Saturday, 29 October 2011

More pictures of Mosset 2011

Mosset 19-26 October 2011


Big Chief Long
Toe ...Robert
Ipache In
dian ...Johnny
Sitting Boule
s ...Rex
Quartermaster, cook and general good time girl ...Alan

xas Ranger (or Taxes Ranger, whatever!) ...Malcolm
General 'Lump
y' Custard ...Davie C
Major Issues ...Paul

Miss Kitty ...Allan


As Ooters, we don't ask much
Only that Paul can tell the brake from the clutch

Prestwick - Girona - Mosset
For possibly the first time the beardies were outnumbered as we assembled at Prestwick for the annual Mosset trip. Seven of us had prebooked the former toilet area on the Ryanair flight and were strapped in standing up for the length of the journey. Not bad for an extra 50 euros each! Rex chose the first class option and had the outside toilet all to himself.
Soon we were at Girona and finding our way to the hired cars.
The Kilmarnock/Ayr Fiat Doblo was soon on its way and should have been followed by the Irvine/Dundonald/Barassie VW Caddy but for the inability of the car to start. Paul tried umpteen times to get it going and was advised by Allan to depress the clutch before turning the key, but still no joy. Paul did say though that he found that the clutch had little travel on it - this should have been the clue.
Eventually Paul and co-driver Malcolm went back to the office for assistance only to return and report that the car had a voice activated starting mechanism. Paul tried again as Johnny shouted in Fawltyesque fashion for the car to start. After a while with still no joy Paul admitted that this was a joke and that all he had to do was depress the clutch before starting. After failing miserably again Allan got out from the back, (not easy as the Caddy had only one rear door and it was not at Allan's side), went into the driver's seat and started the car first time. Paul and Malcolm were amazed. 'Let me try again,' said Paul. It was only after some more unsuccessful attempts and some helpful 'advice' from the rear did he realise that he had been pressing the brake all the time.
However, to be fair, Paul and all the other drivers did us proud for the week.
We stopped for a bite to eat at the Catalan Village then headed for Super U to stock up for the first couple of days. Robert made his famous sausages and lentil dish and the company settled down for a relaxing evening of wine, women and song - well one out of three ain't bad and, in case your wondering, the one came out of a bottle, well a box actually. By this time the rain was pouring down outside but thankfully this was the only occasion we were to see any real rain.

Thursday 20th

The first snow of winter was on the peaks
It made for a walk of rosy cheeks

Pic du Roussillon
We awoke to a bright crisp day having decided that the opener should be the walk up to the Pic du Roussillon. The rain on the previous evening had fallen as snow on the mountain tops and made for some stunning scenery. This is a well established walk and the sunny conditions made for good progress. The wind was chill though and our usual coffee stop was passed by in favour of the shelter of some rocks further up. As we took a short break, for the wind seemed to be hitting us no matter where we sat, griffon vultures soared effortlessly overhead. Some thought was given to sacrificing the two Mosset virgins in our midst but sense prevailed when they offered us money for their safe passage.
Next stop was at the shelter close to the road for lunch and here indeed we were sheltered and enjoyed a lazy half hour basking in the sun before striding up the road towards the summit. Allan, Johnny and Malcolm continued on the road whilst the others made the detour up to the top where the windy conditions made for a short stop. After that itwas downhill all the way with the party being reunited well before we returned to Mosset.
Alan cooked up a fish pie plus accompaniments for the meal and a very convivial evening was had.
N.B. Johnny retired at 9.15.

Friday 21st

Not the shock that it may seem
The doms were won by the Irvine team

Canal Walk Into Molitg Les Bains
Thought had been given to do the coastal walk but some were keen to watch the Australia v Wales rugby match so the coast was put off until the next day. Whilst the rugby was on another shopping trip was made and lunch was taken alfresco. The weather was still beautiful despite the overnight frost when we set off along the canal heading for Molitg.
We had intended having a beer at the cafe in High Moiltg but it was shut so we headed down to the Royal and enjoyed our beers there before setting off down past the Spa before climbing up to the top of the hill. Here we had ample photo opportunities in the lovely afternoon sun before commencing the homeward leg. Here forward thinking on Robert's part paid off as the Doblo had already been parked on the road back to Mosset. Seven of us in a 2-3-2 formation piled into the car whilst Paul, he of the good sense (remember this was a 5-seater), decided to stride back to base camp.
Rex's dish tonight was Pork in Hoi Sin sauce having carried the tin of sauce all the way to France from Possil - now there's dedication for you.
The dominoes competition was won far too easily by Johnny and Allan after the teams had been decided by drawing lots. It must be stated that the previous joint winner failed to win any of his downs. Nae T-shirts this year then!

Saturday 22nd

Tapas for dinner on a night so starry

A new
anthem, 'There's only one Bob McGarry'

Coast Walk to Port Vendres

Another fine morning saw the group travelling to the usual starting point for this walk between Banyuls and Port Vendres. The weather had dulled over but by the time we reached the lighthouse at Cap Bear the sun had come out again and lunch was taken in our den before continuing along the road to Port Vendres where refreshments were taken in a quayside cafe.
We then drove to Collioure to enable Malcolm and Davie to see this picturesque village. After a look around and being entertained by rowing races in the rather choppy harbour, we set off for home.
For dinner we had booked in at the cafe in High Molidg. It hadn't been our first choice but since the Cafe Royal was not doing evening meals and the menu looked good Robert had taken the opportunty to book it. We set off in good spirits in the Doblo with Robert driving and this time the formation was 2-4-2.
Unbeknown to us though, the choice was Tapas or Tapas. This suited most, but our resident I.T. expert was less than impressed. However, although different, we had a good night ending with Robert putting a bet on with the owner about the outcome of the Rugby World Cup Final. The formation on the return was a more-laid back 2-3-3, the ball players being in the boot.

Sunday 23rd

Brownings, Aulds and Greggs should cry
There's nothing like a Mosset Pie

We settled down to watch the New Zealand v France game whilst Davie prepared the evening meal. Despite the pundits' predictions the home side just hung on for a narrow victory with France taking a lot of credit. Because of this Robert didn't have the Gaul to go and pick up his winnings - a free drink.
After lunch at the house we set off for a walk from the Col de Jau. This took us off to the right and as we passed two dead sheep in a pen we wondered what lay ahead. Maybe the circling eagles above had something to do with it.
Q. What do you drink with a dead sheep?
A. Mutton Cadet
After an hour or so of following the track, it eventually ran out and, with the weather beginning to close in, a decision was made to return the way we had come. Paul, who had earlier informed us that, according to his GPS, we were only 962 miles from the Hill of Stake (possibly the closest we will ever get to it) and Robert made a wee detour to try and find another path and when they emerged they were accompanied by a wee dug which followed them all the way back to the cars and looked longingly at us as we left it behind.
Davie's Beef Wellington aka Mosset Pie went down a treat and since Johnny had retired early again and we were suffering withdrawal symptoms from his eloquence we compensated by listening to Kevin 'Bloody' Wilson. Another good night!

Monday 24th
The forecast was dodgy, a day for cagoules?
A coffee, an abbey and a game of boules

Saint Martin du Canigou
In anticipation of rain we decide to play safe and travelled to Vernet Les Bains where we had a coffee before climbing up to L'Abbaye St Martin du Canigou. The weather was fine if a bit windy at the viewing point so we wasted no time in finding our way back to the carpark for lunch.
The annual boules tournament was held in Vernet and on a much better surface than last year. This allowed for some fine play with Rex, Alan and Paul reaching the final in which Rex was triumphant. Who is Ian Hill anyway?
The day out had been much better than anticipated with only a couple of brief, light rain showers to contend with.
Johnny was given special dispensation to return to the kitchen and he produced the goods by serving up soup and seafood risotto for dinner.

Tuesday 25th

Up the hill to the hamlet of Llugols
The vanishing t
hree got a flea in their lugholes

Prades Market and Llugols
A beautiful morning greeted us for the trip to Prades market and a coffee in our favourite café. Various options had been suggested for today including a trip to the Col de Mantet and the walk up to Les Trois Etoiles but, with fatigue setting in, a low level walk was agreed.
This started at the school in Prades and wound its way up the road to Llugols. Low level it might have been but it was uphill all the way affording terrific views back down the valley from Prades to Perpignan and over towards the Canigou. Having reached the hamlet (basically a few houses) Allan decided to go back down the way he had come up and was followed by Johnny and Malcolm whilst the remainder walked on down a donkey track to complete a circular route.
Back at base camp, after the big tidy up, Johnny was allowed a reprise in the kitchen with another hearty soup and pork chops.
The darts tournament was held in the evening and was won by Malcolm who beat Allan in the final. Thankfully we decided not to use the rules devised by Johnny (we'd still be playing yet) and went for a straight knock-out.

Wednesday 26th

It's good-bye to Mosset for another year
Is Davie still drinking the Chimay beer?

Mosset - Girona - Prestwick
A 9 o'clock start saw us back at Girona in plenty of time for the flight back to Prestwick. .

Thanks again to Robert for his hospitality and forbearance.
Well done to the drivers, cooks and bottle washers.
A special award to Davie for managing the walks where his vertigo was sorely tested.

So it's back tae auld claes and purridge then!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

26 October Cumnock to Catrine via Ochiltree

Jimmy, Peter, John Kelso

With the gang still missing for the reasons of last week, Jimmy and Peter with Peter’s friend John from Auchinleck took advantage of a bright morning to walk the Cumnock to Ochiltree walk, visit Dumfries House, have a a bite of peece in the old graveyard at Ochiltree and finish by walking through Auchinleck House estate to Catrine.

19 October Lunky Hole Circular, Muirkirk

Davie Mc, Jimmy
With most of the group jetting off to France for the annual trip and others otherwise occupied, only two turned out for this outing around Muirkirk. As we changed into walking gear in the car park at Kames a plane was heard flying south and we suspected this was the flight carrying the boys to the sun of southern France. Had the weather been as it has been for the last week - pouring rain flooding the countryside - we might have felt a twinge of jealousy. As it was, the day dawned bright and sunny and, given the northerly airstream, we anticipated that this would be the pattern of the day; there was only a fleeting moment of regret as we heard the plane fly south into the morning sun.
The northerly wind was cool but when we were sheltered from this the sun was pleasantly warm, warm enough for Davie to start the day in shorts and for Jimmy to set off jacketless. This was the way it was to stay for the rest of the day.
The walk itself was to be the same circuit as we have done before (7/7/2010 & 29/6/2011) so we set off south-westward behind Kames towards Tibbie’s Brig on the River Ayr Way. This was to be a more relaxed walk than we are used to for Jimmy had his camera with him and Davie had the patience to wait while he photographed anything from Tibbie’s Brig to sunlight on the autumn leaves and the coos in the fields. And in this relaxed mood we came down the River Ayr Way to the Cumnock road.
Birdlife was abundant on this section today: kestrels hunted over the moor around Tibbie's Brig, finches kept us amused along the old railway and a flock of around two hundred fieldfare fed in a field near Wellwood. We took time to watch the birds today.
Unusually, considering the bright morning, we never met a soul on the ‘Way’ today. The first person that we saw was a fisher preparing to catch lunch at Dalfram Bridge. We wished him success and walked on up the minor toad to Dalfram, crossed the Sorn road and continued towards Netherwood. Jimmy’s camera was in action again when he saw the unusual herd in the field; horse six cows and a single sheep. When Jimmy stopped by the roadside, the herd/flock came running towards him affording plenty of opportunity for the camera. Davie waited patiently while all this took place. Then, with the prize winner in the bag, we walked on.
We left tarmac at Burnfoot and came down to the side of the Netherwood Burn. On the bridge here we stopped for a bite to eat.

We found the wet bit just over the bridge, where the old track degenerates before it joins the forest road but then what could we expect after the rains of the last month. But we managed to pick our way over the wet muck to join the forest road and followed this round to the remains of the old open-cast works.
If we thought that the road was wet earlier, we were in for a shock now for the wee wild-life pond created here was filled to overflowing with the previous rains, overflowing right across the road we had to travel. And ten inches deep in places. We had to make a diversion round the only comparatively drier area to the west. At least Holly enjoyed the paddle.
Back on terra firma we followed the road out to the Stra’ven road, crossed this and too the Tardoes Road to the kirk. There are a few interesting old stones in this graveyard. Buried here are Tibbie Pagan, John Lapraik, the Rev. John Shepherd (Muirland Jock in Burns’s ‘Kirk’s Alarm’) and the covenanter John Smith but the most intriguing stone must be that to the two children killed by a wildcat. We spent some time in the old graveyard, wandering around in the sun, even taking time to look at the covenanter’s monument retrieved from the old Glenbuck church before it was swallowed up by the open-cast.
But time was moving on and we moved on as well. From the churchyard we made our way back on to the River Ayr Way by way of Auldhouseburn road. Twenty minutes saw us back along the ‘Way’ to Kames and the end of the walk.
The Coachhouse provided FRT for the day before we made our separate ways home.

Monday, 17 October 2011

12 October - Cumbrae

Nine Ooters (Robert, Johnny, Allan, Ian, Macolm, Rex, Paul, Davie x 2) gathered at Allan's for scones and coffee and to make a decision on the day's walk.

The original plan to walk from Largs to the Hill of Stake had been more or less ruled out for fear of it becoming another Black Craig walk. Muirshiel to the near-mythical hill was the proposed alternative, but the day had dawned grey with low cloud, and after a vote(!!!) the decision was taken to go to Cumbrae instead. The vote had been 5-4 in favour of Cumbrae .... but the waters were then muddied when Allan tried to switch his vote from Cumbrae to Hill of Stake (Allan doesn't often vote for anything with "hill" in it) but his intervention was deemed ultra vires.

At this point Robert opined that what we needed was a "benevolent dictator". A few nodded sagely, but all opined that, by definition, Robert would obviously be ruled out from holding such a position.

Rather than the two men and a dog we expected to be waiting for the Cumbrae ferry, the slipway area was mobbed with scores of university students (budding biologists going to cut up fish) waiting to board the ferry. Strangely they were all lined up in twos, with a few holding hands. Whatever happened to the student anarchists of yesteryear? Some of the Ooters chose to line up behind the students, not holding hands so far as could be seen, whilst the erstwhile anarchists just stood at the top of the slipway, and consequently got the best seats.

Ian had a plan.

At the Water Sports Centre we were to leave the road around the island and cut overland towards the Glaidstone road. There was a track. We climbed to the top of Broomy Knowes (89 metres asl) but then the rains which had fallen in recent days all seemed to have accumulated on the path below Broomy Knowes and we had to pick our way around deep puddles and clawing red mud to get back to tarmac. Some were more successful than others in avoiding the perils of the track. In the best traditions of the Ooters, Ian got pelters. However, his retort that he had voted to go to the Hill of Stake soon silenced the critics.

Morning coffee was taken at the usual spot, atop the Glaidstone, now embellished with several new seats.

The rain which had stayed off so far now put in an appearance, but it was no worse than light drizzle. It transpired that Ian didn't have his waterproof jacket with him, but using the skills he no doubt learned in the BBs he created a fetching little black number out of a bin liner he had with him.

Millport resembled a ghost town with hardly anyone out and about. We decided to call in at the golf club for a refreshment but we were thwarted in our ambitions. Like Millport, it was shut.

We headed off through the fields to Fintray Bay where lunch was taken at the picnic tables by the shore. Today very few cyclists were out on the road, and cars were pretty infrequent too.

The walk ended, naturally, with a race to the ferry terminal.

FRT was taken at the Laurieston in Ardrossan.

This was a pleasant and relatively leisurely day out ... and we still have the Hill of Stake to look forward to!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

West Kilbride to Largs 31 Aug 2011

Allan, Davie C, Ian, Jimmy, Malcolm, Paul
Six Ooters met at West Kilbride Railway Station at 9.30 on a dry, warm but overcast morning to start the walk to Largs via Blaeloch Hill and down through Kelburn Estate. The route was well documented when we did this walk for the first time on 28 April 2010 so mention here will be made of the big change to the landscape that has taken place over the last 15 months, namely, the groundworks and accompanying road network that have been installed in order to construct yet another windfarm . The view from Blaeloch Hill inland towards Dalry and Kilbirnie is now dominated by the aforementioned works but, on the positive side, it meant that another group of walkers, the West Kilbride Ramblers, had an easier walk up to the hill from Dalry as they now could follow a road for a fair part of the way. Lunch was spent blethering to our new friends.
Our descent towards Kelburn was also made easier for part of the way as we joined the access road for half a mile or so until we turned off towards the burn and the path into the estate before descending to the bus stop at the foot of Haylie Brae. Fortunately we did not have long to wait and we were soon heading back to West Kilbride but as we passed through Fairlie we stopped to pick up the WK Ramblers who had made their way down via Fairlie Glen.
This was a good walk (5 and a bit hours) with only one really boggy part to contend with despite the rain that had fallen on previous days.
FRT was taken at the Lauriston in Ardrossan.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Arrangements for 12 October

Hill of Stake(!) from Largs, via Gogo Burn.

Meet at Allan's, 9.00 for 9.30 departure.

JM - alternative

Robert never printed T-shirts like this for us!

Nice to see we have an American Following
JMatt - supplementary

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

28 September Not Carlin’s Cairn: Not Our Easiest Day

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Ian, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Robert
Setting my staff wi’ a’ my skill,
Tae keep me siccar,
Though leeward whiles, against my will.
I took a bicker.’

‘We must have come to the only place in Scotland that’s no’ bathed in sunshine’, said Davie Mc. And he seemed to be right for when we left central Ayrshire this morning the sun was rising into a clear blue sky and the air was still and already warm and the forecasters said that there was to be wall to wall sunshine across the country. Yet, when we gathered at Greenwell just north of Carsphairn, not only was the sky overcast but the cloud hung low over the hills, the hills that were our intended target for the day. And a fresh wind blew; a wind that threatened to be even stronger two thousand feet higher up the mountain. Still, we were here and the optimists suggested a forecast that was favourable so the decision was made to carry out the planned climb to Carlin’s Cairn.
Carlin’s Cairn is a two and a half thousand foot top half way along the Rhinns of Kells, the long, broad ridge of tops that runs for nearly ten miles from Loch Doon in the north to Clatteringshaws in the south. So we knew that it would be a long day, a long day but not too difficult for once we were up on the ridge, we wouldn’t drop below the two thousand foot mark for the next four miles or so. But we had to get to the ridge before we could climb to the top and to get to the foot of the ridge we had a mile and a half of road and track to cover.
We set off up the road towards the remains of Woodhead lead mining village, towards the hills, towards the fog, the leaders setting a fine pace. We came over the swollen Carsphairn Lane by the stone arched bridge (1935, Davie?) and up to the farm of Garryhorn where Greirson of Lagg had his headquarters during the killing times of the seventeenth century. But there was no let up in the pace to examine Garryhorn - ‘We’ll see it on the way back’ - and we continued to climb gradually towards the ruins of Woodhead at a fair old lick. Nor was there time to examine the ruins of the lead mines or the village - ‘We’ll see it on the way back’ - as the leaders pushed steadily on. Then, at the top of the village by the remains of the old school, a halt was called for a caffeine top-up.
And still the fog was down on the hill. But it did seem to be breaking up – or was this just wishful thinking on the part of the optimists? We would see for there was a determination to climb today, fog or no fog.
The caffeine top-up was necessary for within a hundred yards of our halt we left the track and took to the open hill on the flank of Coran of Portmark. Again we thank the inventor of quad-bikes for a set of tracks eased our way up the slope. Without these we would have been climbing through uncultivated, tussocky and lank grasses, an experience not to be wished on anybody. But we had the quad-bike tracks and the slope was not too steep and we climbed easily enough. And as we climbed the sun broke through and the hill fog broke up. And the wind freshened!
‘View stops’ were called frequently for the day was turning hot despite the freshening wind. But the ‘view stops’ didn’t produce the expected long vistas for, even with the wind, a haze hung over the landscape restricting visibility to around the eight or nine mile mark. Still, ‘view stops’ are stops and full advantage of these was taken to recover breath and ease legs. And this is how we gained the top of the ridge on the summit of Coran of Portmark, ‘view stop’ to ‘view stop’.
On top of Coran we found the first of our high level views, a view that was somewhat restricted in the sunny haze but it was sufficient to give the newcomers a flavour of what might be had in clearer air. To the south, our ridge undulated towards Carlin’s Cairn, still holding some of this morning’s cloud; to the south-west Merrick also rose into the cloud but Mullwharchar stood clear; and below us the blue waters of Loch Doon ran north into the Ayrshire haze. But on Coran we also felt the full brunt of the wind – a strong southerly gale, a gale that was reminiscent of the one on Culter Fell a fortnight ago, a gale that we would be walking directly into on course for Carlin’s Cairn.
There was dissention in the ranks. Some felt that to walk into that wind would be daft so, after some discussion, a change of plan was made. We would now walk northward with the wind on our backs to the lower summit of Black Craig of Loch Doon. This was the first of our mistakes.
Jimmy and Robert set off down through the grass to the north east in a direct line for Blackcraig. But Davie insisted that there was a quad-bike track at the side of the fence leading directly north, slightly off course but easier walking. We took to the tracks – the second of our mistakes. These tracks headed for Loch Doon, downhill, away from where we wanted to be. Jimmy and Robert made a decision to strike out over the rough ground to the top of the col between the two tops suggesting there might be a path of sorts there; the others followed Davie further down the tracks to see if there was a path there.
There was no path. No matter the direction taken, there was no path on to Black Craig. We ended up climbing through rough vegetation, knee deep heather and coarse grassy tussocks, that threw the feet sideways and sapped the energy, an experience not to be wished on anybody. Not until near the top did we discover a path of sorts, a narrow pad tramped through the coarse vegetation. The wind wasn’t quite as strong on this top as it had been on Coran but it was strong enough. So we dropped off the top to its leeward side and a rather tired bunch of Ooters threw themselves on to the grass for a bite of lunch.
‘There’s an old road that runs from Drumjohn to Woodhead’, said Jimmy, ‘and if we follow this pad it’ll probably take us down on to it’. That was agreed for we had had enough of rough stuff for the day - our third mistake. Our pad, or rather the wet scar through the vegetation that acted as our pad, did take us down to the road as Jimmy suggested but it was still a rough descent with hidden sheughs and boulders ready to trap the unwary. It did take us down to the road, though. It was a well constructed forest road and, boy, were we glad to see that road.
Now we were out of the wind and the day was pleasantly sunny and warm. We set off along that road into the sun with a sense of relief. Now the walking would be easy. And it was. But there came a bifurcation in the road, a bifurcation that was unknown to Jimmy who was the one that had been here before. ‘Thirty years before’, protested Jimmy, ‘and from the other direction’. We took the lower road – our fourth mistake. This road turned down towards the Carsphairn Lane and came to an abrupt end in the forest.
The sensible were for turning back to the junction but Robert and Johnny pressed on into the forest to see if there was a way forward. They shouted that there was for Johnny had spotted the end of another road. We staggered through the rough grasses towards the new road. Johnny hadn’t seen a road. What he had seen was the wall of a fire pond with not a road to be seen. For some reason we decide to press on through the rough stuff in the hope that there might be a path beside the drystane dyke that we could see in the distance– our last and worst mistake of the day.
There was no path! There were tussocks of long grass; there were deep, hidden morasses; there were yells as feet found pools of cold, peaty water; there were surprise disappearances as bodies stumbled and fell into the rank vegetation; there was the mysterious incident when Paul’s stick sunk in the peaty mire handle first and, when he regained the vertical, only the point was visible; there were incidents aplenty but there was no path. For the best part of a mile we staggered and stumbled through the jungle of lank grasses and hidden mire, the effort taking a toll on already tired bodies. This was not nice. We weren’t lost; we knew exactly where we were; we just couldn’t find an easy way through the rough stuff. The main road was a hundred yards away over the Carsphairn Lane but there was no way we could get to it over the swollen burn. We just had to thole our misfortune and stagger on as best we could. If ever we get the chance to torture our worst enemies, we will send them to walk through here – twice would be enough.
Eventually though, Ian, from the top of a heathery knowe, spotted the bridge over the river and we had barely a hundred yards or so to go to safe ground. Never has anybody been as glad to see a tarmaced road as we were then. In fact we thought at one time Johnny was going to kiss it. Some stopped on the bridge to recover, some wandered on for if they stopped they would never get going again. It was a weary bunch of auld men that trudged the quarter mile up the road to the Greenwell and the waiting cars.
Though it had its moments, this was hardly our easiest walk. Needless to say, FRT in the Dalmellington Inn was most welcome today.
We didn’t get to Carlin’s Cairn. Nor did we get to examine Garryhorn or Woodhead. Still there’s always another day.