Monday, 3 July 2017

Dunure to Ayr, 8.9 miles, Saturday 17th June
The meeting place for the Biggar ramblers was on the Esplanade in Ayr. The walk leader had checked with the Coastguard for tidal times. They didn't want to get into difficulty while walking the 6th stage of the Ayrshire Coastal Path which stretches for nearly 100 miles from the southern to the northernmost limits of the county.
First they had to catch a bus from Ayr to Dunure which was the start of the walk where they had a chance to explore the ruins of Kennedy Castle. This was the main Kennedy stronghold in the 16th century. After passing the well maintained Doocot the group made their way through the small village to the harbour with it's array of small fishing and pleasure boats.
Then it was onto the shingle beach, through a gated gap and up onto grass grazing land, to eventually return to the beach to weave around, over and through the rocky outcrops.
The ramblers continued to follow the path from the beach up through a steep twisting gully to reach a pasture with grazing sheep. From this advantage point the views were inspiring. Between the blue sea and sky they could see Ailsa Crag to the left and in front of them Arran.
The weather had warmed as they made across the fields to a gate which led to the od railway line and it was here that they were met by a group of walkers and to their surprise one of them was the author  James A Bett. James was one of the main instigators in creating the path they were following and wrote the book The Original Guide to the Ayrshire Coastal Way.
After lunch , back on the beach, the walkers made their way around the Heads of Ayr, a very dangerous place to be if the walk leader had got there tide times wrong, but not today, instead as they looked up into the looming dark craggy cliffs they were met with screeches and a flying display of several pairs of Peregrine  Falcons.
The walk was not over yet. As they made their way up a small craggy outcrop of a hill they got their first view of the ruins of Greenan Castle literally perched on the edge of the cliff, an amazing sight! The group were now on the last stretch of the walk back into Ayr and with tired feet thinking what a great walk!
Walk Leader: Lesley Potter-laidlaw

A group of five Biggar Ramblers set off from Strathaven Park on Sunday 2nd July on a short 5.5 mile walk. Although it was overcast, we experienced just a light shower on our route.
 The picturesque park still maintains much of it's Victorian charater including a bandstand and we walked by the flower beds and boating pond into Strathaven and out towards Sandford.
 Following the banks of the Avon water we stopped to admire the spectacular Spectacle E'e (eye) waterfalls which were in full spate and learn about the history of the mill which was burned down as a result of a disapproved union of a young lad and the miller's daughter.
 From the falls, we then went into the conservation village of Sandford and then along the Roman road to Priestgill and across the Shoogly bridge - although now it thankfully does not shoogle.
 Fortunately the skies cleared at the top of the hill when the group stopped to enjoy a picnic lunch with beautiful views.
 Then back to Strathaven through an overgrown path thick with nettles and tall grasses and a quick walk around the ruined castle where we read about some of it's grisly past when one of the many lords of Strathaven castle punished his wife by having her bricked up alive inside a purpose built niche.
So it was a very pleasant day combining good exercise, fantastic views and a touch of history. ( Lead by Margaret Watson)
Callander Crags and Braklin Fall 7 miles Sunday 25th June Leader Isobel MacDonald

The walk began from the main car park following the crags pah on the left uphill. This is a steep and twisting climb on a good gravel and stony path for the first 30 minutes which levels out till the Diamond Jubilee cairn is reached. Time on the ascent was taken to admire the spread of the town below, the views west towards Loch Venacher, Ban Ledi, Aberfoyle and the Trossachs and behind the Crags Ridge the rolling grassland giving way to the mountains in the Glen Artney area. From the Cairn the path began to fall through a rocky area, some of puddingstone, to meet a grassy path followed by a winding woodland one down to Bracklin Road. Turning left on the road for 20 mins past the wishing well and the many roadside flowers the waterfall at the Scout Pool an the River Keltie was reached - a welcome lunch stop. The walk continued up into the forest for the next two miles before dropping down to meet the river and the path leading to Backlinn Falls. Due to the dry recent weather both the river and the falls had little water and it was difficult to appreciate that the bridge has been washed away at least twice. Across the new sturdy wood bridge the path led up to the Falls car park and here a woodpecker was spotted. The final section was down to the lower car park and into the woods above the town which led back to the start point. A successful day despite the mixed weather and the midges at lunch.
Biggar Ramblers - 23/6/17 
It was a lovely evening for the annual 'bring a dish ' meal which was preceded by a short two mile walk just to sharpen appetites! The group met at Candybank and walked down the country lane towards Elsrickle. Consent was very kindly granted to enter the grounds of Edmonston House. This splendidly proportioned historic building is hidden away and many of the group were unaware of its existence. The main objective though was to cross the Candy Burn as there is an ancient dam here that backs up a very scenic fishing lake that beautifully reflects the battlements of the big house. From here a short woodland walk led to the main objective of the evening - the 'cattle creep' under the A702. There have been temporary traffic lights here for several months as some restoration work is required to ensure this unseen feature on the main road can continue to support the ever increasing volume of traffic. It was a surprise to all as no one was really aware of its existence! The seized gate suggested this route had not been used for a very long time. The group now crossed the fields of Brownsbank Farm to reach the route of the 'old Roman road' marked in the OS map. This in turn lad back to the farm road that passes the 'writers cottahe' of Hugh MacDiarmid fame. The walkers now made their way back to the main road for a much more treacherous crossing to Candymill and their return to Candybank for a now well deserved casual evening meal. Lovely dishes had been brought. We ate well. It was a lovely evening informal get together with plenty to discuss and a final video slide show summary of our previous year's outings. A good time was had by all as they looked forward to continuing the summer programme (details of which are posted on the Biggar Ramblers web site and in the Lanark Gazette).