Thursday, 12 July 2018

Durisdeer and Morton Castle 11 July

Alan, Alan McQ, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Ian, Malcolm, Rex, Robert

It was raining as we left the west coast heading for Durisdeer, but, as we motored down in to Dumfries and Galloway, there were no signs of rain, and we were not to see any during our walk.
Skies were cloudy with blue patches as we set off from the village before turning at the cemetery and heading up the track to Kettleton bothy. The temperature was ideal for walking, so it only took about forty minutes to arrive at our coffee spot, although these days most bring water or juice rather than a hot drink.
By eleven we were on our way again continuing upwards on the track, passing by a drystane wall complete with lunky hole, before reaching our highest point of the day which offered splendid views all round. Drumlanrig was easy to pick out and Morton Castle came into view as we moved down the track above Kettleton Reservoir. Halfway down we stopped to ponder whether to go cross country to the castle or continue on the road. The majority opted for the shorter hike, but Allan, Dougie, Ian, and Malcolm decided to stick to the road and set off first. Holly, liking to be at the front, joined them not realising that her master? was not to follow. At times she looked a bit bemused as to where the rest of the guys were but once we found her a stick, she was fine. Although following the road was easy going, given the fact that it was getting hotter, the four were pleased to reach the castle. As expected the others had been there for about fifteen minutes and had finished their lunch by the time the four arrived. Nonetheless, given the surroundings (although the water in the loch was a strange colour of green and looked decidedly unhealthy) and the sunshine, it was no hardship to wait another fifteen minutes whilst the four ate.
Leaving the castle, we did not take the nature trail but stuck to the road. When reaching the crossroads, the front runners followed Holly straight on, much to the delight of those who were walking at a more leisurely pace and who knew to turn sharp right. Robert & Co had to turn back and retrace their steps and take the proper road. Well done, Holly! Our plan had worked!
The road walk up past the restored cottages and past Gateslack always seems to go on and on, particularly in the hot weather, and we were more than happy to reach the turn-off up to Durisdeer and the road up to the cars. A few minutes over four hours and about ten miles was the call.
Much anticipated FRT was taken at the Crown in Sanquhar where we were greeted by our friendly barman.
Not the longest walk we have ever done, but there were some tired souls heading home.

Durisdeer Church

On the up!

Looking back at the reservoir

Decision time

How far is it now, Allan?

Leaving Morton Castle

I spy with my little eye... a golf ball

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Arrangements for Wednesday 18th July 2018

Meet at Dougie's at 9.30am for home-made scones, a variety of preserves and served with tea and coffee before walking to Troon and back.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Willowbank Challenge

Thank you from the Management Team of “Friends Of Willowbank” and from me.

You will remember a fundraising event I have been taking part in over the past year to raise funds for the children of Willowbank Special School in Kilmarnock where my granddaughter, Emma, is a pupil.  The event was called the “Willowbank Challenge” and it involved 100 volunteers, each in their own way, raising £100 to help the pupils who all have complex and life altering disabilities. The £10,000 raised was to then form the foundation for other normal annual fundraising events throughout the session. The event was scheduled to finish at the end of June 2018.

This letter is to update you on my progress and to express my thanks and the thanks of the “Friends of Willowbank” for the considerate way you responded to my plea. You will remember that to raise money I undertook to do jobs for any person who would hire me, and they in return sponsored me at a rate of £7.50 per hour. Over the year I have undertaken lots of different jobs, and received lots of donations to this worthy cause. Your response has been outstanding. When I worked I was rewarded well above the agreed rate and those persons who didn’t have any jobs gave generous donations to the cause.

The “challenge” finished on the last day of June and whilst I tried to raise £100 at this date, with money still coming in, I have now raised over £850.

My wife, Ann, was also participating. She did this by clearing our loft spaces, and sending some items to auction, and selling all the other items at a car boot sale at Ayr. She has raised £750.

The project as a whole is still receiving monies as it comes to an end, and to date has raised nearly £25,000.

You have been part of a huge success story and have thoughtfully provided support for those children who can do little to help themselves.

I thank you again for your support with this cause.

Alan Stewart

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Muirkirk Circular aka The Lunky Hole Walk 4 July

Alan, Alan McQ, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Ian, Jimmy, Malcolm, Peter, Rex, Robert

The brilliant spell of weather continued as we set off from Kames (or is it Kaimes?) on the path out to Tibbie’s Brig. The bench in memory of Councillor James Kelly gave us the opportunity to have a team photograph before we continued, skirting the Garpel, and taking the path on the old railway line down towards the Covenanters memorial. As per usual, coffee was called for, but, today, this shaded spot was infested with midges so little time was spent before we continued past the River Ayr and up to the opencast site which has now benefitted from landscaping. We reminisced that it was not too long ago that we could see to the bottom where men and machines were still working and wondered how deep the water was now. Peter left us at this point and followed the A70 back to his car. Crossing the main road, we stopped briefly at the bridge over the Ayr to take on fluids in preparation for the next section which would be the hottest part of the walk. We followed the road across the Sorn Muirkirk road (closed at the moment for some works apparently) and passed Netherwood Farm, before making our way up to the entrance to Burnfoot Farm. In a change to tradition, we stopped here in the shade of the trees and took lunch. The aforementioned shade and a wee breeze made for a pleasant fifteen minutes and allowed the more sweaty of us to change shirts.
Continuing on, we crossed the bridge over the Greenock Water and made our way up the track to the site of the old opencast, now covered in trees. Indeed, some tree felling had already taken place. It is not too long ago that the whole area was barren. Given the dry weather we, for the first time in a while, were able to take the lower road (usually flooded) and before long we emerged at the Muirkirk to Strathaven road and turned right towards Muirkirk. Our junior member was underwhelmed by the lunky hole in the drystane dyke and matters were made worse since the information board had been vandalised and the details had gone.
Almost to a man, the decision was to head straight back to the cars from here rather than take a detour through the woods to the churchyard, and so Kames was reached at ten to two, three and three quarter hours or so after having set off. The distance was averaged out to have been nine and a half miles, quite enough on such a warm day.
FRT was taken in the Empire Bar, where old friendships were renewed.

Tibbie's Brig

Today's starting eleven

The guid auld days?

The big hole in the ground

Holly cools off (normally the track is flooded at this point)