Saturday, 31 May 2014

Glen App to Ballantrae 28th May 2014

ROUTE: Glenapp Church to Ballantrae via the coastal path.

PRESENT: Bob, Rex, KD (Killie Davie, DD (Darvel Davie) & Holly

DEPARTURE: 10:35 am
ARRIVAL: 2:25 pm
DURATION OF WALK: 3 hours and 50 minutes including 2 sizeable stops.
WEATHER: Sunshine with nice breeze on the hilltops which kept the midges away.
BREAKS: Coffee taken behind the stane dyke between Sandloch hill and Finnarts hill. Lunch taken as usual as Currarie Port.

WILDLIFE: Lone deer seen on top of first hill, otherwise nothing of import. Birds seen larks, lapwings, curlews, pipits shelduck, eiders, cormorants shag, swans.

GOING: Conditions underfoot were, for the most part, excellent making this a very enjoyable walk indeed.
FRT: King's Arms, Ballantrae.

Report by DD, typed by his secretary,
Photos by Rex

Thursday, 22 May 2014

21 May Windy Standard

 Davie C, Malcolm, Gus, Jimmy, Paul, Robert
The rains of last night went in the wee sma’ ‘oors and left us with a bright morning, a light south-westerly and crystal clear air. Given these conditions, the hill country to the south of New Cumnock was keenly anticipated by the six enthusiastic Ooters who gathered at the swimming pool car park in Cumnock for the short trip to the water works car park in Glen Afton. 
Walking up the road towards the dam
Ten o’clock saw us leaving the waterworks and taking the service road for the face of the dam. Here in the glen we were sheltered from the wind and the walk to the dam face was comfortable in the warming May sunshine. The dam saw us leave tarmac but not leave roads just yet. We took a track up the left-hand side of the dam to come into the sunshine overlooking the reservoir. The water was lightly rippled by the breeze and glimmered silvery in the morning sun – a perfect picture and one that seemed to captivate Gus who stood for a while absorbing the scene in front of him. But we couldn’t there wait too long for the hill was calling.

On the road above the reservoir
The climb of the road to the top of the pass might have been warm at this time of year but the breeze kept us comfortably cool and the walk up to the top was very pleasant indeed. It might have been idyllic had it not been for the rubbish tipped by some uncaring person in a wee quarry beside the forest track. Red tape and notices informed us that asbestos had been dumped here. What a sad comment of a small section of our society! However, such sights couldn’t dent our pleasure of the morning and our wider surroundings and we walked on in light spirits.
At the top of the pass we found a locked gate, a gate that was intended to keep motorised traffic out of the forest we were about to enter. It didn’t keep pedestrians like us out though, and we were soon dropping down the other side of the pass towards the infant Deugh Water. With the time moving on and breakfast some hours in the past, it was time for coffee and on the wee wooden bridge over the Deugh we sat down for a caffeine fix.
Coffee on the Deugh bridge

Jimmy had warned the two Windy Standard virgins to expect two wet sections on the walk. The first of these came just after coffee when we left the forest road and took to the steep fire-break that would raise us up to the height of Jedburgh Knees. The climb was steep and wet but not nearly as wet as Jimmy predicted. Neither was it particularly long and within a few minutes we were joining another road on the crest of the ridge, a road that was designed to service the wind turbines planted along the broad, grassy ridge but a road that would ease our way along this ridge and on to the summit of the Standard itself.
Climbing the forest break on to Jedburgh Knees
The road was smooth, the walking was easy and the views were extensive. We were able to absorb the view as we walked up with the road. Immediately in the west Cairnsmore of Carsphairn rose and to the right of this the high hills of Galloway formed the horizon with Merrick looking particularly close: To the east, between the hills of Glen Afton, Tinto could be easily picked out and the Culter hills: To the south-east were the Lowthers and the hills above Durisdeer: behind us stretched the Ayrshire plain – Auchinleck the nearest town visible: And in front of us rose the rounded summit of Windy Standard. 

The service road certainly eased our way and within half an hour of gaining the ridge of Jedburgh Knees we were standing at the trig point that indicates the summit of Windy Standard. Now the views to the south opened for us and Skiddaw and the Cumbrian Fells formed the southerly horizon. What a superb view can be had from this summit – from the hills above the infant Tweed to the Cumbrian Fell and the high Galloways the view today was superb. Yet to the north and west the view was restricted. Though we could look out over Ayrshire, there was no sign of the hills of the southern Highlands and though Ailsa Craig popped its head up there was no sign of Arran. Still we could make do with the vista we had, a vista that began to disappear as we dropped away from the summit to find a sheltered spot for lunch.  

 Coming along the road on Jedburgh Knees

 After lunch the route lay downward, towards the source of the Afton. A new mast (sorry, Paul, a new antenna) has been erected near the Source and conjecture to its purpose kept us amused as we dropped down towards the burn. Jimmy had warned us about the wet and this part of the walk was WET. No matter where we put our feet muddy water squelched from under the soles and often we trudged through sphaggy bog sometime even over boot level. Still as Davie C said ‘On a day like this, who cares if your feet get wet’. It was not until we gained the hard surface of the newly driven road that we got out of the squelch. And by that time we were back on the floor of the glen. We followed the forest road along the west side of the reservoir to come back to the dam.
On the summit of Windy Standard

           Somehow - don’t ask us – Paul and Davie C got detached from the rest of us as we walked along the road and when we continued on the road past the dam, they didn’t notice. We walked along to Castle William to be told the legend regarding its name and await the return of the prodigals. Though we waited there for a while the missing two failed to appear. We had dropped down to the dam road and were returning to the cars when the wayward due came sauntering down the road. Where had they been? Well, when we carried on to Castle William they thought (Bad move, this thinking – Ed.), they thought that we had come down to the dam and tried without success to find the road down. They ended up crawling through the forest down to tarmac. Yes, we know that there is a great big pile of stones and a broad forest junction marking the way but remember, it’s Ooters we are discussing here and not the Ooters with the best sense of direction.
Coming back down to the reservoir

    Not content with a superb walk in the sun, superb FRT was taken in The Sun in Cumnock.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Report on the walk 7th May.

 (A short Robert style report)
Five Ooters turned up for the walk,the two Davies,Gus ,Paul and Robert. As a result of the very wet forecast it was agreed to abandon the Coulter Fell walk and do a more local walk. We walked up one side of the valley then along through the trees and down into Newmilns. We then walked up the other side and down into Darvel. F.R.T. was taken in the Black Bull.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Muirkirk(ish) to Sorn 30 April

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert
A good turnout today
The beautiful weather of Tuesday had given way to a grey morning as we assembled at Sorn. After a brief discussion about where to start today’s walk i.e. at Kames or at our usual point off the Sorn Muirkirk road, it was agreed that the latter option would suffice and so it was from here we set off at about 10a.m. Although overcast, jackets were soon dispensed with as we made our way along this familiar part of the River Ayr Way. Passing through Airds Moss Nature Reserve, the bridge at Greenockmains was chosen for coffee and a blether
Soon we were off again with Jimmy and Malcolm in the van (no wonder they were so fresh and dry at the end of the walk!) and the next wee stop was at the wobbly bridge over the river. Jimmy decided to try it and Malcolm, not knowing any better, followed him holding his breath. It didn’t dawn on him that we weren’t going to cross the river at this point, and when it was pointed out, as he reached the far side, the air turned distinctly blue, accompanied by much laughter.
Two hours into the walk and the rain began to fall, lightly at this stage, but enough to encourage the retrieval of waterproofs from our rucksacks. However lunch was not to be denied us as we stopped under the shelter of trees just prior to the start of the boardwalk.
Here Jimmy was able to point out some tree creepers (birds not local inhabitants) and these along with oyster catchers and sandpipers made for a reasonable day out for the ornithologists. At this point it has to be explained  that it was the Lemon Pipers and not the Sandpipers who had the 1968 hit, Green Tambourine. By the way, our resident bird expert was rebuked for not being able to recognise empty birds’ eggs which had been found en-route. He has been told never to let us down in this way again and to go home and brush up on his knowledge. See if he cares!
Who's a silly boy then?
The rain was pretty heavy by the time we were negotiating the last stages of the walk as the path snaked its way up and down and round towards Sorn and because of this we took the easier option of returning to the cars by the main road rather than using the higher level path. Four hours for the walk wasn’t bad and we were glad that we hadn’t chosen the longer walk given the way the weather had turned out.
It was rather drookit ooters that huddled under the shelter at the car park to get dried off and changed before heading to Mauchline and FRT at Poosie Nansie’s.

Notes from the naturalist: Though the weather was somewhat against us today, nature was in full springtime display. Marsh Marigolds decked the wetter areas by the riverside, bluebells were bursting in the wooded areas, lesser stitchwort was coming into flower, butterburr was in full flower,the spurge in the wet areas still held yellow and a full bank of primroses tumbled down the glen of the Windy Burn. Birdlife included Heron (many), Buzzard, Swallows and House Martins skimming the surface of the water for newly-hatched insects, two different pairs of Common Sandpiper, Pheasant, Treecreeper, Lapwing, Whaup (Curlew) and Oystercatcher. Butterfies were not so common withe only a few Peacock worth the noting. But mammals hid themselves from the weather (or from us) today.
PS the egg shell was definitely Pheasant. Am I forgiven?