Thursday, 26 March 2015

Four Lochs 25 March

Allan, Davie Mc, Jimmy, Johnny, Paul, Rex
Note that the shorts make their first appearance of the year
 The forecast was wall to wall sunshine for most of the day but where we were, although the day was bright with plenty of blue sky, there were lots of drifting clouds and an icy wind.
Parking at Loch Doon Castle we left one car and motored up to our ‘normal’ starting point at the Loch Finlas road end. As Allan was removing his rucksack from Johnny’s car he clattered his leg against the tow ball assembly with the resulting large lump causing amusement, sorry, concern, amongst the gathered company. Compensation was discussed and then rejected on the grounds that the Ooters’ insurance policy only covered those who had lost a limb and were over two hundred years old.
Anyway, progress was swift on the first leg of the journey following the track into the trees, past the muddy part, which was not too bad, and emerging to view Loch Finlas. ‘Fifty minutes to the top of the hill from here’, said him that knows these things, as we hit the trail over the open ground up to the highest point of the day overlooking Loch Bradan and looking back on Finlas. As per usual we took coffee here having donned jackets to protect the cooling bodies from the wind. It had only taken us forty minutes and we enjoyed the break from our sprint.
The second leg followed the path down to the edge of Loch Bradan and took us on a westerly route to the forest road which we made by 12.45pm. Another half an hour and we were at our lunch stop overlooking Loch Riecawr. Alas however, the picnic benches had been removed so we had to content ourselves by sitting on various parts of the children’s (and Jimmy’s) adventure playground. The views across to the Merrick, Kirriereoch and Shalloch on Minnoch were excellent, with patches of snow still visible in the early spring sunshine.
The third and final leg of this familiar route took us down the road past the dam, and noting, possibly for the first time, another small loch on our right hand side. A check on the map suggests that this is Loch Gower but this may need to be verified. As we continued down the road, avoiding a strangely large, well for this walk, amount of cars, a distinctive bird call was heard. This turned out to be that of a crossbill which was perched high up on an adjoining tree. Approaching Loch Doon again, Jimmy named the burn on our right hand side as the Eglin which flows from Loch Enoch. This meets the Whitespout just prior to Loch Doon and becomes the Carrick Lane (at least according to Ordnance Survey). You learn something new every day with the Ooters!
The cars were reached at 2.50pm, four hours and fifty minutes after setting off on the first leg. Five of us piled into Rex’s car for the journey down the loch to the other cars whilst Jimmy ’volunteered’ to walk Holly down the road for as long as it took Davie to get to his car and return to pick them up. See us, see compassion though. As we passed Jimmy and Holly, we did stop and asked Holly if she wanted a lift. Jimmy did say something like ‘Oh,you are a bunch of rogues!’
FRT was held at a busier than usual Dalmellington Inn. A chankin’ day out!

Heading up the hill

Looking up to the Bradan dam
Is it something we said?
Holly with Shalloch on Minnoch, Kirriereoch and Merrick in the background

Some images from yesterday

Loch Doon from the Loch Finlas road-end
The view we normally get of Rex and Davie
Johnny and Allan stop to admire the view back over Loch Finlas to Loch Doon
It was a day for photographs. The coffee stop above Loch Bradan - Arran in the distance
Two happy walkers
Allan approaches the Ballochbeaties road
Loch Riecawr from our lunch halt

Friday, 20 March 2015

Linlithgow 18 March

Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Johnny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert
Ghostly view across the loch
Rogues gallery

That's tea sorted then!

Where did all the slates go?
Idyllic canal scene if it wasn't for the two old codgers
Walking back across the aqueduct
The Avon viaduct
Having assembled at Harthill Services we followed Jimmy into Linlithgow, not before missing the correct turn-off though. Blame the navigator! Nevertheless, Bathgate looks particularly stunning at this time of year! The car parks were full so we parked on the Bo’ness road and set off for the path circling the loch. This we did clockwise and afforded us good views of the Palace in the hazy morning air. The weather was to stay good for the day with various layers being discarded at regular intervals.
There were lots of anglers on the loch, but the one who was in the loch entertained us royally by catching a large trout as we passed – eat your heart out, Alan! As we reached the Palace, Gus and Johnny decided to use ‘their’ Historic Scotland cards and go in for a look, whilst the rest of us treated ourselves to coffee on the picnic benches.
From there it was across the main road and up to the Union Canal, where we were greeted by a Canal Warden who obliged us by taking a group photo. ‘Honestly, Mister, we did behave ourselves and stayed off the grass! Other substances were taken!’ We headed in a westerly direction, enjoying the weak spring sunshine, looked down longingly at Linlithgow Academy (aye right!) and spotted the flare-off at Grangemouth in the distance and the stack of Longannet. By one o’clock, having spent some time on the John Muir Way which takes in part of the canal towpath, we had reached the furthest point of the day’s walk i.e. The Avon Aqueduct, and having crossed over, just for the hell of it, we retraced our steps and had another wee break on the steps going down to the River Avon Walk (Avon meaning River, and River meaning, well, River).
The riverside walk was followed back towards Linlithgow and gave us a great view of the railway viaduct as we passed underneath. We reached the cars at two-twenty and decided to head back to the Kings in Fenwick for FRT, passing up the opportunity to visit the Black Bitch as we did so. Your scribe decides that discretion is the better part of valour and makes no further comment.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Darvel to Galston 11 March

Alan, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Jimmy, Kenny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert

Crossing over towards Cairnhill
Many thanks to Davie and Kay for the coffee and scones afforded us on our arrival in Darvel. The forecast was not good and it was just a question of when rain would appear. We didn’t delay therefore and were on our way by half past nine, setting off in the direction of the Lanfine Estate. From here we headed up the side of the valley to Keilands before turning right past Eastfield. By now the first spots of light rain had begun to arrive and, in the open, the wind was challenging. We followed this road down to where we cross over, using the designated path, to the road at Cairnhill, and then it was down to where we met the Burn Anne Walk at Threepwood.
Coming down at Threepwood
Coffee was called for here but it was far too exposed, so we dropped a wee bit and took shelter from the wind behind a knoll. It was a day to keep moving and therefore the coffee break did not take long and we were soon following the Walk down into Galston. By the time we got here the rain was much more persistent and a decision had to be made i.e. take the bus back from here, or go on to Hurlford and return from there. A vote was taken with a narrow majority voting for the bus back from Galston and thankfully we arrived at the bus stop just in time for the 12.50p.m.bus back to Davie’s.
FRT was taken at the Black Bull in Darvel.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Dunure to Culzean and back 4 March

Alan, Alan W, Allan, Davie C, Davie Mc, Gus, Johnny, Kenny, Malcolm, Paul, Peter, Rex, Robert

Thanks to Rex for the coffee and toasted hot cross buns before we departed for the car park at the Dunure Inn. Whilst getting ready we were politely asked about our plans as the new owners of the Inn were concerned about people parking there and not leaving enough space for their customers. When it was revealed that we would be returning to the Inn after the walk the lad was more than satisfied.
Helping Rex to get his leg over on to the Electris Brae
We’ve done Maidens to Dunure on a number of occasions and Dunure to Maidens at least once before, but the walk today was to be Dunure to Culzean and back, four hours said the ‘wise one’.
And so we set off up out of Dunure, taking care on the wee steep bit of the path because of the muddy conditions, and before too long we were on the field adjacent to the ‘look-out’ and heading for the bridge over the burn and then the next couple of fields until we reached the top of the track down to the beach. Forty minutes in on a day that was good for walking and all was well with the world.
Nearly there
However the tide was in and as we walked along the beach the underfoot conditions were not easy, alternating between cobbles and soft shingle, and by the time we approached Croy shore there was a problem. We couldn’t go round the rock outcrop because of the tide, so we decided to climb up the banking with a view to dropping back on to the beach about fifty yards further along. This proved to be a forlorn hope because, as we struggled upwards through bramble bushes, it became apparent that there was no easy way back down. The only way was up. As we emerged at the top we found a track which led to, well, nowhere. We could see where we wanted to go, but a steep gorge meant that there was no option but to continue inland over yet more fields until we hit the Electric Brae. This was a shock to some of us who had anticipated a fairly stress-free day. It even got to Davie C as he demonstrated how not to climb over a gate. The mud on the rear of his trousers held testimony to that. Anyway, we now walked down the main road and took the road to Croy shore.
A balmy lunch for the barmy army
It has to be said that not all of us had come this way. Peter, with Holly,, whilst on the beach, had continued on his merry way and had managed to cross over the rocks to Croy shore, then had crossed back to look for us, and then had crossed them once again before phoning Rex to find out where we were. The detour had cost us a couple of miles and forty-five minutes but Peter was there waiting for us, still throwing sticks for the dug. Memories came to mind of the infamous day at New Lanark when another stress-free walk turned into a journey into the unknown.
The walk up to Culzean was uneventful but again the underfoot conditions were not so good. Passing a couple of dead baby seals, we soon were climbing up to the castle and enjoyed lunch in the almost balmy conditions in the gardens.
Haeding for home
The return journey was more straightforward as the tide was going out and we had no difficulty with the rocks. Having said that, the walking was still challenging in places and we were happy to get to the end of the beach and onto reasonably dry ground. It was on the last stretch that we encountered a wee bit of rain but generally speaking the weather today had been much better than the previous couple of days.
Four hours and fifty-five minutes was the call as we reached the cars, got changed, and headed for FRT at the Dunure Inn. We wished the new owners all the best as we relaxed and quenched our thirst.
As has been said before on this walk, ‘Beware the Tides of March!’