Have you ever listened to silence? Not just the quietness you get when the resident teenager switches off her music, but real silence. The sort of silence where the auditory part of your brain goes “Who pulled the plug out?”. Well, that’s what I got today on Shalloch on Minnoch. The sort of silence when there is no wind, water, insects, birds, planes, cars, people, or mad Spaniels doing something noisy and stupid. After a few minutes even the blood in your ears calms down and you hear: nothing. It’s rare and magical.
To start the year off I was treating Jazz to a Donald that I had done but which she still needed: Shalloch on Minnoch – the highest hill in Ayrshire. We parked at Stinchar Bridge and headed up the road to take the path up Cairnadloch. Then we noticed something odd: people. It turned out they were nice people, and so to break tradition we joined them on the climb to the summit. 1 The conversation made the climb pass by very quickly and we did it without a stop. I know that sounds impressive but I was merely trying to keep up with people a generation older than me. Talk about “fit”: I’m convinced the lady took 4 breaths on the entire climb! And she was kind enough to take a picture at the trig point for Jazz’s collection. We parted company at the summit cairn when they started taking their sandwiches out and Jazz started drooling: you can push hospitality only so far.
The weather forecast had promised blue skies, very good visibility and frost. Well, we got a 100% blanket cloud, murky visibility and a mild day. Good to see the £33M we gave to the Met Office for that new IBM Series p super-computer was well-spent. 2 I used to be their most ardent defender but when they get a next-day forecast so wrong, so regularly, they start to look incompetent.
We headed over to the Maiden’s Bed for lunch (steady!) and its view over to the Merrick, Kirriereoch and the various lochs. We then headed north along the Cargaie to the dip where we left the path and dropped down over very rough ground following an icy stream to the forest track near Loch Storchy. After the recent cold weather this forest track was in better condition than most of the roads in Ayrshire. The track joins the Forest Drive and then back to the car at Stinchar Bridge. On the way we pass one of the erratic boulders that makes it onto the OS map: the Rocking Stone. 3
This was a great start to the year and we both enjoyed it as Jazz got to chase some Red Grouse and had great fun associating the nice smell of a Red Deer herd with the warm truffles they left behind for her. The forest was pretty quiet but near Stinchar Bridge we found flocks of a dozen or so Bullfinches and Crossbills which seemed like good numbers given the poor weather conditions here recently. Oh, and doing it in an anti-clockwise direction was much easier.
- Don’t worry, Dear Reader, this isn’t some weird New Year conversion – normal unsociable service will resume shortly. ↩
- I assume they are using it to make some money by generating Suduko puzzles for the papers. Either that or the boys and girls with the mathematical models are out to lunch, again. ↩
- Although I noticed that someone had inserted a couple of big stones to prevent too much rocking! ↩
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