Saturday, 31 March 2012

Wigtownshire ramblers. Ballantrae to Benneraird circular. March 2012

Examining the remains of the crashed plane.(see text)

Getting well spread out going up Big Fell

Todays group on the summit of Big Fell.

Regular bloggers will recognise my favourite tree lined avenue.
Todays blog will be in a slightly different format as I was the walk leader I have to do a report for the local paper so it may read a bit more formal than usual.

On Saturday March 31st 18 walkers from the Wigtownshire ramblers met at Ballantrae Cemetry to do an 11 mile walk up Benneraird which is 439Metres high. The leader explained the route before we left the start on a lovely clear sunny morning to climb up a track past Auchairne on the old coaching road which at one time took you all the way to New Luce 19 miles away.Stopping briefly at a spot marked on the map as "Stone Circles" we had to use our imagination to see what was probably an ancient settlement. The track started to rise a bit more steeply here as we made our way on to the summit of Benneraird. The leader knew the wreckage site of a crashed plane so a small diversion was taken here as we followed the road on towards Lagafater Lodge. Once at the site we learnt that it happened in 1945 when an American Liberator aircraft crashed here with the loss of 17 lives. One airman did survive to make his way to the lodge to summon help but it was only when he arrived there that they realised he had been  unconscious for two days., not  a lot is known what happened after this.Once back up on Benneraird the walkers had a lunch break basking in the glorious sunshine looking out over the Solway Firth to the Isle of Man.Once we were suitably refreshed we headed out over some moorland which in parts were under a controlled fire with lots of smoke billowing about the sky. A small detour to avoid the smoke took us on to Big Fell where we had another short break to take in the views over the Clyde to Arran and all the way up towards the mountains in the distance known as the Arrochar Alps.Crossing over some fields which were full of sheep grazing with their new born lambs  we reached the track which runs past Crailoch House on its way to Smyrton.Once at the village we made our way down the paths in the grounds of Glenapp Castle Hotel to the cars parked near to the hotel gates to end a magnificent day in the South Ayrshire hills.
  The groups walk on Saturday April 7th is a 7 mile circular walk in New Luce. Meeting in Newton Stewart riverside car park at 9.00AM and at Breastworks car park in Stranraer at 9.30AM for car sharing. Anybody travelling to the start please contact the leader for more information. New members are always welcome.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Elite walkers. Barony Hill ,Dailly. March 2012

Disused quarry on Barony Hill

Limestone was excavated from under the rock.

My fellow walkers at the trig point.

Waiting for a bus!!
Today Thursday 29 March three  of the Elite walkers decided to climb Barony Hill from Dailly one we have done before and the teacher has included in the Wigtown ramblers summer programme. Starting off on a cool misty morning we made our way up the Lindsayston burn to get to the track that took us up the hill. From here we cut across to an an old limestone quarry that we have not visited before. We had to be careful as there is some quite dangerous drops down into excavations that were made under the rock presumably to get at the limestone. When we threw a stone down through the gap it took a wee while until it eventually hit water. Extreme caution will have to be excercised with a group. We now followed the well trodden route down to the river and the pleasant riverside path back to the village to end an 8 mile circualr walk at the site of the old Dalquharran Castle  .

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Cunninghame Ramblers . Lanfine Estate by Darvel. March 2012

Gathering at the start.

Today's leader.

She had brought the wild boars their snacks.

Which were very much appreciated.

Passing the walled garden

She definitely has a way with animals.

"Pinzgauer all terrain vehicle"(see text)

The breakaway group

Plus me. (Thanks to passing walker for taking this snap)
Today Wednesday 28th March I joined up with Cunninghame Ramblers on their mid week walk in Lanfine Estate near Darvel . 23 of us left the town and made our way into Lanfine Estate stopping firstly to feed the wild boars before a pleasant stroll through the grounds. After a wee stop for coffee we walked to the village of Priestland. Due the warm weather today  the leader decided that it might be better just to have a short walk  and return to the cars by way of the paths we had just walked. 7 of us asked if we could venture further on our own and leave the group . Permission granted and off we went along the Irvine Valley trails to Loudonhill (316M) . On our way we met a householder who owned a Pinzgauer off road vehicle which he used to service bothies in the border hills a very interesting chat ensued about the benefits of this type of truck. Once on the summit of Loudonhill we had a lunch stop before making our way back to Darvel on one of the old disused railway lines.Thanks to the small breakaway group, we all agreed it was too good a day to miss the  opportunity of a local climb in the glorious sunshine.

Ben Narnain from Arrochar. March 2012

There was still snow lying in the gullies.

Summit of Ben Narnain.(926M)

A view down Loch Long.

I felt as if I was on top of the world.

Easy walking on the path through Glen Loin.

Plenty of free river water today!
Yesterday I ventured off on my own to Arrochar on Loch Long as the weather in this part of the world had to be seen to be believed ,warm clear sunny days are not what you expect in March. Firstly I caught the 6.40AM bus from Doonfoot to Glasgow changing there to the 9.00 bus to Oban to be dropped off at Arrochar 1 hour later. As I was on my own it was up to me to set the pace for this fairly tough climb. First part was from the car park up to the dam on the tourist route where I turned right to make my way along to the more direct way up this mountain. It involved a fair amount of scrambling and a few false summits I made it to the top in 2hours 20minutes which is no record beater but for me it was a personal triumph considering 3 years ago I could not have attempted this climb with all my excess weight but due to continuing training on the hills the hard mountain paths are becoming slightly easier. From here I went down to Bealach A'Mhaim at the base of Ben Ime to take a very steep descent to the track that goes through  Glen Loin. Walking down through the glen with Ben Vane (915M) on my left and Ben Vorlich (941M) ahead of me was quite  simply stunning before the path takes a sharp turn to take me back to Arrochar to end a 10 mile walk which included my first "Munro"of the year. Now the journey home was different due to the bus company still operating winter timetables I had to take  a local bus to Helensburgh where I caught the train to Glasgow and then the bus to Ayr. What a wonderful day out, my sincere thanks to "Wee Eck" and his SNP government for providing free bus travel and a subsidised train fare without his co-operation I would not go on all these magnificent journeys.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

South Ayrshire Ramblers. Auchinleck to Lugar circular. March 2012

Lunch in Cumnock Park

Our leader was a wee touch camera shy!!
Today Sunday March 25th I met up with South Ayrshire ramblers for an 9 mile circular walk starting in Auchenleck.This was to be a nice gentle walk after yesterdays exertions so I volunteeered to be the back marker a position which I have not found myself in for some time.This is a walk I first did back in June 2011 with Cunninghame Ramblers and more recently I did a further short blog when I did the recce with todays leader earlier on this month.Today saw 20 walkers leave the supermarket car park in lovely warm sunshine to walk along the river to our first stop at Cumnock park. From here we visited the railway viaduct at the water of Lugar before some pleasant forestry walking in the award winning woods. After lunch we went passed Dumfries House and round the estate as we made our way back to the start to end a very pleasant day in the early summer weather. Thanks to our leader, who like me yesterday, was wondering what we had done to deserve such gorgeous weather for our walks. Thanks again also to the group for allowing me to be the back marker it was a bit of fun and one I will help you with again but not in the forseeable future!!

ADRC marathon walk from Doonfoot (Ayr) to Girvan. March 2012

Early start for the marathon group.

Coming down from the cliffs.

Finally caught the farmer at her gate!

Lots of high coastal paths today.

Shorts and suncream (In March!!)

Comfort stop at Culzean.

Taking a rest and change of footwear for one of the walkers.

This is the group chairman having a quick nap.

The group at the "finish"

Today's leader also made it.
Yesterday ADRC had a mini marathon walk of 23 miles from Doonfoot near Ayr to Girvan using  the Ayrshire Coastal Path. I felt very privileged to be the leader for the group on their very first attempt at long distance walking as opposed to the hills and mountains we normally do at weekends.It was a fine slightly misty morning when 18 of us met at the Greenan Castle car park, an impressive number considering it was 7.30AM. Setting off along the shore we passed the heads of Ayr on the sand as the tide was at its lowest point which made the early part of the walk fairly easy. At the Bracken Bay caravan site we joined the old railway line that took us round a very rocky part of the coast until we were able to rejoin the shore and made our way to the fishing village of Dunure.Once we were at the Castle I allowed the group a wee break as we still had 17 miles to go so it was not a day to be taking lengthy stops. We now collected 4 more walkers who decided to avoid the early start they would catch up with us at the village and I pointed out to them that they were very welcome to accompany us but for group records could not be counted as" purists" the term I awarded to full route walkers.Now the heat was increasing as the sun burnt off  the early morning mist it was important that everybody kept their water levels up as on a marathon walk like this as a loss of fluids is the most common reason for failure so I decided as it was so unseasonally warm there would be a 5 minute break every hour to allow me to monitor the group and look out for any early signs of fatigue.Our route now took us through a couple of farmers fields before we reached the shore that passes Croy on our way to Culzean Castle and another stop to use their facilites. A cliff walk with its wonderful views took us through the estate until we reached the village of Maidens where we had a stop at the wee shop to allow some of the group to purchase ice lollies and ice cream, at this point the "distiller" decided as he was a wee bit wabbit he would avail himself of the Stagecoach bus back to Ayr perhaps he needs a wee bit more of the nectar he is famously associated with, anyway sir thank you for your company. Quite incredible to think we are still only in March to have tempeatures which we normally only  experience in the height of summer.Crossing over the lands of Turnberry to the beach we had a  lunch stop before going along the shore where we collected a another walker who is native to these parts which meant we now numbered 21 for the final leg. As high tide had just passed I was concerned at the water levels of the rivers we had to cross in this part of the walk but due to the lack of recent rainfall and also the earlier recces I had done there were no real problems and  everybody made it safely to the Harbour Bar in Girvan where some refreshent was consumed. An absolutely great walk and as I was the leader responsible for organising the day one thing that was completely outwith my control was the weather which turned out to be the best I could have possibly have wished for. Judging by the e mails and texts I have received today it was obviouly an outstanding success one that I will repeat next year but this time I have a twist 22 miles from Wanlockhead to Muirkirk with 2500 feet of assent and no places to opt out so to my fellow walkers thank you for your help and assistance in making yesterday such a success and now is the time to start training for next years "MARATHON"

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Recce for ADRC Dunure to Maidens . March 2012

Coffee shop at Culzean is now ready for new season.
This Saturday March 24th I am the walk leader for ADRC on their " marathon" 23 miles from Doonfoot near Ayr to Girvan. As I want everything to go well for the group I decided to do another recce for the part between Dunure and the Maidens a bit I have not done for a while. I was joined at the start by the Elite walkers, group colour co- ordinator and the teacher who last night was performing on stage in The Drowsy Chaperone . Last nights performance was attended by none other than Kim Cattrall of Sex and the City fame. He even managed to rub shoulders with her and get his photo taken so before starting todays recce we got the full monty story and the rest!! Anyway as usual I digress, just thought somebody out there might be interested . Leaving Dunure we headed up the hill that takes you through a couple of farmers fields that help us get round a particularly rocky part of the shore. Once onto Croy shore we negotiated the rocks that are difficult to navigate at high tide. Fortunately today we were about 1 hour before that and on Saturday we should reach it about 2 hours before the real difficult time so there should be no real problem. On approaching Culzean Castle which was an amazing place today in the warm Spring sunshine we had a break in the gardens with all the seasonal flowers now in full bloom. We then had a lovely cliff walk before we dropped down to the Maidens shore to walk to the village to catch the bus home. Thanks to my fellow walkers for helping me out with the recce and if  we are blessed with same weather as we experienced today I feel sure the "marathon walk" will be a success.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Elite walking group. Byne to Grey Hills ,Girvan. March 2012

A wee Shetland pony greeted us .

Looking down the coast towards Lendalfoot.

Looking north towards Girvan.

Todays small Elite group.
Today 4 members of the Elite walking group( the pilot, group colour co-ordinator, the teacher and myself) met at the coffee stall at the south end of Girvan to do a 10 mile walk over Byne Hill etc etc. A walk we have all done before but as always looking for new ways down to vary it. On checking out fellow bloggers I came across one from Alex and Bob's Blue Sky Scotland whose quality of pictures leave me wanting to upgrade my camera. Also my blog mentor from Newton Stewart did an excellent one when we were out  with my mother group. Today on a windy sunny morning we climbed up the Byne (214M)to Fell (230M) to Grey (297M) and finally Pinbain(224M) which stands towering over the village of Lendalfoot. Coming back to Grey Hill we had a lunch stop before making our way down over Cairn Hill which took us to the cottage which at present is being renovated at Drumfairn. From here we followed the road down back to the cars to end a super day out in the Ayrshire hills in near perfect weather conditions.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

South Ayrshire Ramblers. Polskeoch Bothy and Allan's Cairn March 2012

Walkers gathering at the start.

Madam Vice explaining today's route.

Setting off along a good track.

Coffee at Polskeoch Bothy.

These girls preferred the sunshine for their break.

RHS looking at frog spawn

Lovely trek through the forest

One of the good steep climbs.

The group at Alan's Cairn.

Madam Vice was today's leader.
Today I joined up with South Ayrshire Ramblers on an 8 mile circular walk at the Water of Ken in Dunfries and Galloway. 20 walkers started off on a bright sunny spring morning on a track up the river to our first stop at  Polskeoch Bothy also known as Chalk Memorial Bothy but cannot find out why it has two names. We are now on the Southern Upland Way climbing steadily as we go until we turn off the road and head into a forest. Our leader informed us that last week when she did the recce for todays walk the paths in the forest were extremely difficult due to all the fallen trees from the winters storms. Undeterred she got in touch with Dunfries and Galloway ranger service who are responsible for the path and explained that it was blocked with fallen trees and she had organised a group to walk through that section. 10 out of 10 the authorities excelled themselves and by today all was clear with lots of evidence of the team work that had been done to ensure our safety.At Allan's Cairn our leader gave us a brief discription of its history dating back some 300 years to the covenanters of the area. Lunch was taken in the sunshine at High Countam before we climbed up Black and Coranbae Hills. From the summit we could see two of the four Andy Goldworthy's Striding Arches which ADRC are going to visit on their summer programme.From here it was a very steep descent back down to the Water of Ken and over the road bridge back to the cars. Tremendous walk in the sun with thanks to Madam Vice for all her efforts in reccing what was a very difficult walk until she got Dumfries and Galloways finest tree fellers to clear the way for us. Thanks to them and all their foresters for their excellent contribution to todays outing.