Thursday, 20 October 2016

Benbeoch 19 October

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny T, Rex, Robert

The day’s plan was to meet at the entrance to Chalmerston opencast mine on the outskirts of Dalmellington and climb Benbeoch (464m). We were graced with good weather for the third week in a row and soon were on our way, led by Derval Davie, resplendent in new boots.
There was a steady relentless climb up the mine roads (the mine is now disused and so other than a farmer in his 4x4 we had no traffic to contend with) and soon, as tradition dictates, we were strung out over a fair distance. Those with cameras took time to stop and take in the ever-improving views as the early morning mists and low cloud cleared from the distant hills. When our chosen track ran out we took to the open ground and made our way up a rough overgrown path which followed a stone wall. Care had to be taken as there were holes and wee gullies hidden underfoot, but we reached the base of the summit relatively unscathed. The final leg led to a schism with most taking a leftward turn to make the steep climb and the other a right. This section was harder going over the long grass but all made it to the top, eventually, with those taking the sinister route just beating the dexters.*
At the cairn, coffee was taken whilst the panorama was enjoyed. Over to Loch Doon, Carlin’s Cairn and Shalloch on Minnoch and beyond, across to Mochrum Hill, Maybole, Ailsa Craig and Arran, round to Whitelee and much to Jimmy’s annoyance, Auchinleck! We obviously had a bird’s eye view of Dalmellington and Burnton, (or was it Craigmark?) and could see the mine workings in all their glory.
When it was time to move off, the main group decided to go down the side of the hill and extend the walk, whereas Allan and Johnny retraced their steps and were back at their car three hours after setting off.

The Irvine boys made the right decision for sections of what followed would not have been to their liking at all. We decided to drop down in a north-easterly direction following Davie Mc’s instructions; ‘We’ll make for that road for it looks as though it will take us back to the opencast road we came up’. So make for the road we did. We came down a steepish slope of lank grasses and deep moss.  This should have been easy enough but the moss held hidden boulders and holes lying in wait to trap the unwary.  And some of us fell into (literally) the traps. But we all made the bottom of the slope eventually with only the occasional expletive uttered.
How come things that look close from height somehow move further away once you lose sight of them? Once we had reached more level ground it seemed ages of trudging through tussocky moorland before we reached the comfort of the road. But make the road we did, a broad road and fairly level, and the walking was easy.
Any thoughts we might have had that our leader for the day knew exactly where he was going were dispelled at the first fork in the road. ‘Which way?’ we asked. ‘That looks as though it will take us round to the trees and the road we came up’ he tentatively suggested.  We took his advice and took the left hand branch. It ran out after half a mile or so. But, and it was a ‘but’ that saved our leader from utter ignominy and the gibes of those who know better, another ‘road’ was spotted barely four hundred metres away. Another yomp was called for. It was a harder yomp than the first and considerably wetter but we all made the safety of the 'road' and with comparatively dry feet. Again the going was easy.
Once again the ‘road’ gave out and another trudge through the moor grasses was needed for we could see a much broader and more substantial road not too far away. We made that road without incident. Well most of us did. Barely ten metres from safety Rex decided to do a summersault and landed spread-eagled on his back in a hollow. Lying there like a stranded sheep, Rex could only call for help while those of us with him stood around and offered advice. The poor soul was eventually rescued by the compassionate Robert and Rex was soon in the upright again none the worse for his mishap.
Our new road proved to be the one we should have been on in the first place and it did take us down past the opencast workings and back to the start. What a delight it was walking downward into the late October sunshine.
There was no sign of the Irvine boys and we guessed what had happened to them. However, even without them, an enjoyable recovery was made in our usual howff in Dalmellington where we were treated as long lost friends by the hostess. Our thanks to the Dalmellington Inn for the snacks provided.

 * the benefits of a classical educashun

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Friday, 14 October 2016

Loudoun Hill 12 October

Allan, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Ian, Jimmy, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert

Davie and Kay welcomed us for coffee and scones prior to our weekly walk. Thanks again, folks! Much appreciated!
Target ahead!
Today we would do the Loudoun Hill walk in a clockwise direction, and so we set off in dry, bright conditions, but with a wee cauld breeze to cool us down, especially when in the shade. Making our way out of Darvel, we followed the signs to the hill by way of the path adjoining the old railway. Although a bit overgrown our progress was smooth and soon we made the old bridge, or what’s left of it, at the end of the path. Gus, still suffering from his Achilles problem, turned back here whilst the rest of us made our way up to the back end of the hill and made the short, but steep, ascent to the top. The views were good but we chose to have lunch/coffee in the sheltered side of the hill rather than sit at the very top in the breeze.
The journey down the front of the hill was steeper and narrower than your scribe remembers but all made it safely down and went on to take some time at the ‘Spirit of Scotland’ monument (created by local artist, Richard Price).  Crossing the main road, we followed the signs for the Long Cairn Walk which took us to the wooden bridge crossing the burn at which point we had our second stop of the day.
Still a wean at heart!
Conditions were good for walking, both overhead and underfoot, so the final leg back to Darvel was uneventful. Gus even appeared with his car fifty minutes out from Davie’s house and offered anybody a lift back. All declined his generous offer, even Peter who was suffering big time from his corns. Time to get them sorted Peter! Four and a half hours was today’s walk time. A walk which gave plenty of variety and tested the less fit.
FRT was taken in a new venue for the Ooters, the Riverside Inn in Newmilns. This was a busy pub, but we were warmly received and, no doubt, this will be our chosen hostelry in this area in future. A jovial hour was spent there.

Interviews with the Ooters
Episode 1 (of an occasional series)

Q What is your favourite American act?
A The Stylistics

Q What is your favourite UK act?
A Style Council

Q What did you want to be when you grew up?
A I still want to be a hair stylist

Q What is your favourite Scottish TV programme?
A Style game!!

Q Who is your favourite actor?
A John Nettles

Q What two TV series have you enjoyed most?
A Wire in the Blood and Bouquet of Barbed wire

Q What is your favourite sport?
A Fencing

Q First car you owned?
A Fiat Stilo

Q Favourite pen
A Pentel Stylo

Q What is the Ooters attitude to you?
A Hostile

Q When was the last time you took a tumble to yourself?
A This reply has been censored and the interview terminated (for the time being!)




Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Curry Celebration 26th October

The Jewel in the Crown , Kilmarnock has now been provisionally booked for 15/16 people at 7-7.30p.m.on Wed 26th October . The celebration is about two members of our group reaching 65 years of age, Malcolm and Dougie. If for any reason you can not attend please let me know as soon as possible.

Arrangements for 19th October

The aim is to climb the Beoch Hill at Dalmellington.

Meet at the old opencast service road which is halfway along the long straight before you come to Dalmellington (from Ayr) at 10 am. This is an easy hill walk which, depending on the weather, will provide lovely views.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Glen Trool 5 October

Allan, Davie Mc, Dougie, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul

The Lowlanders Episode
Bruce's army
We parked at a wee car park on the road up to Caldron House and set off towards Bruce’s Stone on a breezy, but bright, October morning. Any lingering clouds were to disappear as the day wore on promising excellent conditions. Coffee was taken at the Stone and, whilst we discussed our next move, Malcolm produced copious amounts of clootie dumpling for our delectation. Enough for a full squad of Ooters, but today it meant we all had seconds. Ya beauty!
Davie, Dougie, Jimmy and Paul decided they would do the extended walk by walking up to Culsharg bothy and then returning to Bruce’s stone via Fell of Eschoncan and then doing the circuit of the loch.
What a cracking day!
The remainder opted for just the circular and headed off in a clockwise direction. To those who had done this before, it seemed to take an awful long time before the path turned. We later found out from the others that we had gone along to a further bridge over the burn rather than taking a ‘hidden’ path down to it, where the previous wee bridge was no more, but where the burn was crossable with care. No matter, we were in no great hurry, and steady, rather than rapid, progress was made up the path (which forms part of the Southern Upland Way). As we took a view stop half way down the loch we managed to see three figures on the top of the Fell and assumed, correctly, that the guys had made their viewpoint.
Paul, Dougie and Jimmy on top of the Fell, taken from across the loch
Continuing down the path, it dawned on us that the latter stages of the route had been changed from that encountered previously, or maybe our memories have faded over time. In any case we found our cars three hours after having set off but had to wait another couple of hours for the adventurers to return with tales of steep descents and missing dugs.
One item of note was that on various parts of the walk the vegetation was covered in protective fabric, randomly it seemed. The concensus of opinion was that it was there to collect acorns or other tree seeds rather than protect the plants from any predators. Watch this space, hopefully, for a definitive explanation. *

The Highlanders episode

As the lowlanders did their thing round the loch, the highlanders set off up the path leading to Culsharg and Merrick. What great changes there were since the last time we came this way with great swathes of forestry cut down. While the brashings still lay round untidily on both side of the path, the recent felling did expose views of the surrounding hills that we have never seen before. And how we enjoyed these views as we walked into Culsharg.

A few minutes were spent examining the bothy and admiring the new windows and the rather precarious sleeping platform perched on upturned logs before heading up to the forest road. Holly was confused. There she waited patiently at the new gate on the Merrick footpath while we turned left on the road and headed for the path that would take us along to the Fell of Eschonchan.
The path was indistinct in places and wet in others but it did take us to a phenomenal  viewpoint above the loch. Here we met the full force of the wind, an easterly and a cold easterly it was forbye. No point in hanging about too long. Obligatory photos taken we started the descent towards Bruce’s Stone, a rather steep descent that told on some more than others. But we all made Bruce’s stone without to many mishaps.
From the stone we were to follow the footsteps of the lowlanders round the loch. We passed the acorn collecting sheets at Buchan Brig, passed more at Gairland Brig and came to where the old path left for the side of the burn. Holly was determined. She would stick to the road even as we came down the old path towards the burn. And no amount of shouting, whistling or other cajoling would change her mind. Eventually Davie had to go fetch her on the lead. We would find out later the reason for this uncharacteristic obstinacy.
With Holly returned to the fold in disgrace, we were confronted by another hindrance to our progress. The bridge that has spanned the burn here for years is no more, only the stone supports still standing. With a little difficulty on some parts, we crossed the burn partly by stepping on boulders and partly by paddling the shallower bits. But we all made it more or less dry shod.
The rest of the walk was uneventful but delightful. We followed the Sothern Upland Way path along the southern shore of the loch enjoying the views presented by recent felling and the warm early autumn sunshine. Back at Caldons car park we were greeted by the lowlanders who had waited ‘patiently’ for over an hour for our return.
Here we found the reason for Holly’s uncharacteristic behaviour earlier in the day. The lowland boys had missed the old turn off the road (there was a fallen tree obstructing the signs and the path) and had walked on up the road for a bit. Holly must have smelt their scent and was determined to follow. Perhaps if we had taken notice of her then we could have avoided having to paddle the burn.
However, as yon Englishman said ‘All’s well that ends well’.


FRT was taken at the Kirkmichael Arms where, due to the lateness of the hour, we restricted ourselves to one drink. Scary!

* The Cree Valley Woodlands Trust are trying to regenerate the ancient oak wood along the cree and as far as Glen Trool. To this end they are collecting seeds from the local oaks for germination at their nursery. Come back in around four hundred years to see the results of their efforts.

Some more images from Glen Trool

Approaching Culsharg Bothy in the Buchan Valley.

Crossing the hill to the top of the Fell of Eschonchan. Doesn't Merrick look inviting?

Paul, Dougie and Holly on the top of the Fell

Descending the steep flank of the Fell towards Bruce's Stone

Davie picking his way over the burn
A view across the loch to the Glenhead hills

Monday, 3 October 2016


12 tickets now bought for 21st December at 12 noon.

And Ashoka booked for 2 pm.