Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cumnock to Ochiltree via Dumfries House 22 February

Allan, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Ian, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny T, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert

There was some rain as we assembled at the swimming pool car park in Cumnock for our walk to Ochiltree. Wet weather gear was the chosen option for most as we set off, and was to remain the dress of choice for the walk despite the weather soon clearing up and remining dry for the duration, but it gave protection against the chill wind.
As expected the track up to Dumfries House estate was muddy (the rains of the previous day had left their mark) but, undeterred, good progress was made. As the leading group turned to head for the new Chinese Bridge, Peter called a halt and suggested going straight on and taking in the renovated gates known as The Temple. This was a worthwhile detour to see the care taken in restoring the stonework and the landscaping which would enhance the structure and lead the eye towards it. From here we took the long and not-so-winding road back down towards the summer house at the Maguire Arboretum for coffee. We admired the craftsmanship of the structure but also noted that work was needed to deal with dampness that was discolouring the stonework and would lead to greater issues if not addressed.
Suitably refreshed, the next stop was indeed the Chinese Bridge, a new spectacle for most of us. The powers that be seem to be continually improving and adding to the attractions on the estate and have to be admired for it. Money appears to be no object, if you have the right friends and benefactors! From there we took in the walled garden which, given the time of year, was bereft of colour but which was being readied for the coming season.
Leaving the estate, we headed towards the Barony A-Frame along the often-travelled track, a track that today tested our mud surfing skills. There was a time when we could all congregate in and around the shelter for lunch, but today the shelter and two of the nearby picnic tables were commandeered for the taking of rations. Before moving off, as is our custom, we took in the information boards that surround the structure, giving a fascinating insight into the pit and the men who worked, and in some cases, died there.
The last leg of our route took us back down the track before veering off to the riverside (the Lugar) and heading up to Ochiltree which was reached in pleasant sunshine. Our timing was perfect and we made the half-one Cumnock bus with a few minutes to spare.
The electronic trackers suggested between seven and seven and a half miles and the time taken of three and a half hours took into account the time taken to explore the estate. A good walk today, not a forced march!
FRT, after some debate, was taken at the Royal in Cumnock. It seemed to have been refurbished since the last time most of us had been there, and made for a pleasant and convivial hour being spent.


Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Some images from the Cumnock to Ochiltree walk

Approaching Dumfries House estate.

Climbing towards the Temple.

The Temple

Inside the summer house in Dumfries House arboretum

The Chinese Bridge, Dumfries House estate

In the walled garden, Dumfires House estate

Walking along the side of Barony bing

The 'A' frame at Barony Pit

Some auld geezers

The old mill wheel at Mill Affleck

Arrangements for Wed 1st March

Meet in Prestwick at Dougie's place about 9.30.a.m. Coffee and scones will be provided before our departure at around 10.00.a.m. The plan is to walk from Prestwick to Troon and get the bus back. A deliberately short walk ,allowing time to get smartened up for the curry in the evening at the Jewel in the Crown .We will gather together to celebrate Alan Stewart's birthday. Don't be late if you want a decent seat in the body of the Kirk.( 7.00.p.m.)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Maidens to Maybole via Mochrum Hill 15 February

Alan McQ, Alan, Allan, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny T, Malcolm, Robert

We met at the Green in Maybole in order to get the bus to Maidens to start our walk. Despite words of caution from the locals, the bus arrived on time and off we went on a tour of rural Carrick before we alighted on a dry morning, but with a chill wind blowing. Alan McQ, (teachers get far too many holidays these days), was using his local knowledge to lead us on a walk which was to take us over Mochrum Hill (270m, 886ft) and back to our starting point. Our friend Ian Hill had taken us up Mochrum Hill before, but for many this was to be a new excursion.
Following the road adjacent to the beach, we made our way up the track and then followed the old railway line until we emerged at the Cat Gates into Culzean. From there we followed Alan as he took us on towards the road just north of the Swan Pond and up to the Walled Garden, where we could see substantial works in progress. Coffee was called for at the picnic benches.
The next stop was at the memorial to the Kennedys, a feature that had gone unnoticed to us in the past. Leaving Culzean at the main entrance point, taking note of new landscaping , we crossed the A719 and took the track which relentlessly took us up towards the hill. When the track ran out, the going got trickier over tufts and the like, and we were grateful that, at this time of the year, we didn’t have the bracken to contend with. With our goal in sight we could see two or three ways to tackle the final climb, but those in front went for the direct and steeper route through some dense heather. The rest followed a bit behind, keeping Jim company on the ascent.
An alternative view of Robert's patience!
Little time was taken to enjoy the view at the trig point as the wind made it a cold spot so we continued on to the well-defined path which would take us down the other side. Alan found us a secluded, sheltered spot for lunch in the woods and as we recovered after our climb and enjoyed our pieces, we could hear light rain starting.
No rest for the wicked! It was soon time to get a move on down through the woods and following the path through thick and thin before emerging on to more open countryside and onto a track which took us down to the B7023. By this time there was a persistent drizzle and, rather than walk along this busy road, Alan took us across the road and up the farm track to Trees Farm before continuing back towards Maybole via Gardenrose Path.
We arrived back four hours and a few minutes after having set off and having covered 15km (nearly nine and a half miles in old money). For convenience, we decided to partake of FRT at the Greenside, a haunt we have used before, but perhaps not again. Unusually, the place was busy with noisy locals, not an issue, but the juke box was blaring, making conversation, even for the Ooters, almost impossible. Add to this the very limited selection of draught beers, it made a disappointing end to an interesting and varied walk. We left after one drink.
Thanks to Alan for leading us today, a new walk to add to the Ooters' portfolio. We look forward to more walks in the future.

Some images fro Mochrum Hill

The Green, Maybole before we set of on the bus.

On the old railway.

First blossom of the year

Approaching the Cat Gates

More snowdrops

Kennedy graves, Culzean

Starting the climb

Coming through the scrub on Mochrum Hill

This one is just fo Bob. Waiting on the summit for the rest to catrch up.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Arrangements 22nd February

Meet at Cumnock swimming pool around about 10.00.a.m.  The walk is from Cumnock to Ochiltree and return. The walk will take in Dumfries House gardens and the new bridge. Bring bus passes to return by bus if the weather is poor.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Lochwinnoch Circular 8 February

Alan, Allan, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Ian, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny R, Kenny T, Malcolm, Paul, Rex, Robert

We assembled at the Visitors Centre car park at Castle Semple Loch on a cold, but dry, morning. The constant rain of the previous day meant that we could expect the paths ahead to be muddy, and we were not disappointed.
Taking the lochside path, rather than the cycle path, we ventured up to the wood carvings and, unusually, took time to stop for a blether. Moving on we went up to the cycle path, crossed over it, and went up the track for Parkhill Wood before descending to the Collegiate Church, where again we stopped for a look, and also took in the newly built cascades on the burn. It was then back on to the cycle track for a wee while until we cut off right following the track round the base of Kenmure Hill before stopping for coffee at ‘the Globe’ (and Shakespeare wisnae in!). At least most of us did this. Five of our more intrepid members went up to the Temple (folly) on the hill for their stop, before coming down the opposite side to meet up with the rest on the track. We followed this path beside the Black Cart up to where it joined Station Road, Howwood, and proceeded into the town. However, it was at this point that Kenny R, suffering from a sporting injury (silly boy!), decided to turn back, promising to meet up with us when we returned to the cars.
Making our way up the steps we reached Bowfield Road for the pull up to the entrance to Bowfield Country Club before turning right and going down a wee bit before taking a left at the sign taking us towards Newton of Belltrees. The initial part of this section was particularly wet but we still made good progress up the hill before the path levelled out and we eventually reached the tarmac of Belltrees Road, taking lunch at the side of the road.
Moving on, we continued up to Auchengrange, where the snowdrops were out in force at the big house. From here we dropped down the road to the big roundabout and made our way back down to Lochwinnoch, turning right for the Visitors Centre, where, true to his word, Kenny R was waiting for us.
Three hours and thirty-five minutes, and nine and a half miles, give or take.
FRT was taken at The Brown Bull in Lochwinnoch.
Another good day out!

Some images from the Lochwinnoch walk

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Arrangements for Wed 15th Feb

Meet in Maybole - park beside the village green at 10.00.a.m. The bus to Maidens leaves at 12 minutes past 10.00a.m. The walk is from the Maidens back to Maybole over Mochrum hill. Alan McQuiston will lead the approx 10 mile walk back to Maybole

Images from the 2017 Early Ooters Burns Supper

Monday, 6 February 2017

Date change for Alan's birthday curry.

New date ::- 1st March instead of the 22nd of Feb. All other arrangements as before.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Burns Night. Thanks for the gifts.

Not at all required but greatly appreciated.  The whisky will do nicely and H loves the roses.  A big 'thank you' to all for making it a success. Every single one of  'team EarlyOoters' makes it happen. J + H

Muirkirk Circular 1 February

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

There was moisture in the air as we assembled at the Kames car park for our Lunky Hole walk. The forecast was for a decent day so we set off in good spirits, reminiscing, at least for those of us who could remember it, about last Wednesday’s Burns Supper. Before long we reached Tibbie’s Brig and we thought that Uncle Davie would stop here to take us through the legend but, no, he marched on, and the rest followed. We followed the Garpel Water for a wee while before following the track taking us to the River Ayr and eventually to a coffee stop just shy of the open cast, which has had some landscaping done.
Crossing the main road we marched up to the Muirkirk to Sorn road, crossed over and headed up to Netherwood Farm before turning right and walking up to Burnfoot Farm, noticing the new house under construction. We stopped for lunch just beyond the farm, some of us on the bridge over the Greenock Water and some further up on the banking.
The weather had been kind so far with the earlier smir disappearing and the sky clearing, albeit with a snell wee breeze. Soon we were off again up the boggy track until we reached the old open cast, now replanted and beginning to lose evidence of its former self. We chose the higher route to the Glasgow road to avoid the flooded lower route, and, although this was muddy in places, there was nothing to trouble us. On entering Muirkirk we stopped at the drystane dyke exhibits and introduced Dougie to the lunky hole, a hole at the bottom of the wall to allow hares to pass through. We wondered if Donald Trump’s Mexican wall would incorporate such holes and speculated on how many he would need.
Allan, Johnny and Peter headed back to the cars from here, but Davie led* the rest through the trees to the kirkyard to see the graves of the aforementioned Isabella ‘Tibbie’ Pagan, John Lapraik and John Brown.
The advance party got back to the cars five minutes short of four hours after having set off and had a twenty minute wait for the rest to arrive. The gizmos said about eleven miles, a good step out!
FRT was held in the Empire Bar where we met up with some old friends and an interesting new one. Not for the first time, the banter was lively!
*Davie got them lost at this point. Where was Holly when she was needed?

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Arrangements for Alan Stewart's 70th birthday curry.

Meet in the Jewel in the Crown, Kilmarnock at 7.00 p.m. The proposed date is the 22nd of February. Please confirm with Alan your intentions to attend.

Arrangements for Wed 8th Feb.

Meet at 10.00a.m in the car park beside Castle Semple loch. The walk will be circular,approx 10 miles.

some images from the lunky hole walk

 Down to Tibbie's Brig

 The Garple Water
 The auld railway

 The trees where we had coffee.

The Greenock Water where we had lunch

 Exploring the auld kirkyard

Ian wi' the dug.