was ten minutes late.
FRT was taken at the Black Bull in Mauchline where we were made most welcome with the offer of some pies and sausage rolls. Thanks to our new pals at the bar stools for the generosity. Given the early start and finish of the walk, it did not surprise us when the usual suspects called for a three pint day.
A good time was had!

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Darvel 15 October

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Robert

"Wait 'til the weans see this lot"
Thanks to Davie and Kay for providing coffee and scones etc. at Café Derval prior to our valley walk.
Going up through Lanfine
The route took us initially up through Lanfine Estate and past the wild boars which came out to see us passing. You could almost sense that the adults were saying to the young ones “Come and see this lot. Now, don’t get too close, you don’t know where they’ve been. Anyway, what’s that funny smell?” Mind you, they do make good sausages, allegedly!
We passed the new big house that still needs the driveway and gardens to be done to enhance its impact and followed the tarmac up the side of the valley. Before reaching Eastfield we followed Davie Mc by taking a path off to the right and through the Bonnieton Plantation. This was a particularly pleasant part of today’s walk as we trekked through the fallen leaves and observed the changing colours of the trees. We took coffee on fallen logs adjacent to what looked like a mountain bike path. When asked where exactly we were, Davie replied, ‘Gullyhil’.
Into the palntation
We were heading downhill through the woods and although underfoot conditions were generally good, some parts were muddy and there were a few steep descents which had to be negotiated with care. After heavy rain this section would have been tricky.
Emerging on to tarmac we turned left and headed towards Newmilns, passing Parkerston en route. Crossing over the main road in Newmilns we started to climb up the opposite side of the valley passing the well-used dry ski slope as we did. Lunch was called for at the entrance to the cemetery where a convivial twenty minutes were passed. Weather conditions had been excellent for walking, dry and bright but with a fresh breeze to keep us cool. September and October, so far, had provided us with arguably the best walking conditions of the year.
Covenanter's monument in Newmilns
After lunch we continued up the road and past Cronan (pronounced Crinan, according to our local experts) before turning right at the road to Intax and briefly following Fouilpapple Road on our descent and then taking a left on to Burn Road and on down in to Darvel and back to Davie’s.
A familiar sight!
Hold your breath, we did not partake of FRT today as we were going out in the evening to belatedly celebrate Gus’s 60th birthday at our preferred curry house and hostelry in Kilmarnock. A great night was had and the lack of fluid earlier in the day was more than made up for.
P.S. For those interested in how long the walk took us, the answer is three hours and fifty-five minutes.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Cumbrae 8 October

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Robert
The submarine base on Little Cumbrae
The wind turbine is definitely on the mainland!

As we assembled at Largs there was a distinct chill in the air meaning that we stayed in the warmth of the ticket office until the 10.15 ferry came in. We heated up as soon as we reached our (?) walking pace on the other side and made good time heading up to the Glaid Stone for our coffee stop.
A few spots of rain were encountered on the way down into Millport but jackets were not on for long. Walking through the town we couldn’t help but think that it would be a long day serving in the shops at this time of the year – maybe at any time of the year! On this occasion we did not head up to the golf course and cut across the open ground to Fintry Bay but instead stuck to the coast road. Lunch was taken in the shelter adjacent to the football pitch and to the new helicopter pad where it was announced that we would try for the 2.30 ferry. Once we had reached Fintry Bay the optimists said we could make the two o’clock, so off we went into the drizzle. In the event we reached the slipway at 2.10 and were dry(ish) when we arrived in good time for the 2.30 ferry. (Apologies for all the times. Davie’s obsession with the timings of walks must be getting to me. I’ll go for a lie down before completing the blog!)
Sinister dexter, sinister dexter!
That's better, back again! One thing of note was the emergence of new information posts at strategic points. This information, however, could only be accessed by an app on a mobile phone. This is something to remember for our next visit, assuming of course that there is a mobile signal and that you could read your phone in the open daylight!
The boys who had attended the recent Troon Beer Festival, and who could remember being there, had seen an advert for the Village Inn in Fairlie and so we headed there for FRT and, in the main, we partook of Corncrake Ale, brewed in Orkney. Many thanks to Davie C, whose 59th birthday it was, for buying the first round. A jolly time was had!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Smugglers Trail 1 October

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Kenny, Johnny, Malcolm

The scene as we hit the beach
Having enjoyed Anne and Malcolm’s bacon rolls and coffee, many thanks again, we motored to the car park at Dundonald Castle and joined the Smugglers Trail from there.
The route was familiar taking us up through the woods before coming out at the reservoir, where tradition dictates, we took a break. As we entered Loans the rains came but, by the time we were turning off the main road on the other side of Loans, jackets were off again and were to remain so for the rest of the day as the sky was turning blue and the sun was starting to break through. Coffee/lunch/brunch was taken at the remains of Fullarton House before moving on past Crosbie Cemetery and through the lanes towards the golf course. The scene was idyllic and we took time to watch some play prior to moving on to the beach and heading for Troon. What was left of our food
was devoured in a shelter overlooking the bay and as we sat we could hardly believe that this sun-kissed vista heralded the start of October.
Malcolm walks on water
Heading for Troon
From our pit stop before heading for the bus
The bus was taken back to Dundonald and FRT was taken in The Old Castle Inn. Thanks to Malcolm for buying the first round on his birthday. I won’t divulge his age but if you think of a number between 62 and 64 you won’t be far wrong. He was then setting off for a romantic, candle-lit dinner with his good lady. Whether that meant Anne will be disclosed next week.