Monday, 15 August 2016

New Cumnock outdoor swimming pool - a summer 'must do'

Another 'do this quick before it's the winter time' post... of course, you could add it to your bucket (and spade) list for summer 2017 and cross your fingers that we actually get a period of warm weather without rain next year, but anyway...

New Cumnock has a lido! Who knew? Not the Guardian and the other hipster publications which list such things and invariably forget about one of East Ayrshire's best kept secrets.... is community owned, although it's just been bought by none other than Prince Charles (well, his foundation through Dumfries House at any rate). Usually this wouldn't be a particular cause for celebration for a leftie like me, but it seems this will mean considerable investment and upgrading of the facilities, so on this occasion, we're OK with it.

Caribbean? Costa del Sol? Nah, it's New Cumnock!

The pool is open from May to September each year (I *think* - it definitely opens for the season in May, and I've scoured their site but can't see when it closes... please tell me if you find out!). Again, it's volunteer run, and it's a fabulous facility - the pool is heated, so the weather is no excuse, and it's got a real old-school feel to it. There are regular events throughout the summer aimed at kids and adults, and you can have a swim, a hot dog and a coffee with change out of a fiver. There are even poolside seats when the weather behaves....

New Cumnock is on the Glasgow-Dumfries railway line, so it's nearer than you think - well worth the trip!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Choo choo!!

I love a good day out, and I stumbled across this place the very first summer I lived in Ayrshire - found it on the map while waiting for Mrs A to come out of a shop, and just had to go and see it for myself. I soon signed up to volunteer there and I'm delighted to say that this summer I passed my test as a trainee Fireman, so I get to ride on the footplate and get properly mucky.

The Scottish Industrial Railway Centre is run by the ARPG, and it's entirely staffed by volunteers. The group has existed for over 40 years, originally at Minnivey and now at Dunaskin, just outside of Patna (confusingly, Dunaskin is also called Waterside, and there are two Waterside's in East Ayrshire). But come out of Patna heading for Dalmellington and you really can't miss it - there are also regular buses from Ayr which stop right outside.

The site contains many preserved industrial railway artefacts - locos, wagons and bits and pieces both outdoors and in a small museum. The volunteer run shop has everything the Thomas-obsessed child (and grown up) could hope for, and there's a cafe for a cup of tea and a biscuit after a trip on the star attraction - the NCB no 10 steam train. A rare fireless loco also runs on some Sundays - check ahead if you're keen to see this. There's only a third of a mile of track - negotiations are ongoing to get access to more - but each trip goes up and down twice, and you can go as many times as you like.

Look kids - a sunny day in the Doon Valley...

It's a great day out for all of the family - I've been with small children and with elderly relatives - and it's a fascinating insight into the industrial history of the area. The centre is based at the site of the Dalmellington Iron Works company, and while the iron works buildings are sadly unsafe, you can imagine the site at its industrial peak. What's particularly poignant is the number of children who come to see the footplate and have never seen coal - 'why are you putting stones in the fire'? is a common question - in an area which existed for coal less than 30 years ago.

There are some nice walks in the area too, around Dunaskin, further down the valley at Loch Doon, and up to Lethanhill from neighbouring Patna.

Steam Sundays until the end of August and on Sunday 25 September - the centre is closed to the public at other times, but new volunteers are welcome.

PS. For a different view of the site (and some amazing footage of the iron works), check out Danny Macaskill's cycling genius:

About this blog


Well, I've been thinking about writing this blog for a couple of years now, and here, I've finally got around to it. As the name suggests, I'm a married lady - married to another lady, as it happens. My wife is Ayrshire born and bred and thanks to her, I now also live in this lovely part of South West Scotland. I realised when I moved to Troon back in 2012 that many Scots never visit Ayrshire - we're right on Glasgow's doorstep, and there are so many intriguing places and things to see and do, that I thought I'd start a blog to write about them all. We moved from Troon to Ochiltree in June 2016, and the blog has an unashamed East Ayrshire bias - because that's where all the best things are, apart from Dough Pizza, who are still in Troon. And no one writes about East Ayrshire...


I don't work for the tourist board, and this isn't really a review site - I want to encourage people to visit the South West, so if I think something's a bit rubbish, I'll just not write about it rather than giving it a bad write up on here. If you think there's a place I should write about, drop me a line at