Adventures of the Early Ooters

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Oor wee hoose an hour ago.

Hurlford to Darvel 11 January

Allan, Davie Mc, Gus, Kenny T, Jim, Malcolm, Paul & Rex-ish

The forecast was for strong winds with wintry showers so, as we took coffee and scones at the CafĂ© Derval, many thanks again to Kay and Davie, the decision was made to stay low, take the bus to Hurlford, and walk back. Rex performed a ‘now you see him, now you don’t' act as, when arrived, he took a call and had to return to Ayr to attend to an issue at one of his properties – and he didn’t leave his fiver!
With full weatherproofing on from the start, we made our way up to the main street to catch the 9.58 bus and had to run to catch it. Thanks go to the driver for waiting for us. It was little compensation to find the bus then turned left and passed Davie’s road end. Typical!
Having reached Hurlford we took the familiar Grougar Path and made good progress, especially since the elements were coming from behind us – good planning! Davie, Paul and Holly veered off and took the lower riverside path whilst the rest decided to stay on firmer footing and followed the road up to Loudoun Kirk. They were surprised to find that they had arrived first, and sat down at the steps under the tree canopy for lunch – this was the only stop of the day. Ten minutes later the ‘stragglers’ arrived and stock was taken of the day so far. The weather had been better than forecast, and although blustery, we had encountered only a couple of short showers and, indeed, for most of the time we were in winter sunshine.
Davie’s advice was to follow the road from here as the alternative path was a ‘glaur-hole’ (Derval speak) and so we walked up to the entrance to Loudoun Estate and turned past the school, taking time to pause and wonder what would happen if we went in and asked the Headie if Alan McQ could come out to play. As we hit Galston a notion was put forward as to whether we just got the bus back from here but, before Allan could catch his breath and answer, the consensus of opinion was to finish what had been started. These guys watch too many quiz shows!
Anyway, as we followed the Valley Trail on the new cycle track, we noticed that, although money had been spent on the new path, lack of foresight (or even more money) had meant that the river bank had not been protected from erosion, as had happened before, and that it wouldn’t be long before parts of the new track were lost. Wonderful!
Newmilns was made in good time and, as we paused briefly outside the Riverside Inn, Davie said “Forty minutes from here”. And so it came to pass that forty minutes later we were back at the cars, arriving at 1.35pm.
We had ‘won a watch’ with the weather, all things considered, and headed back to the aforementioned Riverside Inn for FRT.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Arrangements for 18th January

Meet at Malcolm's for bacon rolls at 9:30 am. The plan is to do the Smugglers' Trail. Bring your bus passes.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Benwhat, Lethanhill, Burnfoothill 4 January

Alan McQ, Allan, Andrew D, Davie Mc, Gus, Ian, Jim, Jimmy, Kenny T, Malcolm, Paul, Robert

Meeting at the entrance to Chalmerston, we exchanged New Year greetings and welcomed Alan McQuiston, still actively engaged at the chalk face (or maybe the smartboard face would be more accurate) and Andrew, Jim’s son, fresh from saving the Borders from floods and a partner in the civil engineering firm Dinnett, Dunnit and Dammit.
We couldn’t have had better weather for the first outing of the year with an overnight frost on the ground and bright, clear blue skies above. Just after ten we headed up the access road and went straight on before following the track to the left towards the remains of Benwhat (or Benquhat). The rapid pace up the road meant that it was not too long before some layers were discarded in the sunshine. Underfoot conditions had been good so far and there was no cold wind to speak of. Coffee was taken at the Benwhat marker stone whilst Davie contemplated our next move. The plan was to follow the path of the old railway and he decided to head upwards to find it, despite being advised that it was below us. Undeterred he crossed over some really wet and boggy terrain before disappearing up to his oxters (only slight exaggeration). At the sight of the conditions ahead and, in the knowledge that the railway was thirty metres below us, the majority turned back and found the path with ease. Davie was joined by Alan, Paul and Robert and proceeded up the side of the hill to the war memorial before coming down to rejoin us further along the track. By this time underfoot conditions were variable ranging from the good to the wet. As we trekked towards the forest which contains the remnants of Lethanhill, Gus was seeking help with some crossword clues. Eventually when asked where we were actually heading, he said ‘Four across, five down, No more questions!’
Just beyond the forest is the Lethanhill and Burnfoothill war memorial, and this is where we stopped for lunch, overlooking the valley and Patna. A low sun and the neighbouring trees meant that we were in the shade whilst we ate, a piece of poor planning if ever there was one! Can’t get the staff these days!
Heading off downhill we came to the ‘inclined plane’ and the remains of the winding house?

Where's Peter when you need him?

Going down
Interesting brickwork caused some discussion, with the consensus of opinion being that the angle of the bricks would be at right angles to the wires for added strength. The industrial heritage centre was soon reached, but little time was spent exploring as we set off along the railway track back towards the access road to Chalmerston. This part of the walk was not too pleasant as walking on the stone ballast and avoiding the slippy sleepers proved to be a challenge. Nonetheless, we arrived back at the cars in just under four and a half hours, having had a good, but tiring, at least for the less fit of us, day out in excellent conditions.

Who him?

Scotrail's new rolling stock arrives
FRT was taken at the Dalmellington Inn.


Some more images from the Doon valley

The Standing Stones of Dalmellington - just above the parking area.
Negotiating the gate at the start.
Climbing the opencast road.
Reflections of a good walk.

At the Benquat memorial.
The more adventurous of us leaving the Benquat war memorial.
Lunch at the Lethanhill war memorial.
A brick structure at the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre at Dunaskin.