Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Cumnock 31 December

Alan, Allan, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Malcolm, Peter, Robert

The forecast was for rain and when we met at Cumnock Pool there was drizzle in the air. Having adorned wet weather gear, we took the familiar path which follows the Lugar up to the grounds of Dumfries House. The pagoda in the arboretum was chosen for coffee but since it was locked we had to content ourselves with the benches surrounding it, no hardship since the overhanging roof afforded us some shelter.
Since the weather hadn’t been too bad it was decided that we would not journey on to Ochiltree but make for the path towards the old railway station. To achieve this we took the bridge over Lugar and entered the area which houses workshops and the Woodlands Restaurant. We admired the water wheel, which looked as if it was being restored, and then went up behind the mill building and studied what was left of the machinery that was used to feed the timber in for cutting. Continuing on from here we took the path which led us to the main entrance road into the estate. This road was followed until we hit the A70. Turning left and then right up Station Road we trekked up the slope until we came to the remains of the old railway line and the halt that served Dumfries House. We were at our highest and most exposed point of the walk and, as luck would have it, the rain became more persistent.  By the time we got to the junction with the Skares road we had a decision to make.
(Here, Davie pointed out the building which was Garallan School. He was able to tell us that his dad left that school in 1905 at the age of thirteen.) 
The options were: Go left and take the shorter route back to the cars, or go right and extend the walk by 45 minutes. A narrow majority voted for the former and so we followed the tarmac back into Cumnock noting that the rain was again beginning to ease.  Most stopped at the sports ground pavilion for lunch, but Allan and Malcolm went straight up to the car to get dried off and then take lunch.
Two and a half hours on a dreich day, but still better than we had expected.
FRT was taken at a very quiet Royal in Cumnock.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Crawfurdland 24 December

Allan, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Robert

Anyone got a chainsaw?
We enjoyed Robert’s hospitality (thanks Robert) whilst we waited for a break in the weather. Each time we thought that it was going to clear another heavy, wintry shower arrived, and so it was well after ten o’clock that we left, well protected against the elements. To be fair, the weather for the rest of the day was much better than anticipated, with only a couple of short sharp showers to contend with.
On leaving Robert’s we headed through Kay Park and approached Dean Park using paths that were new to most of us. A short stop was made at the new bridge being constructed over the ford to view a huge pile of fallen branches that were lodged against it. Where is Peter when you need him? We followed the paths through the estate, making a decision to ignore a sign that said that the path ahead was closed due to the effects of erosion, and emerged at the top of the park unscathed.
We then took the footbridge over the A77 towards Craufurdland and made our way to the left of the castle before rejoining the main road through the estate at the big, new house. From here we went up
Somebody gie that dug a piece!
past the loch noting that the area on the right hand side of the road had been laid out as a ‘tough mudder’ course. After a quick word with some fishermen we soon reached the end of the estate and took a right turn heading towards Grassyards Road.
A decision was made by at least one member of the company that we would not follow this road back in to Kilmarnock but, since the weather was holding out, we would extend the walk a bit – where have we heard this before?- by crossing over to the Moscow road, and so we ventured past Little Raws before stopping for lunch in the shelter of West Raws. To complete the set we then passed East Raws before another decision appeared to have been made. We would take the path through Armsheugh Plantation.
Now this is where things began to go wrong. Up until now the going underfoot had been good with most of the walk having been done on tarmac and the rest done on decent tracks, given the recent weather that is. When we got to the point that stepping stones had to be crossed, health and safety dictated no way! Too much rain had fallen. Should this have been a surprise? Anyway the best option was to climb up a banking and head over the fields to a bridge further down. The barbed wire fence at the top of the banking had to be overcome with lots of care but areas of the fields had us ankle deep in mud. Lovely!
Eventually tarmac was found again at Greenwood Bridge and we thought that the worst was over. As we approached Templetonburn we noticed that the road was flooded big time. Even those, well Jimmy, who thought that the best route was through the middle of the road, realised that this was not a great option. The only viable passage was by taking to the slightly higher verge at the side of the road, hanging on to the hedge, negotiating large, deep puddles and going for it. Our task was made more difficult by passing 4x4s which sent tidal waves in our direction. After about 50 metres or so, we reached dry land and it was plain sailing up past the remains of Crookedholm P.S. and back into New Farm and eventually Robert’s.
It was commented on that one of the leaders today had also led the Whangie walk! Say no more!
FRT was taken at The Charleston where, for the record, Davie and Jimmy contented themselves with Diet Cokes. They thoroughly enjoyed them!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Hogmanay Walk

Meet at 10a.m. At the swimming pool in Cumnock. Walk will be organised to suit the weather conditions.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas lunch 17 December

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

Simply for the record:

There was a full turnout at the Concert Hall cafĂ© before most of us set off for Oran Mor to see its excellent (and topical) pantomime. The others chose to go for a canal walk before meeting up at the Ashoka where the Christmas menu was extremely good value for money. After the meal, separate ways were gone, but a magnificent seven finished off what had been a thoroughly enjoyable day at Wetherspoon’s in Kilmarnock.

We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Carrick Hills - Aye Right! 10 December

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

Gus is presented with his trophy by immediate past champion Davie
 The weather was so severe that there was no dissent to abandoning the walk to the Carrick Hills and instead retreating to the Robert Burns Centre for coffee and scones (the Clootie Scones are highly recommended) whilst we considered the options. After a good hour, Rex suggested a visit to the Maclaurin Gallery at Rozelle Park where an exhibition was on. When we arrived there was a break in the weather so we took the opportunity to don walking gear and walk round the park. No sooner had we got under the cover of the trees than the skies darkened again and it rained and hailed. Fortunately the trees sheltered us from the worst of it, but we decided one circuit of the route was enough, so, after about thirty minutes, we adjourned to the gallery with the cobwebs well and truly blown away. The exhibition was not to everyone’s taste but at least it did generate some discussion.
Back at Rex’s house we were treated to his usual high standard of hospitality and it was decided to have the first round of the pool competition whilst the pies were heating up. This round saw the two former champions being eliminated and Paul and Rex both being knocked out, after only a short period, by sinking the black. After the pies, delicious as usual, Gus beat Malcolm in one semi whilst Alan beat Robert in the other, and Robert, on this occasion, did not beat himself.
The two dark horses contested a skilful final with Gus narrowly winning out and claiming the coveted title. Our ‘Killie Drillie’ claimed that pool was not part of the P.E. curriculum, at least the official one, but if that was the case we all know now how he spent his non-contact time!
Seriously, well done to Gus and also to Alan who also played some great pool. Methinks that there are those amongst us who are beginning to take this annual event seriously.
As we relaxed we were able to witness the weather doing its worst with rain, sleet and hail all accompanying the ever-present gale force winds and frequent bursts of thunder and lightning.
This was a cracking day where the social side of the Ooters’ fellowship won out yet again. Thanks again to Rex for hosting the tournament superbly.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Annbank to Ayr 3 December

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

The Annbank Nine
The praying mantis
This was to be a short walk as we had an appointment at our favourite curry house in the evening to celebrate Allan’s coming of age. If you ask the question ‘When is a short walk not a short walk?’ the answer inevitably has to be ‘When you join the Ooters’. There was a vague recollection by some that we had agreed to take the longer route to the Burns/Wallace monument but this met with consternation from the majority who started off down the shorter route past the bowling club. By following this path the big loop in the river is avoided and an hour is cut off the journey time. Nonetheless, Jimmy, Davie Mc, Peter and Paul took the longer route and, to cap it all, they took Holly with them!
The Annbank Nine, who are indeed innocent, had a straightforward journey following the north bank of the River Ayr up past Auchincruive and onwards to Oswald’s  Bridge and the usual coffee stop at the monument. From there the River Ayr Path was followed to the stepping stones over the river where lunch was taken. It was then a leisurely walk down into Ayr until we came across an unfortunate who had collapsed with some sort of seizure. He came to with a ‘start’ and at that point we left him to recover in the care of others. We hope he recovers well.
The walk had taken three hours and before long we got on the bus for the return journey. FRT was taken at the Tap o’ the Brae where Allan was appreciative of his birthday cake! The others arrived back at Annbank just as the nine were leaving.

For reference:
Section 3, sub-section 5(a), chapter 2, paragraph 6(ii), clause 1 of the Ooters constitution, known as the Sanity Clause, states that ‘On an Ooter's birthday all other Ooters shall defer to his choice of route on the understanding that it is the shortest route and leaves time for FRT’.
And before anyone quotes Groucho Marx who insisted, particularly at this time of the year, ‘There ain’t no Sanity Clause’, all you have to do is watch ‘The Miracle on 34th Street’ with Richard Attenborough, a terrific festive movie.

P.S.  We had an excellent night out!