Day 130, 131. Friday 11th & Saturday 12th August. Girvan to Stranraer.
So, I've got myself in a pickle with my place names !!! The previous posts are all correct, appart from the names of the places in the titles which I have got mixed up !!! The trouble with getting behind with my homework and having to try to work out where I was and when !!! 😫 sorry if I have confused you but no harm done...
Anyway, where were we, or more to the point, where was I ??? Oh yes, I was standing on a hill looking out at this giant Christmas pudding sitting in the Firth of Clyde, Ailsa Craig, or Paddy's Milestone as it's more commonly known, being approximately the half way point of the sea journey between Belfast and Glasgow, a traditional route of emigration for many Irish labourers travelling to Scotland to seek work.
Now I'll bet you didn't know this. Ailsa Craig is one of only two places in the world where microgranite is quarried to make curling stones, the only other quarry being in Welshest Wales. Not a lot of people know that and I certainly didn't until I got chatting to an old fella sat on a bench puffing away on his pipe. That was the first time that day I sat down to get my boots off to air and powder my feet, the second time was in Girvan and an even more peculiar thing occurred. I'd walked through the campsite, I was hoping to pitch up and get a shower but the site looked like it had recently been bombed so I kept walking !!! 😳 I was sitting on a wall with my boots off and a lady shouted to me from the open window of a car that was sitting at the traffic lights. She just asked what charity I was walking for so I shouted back to her, The Masonic Charitable Foundation, the lights turned to green and they drove away. Odd, I thought...
I'd been given a contact number for the Secretary at Lodge St John's No. 237 in Girvan and after calling, Robert had agreed to meet me at 6pm outside the Lodge. What an amazing place, nothing to look at from the outside but the internal wall and ceiling paintings were incredible.
Another example of a truly unique Lodge building created and maintained by the brethren that meet there and being the Lodge Secretary, Robert was very proud to show me the first lodge minute book dating back to its first meeting after it was Consectrated in 1810. Thank you Robert, I'm very grateful to you for opening up for me.
I carried on walking south and when I'd had enough I found a nice quiet piece of grass tucked behind the public lavs, very handy and I had a lovely peaceful night.
Up and away early the next morning, I walked for a few miles before jumping on a bus to avoid a particularly dangerous stretch of road, it was only for a few miles but as I've said before, I don't want to die trying to achieve this challenge and some parts of this coast are impossible to walk along without using the fast moving roads. I was soon back on my feet and walking down the edge of Loch Ryan towards Stranraer when I got a message on my phone. The lady that shouted out of her car window yesterday in Girvan had gone home, searched for my online funding page and made a donation, she was now messaging me to offer me a bed a shower and a meal when I got to Stranraer. The incredible kindness of people never ceases to amaze me, Fiona and Matt only saw me because they were stopped at the traffic lights and here they were, inviting me, a complete stranger into their home. I graciously accepted their kind offer and agreed that I would message when I arrived in Stranraer that evening so Matt could pick me up.
The Loch Ryan Coastal Path was a challenging boulder walk in places but preferable and much safer than walking on the roads. Lots of history here too, being the shortest sea route to Ireland it has been a prominent area for many years, a port in Roman times, it was General Wades Military Road in 1790 and in 1941 No. 2 Military Port was built just in case Liverpool or Clydeside became unusable due to enemy bombing. In this small area there were 8 Army camps, the Naval port and the main RAF flying boat repair and maintenance base was established in Wig Bay. Not to mention it was one of the main landing ports for American soldiers prior to the Normandy Landings... Over 4000 men were housed alone this main road at any given time, I'll bet there were some fun and games in the local ale houses on a Saturday night !!! 😬
I got into Stranraer just as the heavens opened and I managed to get under the porch of the local Argos, other shops were available but none had a big porch !!! I sent a message to Fiona who dispatched Matt to pick me up and within half and hour I was back at their house enjoying a hot shower followed by a full roast chicken dinner lovingly prepared by Matt. A couple of beers while we sat and chatted and I got to learn a little about my hosts, it turns out Matt would have probably lost his life while out walking if it wasn't for the skills of the Coastguard who found and recovered him after he had got caught out by the tide and an overhanging cliff had collapsed and fallen on him. When Matt had fully recovered he decided to do a series of physical challenges to raise funds for the organisation that saved his life. It was during these challenges that he was taken in and helped by complete strangers and that was the reason, while sitting at that red traffic light, that they decided to help me. They say what goes round comes round don't they and clearly today was my lucky day... I was tucked up in bed for just after 10pm, without the dogs and I'm pleased to say, even with all my allergies, I never woke up dead !!!
What absolutely amazing people, I can't thank Fiona and Matt enough for not only welcoming me into their home but for feeding me and giving me a lovely warm bed for the night.
Thanks guys, we will meet again and hopefully I will get the chance to repay your generous hospitality. 🥰😍