The instruction from Her Imperial Majesty the Missus to clear up a pile of “junk” awaiting integration into my filing system resulted in a leaflet produced by South Ayrshire Council called Girvan Walks seeing the light of day again. The longest route involving a circuit to the clachan of Pinmore caught the eye and with a quick consultation with the canine companion we were set. I have no idea how long it has been waiting “filing” but let’s just say that a few wind farms have sprouted around Girvan in the meantime. To cement things the last time I was down here Jazz was literally the twinkle in her father’s eye: time for an update.
The circuit starts at the car-park at the south-end of Girvan which is tricky as the cafe was “calling to the tummy” of my companion. But I was resolute, and so the start of the walk was a little lacking in conversation. Things looked good as the start of the hill track to Barrhill had an official sign with colour-coded markers (we were on the red route). Alas, this was the last sign we saw 1. It’s a quick ascent past Dow (call me "Doo") Hill onto the hills above Girvan. Unfortunately we’re into livestock country and so Her Jazzness is on the lead which isn’t helpful. To compound things the clouds are down and we have a grim day’s walking on a mud path. And the view was crap too: Arran and Ailsa Craig have both disappeared 2 leaving just bracken-covered hills for visual stimulation. Being a bright sort you’ve probably picked up that our mood at this point wasn’t at the higher end of the scale. I tried to lift things by explaining to Jazz how this path was an old drove road used by many travellers over the centuries. Her reply: “I bet they all hated it” – she had a point 3. And to conclude the rant: what is with cheap-skate hill farmers who secure the gates with nylon rope? Would buying a metal chain break the bank? So instead we have to repeatedly spend ages trying to unravel some bloody knotted piece of frayed nylon. They can’t afford a chain but they do love their electric fences 4: now I know why there are so many wind-farms in the area – it’s to power all these fences. And if I find the contractor who puts them in and leaves all the old rusting wire for some animal to ingest or get caught on, then I know which part of their anatomy I’ll be connecting to the National Grid with some rusty crocodile clips. That’s better.
We finally reach nice mud-free tarmac on the lane running beside the Water of Assel heading for Pinmore. This place owes its existence to the railway and the leaflet tries to build our excitement by saying we are very close to a 496m long tunnel – but we won’t see it – just like Dinvin Motte – the best pre-historic fort in Ayrshire, apparently. Amazingly, we won’t see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon either – this leaflet is a fraud. I promise Jazz lunch and that does raise the mood. We cross the A714 5 and then back onto another quiet byway heading for the Water of Lendal and the Grey Hill 6.
The leaflet says we head back for Girvan on a path just passed the oddly-named Knocklaugh farm. There are even a couple of way-marker posts but clearly the chaps sent to install them couldn’t be bothered and so after 10m they give up. So we headed across the bog looking for the path. The phrase “Bugger this for a lark” soon sprang to our lips 7 and we decided it would be easier to just head up onto Grey Hill itself and the SWT’s Grasslands reserve. Obviously the season isn’t right for wildflowers but the grass looked lovely in the low sunlight. However, this is a sensitive environment and is being badly chewed up by farmers’ quad-bikes.
Things improved considerably from here back to the car. The view was lovely over to Ailsa Craig and along the coast to Irvine Bay. We enjoyed ourselves following the ridge as far as Byne Hill. There is a monument here that has clearly seen better days with no visible sign of who or what is being commemorated. One good westerly gale and that is going to be toppled. I hope that when a grateful nation erects a monument to my achievements they’ll put aside funds to ensure it is kept in proper condition 8.
- This is clearly Exhibit A from the “If you’re going to do this walk you’d better know how a map works” school of tourism. ↩
- Probably a cheap package trip to Ibiza for a bit of volcanic clubbing, no doubt. ↩
- And she wasn’t being herded to an abattoir. ↩
- They wouldn’t if they had to throw a wriggling Spaniel over it! ↩
- A pavement would be nice here. Yes, we’re looking at you South Ayrshire Council. ↩
- Which ironically was the first non-grey thing we’d see all day as the sun had finally decided to come out. ↩
- Along with a few expletives as getting ripped by a barbed-wire fence didn’t help – tetanus jab required. ↩
- E.g. ensuring the bronze statue of Jazz is polished annually. ↩
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