Saturday, 30 April 2011

Scoops Reports 2011 - 30 April Girvan - Tormitchell

Wigtownshire Ramblers 30 April Girvan - Tormitchell

On Saturday 30th April a mixed group of 26 Ramblers from Wigtownshire and visitors from Kilmarnock and Cunninghame groups met at the south car park Girvan to walk a 9 mile circular route in brilliant sunshine. Irene, Frances, Duncan, Audrey, Allan, Lily, Margaret, Mary Mitchell, Christine Sloan, Jacqui, Allan Topping, Leslie, Peter, Ken, Carl, Debbie and her friend, Rosie, with dog Roxy and Gordon made up the Wigtownshire contingency.  Gordon, who was leading the walk, introduced us to some members of the other groups and then we set off at a good pace.  Some of the Ayrshire group were fast walkers and soon left us behind, with Gordon’s permission, but many of them walked at our pace, happy not to have to keep up with them. 
On leaving the car park we headed towards the Shallochpark roundabout crossing over onto Coalpots Road where, after about 200 yards, a signpost said ‘Girvan to Barr hill track 7.5 miles’.  This is the start of the southern part of the Carrick Way and also the track that the quarrymen from Girvan walked everyday to and from work at Tormitchell Quarry in the earlier part of this century when it was owned by the Mitchell brothers from Girvan hence the name Tor meaning ‘hill of the Mitchells’.
Great respect for this hardy bunch of men was quietly paid, as the group puffed their way up the hill track through Wood Hill onto the open pastures where a force 40/50mph gale was blowing down from the top of Dowhill.  From this vantage point there is one of the finest views of the Firth of Clyde.  On a clear day you can see the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland, the island of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre to the north and west, and about 9miles out to sea the distinctive cone shaped outline of the Ailsa Craig.     
We started to make our way downwards, soon losing sight of the group ahead of us but got down well, catching up with them as they sat by the side of a gully, taking in more refreshments.  The quicker group had already headed off and we saw no more of them. 
Dropping down onto the hill track again, away from the wind, a short stop was taken before the ‘high levellers’ ascended to Troweir Hill (296m) and the ‘lower levellers’ stayed on the track passing some of the many disused quarries meeting up again at the ruins of Barbae Farm.
 From here we could see into the bowels of Tormitchell Quarry with its many facets and since the early 1980’s now owned by Barr of Barrhill. A short traverse through a wooded area and down onto the road from Pinmore brought us to Tormitchell Farm where we were greeted by two Lamas.   Fortunately the farmer’s wife and young daughter were there who explained that her Dad had wanted the Lamas’ for 21 years but only got them 2 years ago whereupon her Mum’s reply was priceless quote ‘well what do you buy a farmer who has everything?’
This was the turning point of the circular route when the group headed back along the road passing the noisy Hadyard Hill wind farm on the right accessed from the Dailly to Barr road.  After about 1 mile a left turn was taken onto a hill track on the north slope of Troweir Hill where a sheltered spot for lunch was found.  I sat with Jacqui to have my lunch and when I got up I decided that I could not go on without putting a plaster on the blister I had on my big toe!  Jacqui stayed back with me but we soon caught up with the others and we eventually came to the top of the ridge from where we started to get wonderful views of the sea and the surrounding area. The aerial on the way to the summit of Saugh Hill (293m) was our next marker and avoiding some boggy areas we all made it to the trig point where a group photo was taken and a discussion on the recent news that the Ailsa Craig was up for sale.
Evidently, according to the Hamburg based Vladi Private Islands website, 55 year old Charles Kennedy, the 8th Marquis of Ailsa is seeking offers in the region of £2.5 to £2.75 million.  The Ailsa Craig is over 1100ft high and is a volcanic plug from a long extinct volcano believed to be over 500 million years old.  It has a varied history and people lived on it until the early 1950’s when the Girvan family owned a tearoom there.  Nowadays it is more famous as a bird sanctuary and for its curling stones.
As we traversed the ridge from the trig point, the panoramic views again over the Firth of Clyde on our right side were breathtaking and with the sun going down behind the Ailsa Craig we got a unique view of this craggy isle projecting it forward belying its true distance from Girvan.
After the exertion of going down this very steep section it was really good to have another rest and take in more fluid   Our more energetic and fitter companions were long gone!

Descending the steep slope towards Fauldribbon Cottage and down the track into Girvan under the railway bridge on the Old Dailly by-pass, the last weary mile along Coalpots Road took us back to the cars and a welcome ice cream at the busy car park. 

Jacqui, Allan, Leslie, Mary Sloan, Irene, Duncan, Audrey, Debbie, Rosie (and Roxy) and Frances shared a couple of tables close by and enjoyed tea, cakes, ice creams etc. and one another’s company for half an hour or more before heading back home. 

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