Wednesday, 26 November 2008

3D Route - Girvan

I thought I had better get this one done before I forget, given the complexity of the route.

Distance 11.7 km

3D Route - Catrine

Distance 10.0 km

The Oofta Awards 2008

The Oofta Awards 2008

The Oofta Awards for 2008 as decided by the 'Committee'.

Best walk of 2008 ..................................Arran - The Western Hills, 4 June

Worst walk of 2008 ...............................The Greenock Cut

Best pub of 2008....................................The Loch Doon, Dalmellington

Worst pub of 2008.................................The Fish, Girvan

Best photo of the year............................Jimmy - Two Ooters having a great time on Blacksidend

Most Abstract Photo Johnny - A break in France, 7 May

Legs of the year................................... Robert - for red and white gaiters, 26 March

Most stylish burn crossing............ Paul - for Lowther Hills, 16 Jan and for maintaining his standard

Bore of the year................................. Jimmy and Davie - for birds and Johnny - for computers (Awarded Jointly)

Best sense of direction........................ Davie - for Return to the Western Hills of Arran, 8 October

Fashion statement of the year........... Peter - Luminous yellow jacket

Fastest Ooter of the year.................... Rex - for many outings

Loudest Ooter....................................... Johnny

The William McGonagall Prize for poetry................ Jimmy

Best newcomer....................................... Allan

Quip of the year.................................... Robert, when observing the shepherd at Garryhorn having problems with his collies 'Ye'll no' be doing One Man And His Dog this year, then?'

Most Welcoming Local........................ The woman at Portincross who welcomed Holly into her field most warmly

Biggest lunchbox of the year................. Ian, for many occasions

The Profane Bastard Award of 2008.... Johnny, for consistently high standard of swearsmanship

12 November Catrine to the Haugh

The carrot cake that Peter promised us on the last outing was the temptation to gather at his house for a short local walk before leaving for Mosset. Six of us plus Peter himself got stuck into the cake and very much appreciated it.
Peter had plans. Davie suggested a short walk but Peter still had plans. We thought we were heading for Sorn especially when we took a route by the voes. The voes looked continental today and the photographer was busy with the camera. Wee look forward to seeing the pictures. We still thought we were heading for Sorn when we turned up the river. No Salmon leapt the weir and no heron fished the calmer waters of the dam so we walked on, still heading upstream toward Sorn.
Peter's plans didn't include a walk up the river to Sorn, though. At the entrance to Daldorch School, we turned away from the river and came up through the school to the Sorn road. We turned right. We weren't for Sorn at all.
We came into the scheme. The scheme in Catrine is typical of our council housing schemes today - nice properties beside rundown ones, neglected gardens and boarded-up houses. This is another sad comment on our society. (Hey, you grumpy auld so-and-so, get on with describing the walk!)
Peter showed us the field where he was born. All right, it was an open space where the house once stood but we prefer to think Peter was born in a field. Johnny suggested that the house was demolished because that's what they do when a heinous crime is committed there. Peter was not amused.
A path brought us down to the Institute and back to the River Ayr Way. The rest of the walk is so familiar that it requires little in the way of description. We were to follow the river to the Haugh. The newcomers found this an interesting section of the walk and the usual landmarks were pointed out. Howford’s bridges elicited the same reaction from the newcomers as they have done on many occasions from the rest of us; the sandstone overhang high above the river was ventured on to by some though the sensible kept to firmer footing; the cup and ring markings were examined and debate ensued over their authenticity; the Fisher’s Tryst was visited; Ballochmyle's big brig was examined and it's statistics were quoted. This was an education for the newcomers.
The only change to the usual route came at the viaduct. We would normally take the high path but Jimmy fancied taking the low path for it is a long time since he had been this way and many in the company hadn’t been at all. Therefore, the low path was taken. This brought us to the side of the river.
There came a point on the route where the sandstone cliff came right to the river’s edge and the only way forward was by a narrow ledge four feet above the level of the water. This looked green and slippery. Though Peter and Jimmy strode on like heroes before us, it was with some apprehension that most ventured on to the ledge and it was only by careful scrambling and not a little trepidation that got us across it, though the stalwart pair saw no problem.
Once on the more secure ground, it was an easy walk to the top of the valley and Kingencluech. Peecetime was called in a wee stand of mature conifers by the side of the main road and we took our time over this reflecting on the scenery of the gorge.
After the peece, we found ourselves back at Howford. A band of ramblers was seated along the bridge having lunch. Our blether stopped to talk to them. There were twelve women and three men, all of our age or older, from ‘The Three Toons’. They had walked from Mauchline to Catrine and down the river. After lunch, they were to walk down the river to the Haugh and back to Mauchline. We left them to enjoy their lunch and walked on.
Peter had us up the brae to see the new cafe before dropping us back into the river valley where we retraced our steps upriver to Catrine.
The Royal Bar provided FRT today.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

3D routes - Scaur Valley and Portencross

Scaur Valley (Distance 14.5 km, 9.1 miles )

Portencross (Distance 11.4 km, 7.1 miles)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

5 November Portencross Circular - Lap 2

The spell of frosty nights and sunny days broke today and left us with one of these ‘no weather’ type of days - no wind, no rain, no sun, no heat, no cold, just no weather. No complaints from us though for it was dry and reasonably mild for the time of year and a perfect day for a walk by the sea.
Seven Ooters - Alan, Allan, Davie, Ian, Jimmy, Paul and Peter - gathered at Johnny’s to enjoy his usual hospitality before the eight of us headed off to the car park at Portincross.
Even in the car park, the twitchers were at it, binoculars scanning the sea. What did they see? They saw the sea for very little was moving on it this morning. So, we set off on the walk.
Two hundred metres later, we stopped to view the ruins of Portincross Castle. The present castle dates from the reign of Robert the second in mid fourteenth century though there appears to have been an earlier structure there. Today it is weatherworn but still substantial. They certainly knew how to build things back then. No baked clay brick or reinforced concrete here, just locally quarried red sandstone held together by shell mortar. Peter enthused over this stonework; particularly the blue-grey cornerstones. We were all suitably impressed.
Back on the path, we turned ourselves northward but stopped again within a few yards. A lobster creel hung over a fence and in the lobster creel was a tabby cat. Not that it was trapped there for there was an opening at the back through which it could come and go, but it obviously thought this a good place to relax. It was recalled that the creels at Ballantrae (September 17) had been bated with sparrows but we felt that baiting them with cats is just too much. We left Pussie to her slumbers and walked on.
The group split into two along the raised beach. The birders formed the slower and those who stood a hundred metres along the path and waited patiently for them, the faster. Paul, who has joined the ranks of the twitchers, was delighted when a Red-breasted Merganser was spotted but most of us think the birders just make up these names. It was just another duck.
When we reached the power station at Hunterston, we thought that the birders might give up. No chance! Even on the tarmac, they had binoculars trained into a wet field. We think the non-birders showed remarkable patience today; especially when they spotted a bird and the noise from the approaching aviphiles frightened it away. ‘It was only a stonechat anyway’ was their superior comment.
We took the estate road by Hunterston Castle. The autumn colour was still on the trees despite the efforts of the wind and this part of the walk was a delight. Paul, Jimmy and Ian halted at the castle to read the Latin inscription on the clock there. Paul translated this as ‘I number the quick hours’ but Jimmy’s colloquial translation ‘It’s later than ye think’ might be more to the point.
By the time the trio had translated or mistranslated the Latin, the rest of us were two hundred metres in front. Shouts from the rear for coffee brought us to a halt and coffee was taken on the same bank by the side of the road that we had taken it the last time. We suspect Davie might have leanings towards the Closed Brethren for, while the rest of us sat together for coffee, he took his on the opposite side of the road. Maybe it was our aftershave.
Coffee finished, we set off along the road again. We passed a field with a large flock of curlew feeding in it. ‘Whaups’, Jimmy called them though Peter remains convinced they were curlews.
Holly caused a stushie when she left the road and went through an open fence into the field, as far as we could see an empty field. A wee wummin at the far side of this field started shouting the odds - something about breaking the law, sheep molesting (steady, Davie) and chickens. Her aggressive attitude prompted Davie into a suitable response, which raised the harridan’s blood pressure even higher. The wee man at her side said nothing, wise wee soul. We left her shouting about chickens and continued along the road. We reckon that her noise disturbed her chickens more than Holly ever would.
The rest of the walk was uneventful. We passed the new house that’s still not finished and turned right on the Portincross road. Signs along this road indicated footpaths to the shore and it was suggested we might go down to the shore. Davie told us it would be hard going over the slippery rocks down there so we kept to the road and came back to the car park that way.
A shorter walk than of late but an interesting one in many ways, not least the woman with the chickens.
The Merrick in Seamill provided FRT today.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

A history lesson for Davie (and others who might be interested)

For those who are interested in such things, here is a little history gleaned from original source material in the National Archive and the Dumfries and Galloway Archive.

The Muirkirk to Sanquhar road was constructed from scratch as part of the Rutherglen to Sanquhar Turnpike. There was no road here before it was made. It was built to provide a shorter route between Glasgow and England than already existed.
The section from Muirkirk to Sanquhar was the first part of the road to be completed, being finished before July 1791.
The subdivision from Muirkirk to the county boundary with Dumfriesshire was surveyed by John Ainslie, surveyor and cartographer in Edinburgh, in July and August of 1788 and his report was submitted to the trustees in September of that year. It was approved and contracts for construction were invited. James Finlayson, road maker in Ayr, won the contract for this part.
The subdivision in Dumfriesshire was surveyed by John Greenlaw, a retained surveyor of the county. Mr. Finlayson and his men also constructed this.
Commodore Keith Stewart was the Trustee given the responsibility for this part of the turnpike. In a letter to him from the treasurer of the trustees dated March 1791, it is stated that the amount already ‘paid to James Finlayson towards making the road from the tunnel over Colt burn at the Tarwork southward to the march with the county of Dumfries £712 - 2 - 10’. In a footnote to the same letter it is written, ‘This district of road will be finished by the first of July when James Finlayson will have to be paid about £550 which aught to be provided.’
The Dumfriesshire section was completed by June of the same year for John Ainslie, writing to Keith Stewart in that month, complains ‘I wish the Gentlemen of the Sanquhar district had been equally as attentive in laying off the Road down the Bale hill, or the hill leading down to Sanquhar. By the Road now made leading down that hill (the one surveyed and set out by Greenlaw), I am sorry to acquaint you, that they have deviated very much from the line that was originally pitted out'
Both of these letters would suggest that the road was completed from Muirkirk through to Sanquhar by the summer of 1791.
The Furnace Road was constructed from scratch as part of the turnpike. The original road built by the Ironworks company was further east and came on to the Ayr to Edinburgh turnpike opposite the end of the Glasgow Road. Ainslie thought the slope here too steep for wheeled carriages so surveyed a new line, which became the Furnace Road.
The Coach House Inn was built by Keith Stewart in 1800 for the convenience of the travelling public, as there was no inn in the village at that time.
So, if the road was survey by John Ainslie and John Greenlaw, was constructed by James Finlayson and the Trustee given responsibility for the road was Keith Stewart, what was John Loudoun McAdam's connection with it? McAdam was manager and then proprietor of the British Tar Company whose works were at Muirkirk (McAdam's Cairn). His only connection with the road was as a trustee of the turnpike trust, though his company had constructed a road from here to the Ironworks by 1789.

Despite popular belief in Muirkirk, McAdam had very little to do with this road. It is very probable that he watched the construction of the new road and later refined the system when he started building roads in England. As far as is known here are no McAdam built roads in Scotland. Confusion exists because a contemporary, perhaps relation, of John Loudoun McAdam was John McAdam of Craigengillan who built a number of roads in Ayrshire notably the new road through Glenmuck and the Dalmellington 'bypass'.

Monday, 3 November 2008

29 October -Cairntable 1945 ft

Due to Jimmy and Paul having other commitments today and therefore being unable to go for a walk, Davie was duly assigned the task of being the scribe; since the pair of them will probably go over the text to check what I have went and wrote, I had better watch my grammar!
We met at 10 am in Furnace Road, Muirkirk outside the Black Bull Hotel where we were later to rendezvous for our post walk libation.
Muirkirk has a most fascinating and interesting industrial history and indeed it was in Furnace Road that the gasworks (the Muirkirk Coke and Gaslight Company) opened in 1859, Muirkirk being the first town in Britain to be lit by gas; ironically it was also the last place in the UK to be connected to the national gas network, in 1977.
We proceeded to the Kaimes car park where we picked up Peter who had initially been missed by Rex as he (Peter) was having a pee behind the wee shelter. This walk was supposed to be a repeat of the one on the 13th February 2008 when Jimmy was the first in 2008 to don shorts. Since the weather forecasters had promised us really foul weather coming in about noontime, it was decided to curtail the walk and simply climb Cairntable from the Sanquhar Road and return down the front. 
Since there was a spot of rain while we were at the car park, we all duly donned wet weather gear and set off. Beyond the ruins of Springhill House, the newcomers to he Early Ooters had a look at the cairn commemorating the road-maker John Loudoun McAdam, erected on the site of his tar kilns.  Incidentally, Tar McAdam never used or promoted the use of tar in the building of roads; his nickname merely derives from from his association with the tar works.
Furnace Road itself was built by McAdam as an early experiment in road construction; it was one of the first ever to use the engineer's revolutionary methods of compacting small broken stones, and slag from the ironworks further up Furnace Road, into to a mass that was impervious to moisture. 
(turning into a ********  history lesson this)
We shortly reached the Sanquhar Brig and left the old road, originally part of a coach road linking Glasgow with Carlisle and constructed in 1793. No doubt Jimmy will tell me the bloody date's wrong. We proceeded along the path up the west shoulder of Cairntable, being pleasantly surprised that conditions underfoot were not as bad as they could have been, due to the overnight frost. The weather had still not deteriorated as promised  and although there was a biting wind as we ate our lunch,  behind the huge cairn on the summit, it was still a very clear and otherwise pleasant day. So much so, that the big football on the top of Lowther Hill was clearly visible. Mind you, if Jimmy  had been present, he would probably have thought it was Steygail. The cairn was erected by volunteers in 1920 to commemorate those Muirkirk men who died and served in the Great War and contains a scroll in the middle listing all their names.
From the summit we could have headed east towards Glenbuck Loch, but again the pessimists warned of the impending bad weather and insisted we just made our way back down the tourist path. Rex was slightly miffed as he had plans to take us in a somewhat longer route back, but he was overruled.  As it turned out, the bad weather did not materialise until very late in the afternoon and we strolled back downhill in what could be described as a pleasant late autumn day, even having time to have a diversion to let Peter see some of the lochans that have been created once the old ironworks mines flooded.
The final part of the walk of course was across the old Muirkirk Juniors football ground which has almost reverted to nature, although you can still see signs of the clubhouse, the covered enclosure and indeed the goalposts. I well remember coming up here to watch games which had attendances of several hundred - mind you, 95% of the spectators were sheep.
Davie's question as to what former Muirkirk Juniors player played several times for Scotland, and in 1962 scored with  a penalty and then later in the game broke his leg in a 2:1 victory over England was answered almost indignantly by Robert - Eric Caldow.
A short but enjoyable walk with lots of blether and banter, although the comments about the antics of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross are unprintable.