I travelled towards my starting point for the walk the previous evening and sat in the van in the Irvine and saw that the weather forecast was going to be really horrendous the next day with 35 mph winds and driving rain all day. I decided that I didnt need to put myself through that especially as a major part of the walk was going to be across a high hilly area. So I drove back to my sisters in Glasgow and bullied my daughter Emma to come down the day after and walk with me for the day.
The weather wasnt bad when we set off and fortunately stayed dry all day. The only problem was that when we eventually set off from Ballantrae after stopping off at the cafe in the local garden centre for a quick bacon roll it was already after 11 am. I reckoned that we would be reaching our destination in Cairnryan in the dark. Setting off from Ballantrae I followed the the Ayrshire Coastal Path towards the hill south of the village named Downan Hill on the map. However Im not sure if we missed the turning as the path we were following kind of “ran out” idecided to double back and follow another path which lead eastwards towards the farm at Meadow Park. It wasnt a big detour but it was a tad annoying as a signpost at the outbuildings at Downan would have cleared up the confusion. We carried on an followed minor farm roads until we had to skirt Eastwards around Sandloch Hill. This led us down the hill till the path eventually ended at the junction of the main A77 road and the start (or end) of the Ayrshire Coastal Path. The rest of the walk was along the main road which led down into Cairnryan – a very busy road used by the lorries and traffic coming over from Ireland off the ferry at Stranraer. By the time we eventually reached Cairnryan it was already dark and we had to be very careful that we got off the road quickly as the traffic came around the bends. I cant remember the last time I ever finished a walk in the dark, or even if I had done at all. This is the latest time in the year that I have walked on the Coast walk and Im suddenly conscious that in four weeks time it will be dark at four and Im realistically going tp have to question whether this “final push” to finish the walk over the winter is worthwhile.