A Ramble with Ron and Brunston Castle by ourselves
A Ramble with Ron
What’s left of Brunston Castle
The sky was threatening rain as we waited for the time to meet Ron, an amiable local with lots of stories to tell. Chris and Graham and a lady from South Africa joined the pleasantly small group that followed Ron down onto the golf course.
Leaning on the bridge over the Girvan River and looking downstream Ron told us how the late Queen Mother would steal the odd week for some salmon fishing from a spot a few metres away. Apart from an attendant or two she was sometimes accompanied by a young local girl who was trained to assuage the Royal’s frustration at being unsuccessful in a unique way. If towards the end of the week the Queen Mother had still not caught anything at the given moment this young lady would advise, “Ma’am your gin and tonic is ready.”
In her absence a fine salmon caught out of sight downstream would be re-located to the end of Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon’s fishing line and she would go home satisfied.
We soon joined the Glasgow-Stranraer Cart Horse road along which and on many other drovers’ roads seed potatoes would be transported to Ireland and yearling horses come back in return. Ayrshire is where MacAdam started his experiments with road surfaces resulting in the tarmacadam seal we see everywhere today. We found a pugmark which Ron confidently told us could have been made by the local black panther/puma.
A few years back a panther frequented the nearby railway station where he/she and the station master became if not friends then respectful acquaintances. It would snooze between the tracks until it felt the vibration of a train, then roll clear until the noisy monster had passed and then roll back onto its stony mattress. The station master would feed it corned beef. Cushy life for a big cat.
By now light rain had started to moisten our skin. “It doesn’t rain in Scotland,” Ron exclaimed, “This is Scotch Mist.”
In days of old when knights were bold, back in the early 1300s in fact Robert the Bruce (19th great grandfather of our Queen) invented guerrilla tactics against the English soldiers to claim the throne for himself and the Scottish. Up on the hillside you see in the photos from our lodge he gathered together his small band of troops, mostly Irish loyalists and they collected a fine arsenal of rocks. Beneath them the unaware mounted soldiers were bombarded with the rocks rolling down on them, stressing the horses who stumbled and fell backwards into the river drowning their mounts. Cunning eh. Eventually, in 1306 he took the throne for 23 years before dying of suspected leprosy.
(As an aside I have to tell you that the male side of my family is descended from Henry de Bohun, ((Boon is the commonised (((my new word))) version of de Bohun)) and it was the death of Henry de Bohun, when Robert passed his sword through the former’s helmet with the desired result that sparked the start of the famous Battle of Bannockburn in Robbie’s quest for Scottish independence.) His troops won the battle while outnumbered two to one using sheer cunning by the way. They had previously dug holes all over the battlefield into which the English horses stumbled, shedding their mounts.
Ron went on to explain that now the golf course was closed there were plans to make the ponds bigger to attract more migrating birds and plant lots more trees. The history of golf in the area dates back to the fifteenth century when a law was passed that forbade the activity of golf to get in the way of archery practice. Was the punishment a hole in one?
I asked him about the felling of native forest we had seen happening all over the area and he said a private company had been given a 15 year licence to do just that and use the irreplaceable timber for paper making, wood pellets and wood chips for woodburners and animal bedding. Unbelievable and alarming.
We wandered into a little copse and as the Scotch Mist dripped off our noses Ron explained the three different types of lichen growing on a single tree that showed how pure the air is in Scotland. Lichen that lies flat on the branch, lichen that mounds up and lichen that looks like mini trees. That’s all I can remember and it’s all the same to the deer who eat it.
By this time we were thoroughly soaked on all our exposed parts but it wasn’t cold so we plodded happily on like lambs behind their mum. Near the old castle Ron mentioned the marines who used their plastic explosives on it as target practice for the invasion of Sicily and then we were nearly home, determined to explore the little site for ourselves as you can see in the pictures.
I was just leaving reception where we had thanked Ron for his time when I heard him say to the lovely lass at the desk, “My God it’s wet out there!” It’s not rain though!