Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Walk 282 -- Maidens to Girvan

Ages:  Colin was 69 years and 122 days.  Rosemary was 66 years and 264 days.
Weather:  Prolonged heavy showers verging on hail.  Blustery and cool.
Location:  Maidens to Girvan.
Distance:  11 miles.
Total distance:  2768 miles.
Terrain:  We negotiated a very posh golf course (one round of golf costing between £175 and £195!!) which used to be an airstrip.  Sandy beach which got increasingly rocky.  So we crossed a field to a busy road, but didn’t like that either in the rain.  Crossed back on a track to a bumpy path along the top of the beach.  Through a farm to a golf club road.  Pavements, then sandy beach again.  Mostly flat.
Tide:  Out, fortunately.
Rivers:  No.341, Water of Girvan.  Also several floodwater streams in spate.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  Nos.233 & 234 in and out of diversion.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  No.61, to the road across a field because the beach got too rocky and slippery with seaweed.  In hindsight, we should have gone behind some cottages.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan on a site in Ayr.  This morning we drove to Girvan in the pouring rain and parked at a seafront car park just beyond the town.  It was so miserable, we really didn’t want to be there!  We didn’t leave ourselves enough time to get to the bus stop, and saw the back end of the bus (only once every two hours) pull away ahead of us.  By some miracle, it’s route looped through a housing estate and we picked it up in another road!  We alighted at Maidens, and walked across the playing field to the harbour.
At the end we came up off the beach to where our car was parked.  After having our tea, we drove back to the caravan in Ayr.  We were soaking wet, and I was quite cold and miserable.

It was terrible weather today — wet and windy — and we did wonder why we were doing this.  (Today was one of the many Walks when we really questioned our sanity!)  Not many photos were taken because we didn’t want the cameras to get wet.  We walked most of the harbour at Maidens, and spent a bit of time watching the waves break over a wall.
Then we tried to get up to the golf course without going out to the main road.  On the map it looked as if this was possible, but we found that in actual fact it wasn’t.
We tried a private road which looked promising, but after climbing a steep bit of hill we discovered there was no way through.  So we retraced our steps.  Next we tried the adjacent housing estate, but every time we chose a road which looked as if it would lead to the golf course we had to retrace our steps because it inevitably turned out to be a dead end.  Eventually we found our way out of that maze on to the hated main road — we had progressed a mere few yards from the harbour and wasted a lot of time!
We noticed an Ayrshire Coastal Path sign pointing along the road — we don’t want ROAD!  So a few yards further on we climbed over a fence where a concrete runway from an old disused airstrip crossed the road.  Aha!  We may have done it this time!  We walked the length of this runway towards a couple of trees, then along a concrete path which curved a little, then along another concrete runway in a slightly different direction.  Yes, we were well and truly walking across the prestigious Turnberry Golf Course, one of the most expensive golf courses in the country!
There were a number of golfers out playing despite the howling wind and torrential rain.  We thought we were crazy enough to be out walking in such conditions, but these people had paid well over £100 each to play on Turnberry’s hallowed greens!  We supposed they had booked and paid for their time in advance so had to play no matter what the conditions.  We hoped they were enjoying themselves at that price — we weren’t!
We came to the end of the concrete, unless we turned away from the coast.  We were making for the lighthouse which we could see on top of the cliffs.  We tried to keep off the greens, but this was not always possible so we crept round the very edges.  We came to a green on the cliff edge, and had to wait for two golfers to tee off before we could proceed.  One lost his ball down towards the beach, he didn’t go down after it.
We came to a café on the lighthouse road.  We crossed the road and followed a path which led away on the other side.  This joined up with a track on which there was an Ayrshire Coastal Path sign!  The official path must have turned off the road a bit further down from where we climbed over the fence.  The track took us down to the beach which is where we wanted to be.  We felt a lot more comfortable once we were off the golf course, though Colin said that “comfortable” wasn’t exactly the word which came to mind since it was pouring with rain once more!
When it stopped, momentarily, we sat on a log to eat our pasties — only just in time because as we were finishing it started honking down again.
We could see the volcanic plug of Ailsa Craig very clearly out on the horizon.  It is where they quarry curling stones, and we noticed that the boulders on the beach by our feet were a good quality granite.  We reckoned they must have been washed over from Ailsa Craig by the sea.  We looked up and saw a tornado-effect colouring in the sky near Ailsa Craig.  It was quite eerie, and we hoped it wasn’t coming our way.
We carried on for a few miles — a lovely beach, but the weather was so awful we didn’t enjoy it at all.  We crossed a couple of rivers without getting water in our boots.  Fortunately the tide was out, so we crossed right near the waterline where a river spreads out and is therefore shallower.  That worked a treat, until we came to the third river.
We had walked past a ‘works’ with about half a mile of spiky unfriendly fence bordering the beach.    There we came to a river which was bigger than the ones we had crossed before.  On our bank the spiky fence of the ‘works’ ran along the riverside making it impossible for us to walk up to the road bridge which was about two hundred yards inland.  On the opposite bank we could see an Ayrshire Coastal Path sign, but how could we get over there?  We reckoned this was normally a shallow stream but it was swollen by the rain.  We were reluctant to go back half a mile and access the road on the other side of the ‘works’.  So we went right down to the edge of the waves where rivers are normally a lot shallower, and just ran for it hand in hand.
We both got water in our boots!  We sat on a rock to empty them out, but that didn’t achieve much.  (We learned later that the Ayrshire Coastal Path goes up to the road before the ‘works’, but we didn’t see the sign.)  We carried on with wet feet.  We were both a bit miserable, neither of us were enjoying the Walk.
The beach got soft, rocky and slippery with seaweed.  I wanted to go out to the road — surely it can’t be worse than this?  Colin went up the bank to look but all he saw were barbed wire fences, so we had to stay on that uggy beach.  A bit further on we came to a kissing gate with an Ayrshire Coastal Path ‘diversion’ sign which, so a notice told us, “the path behind the cottages is only to be used when high tide covered the rocks”.  Well, it didn’t — but we were so fed up with that awful beach which we now considered to be dangerously slippery, that we went through the gate.  Not wishing to be spat out on the beach again just the other side of the cottages, we continued up the field and through a gate to the road.
We donned our bright yellow vests.  The road was horrible!  It was busy, the traffic was fast and there was no footpath.  Further on a narrow footpath appeared on the opposite side, so we crossed over.  Marginally better, but we were both hating it.  Our feet were uncomfortable and the rain was pouring down relentlessly.
Then Colin saw a good track on the other side of the road, leading down towards the sea.  What’s more, there was a signpost at the beginning of it saying “Girvan”!  (“Come back, dreadful beach, all is forgiven!”)  By now we had realised that the beach was preferable to the road, so we crossed over and went down the track.  We also told ourselves that we should have walked behind the cottages as we weren’t very much further on.
We were led on to a path along the top of the beach.  This was good in parts, but a bit bumpy, neglected and overgrown.  There was a lull in the rain, so we sat on a rock intending to eat our chocolate.  (We hadn’t had an opportunity to eat our sandwiches yet.)  We assessed the state we were in.  Our feet were wet and uncomfortable.  One of my arms was soaked, and also one of Colin’s legs.  (Our waterproofs were not as waterproof as they used to be.)  After two bites the rain started up again, so we ate the rest of the chocolate walking along.
Before Girvan the path veered away from the beach and up through a farm.  We almost reached the main road, but just before we did so we were able to turn right on to a golf course road.  This led us back down towards the sea at Girvan Harbour.  On the way we passed several cottages, one of which was derelict and vandalised.
Girvan Harbour was bigger than we thought it would be after looking at the map.  It seemed to take a long time to walk round it, so we didn’t walk the harbour pier — rain, and Colin complained that his knee was hurting.  We crossed the river on a bridge, then had to walk into town in order to reach the other side of the harbour.  Colin took the opportunity to buy his favourite motorcycle paper.
We went down on to the beach as soon as we reached it.  This was a nice sandy beach which we walked for the last mile, in front of Girvan, until we reached our car parked at the far end.

That ended Walk no.282, we shall pick up Walk no.283 next time at the southern end of Girvan Beach.  It was twenty-five to four, so the Walk had taken us five hours and twenty-five minutes.  We ate our sandwiches in the warm and dry of the car, had a cup of tea from our flask, and then drove back to our caravan in Ayr.  We were both soaking wet, and I was quite cold and miserable.  In hindsight we probably should have cancelled today’s Walk, but at least it was done now.  Girvan is probably quite a nice place, but we were too miserable to notice.
The next day we moved our caravan to New England Bay, a beautiful site in the sand dunes on The Rhins.

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