I drove down early from Glasgow conscious that the days were getting shorter and my walk could be finishing in the dark. I caught the bus from Maidens back up to Ayr and started my walk south heading towards the cliffs that form the Heads of Ayr. I walked under Greenan castle which clung to the cliff precipitously and walked under the cliffs by the shoreline. I wasnt sure if the new Ayrshire Coastal route followed this direction or took a route above the cliffs but I decided as the tide was out I wouldnt risk trying to clamber up to the top.
The setting up of a coastal path for walkers is a commendable venture and was organised by the rotary club of Ayrshire. However the way marking needs to be improved – just beyond the harbour at Dunure I ended up walking across a field having followed a sign that seemed to indicate the way followed the shoreline, but I had to double back when it seemed that I had taken the wrong route. The official web site for the Ayrshire Coastal Path does not give directions, presumambly because they want to encourage people to but the guide book. However mobile web technology is upon us and it seems that it should be easier to consult a route description via a web browser on your phone or PDA. Thats my opinion anyway – but well done the rotary club for creating the route. Now if we could only get all the sections joined up and create a National Coastal Path….:P
The next stop on the way was the little harbour at Dunure with the Dunure Castle beyond. From there I headed up the main road and past the “Electric Brae” which was meant to be an optical illusion that fools you into thinking that the road went uphill rather than down. I couldnt see it myself although I remember being fascinated at the idea of it when my dad would stop the car on the road when my sisters and I went to visit my gran who lived in Girvan. I dont think it worked then either. I think the gradient was 1:84 or something anyway so its not like the car was likely to accelarate at an alarming speed down the hill.
I cut back in towards the shoreline at the caravan park road that led down towards the beach at Culzean Bay. The walk along the sand and for a few minutes my mind had suddenly cleared of all thoughts and I just felt the warmth of the sun and the sound and the smell of the sea to smother me. It was an extraordinary feeling of “this is what’s its all about”. All the financial turmoil in the world’s markets evaporated, the fact that Scotland couldnt score against Norway in the world cup qualifying match – and all the worries and concerns just left me and felt calm and my mind was just a receptive vessel to my environment. Now I know this sounds like new age hippy crap and I AM Mr Cynical at the best of times, but for maybe 5 minutes I was connected to something much bigger than myself and my little insignificant life was put in perspective. An Existentialist “being in the moment” feeling. There was nothing Nihilistic about it though. It felt good. And to quote a line in my favourite film the Big Lobowski.
The sun was starting to go down under Culzean castle -an impressive pile now in the stewardship of the National Trust. I had a chat with a couple of women who were renting the cottage at the foot of the cliffs and then climbed up and walked through the castle gardens on my way to Maidens. Unfortunately it was getting dark and didnt really have sufficient light to take photos of the autumnal colours on the leaves of the trees.
I used t visit Culzean when I lived in Glasgow and it would be nice to come back down again withmy camera and spend some time in the gardens. When i reached Maidens I was rewarded with a lovely sunset (see photo above) with the Ailsa Craig just peeping over the horizon.
All in all it was a longish walk but a very satisfying one.