Celebrating 10 Years of the IAT

This week we welcomed a group of Americans and Canadians who were in Scotland to mark the 10th anniversary of the first International Appalachian Trail (IAT) visit to the UK and Ireland. It was almost 10 years to the day that an IAT delegation from Maine and Newfoundland, Labrador, travelled to Scotland to hold exploratory meetings with representatives of the British Geological Survey, local trail organisations, Lochaber Geopark officials, and government representatives, on the possibility of Scotland becoming a European chapter of the IAT. This became a reality a year later when Scotland and the West Highland Way were welcomed as the first European chapter of the IAT. Later that same year, the ACP was invited to be part of the trail and is now an important link in series of long-distance trails from the west of Ireland, up the coastline of the Firth of Clyde to the WHW and Great Glen Way, north to Cape Wrath and eastwards to John o’ Groats, Orkney and Shetland before crossing to Norway. The group were led by IAT Chairperson, Paul Wylezol,, who was instrumental in establishing the  IAT and who continues to be active in its expansion and its connection to Global Geoparks. Some members of the group are keen geologists (both amateur and professional) so, courtesy of Hugh Barron of the British Geological Survey (who was also keenly involved in the original visit) the group have been visiting Scottish sites of geological importance. On the day, two major geological exposures were visited – one man-made (the massive opencast coal site, Spireslack at Glenbuck) and the other an untarnished product of nature – our very own...

Major Advance at Balkenna

Even by Jimmy Begg’s unrelenting standards, last Thursday was a lengthy shift for the bridge-builders. Due to the unexpectedly early availability of the telegraph poles for the bridge beams, work continued after a lunch break until a finish around 3.00pm! The placing of the poles allowed the decking to be placed so that we now have a crossable structure that will mean we no longer risk getting wet feet negotiating the burn. Thanks are due to Hugh Watson of HIE Fabrication Ltd for making the sturdy steel brackets for the bridge. Apart from the decking, the whole structure has been built from re-cycled material at a cost of under £500. Next week it will be finishing the approaches, both sides, and getting rid of the heavy vegetation. Then comes the topping out ceremony with some of that champagne that Jimmy won in the Rotary Golf Day raffle! Poles arrived 10.30h beams set 13.00h decking done!...

Balkenna Progress – 10 May

Further good progress was made on the bridge construction this week. Jimmy and Gus made up the template and drilled the sleepers, which pleasingly slid over the dowels without snagging. The rest of the team gathered loads of stones and filled the gap under the hut (will this one day be the ACP bothy?), and also backfilled behind the abutments. So all ready for the bridging part of it, with the telegraph poles ordered, the angle brackets ready, and the decking purchased and due to be cut to size this weekend. Continuing the recent international encounters theme, volunteers had a friendly chat with a Dutch couple who are thoroughly enjoying walking the ACP before going on to Bute. Perhaps we should all start brushing up on our foreign language...

Welcome change from humphing boulders

Seven Pathminders decided to take a day off normal duties for a highly sociable round of golf at Seafield. No scores were declared afterwards for fear of embarrassment but all agreed it was a fun day and it should be repeated occassionally. John Ferguson got lucky at the 15th hole. His ball was nearest the pin. Actually it was the only one to hit the green! John’s effort won him a bottle of (cheap) wine. ……with James Braid Lucky...

Round-Britain Walkers meet on Ayrshire Coastal Path

An unusual coincidence happened last week on the Ayrshire Coastal Path. Two couples who, independently, are walking the entire British coastline (3861 miles over 9 months!) in opposite directions, accidently bumped into each other on a section of the path between Ayr and Dunure. Martin Shipley (frequently accompanied by his wife Maureen) is walking anti-clockwise to raise funds for Thrombosis UK in memory of their daughter, Dawn. Meanwhile, Susan and Simon Murphy, a couple from Lyme Regis are walking clockwise. Imagine the surprise they all got when meeting and greeting each other. Since the path was created by Ayr Rotary Club 11 years ago, many thousands of walkers with differing abilities and ambitions have walked at least part of the path. With its two major accolades (it is one of “Scotland’s Great Trails” and part of the International Appalachian Trail) it attracts many visitors, not only from the UK but also from overseas. On the same day that the round-Britain walkers met, Ken Andreson and his partner from Connecticut were just a few miles away near Turnberry, on their own Ayrshire Coastal Path adventure. You too can enjoy the delights of this wonderful stretch of coastline – visit   https://ayrshirecoastalpath.org/ for some ideas. The Shipleys with Ron Ireland and Mike...
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