Category Archives: Ayrshire

The Awful Hand

Most of the Awful Hand

It was time for the annual summer Walking Challenge and this year Jazz, Stuart and I had decided on doing the Awful Hand range straddling the Ayrshire/Galloway border.  But how to plan for the vagaries of the Scottish “summer”?  Well, our approach was to have a curry, get out the diaries and say “How does the 14th sound to you?”.  A simple and, as we’ll see, very effective strategy.  After the success of last year other people are clamouring to join us, and so our party was joined by Archie, an ex-Olympic coach (seriously!) and so someone used to dealing with performance athletes such as ourselves.   Continue reading


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. Continue reading

Irvine Valley

So Where's the View?

Today was pretty murky so a local walk seemed a good idea. We opted for a few walks in the Irvine Valley around Galston. Jazz was born in the valley and so always nags for a return to her homeland.  The walks are well-signed at the various towns and there is a good web-site but it didn’t get the pulse racing. Continue reading

Robert Burns at Alloway

Poet’s Path

Alloway is somewhere I avoid as it is usually stuffed full of coaches and their contents on the Burns trail.  Today we decided to stop as everything was closed and free of hordes.  The new Burns museum apparently cost £21m, and I have to say, that even from the outside it looks like money well spent (unlike some of the more dubious Millennium projects – yes, I’m looking at you The Big Idea). Continue reading

Ballochmyle Rock Art

Today was third-time-lucky in looking for the famous Ballochmyle rock carvings.  It helps to use a map rather than blindly wander about asking locals whether they knew where the rock art was (uniform blank stares).  These were rediscovered only 30 years or so ago (and every account gives a different date!).  Apparently they are some of the best cup-and-ring markings in Britain and one of the few on a vertical wall.  They date from around 2500 BCE, i.e. around the time the Egyptians were busy building pyramids.   Continue reading

In the Bleak Mid-winter

Dipper, © Brian Orr


I always find this time of year a bit grim: grey skies, incessant rain, Cliff Richard on infinite loop, school choirs torturing some awful carol, TV Christmas specials recorded in July, adverts for perfume, a shortage of sprouts.  But things are about to get better…

As it is the Winter Solstice, Jazz and I were up at the Standing Stones to welcome the sun back.  Jazz had even brought along a Bonio to sacrifice to its first rays. Sadly we were treated to the solar equivalent of an 7W energy-saving light-bulb that could barely pierce the gloom.    Continue reading

1.007 Mm

Approaching shower, Eglinton

At the beginning of the year Jazz and I discussed walking goals for the year and came up with three that would push us a bit.  They were:

  1. Climb Mullwharchar
  2. Traverse the Rhinns of Kells
  3. Walk over a 1000km on our weekend jaunts.

Why name a boat after a web browser?

The third was one we set after doing just over 600km in 2010: it seemed like a nice round number and lets us say we’ve walked a Mega-metre — a strangely forgotten unit.  Today we managed to tick this last one off with a half-circuit of Irvine to bring our current total to 1.007 Mm.  This is a varied walk on good paths, which after a weekend of gales and rain was the deciding factor.  After a month or so of a dodgy knee it was good to get moving again.  Now we just have to work on the goals for next year…

Time for Pole Dancing

Wolf Slock and Gala Lane

Those of you who know my lean, taut musculature will be shocked to hear that the underlying chassis is starting to show signs of age with various bits clamouring for attention. My left knee is the failure-of-the-month.  So I’ve now reached that point in my life where I’ve got a walking pole after spending decades ridiculing others who use them.  Today we headed off to the southern end of Loch Doon for a bit of pole dancing to show my knee who is in charge. Continue reading

Cruelty to Fishboxes

What’s the world coming to?  You can imagine our shock and distress on a walk today at seeing a beautiful collection of fish-boxes being used to store horse manure!  And I thought we were meant to be civilised…