For several years, many walkers have endured (and complained about) the dangers and unpleasantness of walking the narrow northbound downhill verge of the A77T at Bennane – with no barrier protection and huge articulated lorries thundering past just feet away.
After two years of correspondence, lobbying, meetings, and firm support from South Ayrshire Council, local councillors, MPs and MSPs, Transport Scotland have addressed their responsibility to ensure the safety and passage of NMUs (non-motorised users) and agreed to re-implement their original agreement with the ACP to maintain a clear path for walkers behind the crash barriers all the way down the northbound side of the road.
This past week, a Transerv maintenance team – aided by a wood-chipper – have done a tremendous job, lopping overhanging branches and scrub, and strimming a good path all the way down the hill. From now on, they will keep this path open and maintained several times a year from spring to autumn.
Walkers should now feel very much safer – and happier – able to walk unimpeded behind the safety barrier. We are very pleased with this result.
Work has started on our major winter project – upgrading the path at Fisherton Gully, just north of Dunure. With the steps being over 10 years old, some remedial work has kept it serviceable. However with the recent heavy rain, most of the pea gravel has been washed away, and many of the wooden risers have rotted. Time for a complete revamp….
So please be careful if you are walking. The route is still passable, but is extremely slippy when wet.
The steps will be levelled, new risers installed, a membrane laid topped with whin chips. Already the Pathminders have cut new ditches to divert the rainwater off the path and installed a French drain along the path side. The first chips were laid on 2 November 2017, and with some 300 metres of path all the way down to the beach, this is a massive undertaking, but one that is necessary to maintain the route in suitable condition for walkers at any time of the year. Given reasonable weather, we hope to be finished by Christmas. Thanks to local farmer Allan and Maureen Currie for helping us transport some of the materials to the site.
On the Glenapp section at the top of Turf Hill, walkers may find a couple of 20m long dubs (mega-puddles!) filling the full width of the estate track. After heavy rain (and it’s now Autumn), these might be well over boot height and require a detour either side to get past.
Until the Estate can free up machinery from other more pressing jobs, to backfill the track, we would suggest perhaps traversing along the fence side, as there is always something to hold on to – and there is a deep area on the west side that might swallow the unwary up to their thighs!
On 22 August, an impromptu, small party of two (Jimmy and Ron) did some tidying work along the shore between Fisherton and Drumbain Gullies. Main tasks were spraying the weeds on the Fisherton steps down the gully, repainting and clearing the sea radish and marram grass around the nearly invisible waymarker cairn, plastic litter picking (two bagfuls), and stockpiling old fishboxes for later soft path bottoming purposes. Carrying on to Drumbain burn, Jimmy collected plant-head and seed specimens from near the new bridge to allow him to carry out some botanical experiments known only to himself! Victorian plant hunters – eat your hearts out!
On 16 August 2017, we were honoured to welcome Denis Spiller, the National President of Rotary International Great Britain and Ireland (RIBI) along with the 1230 District Governor, Gary Louttit, to see and experience for themselves the delights of the Ayrshire Coastal Path. There to welcome them, at Dunure harbour, were Ayr Rotary President Craig Wilson, Jimmy Begg, Gus Iannotti and Ron Ireland.
Despite the looming rain clouds, the party of six set off on an amiable stroll with Jimmy, as ever, leading the way and elaborating on various features of interest such as the castle and its doocot.
From there they were guided up our newly-constructed Smugglers’ Brae steps, stopping at the new bench to enjoy the (imagined) views. After continuing through the Millenium Wood to the kissing-gate above the lookout-field, with storm clouds approaching from the distant west, the wise decision to return was unanimously reached. In the comfort of the Dunure Inn, the group enjoyed an excellent light lunch during which the erudite chat ranged from things entomological to classic cars (both involving beetles!).
Denis and Gary were full of praise for the efforts of Ayr Rotary Club in creating and maintaining the Path and for the benefits this brought to Rotary through greater public awareness.
She had her baptism of fire hacking through a jungle of 5ft high Monks’ Rhubarb and Cow Parsley beside the new bridge over the Ladywell Burn. But her enthusiasm for the job kept the two lads going, and she didn’t let us stop till we had cleared away enough vegetation to let her see the wee waterfall that we could hear tinkling somewhere in the jungle.
So ladies, let’s have more of you out to join us. It’s great fun, you are helping the local community and you are out in the fresh air. What could be better?
Gillian is a very keen walker and has an excellent website, Gillian’s Walks, listing many walks in Scotland and beyond.
Walkers will be glad to learn that, with just two mornings’ work, six Pathminders completed a new sleeper bridge over the Ladywell Burn, 1km north of Dunure. Though a small burn easily forded in dry weather, it was a bit of a problem during spates, and has been on our ‘to-do’ list for some time.
We are now moving on to the notorious Wet Gully 300m further north, where a 70m ditch has been dug to improve drainage, a new path-line pegged out, and work begun to provide a firm base underfoot. Work in progress.
Topping a recent gift of £92 from their Christmas Raffle, Cunninghame Ramblers have delighted us with a further surprise donation of £500 towards Path maintenance. This will let us buy 5 tonnes of whin chips to surface the Fisherton Gully path from top to shore. A much needed improvement.
Thank you Cunninghame Ramblers – our top Walkers – who have now donated almost £900 to support our work over the past eight years.
Over the past three months, Pathminder squads have spent 282 man-hours at the Smugglers Brae, Dunure, converting a slippery muddy slope into a fine stepped, surfaced path. This was only made possible by a grant of £1550 from SAWET (South Ayrshire Waste Environmental Trust); the supply of 50 old sleepers from Trump Turnberry Golf Course; and a generous donation of £500 from Hillhouse Quarries Ltd to buy 10 Tonnes of whin chips. All materials had to brought on site by hand, sack and barrow. It’s amazing what a gang of OAPs can do – unpaid but willing! And there’s now a seat at the top, with a spectacular view, for tired walkers.
Five Rotary Clubs, Girvan, Alloway, Ayr, Prestwick and Troon, with a total of 240 volunteers, cleared 565 bags of rubbish over a 19-mile coastline from Girvan to Troon. Working with the Marine Conservation Society, we counted 2,800 plastic bottles of all shapes and sizes. Calculating we must have lifted 33,000 bottles over 11 years, this info has been sent to MSPs at Holyrood to support a current cross-party call for a Plastic Bottle Deposit scheme – something sorely needed. Read the full report The Plastic Peril Report 2017