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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Kirkland Hill, Kirkconnel

Monday the 18th of June

I'm heading over to Kirkconnel to walk with my fellow rambler from Cumnock.
It's a small place, but packed with history.
I see my friend the Ayr Blogger, has already done this walk a couple of times.
Gordon's recent report.

The Baker's Burn Path is our outward route.
There's information boards galore as we head  north alongside the scenic burn.
It's correct name is the Polbower Burn, but known locally as the Baker's Burn because of the one time flour mill by the town/village.

There are nine sturdy bridges along the path, frequently crossing from one side to the other.
The sun is in the sky today.

This short poem is from one of the information boards.
 Readers of  a certain age I'm sure will relate to the words.

Talking of litter.................. 
......................this was lying on the grass.
Now there's a good old Scottish word at the bottom.

More bridges. Along here we stop to talk to a local man walking.
He's got his arm in a sling from a fall from his mountain bike.
Happy healing sir.

The burn path ends at Old Kirkland, and here we take to road and track on the 'Old Church Walk'

These cows and calves seemed quite relaxed until I took this picture.
I don't know why my camera spoofed them.
Maybe my new Canon Powershot SX40 HS will be more animal friendly.
(Just arrived from Hong Kong this morning)

Now this is Kirkland Farmhouse.
Built sometime in the 1700's this was (and may still be, maybe someone can say) the home of the Lorimer family. A Captain Lorimer from Kirkland was one of the local farmers and gentlemen who founded the 'Crawick Mill Carpeting Company', which at it's height employed 120 people.
The works closed in 1858.

A short way on from the farm we come to the dwelling known as  'The Vennel'. 
The hill in the middle of the picture is Little Kirkland Hill.
As well as this being mining country it was also covenanting country.
James Hyslop the poet ( The Cameronians Dream ) was born close to here.
Another local poet, Alexander Anderson 1845-1909 used this location as the setting for his poem, The Covenanters Tryst.
The first verse goes like this.
 I am auld an' frail, an' I scarce can gang,
Though whiles when I tak' a turn,
It's only when the sun blinks oot
On the braes by the Vennel Burn.
Then I tak' a look at the Kirkland Heichts,
An' up at Glen Aylmer Hill,
Then a kinder look at the auld kirkyaird
Where the dead sleep soun' an' still.
The full 15 verses, and other poems by the Surfaceman, can be seen here on the Gerald Massey webpages.

There's a lot of  ducks, geese and other fowl waddling around the Vennel.

From the Vennel, we make our way over the Glenaylmer Burn, past a noisy sheep pen where a dosing operation is occuring, and into the ruins of St Conal's Church

There's an ongoing project to clean up headstones that are still readable. It looks as though they are having some success. 

This is the Miners Cairn, originally erected by the local miners during the 1926 general strike.
It was restored in 2002 by the Kirkconnel Parish Heritage Society.
Has it been vandalized since then ?

We didn't get over to Glenwharrie to see the Celtic Cross.
Glenwharrie was also where one of the Waistland Martyrs, John Hair farmed.
The incident was part of what became known as New Cumnock's Killing Day.

There are some really ornate stones here.

Now we begin climbing above the Glenaylmer burn where we reach the first cairn of six of the 15 mile geology trail over to Wanlockhead. Be good to do that sometime.

We're now climbing Little Kirkland Hill where the rabbits are out in force, and wonderful views over the Nith Valley open up for us. We stop for lunch and enjoy the views.

For most of the day's walking there was the constant sound of light aircraft.

This was the second of a pair of motorized hang gliders that we saw a couple of times.

After lunch we continue up Little Kirkland Hill overlooking Glenaylmer where the telegraph poles looked like matchsticks. (Right click, open in new tab to see what I mean)

Now we come onto Kirkland Hill itself. This is the view back down to Kirconnel and Kelloholm.

Here we're looking over to the Isle of Arran.

My walking companion adorns the trigpoint at 511 Metres (1676 ft)............

.................and I bag Flush Bracket S6091. The mast on the left is atop Todholes Hill. That's a walk for another day.

I zoom in for another picture of Arran, and one of the more northerly hills.

Now we move over to Kirkland Hill's second summit just a couple of metres lower.
Here we can look back down on St Conals and Kirkland.

Our descent takes us down via features called Earl's Seat and Lambing Slack.
There seems little activity over at the Glenmuckloch Open Cast Coal Mine.
We spoke to a farm worker down at Kirkland later, who informed us that it was due to be closed, but that there's been a deferral till sometime later in the year.
There is a law that say's the land must be put back to something like it was before mining began, but all over Ayrshire, there seems to be little of that happening.
There is a group of activists who want to do something about it.

Field Pansies are flourishing on the slopes.

Now we descend 'The Can' by the Churn Burn.

Back at the Vennel a cockerel  lords it over his brood.

Back down at Kirkland, this old plane flew over. Can anyone identify it ? It's not a Flying Fortress.

From Kirkland we'll head back to Kirkconnel via the tarmac road.
Above us there's more activity as two motorized hang gliders appear to overtake a light aircraft.

It's clouding over as we get closer to the town.
A cow and her calf are isolated as a young foal runs free.

Next to the main Dumfries/Glasgow railway line is a Des Res for sale.
If I won the lottery, I think I'd buy it as a holiday home for all the family.
Needs a bit of money spent on it though.

Now back in Kirkconnel, we pass the monument to the 'Surfaceman' Alexander Anderson, the Heritage Society Park and the War Memorial.

There's some very interesting window displays. I guess there's been a competition of some sort.

Just across the road from the car park is the Kirkconnel Miners Memorial.
The central inscription reads.
To the memory of the men of  Upper Nithsdale who in pursuance of their calling lost their lives in the collieries 1872 - 1969
Others also through injuries and mining dust were hastened to an early grave
They served their day unseen unsung
In caverns of the deep
Till early laid the mools among
They through the ages sleep
Lest We Forget

That was a great walk with tonnes of interesting stuff.
We got to the car park just just before the heavens opened.
More exploration required around this area.


  1. Thanks for the mention Jim,another excellent blog. The best of the weather was in the early part of the week and it is all downhill now as we head towards the weekend.

  2. amazing! so many different sights! What a grand walk!

  3. Yet another awesome armchair walk for me Jim, loved the history and those bridges. A Canon powershot - I can't imagine that you could possibly spoil us with even better photos than you already do! :)

  4. Hi Gordon, I'll be giving you a few more mentions yet. I fancy quite a few of the walks you've done up there in the fair county of Ayrshire. The bad weather's just arrived down here now.

    Thanks for visiting Tammie, I was recently reading about the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness in your wonderful 'Treasure State'. Now there's a place I'd feel at home.

    Hi Rose,glad you liked the post, first photographs with the new camera will be uploaded sometime today. I'm happy enough with the quality.

  5. Grand wander. It hadn't crossed my mind to think that there would have been a St Conal to give his name to Kirkconnel - I live and learn.

    Good luck with the new camera.

  6. Hi Sandy, both myself and my walking partner (who's almost a local) were as much in the dark as yourself until we visited. You're never too old to learn something new.

  7. Think it couls be a Vickers Viscount wasn't orange and yellow was if so I saw it also.

  8. Didn't really get the colours against the sky Mook.
    I guess you could be right about the Viscount though, there were many variants built.

  9. Always fancied a Canon Myself.
    Maybe Santa will read this if he,s had a big win on the elf bowling.
    (Not much to do up there when not wrapping presents)

  10. Funny you should mention Santa Bob, the guy we spoke to had the most beautiful white beard.

  11. Lots of cute animals along this walk!

    The ornate stones are really nice.


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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