Thursday, 9 September 2021

A few drops in sunny Ayrshire.

,  Afternoon all,

      when myself and Wee Keefy traveled up to Ayr, Portpatrick and then finally the isle of Whithorn in September  2019, our showing the pics to Mumraah persuaded her that she fancied a last trip up to Ayrshire, where her and my Dad used to live, and where myself and Keith were born. Initially we booked rooms at the Chestnuts Hotel in Ayr for April or May 2020. So that didn't happen. We thought about rearranging it for March this year but restrictions did not lift in time and we eventually agreed to go up this month. As sadly Wee Fatha passed away at Christmas, we found in his funeral details that he wanted his ashes scattered on the headland at Maidens, where my Grandad's are. So on the 3rd of September we drove up.

Arriving about 1630 at the Chestnuts, we got settled into our rooms before eating at 1830. I headed downstairs around 1745 to see what beers they had on in the bar. There were 3 ales on cask from the past, and to be honest am not sure what they all were - not least because firm favourite Fyne Ales Jarl was on. So I had a pint of that sat outside in the sunny Garden before I came in to eat. The Jarl was in excellent condition so I had another 2 pints.

We were planning on walking to town and back - but en route we popped in the Glen Park Hotel, the Ayr Brewing tap. I was on a pint of Summer Mittens, a cloudy session pale at about 4%, and Wee Keefy was on their bitter Jolly Beggars. After a couple of pints of these I finished on a pint of their Leezy Lundie Pale ale, before we headed back to the hotel. This showed us something that we hadn't previously realised - I knew that staffing levels were low in the licensed trade, but many pubs and bars now shut at 21:00.

The next day we drove to Maidens via Maybole - where none of us could remember where we used to live! Having stopped off at a castellated farmhouse just outside we turned right at Kirkoswald and soon parked up in Maidens. Myself and Martin walked carrying Wee Fatha's box of ashes along the lane and through the woods to the headland - whereas WK took Mumraah and himself to park in Culzean Castle, at about £457, and they walked from the swan pond to meet us.

To be fair the scattering of Dad's ashes wasn't as stressful or upsetting as we had worried. And once that was done we walked back to the swan pond for a cuppa each before we returned to the car and went for lunch from K's Kitchen in Maidens before visiting the harbour.

Once we had dropped Mumraah back at the hotel, WK, Martin and myself went to Dalmillington and then to some nearby waterfalls for a short walk and some pics. We then drove over the hills to Straiton and onwards into Kirkmichael. Here we went into the Kirckmichael Arms, where I had a pint of Kelburn Jaguar, Martin a glass of orange juice and WK a half of the Kelburn. On our last visit they had served a cloudy Ayr Brewing pale and it was ace - this visit did not disappoint.

 After tea we walked into Ayr town centre and having looked at some un suggested options, we ended up in the Smoking Goat downstairs from a side street near the bridge. Jarl was once again on here, and at £3.70 a pint was cheaper than the hotel, but they also sold another beer from Williams brewery which  Keith had. I had a "slotter" before we shared a bottle of Williams Bros 7 Giraffes IPA to finish our first visit to this loud but busy and friendly bar. Must revisit!

We next went to Wellingtons bar, under a building in Wellington square. When we got there it was quite busy but despite their opening until midnight it quickly quietened down. Here they had two beers on cask - Loch Lomond brewery summer clouds or similar for myself and Kelburn Pivo for WK - we had a few rounds in here before walking through the park by the sea in complete darkness, and finishing for a last one in the hotel bar - Jarl once again. 

Sunday we visited Girvan and Pinmoor and then drove to Glentrool. We grabbed scran from the cafe there before driving up a single track lane to park up for the Robert the Bruce memorial where we had our nosh. We drove the long way back over mountain roads to Straiton and back the same way as the day before, and having dropped both Mumraah and Martin off myself and Keith drove to park up near the Failford Inn to walk up the Great Ayr Gorge and to Peden's cove further up.

The weather was fantastic with bright sunshine and the path was easy to follow - although the usual route along the side of the water had sadly slipped away due to a landslide so it was initially uphill and back down again. Having let WK climb the steps and walk along a thin cutting into the rocks above Peden's cove to get pics, we walked back out and quickly popped in the Failford Inn.

The last time I had gone here they had the Windie Goat brewery. A quick check on the tinterweb suggests they brewed from 2006 until 2010 only so that must have been when we were last there. They had two real ales that night along with excellent food - but this time the range was Tennents or John Smiths Extra Smooth. Luckily WK spotted some bottles of Williams Bros the birds and the bees IPA so we shared a bottle of that, sat outside in the back garden with small birds whizzing over us throughout.

That night we once again headed into town - after having a couple of pints of fab Jarl - and only went into one bar - back into Wellingtons. Its worth pointing out that they were very kind to WF when we had gone in 2019 - helping him back up the stairs and bringing a chair outside to sit on whilst we awaited a taxi back to the Chestnuts. That. along with 2 real ales and excellent music made this an easy choice for our last night sup.

I remember asking the barmaid if I could look at the pumpclip in order to recall the name of the Loch Lomond beer - and I promised that after a couple of pints I would forget the name. It worked. It may have been summer weather - or any one of thousands of other Scottish beer names......

This time I switched to Kelburn Pivo for 2 of my 4 pints but the main memory I had was of how quiet it was in there - 3 people were in when we arrived along with the lass behind the bar and 3 other members of bar staff. The pub was cosy and freindly but although Sunday is oft a quiet night in many such places, we were very surprised at how quiet it was. We were the only customers for a while. We left about 2100 I think as the hotel locks it's door at 2200 on a Sunday - and making it in good time we also got caught in our first - and only - rain of the trip!

On our way home the next day we stopped twice - once at the Cairn Lodge services near Douglas - where I got 2 cans of Black Isle, and finally at the Tebay Services near Penrith - where I got my 3 bottles of Keith Brewery.

Despite the sad reasons for our trip I have to say that I enjoyed everwhere that we stopped off for drinks, and the beers they served in all of them.


Wee Beefy

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