Friday, 28 November 2014

Kilmarnock to Irvine 26 November

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

We were to be well fed today. On arrival at Alan’s house coffee and bacon rolls were served up and when the walk was completed Johnny provided us with bread, soup, pies and beer. Gus also chipped in with some of his home-made bread to complete the gastronomic delights. A big thank you to all the guys for their work and hospitality!
Looking up from the viaduct to the bridge in use today
The walk itself was one we have done before but Alan suggested adding a bit on to it by heading towards Caprington and following the river from there. Those of us who had come prepared for a tarmac walk were a bit sceptical when he said there were a couple of muddy bits but he had done this walk recently and recommended it. And so we headed out of the Grange estate and made our way towards Dundonald Road. It was as we left the access road to Mount Village that a grumpy motorist informed us that this was a private road. He received short shrift and we proceeded across the main road and up past Gargieston P.S. heading towards Holmes Road which took us under the by-pass and up towards Bridge Lodge. We turned off the track before reaching the Lodge and followed the path by the River Irvine all the way down to Gatehead. There were indeed a couple of rather muddy sections but thankfully they were soon negotiated by those with boots, not so soon for those in trainers!
As we approached Gatehead, those who knew described the history of the area including the remains of the mining village of Old Rome. (It is worthwhile taking a look on Wikipedia at the history of Gatehead, Old Rome etc.).
Our next target was Laigh Milton Mill and there was an option to take the road past the Cochrane Inn or go back down towards the river and ‘attack’ the mill via the restored Laigh Milton viaduct. Robert, Davie C and Johnny took the dry option and the rest of us took the riverside path once more.
As we took this route we had a great view of Fairlie House – or Fairlie Five Lums - across the river. Named on account of its five chimneys, the estate was the workplace of Willam Burnes, Robert Burns’ father, for two years before he moved to Alloway,
The mill is looking very sad
As we approached the viaduct the temperature was rising and jackets started to come off. Having inspected the bridge and checked out its history, we had to negotiate the muddiest part of the walk, only perhaps ten to fifteen yards but enough to cause an issue for the company. Soon however we were on our way and made Laigh Milton in no time at all to be greeted by ‘What kept you?’  The mill itself is in a sorry state of disrepair and would be an ideal candidate for ‘Grand Designs’.
Coffee was called for by some, but the rest decided to walk on down past the entrance to the Craig House estate and on towards Springside where they waited for the rest to catch up. The cycle path was taken from there down past Dreghorn and Bourtreehill and emerging at Park’s garage. At this point we encountered pupils from Greenwood Academy out for their lunch and some were keen to know where we were going. ‘Edinburgh’ was the reply which was met with gasps of respect. Pity the pupils couldn’t respect their environment a bit more as the pathway was strewn with the remains of polystyrene carry-out boxes and general litter. One of the disappointing things about the day – the only disappointing thing –was again seeing the amount of rubbish that had been dropped or dumped beside the paths.
Approaching the viaduct
Johnny then led us through a maze of paths taking us into and then out of an industrial estate before emerging close to our destination in Bank Street. Three and a half hours, start to finish, a good step out as they say and, as has been said previously, the hospitality was first class.
As part of the apr├Ęs-walk festivities we discovered a new challenge to add to our initiation ceremonies for potential new Ooters. Not only have they got to complete the normal tasks – too secret to divulge here - but they have to be drinking a pint of gooseberry cider at the same time!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Curry night 3rd Dec

The Jewel in the Crown has now been booked for 12 people at 7 for 7.30p.m. ( Ronnie Thompson can not attend).

Monday, 24 November 2014

19 November Not the Lunky Hole Walk

Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Malcolm, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul & Rex


            This was not our slowest walk. Nor, did it appear to your scribe, to be the fastest. Time would tell. The idea was to meet at Kames in Muirkirk to do the Lunky Hole Walk (See July 2010 inter alia) but when we gathered there somebody had made a decision to do the walk anticlockwise instead of our clockwise direction. Did this cause confusion in the ranks? You bet it did.

            Still, on a bright, cool morning we set off along the River Ayr Way in the direction of Crossflats. The topic of conversation was Scotland’s superb victory over The Republic of Ireland in the Euro qualifiers and last night’s humiliation at the hands of the Auld Enemy. Such talk cheered and depressed us in equal measure as we made our way to Crossflats road.

            This wee road was exceptionally busy today with at least three vehicles coming and going. The driver of one of these vehicles tried to dognap Holly thinking she was an escaped farm collie until we put her right. With humble apologies she let us get on our way. Our way brought us to the main road and the Kirk Green.

            For some reason known only to those in front, we ignored our usual path through the woods to the Lunky Hole and kept to tarmac as far as the Stra’ven road. Now, he who knows such things suggested that due to the rains of the week-end, the track near the old mine workings may be flooded and impassable. But Davie Mc had a plan. We would keep to the Stra’ven road for a little longer and take a higher toad. This is what we did.

This road took us close to the Long Stone of Convention, an upright obelisk some four feet high set there to commemorate a conventicle held during the covenanting times. (See This sits some fifty metres from the road and just had to be visited and five minutes or so was spent there. Then, suitably impressed or underwhelmed accordingly, we retraced our steps to the road and continued our walk. Our usual road wasn’t flooded as we saw from the higher one but we were unconcerned for now we had seen something new.

We followed the road through the trees – which, incidentally, have been cropped since we were last here - and down to the bridge on the Greenock water near Burnfoot Farm. Here we stopped for coffee.

We stuck to tarmac for a while after coffee, firstly on the service road for Burnfoot and then on the unclassified road past Netherwood Farm and down to the Cumnock road. Here we picked up the River Ayr way and followed this for the rest of the day. The settling pond for the abandoned opencast has filled to the brim with water and we speculated on uses and possible hazards as we walked past. Then hunger called and we sat down for a bite in a wee dell overlooking the river for a bite.

After lunch we came past Adam’s grave (See Dane Love’s ‘The Covenanter Encyclopaedia’ for a full description) and on to the old railway. Another old railway brought us to the Garple and we followed this upstream to Tibbie’s Brig where once stood the inn of Isabel (Tibbie) Pagan (See

From Tibbie’s Brig we came to McAdam’s Cairn where John Loudoun McAdam had his British Tar Company’s works and down past the ruins of Springhill back to Kames.

I started by saying this was not our slowest walk. This was borne out by the time taken – three hours fifty minutes for what would normally be slightly longer than four hours. Yet it did not seem to be our fastest round. Perhaps the diversions managed to cut some time off. Who knows?


FRT was taken in what has now become our usual howff in Muirkirk, The Empire Bar where we were treated to sausage rolls and mushy peas by our landlady. Many thanks go to her for this act of generosity.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Some more pictures from Wednesday

A differnet view of Dalcairmie Linn

Picking the way carefully along Ness Glen

At Loch Doon Dam

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Ness Glen 12 November

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Peter

The day was dull with the threat of rain as we set off from the car park near the football ground and headed up the road to enter  the Promised Land. Underfoot conditions promised to be muddy and slippy off tarmac and we were not to be disappointed. The first section of this well-documented route took us up the tarmac road on the far side of Bogton Loch and led us to our coffee stop at Dalcairnie Linn where Johnny’s water bottle was only saved from disappearing into the water by some nimble footwork by Allan – what is it they say? – Form is temporary but class is permanent!
From here it was up the brae (no rhubarb at this time of the year) and over the path to join the road up to Craigengillan and down again to the start of the Glen. The riverside path was treacherous in places given the recent rain and so eyes were constantly on where we were treading. Plenty of water was flowing down from the dam, but we’ve seen it worse.
Lunch was taken on the benches next to the wee shop at Loch Doon (the shop is closed for the season) but we didn’t delay too long as bodies were beginning to chill. The high path was chosen for the return journey, past the legendary Tracy’s bench, and down to cross the river at the bridge at the foot of the gorge. Although we had encountered some fine smir at times the weather conditions had been remarkably good considering the forecast earlier in the week but our luck ran out as we followed the road back up to our starting point. Fortunately the rain only lasted for ten minutes or so and the verdict was we had won a watch today.
FRT was taken at the Dalmellington Inn where a convivial hour was spent.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Ardrossan to Irvine 5 November

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

Check out the details on the internet!
The main purpose of this walk was to take up Johnny’s offer of post-walk hospitality in the shape of lunch and beers so it was disappointing that he couldn’t do the walk himself due to him injuring his back lifting his grandson. He was happy enough though to stay behind and prepare the purvey.
It was good to have Andy back with us after a long lay-off and, as we assembled in Ardrossan, we were greeted by a beautiful, crisp morning, so much so that Davie the elder was in his shorts.
Sunny Ardrossan with Arran in the background
The route was the ‘usual’ one i.e.part of the Ayrshire Coastal Path, taking us down the seafront, past the memorial to those who died on HMS Dasher (check out the details through Google), continuing into Saltcoats and following the railway line into Stevenston. Crossing at the level crossing we continued on to the park at Ardeer where our resident ornithologist was temporarily stumped when asked to identify a duck. After some consideration he said that it was Brian. Brian apparently was a Muscovy duck, or maybe even a Muscovy duck cross (remember we were in North Ayrshire where mongrel ducks – as well as mongrel everything else – is the norm. This identification was not generally accepted by those who thought they knew better but Jimmy said it with such conviction!
The wee loch in Ardeer park
Soon we were heading out of Stevenston and up Dubbs Road towards Kilwinning where coffee was called for at our traditional stop at the entrance to the wee wildlife area. It was then a matter of following the road and path towards Irvine moor and eventually emerging at the Turf corner and continuing up Bank Street to Johnny’s.
Johnny did us proud with soup, bread, pies and nibbles as well as a selection of fine ales from the Nythva brewery. Alan also produced a home-made loaf from his rucksack to accompany lunch. Well done and thanks once again!
As well as the usual banter, plans were finalised (well as near finalised as you can get with this lot) for the Burns Supper at the end of January. After umpteen beers it was agreed that Jimmy would dress up as the haggis, Rex would be Grace (apparently as an Aussie he has some experience of this), Peter would be Holy Wullie, Davie the younger would do the Immoral Memory, Davie senior would address the glasses (that were holding him up), Allan would be Bam O’Shanter, Robert would toast the Ooters – slowly under a low heat- and Ronnie would accompany us on his ukulele and would learn how to play all twelve versions of ’The Star of Rabbie Burns’ at the same time!

Sunday, 2 November 2014


29 October                                          Corsencon

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

Nith shall be my muses well,

My muse shall be thy bonnie sel’,

On Corsencon I’ll glower and spell..........                 Robert Burns

Corsencon is that igneous lump, a volcanic plug that stands at the head of Nithsdale three miles or so east of New Cumnock in Ayrshire. Only one of us had been on its top and that more years ago than he cares to remember. Yet, often as we have travelled along the A76 to our more southerly walks we have looked at its rounded summit and said ‘One day........’. That day was today. The idea was to walk along the banks of the Nith, climb the tarmac of the unclassified road that leaves the A76 at the March Cottages, follow this to the north side of the hill and climb to the summit from here. But the best laid schemes of Ooters gang aft agley.

Our New Cumnock correspondent said that due to the heavy, monsoon-like conditions of the other day the meadows on both sides of the river would be saturated and the wee burns which would normally be passable would, today, be impassable for men of our vintage. His solution was to walk up the Mansfield road to the north side of the hill and proceed from there. This is what we did.

We know that somebody up there likes us for the day was dry after all the rain of the previous days and there was the promise of some late October sun later in the day. We took our time walking along this road examining the new house that once was Mansfield Mill, trying to identify the course of the Roman road as it crossed tarmac near Glen Farm and continually looking at the flooding in the meadows by the river. It was a good decision not to follow the river today. Then we stopped for a caffeine top up on the water filter for Glen Farm.

No sooner than had we left our coffee stop than we were stopped again. This time it was to look at the old limestone mines. While most of us prefer the open air, there are amongst us some would-be spelunkers. The sensible stayed in the open while Peter, Davie Mc and Jimmy made differing depths of exploration into the old mines. Ten minutes we waited for the troglodytes to re-emerge from the underworld. Ten minutes was long enough and the trio emerged unscathed by their adventure. The lime kilns were to be examined next but not too closely this time for it was only a short climb from here to the top of our road and some wanted to get this done quickly. Now we had the open hill to tackle.

That’s where the first and only schism of the day occurred. There was a gate onto the hill and Jimmy suggested we go through and slope diagonally for a wooden gate in a fence. But some were for carrying on along the road for a few hundred yards before tackling the hill. So a splinter group consisting of the mine explorers struck off on their own to take the short climb to the top. The two groups came together as the top of the hill was approaching and we reached trig point marking the summit more or less as one group.

And what a view greeted us at the trig point, a three hundred and sixty degree view. The sun shone brightly on Tinto to the north-east but not so on Cairn Table in the north, nor on Blacksidend above Sorn. The day was turning brighter yet Arran was still hidden in a damp haze. To the west were the high Galloways with Merrick standing clear and was that one of Andy Goldworthy’s ‘Striding Arches’ on the hill to the south over Nithsdale? Upper Nithsdale was spread out below us with Kirkconnel appearing close and the Lowther and Durisdeer hills forming the backdrop. Below us the River Nith wound and meandered its way between flooded fields and once again we were happy that we chose to ignore this route. The only thing spoiling this idyllic vista was the opencast mine just below the hill, the opencast that destroyed the green road running from behind our hill down into Nithsdale. We were pleased enough with the rest of the prospect though.

But now it was time to leave the top. But which way? The consensus was to drop steeply to Corsencon Farm and follow the minor road that was supposed to be our route up. We came down that slope in a straggling band the individual positioning in which depending on stiffness of old knees. At the roadside though, there was a microwave antenna with its attendant servicing and it was on the concrete steps of this that the quick descenders stopped to have a bite and wait for the infirm.

Now it was a matter of following tarmac to the Mansfield road and back to New Cumnock. This seemed to be done in double quick time and we arrived in the village around one-thirty. This was an earlier finish than expected but, despite its shortness, a this was a decent walk and a new one for most of us.

We returned to Cumnock for FRT in The Sun.