Thursday, 23 September 2010

Maidens to Dunure 22 Sept 2010

'A tidey day'

Allan, Davie, Johnny, Peter, Ronnie and Robert met at the car park in Dunure and surveyed the overhead conditions. The weather forecast was poor with wall to wall rain threatened but it was almost dry with patches of blue sky at the time and it was agreed to undertake the walk as planned. Leaving Peter's car behind we travelled to Maidens and set off.
The tide was in!
'Did anyone check today's tide times? We'll be walking on soft sand.' No reply. Anyway, the first part of the walk was reasonably uneventful with just the odd stream to cross before we left the beach to head up towards Culzean. So far, so good weather wise, dull but warm and dry. Let it be known that we did not stop for coffee at our usual halt at the top of the cliff but continued into Culzean and headed for the coffee shop. We sat inside as the seats outside were still wet and there was now some moisture in the air. However by the time we had been fed and watered it was perfectly dry and was to remain so for the rest of the day. Not for the first time was the statement made 'We've won a watch with the weather!'
The route from Culzean along the beach provided us with obstacles; none of them insurmountable, but challenging nonetheless. The streams were wider and deeper, the burn at the caravan park was too deep to cross hence a wee detour into the caravan park, and there were rock outcrops we had to clamber over, one in particular being nasty due to the slippiness of the rocks. However, we are the Ooters and we made it beyond the last outcrop before stopping for lunch. By this time the sun was breaking through and we enjoyed the late summer weather before moving off. It has to be reported at this point that no cameras were brought today* as it was assumed that we would get a soaking and no-one wished to get their prized possessions wet.
Fifteen minutes took us from our lunch spot to the path up from the beach to the clifftops and it was a straightforward walk back to Dunure. Two things of note though. First, sloes were growing beside the footpath, Robert accumulated a nice wee crop. Second, the maize which we noted on our last visit poking through the plastic sheeting had ripened and been left to rot. 'Why fur?' Was the farmer paid to plant it? Was it a trial crop? Could the farmer not be bothered harvesting it? Maybe somebody has an answer.

'3 hours 40 minutes,' reported Davie as we reached the car park.
FRT, as usual on this walk, was taken at the Dunure Inn.

*In order to provide you, dear readers, with some photos, Davie, Holly & Kay nobly returned to Dunure on Saturday in brilliant sunshine!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

15 September Not the Luss Hills

Alan, Davie, Ian, Jimmy, Paul. Rex & Robert

It would seem that a modicum of sense is creeping into the collective psyche of the Ooters. The plan for the day was to travel to Luss for a walk on the hills there but the rain and wind of the last couple of days combined with a forecast of similar for today caused a change of mind. When we gathered in Ian’s with the sky lowering and the gale threatening to tear trees apart, nobody complained when Ian suggested a local walk.
The sky still lowered ominously when we left Ian’s place. Though the rain had gone for the moment, some donned the waterproofs ‘just in case’. It was a sensible idea for at least they cut the wind.
Ian’s walk was to be one we have done before (see 20/06/07 & 15/08/09) with one or two minor and one major diversion. The first of these minor ones found us in Dean Park but not where we expected to be. Ian took us by a contorted route among the trees to the graves of Thomas Evelyn Ellis, 8th Lord Howard De Walden and his wife Margherita Van Raalte, the owners and restorers of Dean Castle back in the nineteen-thirties. They loved the place so much that they chose to be buried in the grounds of the estate. Such is the seclusion of their resting place that, though some had lived in Kilmarnock most of their days and Rex had even lived barely quarter of a mile away, this was unknown to most of us, including Rex. It is probably unknown to ninety-nine percent of the visitors to the castle though this is only a few hundred yards away through the trees. This was to be our next port of call.
We were back on familiar territory at the castle. In 1974 Lord Howard De Walden gifted the castle and estate to the people of Kilmarnock and it is now run by East Ayrshire Council on behalf of the people and is open with free entry to the public. But, since it was not yet open for the day, Ian suggested we do our walk and pay a visit on return. We are all too polite to argue with Ian so continued to follow him through the park.
He took us next to the old walled garden of the estate. This is now used as a type of allotment scheme administered by the council where plots can be rented to grow your own crops. But not a lot of work has been done recently by the state of the ground we could see as we peered through the gates. Yes, as Ian says, there are facilities there but the ground appears to be in a fallow state with little in the way of cultivation being carried out. Perhaps there will be a change next time we come this was but for now, it was on with the walk.
We joined the Asloss road, headed for Boreland Farm, crossed the motorway by a bridge and came into the policies of Crawfurdland Castle. We knew from the previous visits here that the track we would take through the Rushybog and Wardknowe plantations was mucky and suspected it would be even more so today given the rainfall of the last few days. But Ian knew where he was going (That makes a change, think some.) and turned off the track onto a path through the trees. This was surprisingly dry and the walking was easy though there were some slippy tree roots to negotiate. Even more slippery were the boardwalks we encountered when we crossed the track and found another way through the woods. But on the whole these two paths kept the feet clean and brought us safely to tarmac a few hundred metres south of the fishery of Craufurdland Loch.
The fishery was devoid of anglers today and afforded little in the way of interest but we walked round it anyway just ‘because it’s there’. Sometime between leaving Dean Castle and arriving at the fishery the ominous clouds had dispersed and the sun made an appearance. It was sunny as we walked round the fishery looking for a place for coffee. But did we sit in the sun? Hey, this is the Ooters we are talking about. We left the sunshine, came into the shade of the trees, found the fishery office and sat down at slimy picnic tables, much to Rex’s disgust it might be added, and took coffee.
Beyond the fishery we found a minor road. Where before we have turned right and come to Craufurdland Bridge, we now turned left and headed for Fenwick. Past Marchbank and Aikenhead Farms we wandered. The wind was dropping and the sun was turning warm and our collective spirit lightened with the weather. On towards Fenwick we ambled taking in a brightening scene over rural Ayrshire.
But we never made Fenwick. At the foot of the Waterslap we turned right past some new housing. Then we left tarmac and took a right on the farm road for Dalsraith. Now came a sorry comment on the state of Ooterism. At Dalsraith Bridge where he found a convenient copse of saughs, Davie stopped for a pee. The very thought of this caused a contagion in the oldies and before long we had a line of Ooters watering the vegetation. The sighs of relief might have been heard back in Fenwick.
With all this weight jettisoned and feeling much lighter now, we made the short climb up to Dalsraith Farm. This was new territory for all, including our intrepid leader and when we made the farm, we made a mistake. (Anither yin? Ed) The track appeared to continue through a gate and we continued with it. But after fifty metres or so it became obvious that this was the wrong way. Our leader (and his trusty advisors) who, by this time had stopped to consult maps and scratch heads and had been bypassed the rest of us, shouted us back for his scout (Jimmy, aka Tonto) had found the right way at the other end of the farm.
That this was our track was obvious from the hedges on either side and there was firm ground beneath our feet, but that it was an unused track was just as obvious from the lush grass growing along its length. But it was our track and we followed it into the fields. Extensive but uninspiring views greeted us as we followed the path for this was high ground, the highest of the day. We enjoyed the space and the September sun now warming the bodies for the wind was dropping all the time and the turning pleasant. We passed a large but temporary body of water where black-headed gulls swarmed in the sun then turned right along a fence, trying desperately to cross a boggy area without getting wet and mucky feet, towards a gate in the corner. The track sort of petered out in this bog but the gate was a good reference point and we headed towards it.
The track did continue on the far side of the gate but it was now overgrown with saughs and brambles and nettles. We had a choice of which side of it to walk and opted for the side that took us unto a field with a strange crop for this area – a crop of willow. We could only speculate on the uses for such a crop, for crop it certainly was, and suggestions ranged from wicker baskets to fence hurdles to living shelters, all of which seemed sensible to our simple minds. The more ridiculous suggestions we chose to ignore. Then another gate came, a gate that would see us out of the planting and back onto the old track. We continued on the old track beside the Grassyards Burn to the farm of Netherraith, a very posh farm with a tarmaced drive. We took to the drive and came back to Craufurdland Bridge.
‘This would be a good place to have lunch’ suggested Rex. But in true Ooters style he was told that there was a better bit in a wee quarry ‘just doon the burn a bit’ for we were now back on familiar ground and we knew things. We left the tarmac again and took the wee path beside the burn that we had taken on our two previous outings here. The ‘bit doon the burn’ was at least half a mile and half a hungry mile at that. But we did find the old quarry and it did give us a better lunch stop than the bridge. In a sheltered spot in the beech trees above the Craufurdland water where we sat for lunch.
A post lunch saunter saw us follow the Craufurdland Water back towards Killie. We left the shelter of the trees and came over a well made style into a field. It was somewhere along here that sanity deserted us again. Considering the demise of that great television institution Last of the Summer Wine it was suggested that the Adventures of the Early Ooters would make a fine replacement. But who would play which part? Suggestions were made but we await the nominations of the other Ooters before we can give the definitive cast list. It was also suggested that the scribes rewrite the Adventures as screenplay to which Jimmy answered on behalf of his colleagues. What he said is unprintable but suffice to say that it was less than positive.
This piece of nonsense brought us down to the Assloss road and on to the ford. Despite the fair old run on the water, Holly, who makes a habit of picking up as much muck as possible during a walk, was washed. This involved Davie throwing a stick into the swollen water for holly to chase. Now, thoughts of droont dugs and bodies being washed down to Irvine came into the heads of some. But Davie is not that silly as to droon his own dug. The stick was thrown into the only calm bit of water in the burn and holly was washed without incident, much to our relief. Now with a clean dug, we walked on.
The Assloss road saw us back into Dean Park and down past the animal enclosures to the castle. A quick cultural (see last week) visit to see the armoury, feel the weight of the chain mail and hand a blog card to the attendant was followed by a short saunter back to our starting place.

FRT was taken in a pub the name of which has escaped your scribbler but no doubt somebody will remind him.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Whaur awa oan We'n'sday

Hi gowks,
Whaur awa are we next week? Wha's howf dae we gather in? Whit 'oor o' the clock? Dis naebody post sic information nooadays?
Look furrit tae it onywey.

'It's gie an easy speerin', say the beggar wife tae me.

Friday, 10 September 2010


During our sojourn in Cumbrae there much debate about the exact meaning of a certain Scots word. You will remember that a young man from Catrine used this word in reference to me during a heated conversation. I somehow didn't get the impression he was paying me a compliment. But I wasn't quite sure. Now I am. I dusted down my copy of The Scots Dialect and found the following:

gauk: a fool, a lout
gauk: (v) to behave foolishly (used of young women in relation to men)
gaukie: gawky: a foolish person
gawk: (v) to stare vacantly or idily
gowk: cuckoo or blockhead

Paul, you were right about cuckoo.

Where is Jimmy when you need him????


Thursday, 9 September 2010

Cumbrae 8 Sept 2010

'And then there were four'

With ooters still being involved in holidays and munro-bagging and with Jimmy away collecting his carbuncle of the year award, Ian, Ronnie and Paul met at Allan's for a leisurely coffee and scone (leisurely was to be the theme of the day). Having travelled to Largs we arrived at the slip on Cumbrae at about 11.00a.m. and set off in bright sunshine on the usual clockwise route. Ripening brambles were abundant (eat your heart out Peter) at the roadside and many were picked and consumed throughout the course of the day. Soon we were on our way up to the Glaidstone and it was here that Ian spotted a 2p on the ground. Paul, what a dark horse he is, admitted that he doesn't bend over for less than 20p. The mind boggles. We then spied what we thought was a submarine making its way down the Clyde. The problem was that the object was too long for a sub and hence the discussion continued until we made the summit (417ft) and could see clearly that it was indeed a sub but with escort vessels at the front and rear and other smaller craft in attendance. It did not dawn on us until we chatted to another couple on the hill that the small speedboats belonged to Greenpeace. Coffee was taken, the views of Arran, Bute and beyond were taken in, and we discovered that the lady to whom we were talking had been a lecturer at Jordanhill. Ronnie had a long talk with the gentleman concluding with a derogatory story about a man from Lewis. When he had finished he said, 'And where to you come from?' 'Lewis', was the reply.
Next port of call was the Cathedral of the Isles (see us, see culture) and then it was down to the museum at the Garrison before stopping for lunch at the picnic bench on the sea front. The weather by this time was perfect, blue skies, warmth and no wind, and it was here that a fleeting thought came to us, 'Why don't we just sit here for a while and get the bus back to the ferry. The other guys don't need to know.' Ian, however, had a better idea. 'We can walk up to the Golf Club and have a pint'. And so we did, sitting outside in the sunshine and enjoying retirement. We have to record at this point that Ronnie, we think, created another first on an ooters walk. The conversation had turned to Ian's former occupation as a patent agent with him describing his association with Massey-Ferguson and Harry Ferguson's invention of the Ferguson system. Ronnie by this time was fast asleep. He eventually came to and exclaimed, 'Did you work for a man called Ferguson?' The story was recalled for Ronnie's benefit. He felt a better man for knowing about tractors. And talking about tractors, this was a theme of one of Ian's many jokes. He can retell it to the assembled company the next time we have a full complement, suffice it to say that he admitted to making it up in the middle of the night. Sad, isn't it!
For the second time today serious thought was made to having another pint and getting the bus back to the ferry but valour was the better part of discretion and we tramped on from the Golf Club via a path to the tearoom at Fintry Bay. Having some money left in the kitty we all decided to have large 99 cones. Delicious as these were, Ian decided to create his own signature dish by sticking some brambles in the ice cream before devouring the lot.
The trek to the ferry terminal allowed us yet again to marvel at the scenery; the views up the Clyde and beyond to the Cobbler and surrounding hills were superb. The ferry was boarded at 4.30p.m. Five and a half hours for approximately nine miles. Not bad, eh?
This indeed was a grand day out.

Distance: 14.4 kms
route by Paul

Route map - Lowthers

1 September: Lowther Hills

Distance: 12.4 kms

Thursday, 2 September 2010

The Lowthers 1 Sept 2010

Added by JM

6 Ooters met at Davie's on a fine morning for the trip through to
Wanlockhead. On this occasion we took the motorway down to Abington
before cutting off and heading to our start point at the NATS service
station. Soon we were starting the climb up to the 'golf ball' on
Lowther Hill. Davie had stated (more than once) that this would be an
easy walk, 'You can't get an easier hill walk', he said. 'Aye right,'
said the doubting Thomases. Straight up we went, not following the
road, eventually reaching the top where we were amazed to find a couple
of workmen strimming the grass. 'What's the point?' was the question.
'Nats want it done,' came the reply. It turned out that the firm came
from Kilmarnock and the lad we were talking to was an ex St Joe's
pupil. Coffee was called for and as we sat overlooking the hills and
valleys below us we could see what we agreed had to be heather being
burned off in the distance. The smoke from the fire provided a topic of
conversation as the effect of the incoming rain squall on the shape of
the rising smoke was noted.
The first spots of rain hit us as we moved off on the road towards
Green Lowther. Surprisingly, as we waterproofed up, the rain turned to
hail and then back to rain again as we made the climb up to the highest
point of the day. By the time we had reached the masts the rain had
abated and it was to be gloriously warm and sunny for the rest of the
day. A debate was had about whether we would continue up to Dungrain
Law or whether we would descend from here. The decision was made that
we would push on. 'There's a slight ascent further on,' said Davie
mischievously. So on we went passing over Peden Head before seeing
Dungrain in front of us. Unfortunately in order to get to the top of
Dungrain we had to descend first and therefore lost most of the height
we had gained. It's just us well that Davie was out in front by this
time with his ears turned off. However, the summit was reached and
lunch was called for. For the second week running we had hit it off
with the weather and again the views to be had were worth the climb.
Johnny's boots were beginning to bother him again by this time so he
changed in to a pair of sandals for the rest of the day. The relief on
his face was apparent.
All good things come to an end though. The descent was down the side of
the hill through heather and as we descended we could here the sound of
gunfire across the valley, grouse shooting no doubt. It took a fair wee
while to reach the bottom but as we walked towards the old railway line
we could see behind us the ridge we had walked today, quite impressive!
Just when we thought that the climbing was finished for the day, Davie
said we would take a short cut up the hill in front of us. A note of
resignation to the inevitable overtook us as we started the climb.
However, Davie knew what he was doing and after two minutes and with a
smile on his face he led us on to a path which skirted the hill. Soon
we were on the track taking us to the Leadhills railway station. A
drinks stop was called for and as we rested we could see the grouse
beaters coming down the hill behind us in a regimented line. We
followed the railway line back to the cars and finished the walk at
about 3.10p.m. Having started at 10.30a.m. this made for another good
Davie did admit that it maybe was a moderate walk after all!
FRT was taken at the Black Bull back in Darvel.