Thursday, 30 May 2019

Bute 29 May

Allan, Davie C, Gus, Hugh, Iain, Ian, Malcolm, Rex, Robert

We travelled through heavy rain but when we arrived at Wemyss Bay it was dry, and since the forecast was for no rain on Bute until 3pm, we took the 10am ferry to Rothesay. En route, Davie had a plan, and it was a cunning plan. And not only did he have a plan, he had a map. Rather than do the scheduled walk i.e. Stage 1 of the West Island Way down at Kilchattan, he suggested taking in part of Stage 2 by starting at Rothesay, going up to Port Bannatyne, and then over to Ettrick Bay.
A vote was taken, and Robert declared that the Leavers (Stage 2) had beat the Remainers, although he was a bit vague as to the actual numbers and would not hear of a recount or another referendum. Anyway, by doing this walk we would start walking right away without the need to make a bus journey. Ironies of Ironies was that the Kilchattan bus was there waiting for us as we left the terminal and headed up to the left of the castle expecting to see a sign for the WIW. Although Davie’s map was comprehensive, its scale was not sufficient to discern the streets in Rothesay and how to get to where we wanted to be. So, we continued up past the Police Station and to the recreation ground, where we stopped to allow Davie to go in and ask the staff at the Leisure Centre reception for directions. We had a choice, either retrace our steps towards Rothesay and veer left, or continue on our current direction to Loch Fad and catch the WIW there. Now, the Ooters don’t like retracing their steps, or even admitting they’re lost, so we continued up past the hospital and the school before following a sign down a track to Loch Fad.
Once there, we were on relatively familiar territory as we had been there a number of years before and, as we crossed the loch at the dam and continued up the track, we found a marker to confirm we were indeed on the WIW. From here the route was well signposted, although you had to keep an eagle eye out for the signs, and by midday we were where we wanted to be in the first place i.e. Westland Road. (This detour had taken an hour and a quarter and probably added two and a half to three miles on to what we were going to do.)
The last time we reached this road it was at the end of our walk and we turned right down into Rothesay, but today, we turned left, and followed it up past the recycling centre and stayed on it until Robert spotted a sign indicating a right turn on to a grass track, This part of the walk proved to be very pleasant in the relatively warm temperature, and we followed the signs overland and past recently felled forests until we made a steepish descent down towards Port Bannatyne. We continued on the path, still following the signs, towards Kames beach and emerged on to the A844. A sign said turn left and it was 2 miles to Ettrick Bay, but it was one o’clock and we were in need of our lunch, especially those who hadn’t bought a coffee and a bun on the boat. Also, we took into account that if we had gone to Ettrick Bay, had lunch, and then walked back, we were risking a fairly long walk in the impending rain, It was a no-brainer, therefore, to turn right and walk down to the seats at the beach. Ettrick Bay could wait for another day.

A leisurely lunch was taken overlooking Kames Bay and the Cowal Peninsula and it was a thought to move on. Before we did though, Malcolm, fresh back from Crete, produced a bottle of Raki, distilled by the owner of the hotel he was in and reckoned to be amongst the best in the island, for us to try. Thoughtfully he had also brought a supply of shot glasses, so we sampled the spirit and were generally pleasantly surprised. We look forward to next week’s offering, Malcolm!
Gathering ourselves together we noticed down below us a bird’s nest complete with three eggs. We hazarded a guess that it was an oyster catcher’s nest but await verification from those amongst us who know about these things, Jimmy!
By this time the first slight signs of moisture in the air were present so we took the quickest route back to the ferry terminal which was to follow the coastal road, passing, as we did, a wee memorial to the young girl, who had been murdered last year, and the house she had been staying in. Very sad!
We made the terminal in good time for the 2.30pm ferry, just as the moisture was turning into a slight drizzle. All in all, though, we had got the best of the day weather-wise, had been on the go for just over three and a half hours, and had covered nine and a half miles.
Jings and crivvens! The Railway Bar at Wemyss Bay was busy when we got there and we couldn’t get seated, so we motored down to Largs and Drouthy Neebors for FRT. Rex was presented with a bottle of bubbly and a card to celebrate fifty years of marriage and he gratefully accepted thanking all the Ooters on behalf of himself and Barbara.
Despite our slightly inauspicious start, the day had turned out well, and as was said earlier, Ettrick Bay awaits another day.

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Arrangements for Wed 5th June.

Meet at Kirkfieldbank,beside the Clyde. The walk will be the usual circular route taking in New Lanark and perhaps the peregrine nest site.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Bute 29 May

The weather forecast is OK for the period of time we will be at Kilchattan, so the Bute trip is on.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Catrine, Auchinleck House, Ochiltree, Dumfries House, Catrine 22 May

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Dougie, Gus, Hugh, Iain, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Peter
The weather was dry and bright, but the temperature was on the cool side, as we set off from Catrine following the River Ayr Walk up to the Howford Bridge. Peter took us down to the old bridge saying that we couldn’t get through the grounds of Catrine House any longer, but this was no hardship as we turned left and headed up to the road on our right which would take us to Auchinleck House. Holly, as is her wont, was well in front, so Davie followed her as Peter took the rest of us towards the gorge walk (Dippol Burn). (On this occasion we didn’t make our customary visit to the cave house as Peter said it was too muddy down there.) Next, we took the path heading for the rear of the big house and deviated down to see the remains of the much older house (fifteenth century) but didn’t go to the old castle as time was pushing on.
We found Davie having a cuppa outside Boswell’s Coach House, but he didn’t take much persuasion to join us inside for a coffee and scone (or cake, as the scones soon ran out). The boss man, Jamie, was very welcoming, and seemed intrigued by Johnny’s hat, enquiring as to where he could get one, before producing a magazine with adverts for some exotic hats/helmets. We thought of ordering one for Robert but as the kitty was picking up the tabs for the coffees, it was decided that it couldn’t stretch that far.
It was well after midday that we got ourselves into gear again, having a quick look at the house before starting down the long estate road. Before we hit the main Barony Road, we took a right, down a track which led us, with little difficulty, to the bridge over the Lugar at Ochiltree. Well done to Jimmy for checking out this track last week!
From here it was on to the well-known path to Dumfries House (mind you the last time we did this in the opposite direction it appeared to be not so well-known!). Emerging on to the bing, there were calls for a lunch stop, but we pressed on and made our howff in the arboretum at bang-on two o’clock.
Auchinleck or Dumfries was the question regarding where to next. We decided not to have a look at Dumfries House itself and head for Auchinleck, as it was closer, so most of us made our way up the long straight path through the gate at the Temple and continued up to Barony Road. Peter and Johnny had taken the road up past the farm and the outdoor centre and emerged a few minutes after us. We arrived at the bus stop at quarter to three, just in time for a bus back to Catrine. We did notice, however, the black and gold flags adorning many of the buildings in Auchinleck, ahead of Talbot’s Junior Cup Final appearance on 2nd  June. We also need to mention Largs Thistle, who also play in black and gold, and who will be Talbot’s opponents.
Ten and a half miles in four and three-quarter hours (including leisurely stops) were today’s numbers.
FRT was taken in the Black Bull in Mauchline where snacks were once again provided. Thanks again to our favourite barmaid!
Walking conditions had been excellent leading to a grand day out!
In 2012 Paul provided a translation of the inscription above Auchinleck House:
Whatever you seek is here in this remote place, if only you have a good firm mind.

The spirit of the Ooters

Jimmy gives us a history lesson at the old house

Davie gets adventurous in his old age!

Davie Mc was away looking for Holly!

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Arrangements for 29 May

Be at Wemyss Bay in plenty of time to catch the 10am ferry to Rothesay.
Assuming we catch the bus, we will travel to Kilchattan to do the walk round the coast and then up to St Blane's before heading over the hill back to Kilchattan. N.B. Bus passes needed.
(In the event of a poor weather forecast, check the blog after 4pm on Tuesday for an alternative walk.)

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Knock Hill 15 May

Alan, Allan, Dougie, Gus, Hugh, Iain, Ian, Jim, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny T, Malcolm, Paul, Robert

Today we welcomed new boy Iain Bonnar into the fold, and said ‘Hello, Hello!’ to Jim, returning after his foot problems.
It had been one week short of a year since we last did this walk and, remarkably, the weather was exactly the same i.e. a beautiful, warm, early summer’s day.  The sea was as still as it could be as we walked along the promenade before heading up Routenburn Road. This involves a long, steady climb past the golf course, and having gained some height, we then lost it as we headed down past the entrance to Knock Castle towards our turn-aff (remember the Ga’ston turn-aff?) to the right. This track then took us across the fields to our coffee spot adjacent to the Black Glen. We took our time, given the glorious weather, before continuing up the track and turning right just beyond the wall. The path we then followed took us up to the recognised track up the hill. At the base of hill most continued on the spiral path whilst some adventurers went straight up, and all were sitting having a very leisurely lunch just before midday. The views were hazy, but what a great place to sit and enjoy not being at work!
The routes back to Largs were discussed and the decision taken was that we would take the quickest one i.e. straight down and over the very dry golf course before emerging back on to Routenburn Road and down to the A78.
Taking the path next to Noddsdale Water, we stopped momentarily at the boating pond to admire the display of model ships, carefully watched over by their owners, before heading back to the town centre.
Wetherspoon’s, as expected was hoaching and oppressively warm, so we made our way up the beer garden at a busier than usual Drouthy Neebors. Admirably, despite the hot weather, we restricted ourselves to one pint today, as we had business to attend to at night.
From start to finish the walk had taken us about three and a quarter hours, covering seven miles. Underfoot conditions had been excellent making for a great day out.

Heading for the coffee stop

The final group stroll up for elevenses

First to the top by going straight up

This is the life!

What's the collective noun for a group of Ooters?

No bracken to walk through this time!

The Vikings are coming!
Malcolm, Paul and Robert couldn’t make the curry in the evening, but we were joined at the Jewel in the Crown by Davie Mc and Peter. The food, as usual, was excellent and we were well received and attended to by the girls. The night was finished off in a very quiet Wetherspoon’s.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Arrangements for 22 May

Meet at the car park in Catrine (near Peter's) at 10am.
The walk will be to Auchinleck House, Ochiltree, Dumfries House and then to Auchinleck. From there we will get the bus back to Catrine, so bring bus passes!

Friday, 10 May 2019

Smugglers' Trail 8 May

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Dougie, Gus, Hugh, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Kenny T, Malcolm, Robert

Many thanks to Malcolm and Anne for the coffee and bacon rolls. They were excellent!
Having eaten so well it was difficult to move off, but move off we did, to the castle, where our guide, Dave, gave us a half-hour tour. His knowledge of the history of the building was outstanding. Thanks to Dave, and, yet again, to Malcolm and Anne for organising this.
It must have been close to quarter to eleven by the time we actually started walking on what had so far proven to be a very cold morning. Once we got into the woods we were protected from the breeze and made good progress up the hill and down to the reservoir. At this point Kenny turned back, as Freya had gone far enough, and left the rest of us to make our way up to the Loans, past the ever-increasing new housing. By this time the temperature had picked up and the breeze did not seem an issue.
Breaking from tradition, we turned right here and took the road towards Troon until we found a path, just at the start of the houses, which took us on to Hunter Crescent. It was here that Robert, Alan and Gus met a former colleague, and they spent five minutes having a catch-up whilst the rest of us chilled (we should do this more often) and admired bungalow city. At the end of the road we took the path into Fullarton Woods and took our pieces at the benches, as per normal.
The journey from here up to Crosbie Kirk, down over the golf course and up the beach to Troon was straightforward with the elements being kind to us. It was quarter to two when we made our choice for FRT today, not our usual haunt, McKays, but the pub across the road, Girvans. We were well received and spent a convivial hour before getting the three o’clock bus back to Dundonald.
As usual the fitbits couldn’t agree on the exact distance, but it was between eight and eight and a half miles in a walking time, including our lunch break, of three hours. And, other than a few spots, the rains never came.
A most enjoyable day out of the house!
Captive audience

The scene from above

Up top

Captive audience right enough. We'll see you after the walk, Davie!

Now, what is that aroma?

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Arrangements for 15 May

The Walk
Meet at the usual spot next to the Gogo Burn in Largs at 10am for the Knock Hill walk.

The Curry
Be at the Jewel in the Crown at 7 for 7.30pm.
Alan Stewart is organising. Those not present on 8th May should let him know asap as to whether they'll attend.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Durisdeer 1 May

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Hugh, Ian, Jimmy, Malcolm, Rex

The forecast had not been that good for the Durisdeer area, but we travelled in hope and, unfortunately, were disappointed. The persistent, very light rain that we encountered at the parking spot was to remain with us until it relented just as the walk was finished. Such was the dreichness that we never saw the golf ball (or football) all day.
Anyway, we were well wrapped up in waterproofs as we set off just after ten past ten and headed up to Kettleton Bothy. As always, particularly as it was a mild day, this got a sweat going, and by the time we sat down for our coffee, we were wetter from the inside than the outside. Derval Davie took time to record our visit in the bothy’s book and was reminded not to make any errors with his apostrophe’s!

The next leg took us to the highest point of the day before we started the descent down the track above the reservoir. Before long, Davie Mc, Gus Hugh, Ian and Rex headed off down the slope towards the dam with the intent of crossing over and going across the fields to Morton Castle. Alan saw them going but decided, correctly, that they had cut off too early, so he led the rest down the track for a bit before leading his group safely over the burn and up the adjacent steep wee path. They could see the first group crossing over the dam and then heading down to join them. Gus apparently had fallen on his bum going down the slope. He had survived, but his umbrella was well and truly broken. On the walk down to the castle Holly had to be put on the lead as the fields were full of sheep, some with lambs and some ready to produce, and it was a feature of the day just how many sheep and lambs we saw.
On reaching Morton Castle, the rain seemed to get a wee bit heavier and, as it was coming straight down (no wind), it was difficult to get a dry spot for our lunch, but, eventually, nooks and crannies were found for shelter.

The walk along the road back to the cars, the dreariest part of the walk, was done at a very smart pace, meaning we arrived back at two o’clock. By going overland to the castle rather than walking round the road shaved a mile or so off the distance, and despite the gizmos offering different information, we settled on approximately nine miles in about three hours and fifty minutes. The area at the back of the church, where the Queensberry Marbles are housed, offered shelter to get changed out of very wet gear and into pleasantly dry stuff. As was said earlier, the rain had not been that heavy but had just been persistent meaning that wet weather gear had remained on for the whole walk. Biggest problem of the day was trying to get out of Durisdeer because, as the convoy moved off, it came to an abrupt stop as the driver at the front had stopped to pick rhubarb growing at the side of the road!

As we drove back to the Black Bull in Mauchline for FRT, and thanks again for the complimentary nibbles, the weather changed and the sun appeared, making for a satisfying end to a good day out, despite the weather.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Arrangements for 8th May

Smugglers' Trail
Meet at Malcolm's house in Dundonald at 9.30am for coffee and rolls before setting off on the trail.
Bring bus passes for return journey!