Walking – Hill and Mountain

Group Leader - Dick Vernon             Tel: 01292 442195
Location - Public on-road parking area, opposite Shanter Way,
Tuesday @ 08.45                        Season - Continuous

Activities of the group are currently constrained by the Covid 19 pandemic; the group follows the advice of Ramblers Scotland, which acts on behalf of Sports Scotland for walking.

This is the largest and strongest of the Hill Walking Groups, with about 40 members at present (membership has been unlimited up to now). Usually there are about 20 on the walks, sometimes split between two walks.

We walk mostly in the Southern Uplands (Galloways, Lowthers etc), but also head over to Arran or north to the Southern Highlands, when the weather is good enough for such ventures. If some of us are heading further afield, there is usually a second more local walk for those who don’t want to travel so far. The presence of a lot of experienced leaders in the group allows for this option. Indeed, with so much talent in the group, most walks are team efforts.

The major determinant of the walk(s) of the day is our fickle weather! I check several forecasts the day or so before the walk, and then decide on the route, trying to avoid a soaking and also trying to ensure that we see something! If the weather is really bad, then a low level walk (eg Barr Trails) is the order of the day. The decision is then e-mailed to members early Monday evening. If the weather is changing very rapidly, a decision may be postponed until we meet on Tuesday morning. As good weather is essential for trips to Arran or the Southern Highlands, then I try to give members more notice so a second walk can be arranged if wanted.

2020 was a challenging year in many respects! Before lockdown in March, we manage ascents of various hills in the Galloways.  Once lockdown began to be relaxed, Carrick Hill took a pounding (being within 5 miles of home for some of us), then when travel restrictions were lifted we climbed a lot of the Galloway and neighbouring hills, initially in teams of ‘up to five households’, and later in larger groups as restrictions changed – following all the safety requirements of social distancing, no car sharing etc. More recently new travel restrictions have limited our activities to South Ayrshire (a small cohort based in East Ayrshire have set up an East Ayrshire sub group), but this has still given us a good range of walks, although this autumn the exceptional amount of rain didnt help!

So, despite all, the group has been as active as circumstances have allowed. Sadly no trips to Arran or the Southern Highlands. And of recent we have had to endure perfect winter walking conditions on Arran and up north – snow, blue skies, but out of bounds! A pity because quite a few of the group are well up to (and equipped) for such winter ascents.

The essential requirements to join the group are a good level of fitness (most of our walks would be graded as ‘A walks’ by the Ramblers), good walking boots (the Galloways in particular are tough walking, with few paths), wet-weather, and in the winter, cold weather clothing. Walking poles are often useful, and can extend the life of aging knees. Mini-crampons can be useful in the winter if walks are likely to be icy, and full crampons and ice axes may be needed for those indulging in harder winter ascents on Arran or in the Southern Highlands (I would always inform members if such equipment was needed for an ascent).

Finally, I am happy to say that this is a very friendly, welcoming group, so if you enjoy hill walking, then why not give us a try?

For more information please contact the Group Leader (details above).

Dick , leader of the Hill and Mountain walking group, negotiating a minor obstacle when exploring a potential new walk for the group with Sandy Martin. A good walk but perhaps not suitable for a large number!
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