Soak up the Atmosphere at Straiton Show this Saturday

Straiton Show field

They say “the sun always shines on Show Day” and the forecast’s looking good for this year’s show on Saturday 13th. There’s lots to see at this traditional, friendly event; in the sheep section there’s Blackface sheep of course, but also Blueface Leicester, Commercial and Suffolk. The cattle section includes Dairy plus Galloway and Belted Galloway and there’s Highland ponies and goats.



The Horse Section has 14 Classes from Lead Rein and Open Mixed Height to Fancy Dress and Wobbly Riders!

Bring your pet along for the Pet Show at 2.30pm and get some raffle tickets for the draw at 3pm. (times approximate). Get along early to visit the popular plant stall outside the Hall. Enjoy a refreshing cup of tea, and eat your fill of sandwiches and delicious home baking in the Hall; the Show Day Teas are justifiably renowned.

flower stall


Danny doing his thing at the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre

Jumping from carriage to carriage

Industrial Revolutions, Directed by Stu Thomson

The utterly brilliant Danny Macaskill made Industrial Revolutions at nearby Waterside, home of the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre. Click here to view the video. The Centre is open for Steam Days on 28 June and every Sunday throughout July and August.

Apart from experiencing a journey in the brake car pulled by the steam train there’s a museum, shop and café. Only recently the group, all volunteers, have acquired more land and track. In the future they will be offering a 5 mile train journey towards Minnivey in a restored carriage.

The volunteers who run the show are a friendly and knowledgeable lot making a visit here a real pleasure. Even if you’re not into trains the history of this unique industrial heritage site is fascinating. Near the entrance is a large slag heap – complete with preservation order – but not before half of it was removed and used in the making of Ayr’s bypass!


Hills, Garden and Gorge – plus an Osprey!


Tuseday’s walk, one of 29 organised by the Newton Stewart Walking Festival did not disappoint. Starting from Straiton 18 walkers with 3 guides tackled the Monument first getting to the top to enjoy some fine views before setting off across the moor to Auchenroy Hill. Our guide mentioning it might be “soft underfoot” which translates as “you’ll soon be up to your ankles in water”.

10-swimming-pondWe had good views of the Galloway Hills to the south and our knowledgeable guide told us both the ranges and names of the mountains. A pleasant walk down to Craigengillan Gardens where we had an excellent guided tour from Fi McLelland. An amazing garden, all the more interesting as it’s in the process of being uncovered. The rock garden was designed by James Pullman & Sons (usually kept busy designing for royal residences) and features pools deep enough to swim in, Peak District stone, cascades, water channels and seemingly miles of stone pathways interspersed with stone terraces. There are some stunningly beautiful trees including a 600 year old yew on the front lawn.

12-gorge-walkThe final section of the walk was up the dramatic gorge at Ness Glen. Here the path closely follows the river as it tumbles down from Loch Doon, the steep sides are covered in an amazing variety of mosses and ferns. Towering cliffs and steep sides make this one of the best gorge walks in southern Scotland.

The icing on the cake was seeing the female osprey sitting on the nest at Loch Doon across from the Roundhouse Café. The owner has thoughtfully provided a scope set up for patrons to view the nest. A delicious hot coffee was very welcome too. For the latest information on the Ospreys click onto the Facebook page Visit Loch Doon

It’s all happening over the next few days!

Galloway Wild Foods

Galloway Wild Foods will be showcasing the very best of Spring wild foods with short guided walks, cookery demos, tasters etc as part of this Food Festival.

We’re spoiled for choice for activities and events over the next few days: the Newton Stewart Walking Festival has started and continues until the 15th, see previous post below for more information. On Sunday 10th the Ballantrae Food and Drink Festival runs from 12 noon – 6pm, Kirsty Wark will be demonstrating her cooking skills, there are food and drink tastings, foraging tours, pop-up restaurants, live music and an array of quality local food and drink suppliers.

boswell-book-festivalThe Boswell Book Festival is being held at Dumfries House this year (8th – 10th May) and writers include Joanna Lumley, international best-selling author Jung Chang, Ian Rankin and Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown. There are talks, performances, music and family fun day. Click here to visit the website for tickets and more information.

Over at the Dark Sky Observatory at Craigengillan there’s a Solar Night on the 7th, 7.30pm – 11pm and on the 15th Dr Iain Hannah will be giving a talk “How’s the Space Weather Today?” after the talk there’ll be tour and, if clear, guests will be shown the night sky through the main telescope. Later in the month is an Astrophotography workshop. To book any of these events click here.

Newton Stewart WalkFest – 8th to 14th May

Walker enjoying the view of a loch in the Galloway Hills

There are almost 30 guided walks varying from gentle rambles exploring pilgrimage sites in Whithorn to the challenging route along the Awfu Hand taking in the summits of seven hills. Guides are knowledgeable in history, plant and animal life which enrich the experience. Walks cost from just £5 and include transport to and from the start and finish points. What better way to get fitter, enjoy the outdoors and gain an insight into this beautiful part of Scotland?

Ness Glen 2-smlThis year a new route starts from Straiton, climbs up to the Monument, follows the ridge to the Doon Valley, takes in the remarkable gardens at Craigengillan, then follows the spectacular gorge path through Ness Glen finishing at the Roundhouse Café at Loch Doon.

In addition there are evening events including talks, slide shows and whisky tasting to celebrate 2015 – Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink.

Click here to go to the website for more information and to book.

Straiton Struggle on 28th March


Re-surfacing of the road should be completed just in time for this year’s Straiton Struggle cycle race on the 28th March. The category 3 and 4 race is limited to a field of 60 but it is a very strong field which includes some promising juniors and ladies. Entrants will meet at the McCandlish Hall to register before setting off on a gruelling 54 mile circuit of Straiton – Kirkmichael – Crosshill which they complete 6 times.

Last year’s winner was Kenny Armstrong (Ayr Roads CC), previous entrants have come from all corners of Scotland, including Shetland!, and the north of England. Let’s hope for good weather conditions this year. I believe dry, bright but not too hot, is perfect.

The event is promoted by Ayr Roads Cycling Club who regularly train in this area on Tuesday nights during the summer months.


Steaming Ahead

Steam Train

Just over the hill from Straiton is the Scottish Industrial Railway Centre at Dunaskin, Waterside. They’re getting fired up for the season and on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th April they will be welcoming visitors along to the first of their Steam Days.

sira-train-on-platformRun entirely by volunteers, Steam Days are a fun family day out, and offer a great opportunity for visitors to experience a ‘living museum’ where industrial steam and diesel locomotives can be seen working in an authentic setting.

Enjoy a Brake Van ride on a short section of the Dalmellington Iron Company’s main line, view the locomotives, visit the model railway and check out the photographic archives. Opening times are 11am – 4.30pm (last admission 4pm). Adults £5, children under 16 £3, under 3 Free, Family (2 adults, 3 children) £13.

They also have a shop, café and free parking for your convenience.

More information can be found on their website
including dates throughout the summer when Steam Days will be held.

Spring Fair, 14th March 11 – 4


Now an established feature in the calendar this year’s Spring Fair promises to be something a bit special. There are many stallholders participating for the first time along with firm favourites. Tea and coffee will be served and entry is free.

Stalls include Woodcrafts, Silver and Handmade Jewellery, Candles, Handbags, Cheese and Chilli Jam, Spa Products, Whisky Tasters and much more!

Cycling the Ayrshire Alps


cyclist picThe latest issue of the Cyclist Magazine features an 8-page article on the joys of road cycling around the coast at Girvan and Turnberry, inland to Barr and into the Galloway Forest Park at Nic O Balloch. It’s a great piece, full of humour, interesting facts and super photos. You can read the full article in pdf format here

Mentioned in the article is the Ayrshire Alps, a group which aims to map and signpost all the routes in the hill roads of South Ayrshire and have created Scotland’s first Road Cycling Park. Their excellent and informative website, is well worth a look. It has a piste map showing Black (difficult) routes through to Red (challenging), Blue (moderate) and Green (easy) along with villages to stop on route.

Straiton Arrow goes Colour

Image of Straiton Arrow newsletterThe latest edition of the Straiton Arrow in colour is available to download or view. Although the printed version, sold locally, is still black and white the quality of reproduction has been vastly improved due to the kindness of Jim Kirk who offered to print it rather have it photocopied as usual.

We hope you enjoy reading the newsletter, the next issue will be out early next year. If you would like to comment or to contribute please drop me an email at;

Life on the Ocean Wave

jayGet on your costumes for this year’s Funday and Hill Race on Saturday 30th August and enjoy Life on the Ocean Wave; the theme for 2014.
This year attractions include: Water Walkers, Bouncy Castle, Hurl the Sheaf, Fabulous Fraser, Face Painting, Photo Competition, Hurl the Handbag, 5-A-Side Football, Beer Tent, Fish and Chips plus an array of stalls with arts, crafts and charity fundraisers.


Fancy Dress
For all ages
Categories – Pre School, Primary, 12 yrs and over
Fantastic Prizes will be given for the best Fancy Dress in each category.
We hope to see the park awash with sea creatures, pirates, sailors and all other “life on the ocean wave”.


Best Themed Photograph
For all ages
Winning photographers will have their photo enlarged on canvas and receive a photo album.
We are looking for “Life on the Ocean Wave” themed photos.
Entries should be 6”x4” and have your name, contact phone number and age (over 16s need only write ‘Over 16’)
Your photo should be entered by 2pm on the Funday, if you cannot make it on the day please leave your entry in the shop for the attention of Jen Williams.

Themed Plant Pots
Last day for entries was Saturday 23rd, the winner will be announced on Funday.

For more information please contact Jen Williams at

Straiton Welcomes Team Ghana Cyclists

Four members of the Ghanian Cycling team along with a youngster from Ayr Road pose outside the Buck in Straiton

“Ayr Roads Cycling Club are proud to be supporting Team Ghana at the 2014 Commonwealth Games – Why??….Well, the lads are staying in South Ayrshire in the lead up to the big event, so we’ve taken them under our wings and we’re showing them the cycling highlights of the ‘shire….Mon the Ghana !!”

We couldn’t agree more! One of those highlights is the run out to Straiton with the craggy hills as a backdrop. This route and the roads nearby have long been a favourite training area for cyclists from all over Ayrshire. Members from the Ghanian team and Ayr Roads CC members enjoyed refreshments at The Buck – a famous watering hole for cyclists.

We hope to see them out training again and wish them all the best for Glasgow 2014.



Booty Galore!

Sitting in front of horsebox with a mass of stuff for saleVisitors to Straiton on Sunday were treated to a huge array of car booters with a mind-boggling range of items for sale – the old favourites were there; toys, jewellery, bric-a-brac, old tools and gardening equipment. Some of the more unusual items included juggling batons, vintage handbags, chimney pots, busts (the marble sort) and a garden shed!

Three women with clothes for sale

The sun shone, just about continuously, and all seemed happy with their purchases, especially those who made it to the Hall for a delicious cream tea. The proceeds from stalls and the teas will be going to the Fun Day & Hill Race on August 30th. Another great family day out and if you don’t have children there’s plenty for adults to enjoy as well.

See the Ospreys at Loch Doon

Male Osprey at the nest with wings outstretched

Ospreys have been seen at Loch Doon since 2010 but, if the current pair manage to raise chicks this year, it could mean a permanent return of these magnificent birds after more than a hundred years. Once settled Ospreys return year after year to the same spot to raise their young. The Forestry Commission have constructed platforms in carefully selected trees and a pair has been observed building a home. Brian Meechan who runs the Roundhouse Café has set up a powerful telescope which the public can use to view the birds. Obviously it’s unwise to try to get close to the nesting area not to mention it’s illegal to approach the nest so the telescope at the Roundhouse is ideal.

Apart from the opportunity to see these rare and majestic birds Loch Doon is a great place to spend the day; there’s a ruined castle to explore, beautiful spots for a picnic and several walks to enjoy. To round it off you can return via the Carrick Forest Drive which finishes at the Stinchar Falls car park, south of Straiton.

To get to Loch Doon follow the A713 southwards from Dalmellington for 1.8 miles, turn right, signposted Loch Doon and Dark Sky Observatory. Continue along the single track road for approximately 2.2 miles and the Roundhouse Café is immediately after the bridge at the northern end of the Loch.

The sun shines yet again

Young horse-riders take a break

Apparently it has not rained on Show Day since 1992 and last Saturday was no exception with another beautiful day. Folk came from all over to enjoy a traditional, friendly agricultural show with plenty to see.

The horse section has grown to become one of the best around, one family from Perth reckon Straiton is the best around for children’s events. This year saw a huge amount of entries for the various classes.

Blackface sheep in the ring

Apart from a strong Blackface section there were also Border Leicester, Commercial and Texel sheep plus goats, dairy cattle and the adorable Belted Galloways.

Belted Galloways