All roads lead to Straiton

Straiton is a nice place I pass through (perhaps with a visit to the excellent public “facilities”) but never thought to use it as a centre for a walk, despite the village advertising itself as “Rambler Territory”.  Was it just not wanting to be a “rambler”?  What a moron – it is a great spot and the community are doing a great job are making it work with a range of routes all nicely described on a walking map.  Jazz and I approved.

Straiton from the Monument

Looking towards Monument

We had an afternoon to play and decided on bolting together a couple of the walks: the Monument and Bennan Circuit (7km) and the Church Walk (2km).  The Monument sits on a hill above the village and the path up to it looked pretty steep on the approach.  There is a reason for that: it is steep.  Fortunately it is also short; unfortunately it was a grey day and the view was limited to the valley around the village – on a clear day it would be excellent.  The monument is to a local dignitary, James Hunter Blair, who was killed at the battle of Inkermann in the Crimea.  What was odd, was that he was also the local MP. It might be better if more politicians were willing to lead from the front today.  As Black Sabbath so eloquently put it:

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?

From the monument we drop down (quickly) to the valley floor. I tried out a new technique involving a mud slide on my backside with a late spin onto my knees: not recommended and for once Jazz could look at me with that “What’s Mum going to say when she sees you in that state?”.  Touché.

Bridge over the Girvan

Tree roots beside the Girvan

It was a short wander beside the lovely Girvan to cross at an old bridge before heading down the other side back towards the village.  This was squelchy but enjoyable walking.  I was in such a good mood that I let Jazz do a bit of navigating and she took us up the spur to the viewpoint at the top of Bennan Hill.  With the poor visibility we weren’t going to see anything new but she’d caught whiff of a dead deer and wanted to investigate: it was a Roe Deer just lying beside the path with a part of its head missing.  I’m not a vet, but that seemed like a serious affliction.

Mill race on the Girvan

On reaching the road we move onto the Church Walk: a traditional path used by the people at the “big house” to go to church in the village.  It takes you close to the river with its old weirs and mill-races: a well-placed seat makes for a pleasant contemplative stop until an impatient Spaniel gets too bored and spoils the tranquillity.  From here it’s a short wander back to the village.

Covenanter grave

Smug grave

Sounds like a decent chap

We’d passed the church at the start of the walk and I wanted to wander around its kirkyard which looked full of old stones.  Regular readers will know I love this stuff: always keen to find an interesting headstone. Obviously you have to sift through the usual boring stuff where all you get is a list of name and date-of-death.  Also, as a practising atheist I skip those where the occupant was sucking up to their maker hoping for a decent after-life. Well, Straiton has a lot of this, but also some very interesting ones.  I loved the Covenanter “I was dying but they still murdered me” grave blaming the culprit for eternity; the smug “our family also own the plots either side” grave; and the one of the local schoolmaster who just seemed to be a decent person that everybody liked.  You can’t beat old country churchyards for variety.


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