Thursday, 30 April 2015

Annbank to Ayr 29 April

Allan, Davie C, Gus, Kenny, Malcolm, Peter, Robert

What a difference a week makes! Last week the weather was beautiful, this week had seen wind, rain, sleet, snow and hail. The forecast for today meant we could expect more wintry showers and as we assembled at the bowling club the rains came. Some were reluctant to leave the cars but Robert was champing at the bit to get going, so we bit the bullet and set off a few minutes after ten. The rain soon eased and from Annbank to the Wallace/Burns monument we had some light rain, but it was mainly dry.
Coffee was taken, as is our custom, and when it started to rain again we packed up and moved off. Luckily again, the rain didn’t last long and it was to remain dry until just short of the stepping stones when it came on with a vengeance. Not surprisingly we hadn’t used the stepping stones, as they were well under water, and had crossed the river using the bridge, and it was this bridge that afforded us shelter and provided a dry spot to take lunch.
Twenty minutes later and the sun was out and was to remain so for the remainder of the walk into Ayr, where we arrived just in time to catch a bus back to Annbank.
We were back at the cars just over three hours after having set off and partook of FRT at the Tap o’ the Brae.
A much better day out than we could have hoped for!
*In the middle section of our walk we passed a newly ploughed field with a sign pinned to a gatepost which said ‘Site of Potato Trials’.
For those interested, the Maris boys (Bard, Peer and Piper) got off, whereas Desiree, Nicola and Charlotte were found not proven, but voluntarily agreed to be chipped. King Edward, the Jersey Royals and the Saxons were all found guilty. After a roasting from the judge, who was determined to Smash this criminal ring, they were told that they had frittered away their lives. Sentencing will take place on a crisp morning at a later date. The prosecution are pushing for the chop whilst the defence reckon they should be given a Rocket and sent to the trenches to allow them to develop.
P.S. The boys were accused of stealing the Pentland Crown, the girls of spending a night with the Duke of York, and the convicted of howking out the eyes of the Arran Pilot.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

More Images: Helensburgh to Balloch

Helensburgh to Balloch 22 April

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Jimmy, Kenny, Malcolm, Paul, Rex, Robert

The first of our stops
We met at Lomond Shores carpark in Balloch on a beautiful spring morning for our attempt at the Helensburgh to Balloch section of the John Muir Way. Deciding against going for a coffee before setting off for Helensburgh, and leaving a couple of cars in the car park, we motored over to our starting point at the pier in Helensburgh. This being a new walk for us, Robert provided us with a map and notes to help us, although, to be fair, the route is well signposted.
Having applied sun cream, we set off up through the town towards Mackintosh’s Hill House and continued on to the pavement adjacent to the Luss Road (A818) out of town and up to the point where the path veered off the road and on to the cross country track. After a few minutes on this track we stopped for coffee, enjoying the rest and the sunshine. By this point we had done a fair bit of the climb as it had been uphill out of Helensburgh, but the next hour was a steady climb up the track to our highest point of the day, which was the viewpoint on Gouk Hill (277m). A leisurely lunch was taken as we enjoyed the spectacular view in the hazy sunshine down to Loch Lomond and over to Ben Lomond. The mountains to our left as we sat were probably in the Arrochar direction, and in front of us was Conic Hill and the Highland Boundary Fault. As was said, it doesn’t get much better!
The viewpoint with the suitably adorned Christmas tree
All good things had to come to an end and so, reluctantly, we made our way back to the path for the downhill section. We soon came to a steep drop through the forest before emerging on the logging road with the remnants of the timber felling all round us. Following this road we went on our merry way and got complacent as the road came to an abrupt with no hint of a path. We should have recognised our error as we had been climbing again but there was no real damage done as we retraced our steps and found the path we should have taken with a clearly marked signpost almost saying to us ‘I told you so!’ This we detour had cost us about twenty minutes, but once on the path again it was literally downhill all the way back to the cars in Balloch from where we once again travelled to Helensburgh for the journey home via the Kings in Fenwick for a well-earned refreshment.
A great day out in perfect weather and a walk to be repeated, hopefully in similar conditions, and it was a good decision not to take coffee at the start of the walk as it meant that we cleared Glasgow just before the rush.
P.S The walk, with the leisurely stops and the wee detour, had taken just over four hours.
Idyllic lunch stop
Note 1
It was generally accepted that we did the walk in the best direction in that the climb from Helensburgh was more gentle compared to that from Balloch which appeared a lot steeper.

Note 2
Towards the top of the walk we saw a signpost for the Three Lochs Way. This as a walk that, if done in its entirety, lasts for 34 miles and goes from Loch Lomond (Balloch) over to the Gare Loch before going up to Loch Long and back to the top of Loch Lomond (Inveruglas).
The first leg shares part of the John Muir Way but diverts at the aforementioned signpost and goes down in to Helensburgh emerging close to Hermitage Academy. It is then a road walk in to the town. So, yes, a circular walk is possible by following the route we took and then going right at the signpost.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A few to add to Jimmy's selection

Some images from Arran

The northern hills from the ferry terminal

Glen Sannox

Crossing the steppies over the Sannox Burn

On the coastal road

A quick break at a rocky area

Laggan Cottage

Laggan cottage

......and it was at least this size

Leaving Laggan Cottage

A yacht on the Clyde

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

15 April: Sannox to Lochranza via the Cock of Arran

Not the blog, but a few notes on issues raised .

Distance 9.3 miles.

The ruined buildings beyond Laggan seem to be related to salt pan activity and the "well" is an old coal pit. See map.

Harold Macmillan's grandfather was Daniel, born at Cock Farm (on map) in 1813.  He was the 10th of 12 children . A year after his father's death in 1824, he left the island, aged 11, to be apprenticed to a bookseller in Irvine. Seven years later he moved to Glasgow and then to Cambridge with his brother Alexander to open a bookshop there. They established Macmillan and Co publishers in 1843.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

8 April Another Round of the Gogo Burn

Alan (the newby), Davie C, Davie Mc, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm & Robert

            If John Buchan had been on this walk today perhaps Richards Hannay’s adventure would not have been named ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’ but ‘The Three Hundred and Seventy-nine Steps’ for, as soon as we left Largs’ Douglas Park, we were confronted by a Jacob’s ladder of wooden railway-sleepered steps leading heavenward. Half a million steps later (Scribe, I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate – Ed.) we were seated or standing high above Largs overlooking the upper reaches of the Firth of Clyde. Cameras clicked, or whatever digital cameras do now, as we tried to capture the scene. While the photographers did their thing the brave changed into shorts for the first time this year before moving off again. (Davie Mc would like it pointed out that he had donned his three weeks ago – Ed.)
            Another sharp climb, this time without the aid of railway sleepers, and we found ourselves gathered round a viewfinder examining the view. Though the day was slightly hazy we were able to identify Hunterston Power Station, The hills of Arran and Cowal and the coastal towns of Innellan and Dunoon. And of course Largs was laid out like a map six hundred feet below. A superb view. Digital cameras ‘brzed’ again and continued to ‘brz’ for the rest of the walk (See photos below)
            Now the path sort of levelled out though, as Bob pointed out, it was still upward. A skylark sang somewhere above us and a couple of lost looking sheep stares at our passing as we followed the path gently upward. Coffee was called and we sat down to re-caffeinate. It was a day for taking it easy – the warmest walk of the year so far - but the itch-footed amongst us were desperate to be off again. So off it was.
            The path, or rather sheep pad, we had been following ran out and had to take to the rough stuff - the winter-dead tussocks of carex and the bright green, sodden sphagnum mosses that are typical of these Ayrshire uplands. We plodded on in single file trying to find the best way we could. Quad-bike tracks were found which eased the way for a while and allowed us to take in what view there was as the flat-topped hills closed in around us. Still we were able to pick out Hill of Stake that enigmatic top that we had tried so long to find. It was suggested that this might be a better route to this top but it was wholeheartedly agreed that that was for another day. Today we would follow our plan and the quad-bike tracks easing our way forward. They brought us round Feuside hill to a broad coll between Wee Irish Law and Slaty Law where came the first split in the ranks for the day.
            We had seen the waterfall, the Slatylaw Falls, from the other side of the valley but what was the easiest way to get to it? Jimmy struck off the quad tracks on a direct line taking Johnny and Davie C with him while the rest continued on the tracks. Jimmy’s group were first to find a crossing place on the burn just above the falls closely followed by the others and once we were all across, we settle down on a slope above the falls for lunch.
            Once again the itchy-footed didn’t let us enjoy the sun for too long and we were off sooner than some would have liked. Now the rough stuff came again; nearly a mile of untrodden tussocks and ditches lay between us and the roadhead. Some quad tracks were found as we approached the sheep fank that showed we were still on course and these were followed for a while. Then came the second split in the ranks. Once again Jimmy left the tracks and took a line for the north side of the sheep fank taking Robert and Alan with him. Davie Mc and the rest continued to follow the quad tracks round the south side of the fank. Jimmy’s team arrived at the bridge over the Greeto Burn and that’s where there awaited the arrival of the others. A short break, a laze in the afternoon sunshine was had before taking the road, an untarred, gravelled and grassy road, downward to Largs.
            The walk down that road in the afternoon sunshine was a delight, the yellow of the whin flowers and their scent adding to the pleasure. We ambled down the road and through the town to our starting point at Douglas Park having thoroughly enjoyed a great day out on the hill.

FRT was taken in the Village Inn, Seamill where the young barmaid made us welcome.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Some other images from Gogo Burn walk

A panorama of Largs from the first halt above the steps.

From the same place

A happy hiker. The picture of Johnny that can be shown without puting folk off their food.

Interested onlookers to our passing.

Lunch at the waterfall.

Walking down the road towards Largs.

Nearly back in Largs. The yellow on the whins added a special colour to the day.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Dailly and Barony Hill 1 April

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

As we assembled for our annual Dailly walk (if that’s not a contradiction in terms) waterproofs were donned from the word go as the forecast was for frequent squally showers. But it was dry as we set off, only delaying slightly as we saw Kenny arrive. ‘It’s still only three minutes to ten’, he said and got little sympathy, remember the motto!
Anyway we headed up the track and turned off into Lindsayston Wood to follow the trail up to the road. There was some light rain for five minutes but nothing to worry about as we crossed Lindsayston Bridge and passed by the field with Sty TV. Unfortunately, the porkers must have had their bacon as the dish was looking in a sorry state as it languished on the top of the sty. Turning right we headed up past Whitehill Farm and left the tarmac at the farm buildings to continue on the farm track up to where we crossed over to the old ruins (yes Davie and Rex had gone ahead). Coffee was taken at this point and some fresh shirts were put on much to the amusement of the others. But Barony Hill (321m) beckoned and we were soon on our way up towards the path on the ridge. Our luck with the weather gave out here as we were greeted with a rain shower which soon turned to hail for our trek across to the trig point. By the time we reached the highest point of the day the hail was off and the sun was out and the conditions overhead were to remain favourable for the rest of our outing.
Who said it was time to go?
As usual we then headed down to the old limestone quarry and took lunch beside the burn adjacent to the limekilns. In the shelter from the wind, a very pleasant break was taken before we commenced our downward journey on the familiar track. (It has to be said that, from this point until we got to the main road, underfoot conditions were muddy to say the least, probably the worst we’ve encountered on this walk.) The trail took us down to Glengee Wood before we took the slippery path up to the left to progress to Poundland Wood skirting Falfarrocher Glen as we did. Emerging at the main road in to Dailly we crossed over and took the path down to the Water of Girvan and headed back to the cars along the riverside path, enjoying yet again the views of the Dalquharran Castles, old and older.
As we reached the cars our luck ran out again as it started to rain just in time for us to try and get into some fresh clothes.
The last time this walk was recorded, it took a leisurely five hours. Today, given the prospect of showers, it took us four hours ten minutes, not that we were counting of course! And to finish where we started, your scribe did the Dailly walk weakly! However, it has to be said that we were very lucky with the weather.
FRT was taken at the Greenside in Maybole where we had to compete with the noise of the jukebox to make ourselves heard. Hard to believe!