Today walk: 24.10 miles
Total walk: 579.40 miles
Today raised: £ 50.00 + ¥ 4,926.00
Total raised: £ 12,143.09 + ¥ 96,464.66
It gets to that stage in a walk, and this is our seventh, when all that needs to be said has been said and you just want to get on and finish the job. Well this was one of those days with three unexpected twists.
The task for the day was to make it from Prestwick to Eaglesham, on paper a hard 24 mile walk with lots and ups and downs over hills and moors.
It was a Sunday and supposed to be a rest day but the A77 had been such an awful and dangerous road to walk I wanted to take advantage of the lighter traffic of a Sunday on a Bank Holiday weekend.
My first stop after about 8 miles was Kilmarnock. Just at the entrance to the town was De Waldens garden centre with a coffee shop, a perfect stop to dodge the showers for half an hour. Whilst there catching up with social media about preparations for my cousin Sarah’s amazing 50th birthday celebration in Bleasby that evening, I was approached by a lady who asked about the walk.
Now probably you are thinking ‘What is remarkable about that? Surely, that happens ten times a day’ well no I think it is about the fifth time in the 40 day walk. That is not of course to say we have only spoken to five people about the walk, we have spoken to hundreds but we (sorry Xuelin) normally initiates this conversation with places we stay, places we eat. Without Xuelin I am quite an introvert and keep my head down and walk. Anyway, the lady in De Waldens whose name was Andrea, then generously produced £5 for the British Red Cross. Unexpected twist number 1.
Walking through Kilmarnock town centre I took a wrong turn (not unusual) and found myself passing Kilmarnock Academy which is a very special place. Not just because there has been a school on this site since 1630 but because it is one of possibly three schools in the world, and the only state school, to have educated Nobel Laureates: Alexander Fleming (for discovering Penicillin) and John Boyd Orr (for his work on nutrition whilst serving as the first Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation). I thought what a wonderful line to raise the ambitions of students entering the school “This Academy has produced two Nobel Laureates and we expect you to do even better.” Great schools like great homes have one thing in common the parents and teachers have ‘Great Expectations’ for their children. Unexpected twist number 2.
Once out of Kilmarnock the skies cleared and it was a perfect afternoon of blue skies and fluffy white clouds as I walked over Fenwick and Eaglesham Moors. The moors get very windy on the top and unsurprisingly they have been used to build a wind farm, but not just any wind farm–the UKs largest with 215 enormous wind turbines generating enough electricity each year to power 300,000 homes. I used to think that arable farming was one of the most amazing ways of generating food out of the elements of sun, rain and soil but this type of farming is generating power out of a single element the wind. Unexpected twist number 3.
Another amazing part of the history of these moors happened on the 10 May 1941 at the height of the Second World War. A German plane crash landed on the moors which was carrying Adolf Hitler’s Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolph Hess. What was even more remarkable was that he claimed to be seeking to bring a message ‘of peace’ to the Duke of Hamilton. I don’t think anyone has yet fully understood what was truly happening that night but it is worth looking up on Google. Hess was imprisoned in Spandau Prison, Germany until his death by suicide in 1987. Unexpected twist number 4.
My legs were aching badly on account of the steep climb over the moors but as I walked down into Eaglesham the views of Glasgow were crystal clear and amazing. I felt I was looking north towards Loch Lomond and The Trossachs but couldn’t be sure. The village of Eaglesham itself is a little corner of paradise. The village was founded by Alexander Montgomerie in 1769 as a centre for cotton manufacture and weaving. For this reason the village was laid out in the shape of an ‘A’ for Alexander. It is just an absolutely beautiful village and right in the heart of it is the Eaglesham Arms.
The Eaglesham Arms is the perfect wedding venue being surrounded by tree lined village greens. We were given a wonderful welcome by Carolyn Stark the Manager who was very interested in and supportive of the aims of the walk. The Eaglesham Arms Best Western was without doubt our best nights stay on the entire walk and at £69 one of the best value also, and that was even before Carolyn had given me a free glass of wine with our evening meal. Xuelin and I said that this was a place we would love to come back to for a holiday sometime. Unexpected twist number 5.