March Day Trip to the Ayrshire Coastal Path (Ayr-Barassie)

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The group .. plus photographer James

Only 6 fancied a stroll along the Ayrshire coast from Ayr up to Barassie .. even although the weather forecast was fine, and the tide was likely to be out.  Andy and Gwen travelled separately, John Gormley went straight to Barassie Station, and Bob travelled with James and Susan .. all arriving in good time for the 0922 train to Ayr.  After sorting out the concession tickets on arrival at Ayr Station, the group strolled down the High Street .. surprisingly busy for 9.30 on a Saturday morning .. past all the welcoming shops, then crossed the Auld Brig and into the industrial armpit of the town, eventually arriving at the seashore at Newton Esplanade by way of the railway bridge at the gasworks.

At the St Nicholas Golf Course, we should have taken the shoreline round Bentfield Point, but a group of golfers waiting to tee off at that hole waved us past along the course path, which took us more easily round the point and down to Prestwick Promenade .. again surprisingly busy with dog-walkers and groups out for a stroll.  Here we met up with Graz .. a work colleague of James' .. and her dog Misty, who were walking with us as far as Troon.

At the end of the Promenade, we took the shoreline rather than the dunes as the tide was out, and Misty chose each one of us in turn to throw her stick over and over again, until we left the beach just before the Pow Burn to cross it by the bridge at the entrance to the Prestwick Holiday Park.  Following the east bank of the Burn now, we quickly reached Troon South Sands, to be met by the most foul-smelling seaweed and flotsam at the outflow of the Burn.  Just beyond this point, the only photo of the day was taken by James, and after negotiating the kite-flyers' ropes, we were soon sitting on the promenade at Troon enjoying a sandwich, hot dog and even a Mr Whippy 99 as the sun tried to crack through the white clouds.

Graz and Misty said their goodbyes, with Misty demonstrating her range of tricks, then we headed through the town and down to the North Sands for the last leg back to Barassie.  Just as well James had his eye on the GPS, as we were so enjoying the day that we nearly missed the road up to the station.  Back at the cars, John headed home to a warming curry, while the rest enjoyed a refreshment at the Wheatsheaf Inn at Symington.  Gwen and I stayed on for an early evening meal .. nice place and well worth a visit!

Another section next year .... ?


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March Weekend to the Tarf Hotel

After much debate by e-mail, five club members opted for a visit to the Tarf Bothy .. also referred to as the 'Tarf Hotel', as it has an old AA hotel sign attached to the front door.  The bothy is situated at GR NN927789 to the north of Glen Tilt, which is near Blair Atholl.  The main driver for selecting this bothy was the weather .. with the forecast for snow we did not want to venture too far north, and the A9 was likely to remain open over the weekend.  We also agreed to take bikes to help us get up to Forrest Lodge.  The brave few were the two Allan's (Boyd and Hutcheson), Cornel, Willie and myself.  The meeting point was to be the Ballinuig service station, where most of us tucked in to a full breakfast to build up the reserves.  Willie opted to keep his two Ballinuig sausages as emergency rations.

We got parked at Old Blair and headed off at the back of 11am.  Our bags were heavy, and combined with the bumpy track, it proved to be fairly punishing to the backside as we headed up the glen.  Eventually we made it to Forrest Lodge and locked up the bikes.  We then proceeded to walk further up the glen keeping to the LandRover track, rather than head directly over the hills to the bothy.  By this time the weather had started to improve, with the sun making an appearance.  At the high point on the track Willie decided to head up the hill to take some photos.  The rest of us kept to the track, which took us down to the river.  We then had a fairly rough walk along the river to the bothy, arriving about 5pm.

On the walk-in  At the Tarf Hotel  The warming fire

We got settled in and a little later Willie arrived.  It was then time to start the fire.  Unfortunately, the coal Willie had procured from B&Q had been stored outside and was fairly damp.  So the next couple of hours was spent nursing the fire into life.  But we finally managed it, just as the temperature outside fell well below zero.  The night sky was spectacular, full of stars and evidence of the Milky Way.  It was early to bed to help keep warm.

The next day we split into two groups.  Allan B, Willie and Cornel were going to explore the local hills close to the bothy .. Meall Dubh-chlais and Braigh Sron Ghorm .. and Allan H and I were going to attempt the Munros of Carn an Fhidhleir (Carn Ealar) and An Sgarsoch.  The weather was dry, but the higher tops were in cloud.  The ascent of Carn Ealar was fairly straightforward, with plenty of firm snow to make the going a little easier .. just the odd occasion we sank into the snow.  Nearing the top, the weather cleared and we had fairly good views of the surrounding landscape.  It was a long descent and climb to An Sgarsoch, where we weren't so lucky with the weather (clagged-in).  Fortunately, we found a shallow snow gully running through the heather, which almost took us straight back to the bothy.  When we arrived, the others had just got back, with Allan B well tucked-up in his sleeping bag.  Two other walkers arrived a little later with their dog and 30lbs of coal.  They settled in to another room and must have had a roaring fire all night.

On Meall Dubh-chlais  On Braigh Sron Ghorm

At 5pm on the dot we started the fire.  This time we used a prepared fuel 'log' which lit easily and we were soon getting warmed up.  This helped dry out the remaining coal, and the coal kept us going until bedtime.  I should note here that the fuel for the fire was also topped up by a Ballinuig sausage!  There was plenty of food and drink for the night and a good time was had by all.

Next morning we set-off around 8.30am and took the direct route south over the shoulder of Carn a'Chlamain.  Much navigation work was required, as the views were limited.  However, as we started to descend into Glen Tilt the weather cleared for some fine views.  Eventually we arrived back at the bikes.  Some of us were not looking forward to the cycle, but it proved to be less painful than the cycle in.  Within 75 minutes we were back at the cars.

Once the cars were packed, we headed back to the Ballinuig services for some hot food and drink.  It had been a hard weekend, but I think everyone enjoyed the experience and can't wait for the next bothy trip!

Mark Setford

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