Bird's Eye View of Bute

A Walk round the Kirk Dam

(1) The New School
(1) The New School
(2) Ashfield Farm
(2) Ashfield Farm
(3) The Kirk Dam
(3) The Kirk Dam
(4 ) Lochly Cottage
(4 ) Lochly Cottage
(5) The Kirk Dam 2
(5) The Kirk Dam 2
(6) The Bird Hide
(6) The Bird Hide
(7) Welly Boots required
(7) Welly Boots required
(8) Looking from the Hide
(8) Looking from the Hide
(9) The sluice from Loch Fad
(9) The sluice from Loch Fad
(10) The Tarmac Causeway
(10) The Tarmac Causeway
(11) Lochly Cottage 2
(11) Lochly Cottage 2
(12) The Kirk Dam 3
(12) The Kirk Dam 3
(13) More of the same
(13) More of the same
(14) From the Lovers Walk
(14) From the Lovers Walk

 

Miles =3.5

Kilometres = 5.6

 

A WALK AROUND THE KIRK DAM.  (circa, 1950's onward)



This is a walk that I did with my parents quite often, and this is the way that I remember how it was, and what I saw en-route.



Head up High Street, from where I stayed at Mansefield Place, not on the pavement, that was un-exciting, it was much more fun walking on the garden walls that surrounded Mansefield place. This building was, and still is an impressive red sandstone property consisting of ten closes, eight on High Street, two on Ministers Brae, and one on Dewar Avenue, which at that time had not been built, and was  a place that pigs and hens were kept. One shop at the junction of high street and ministers brae which was a grocers, with a tall impressive owner who went by the name of Mr Little. The aroma that came out of that shop was smashing. A mixture from all the ingredients that were lying about in Hessian sacks, like white and brown sugar,Cheese wrapped in cloths, altogether a nice place to visit with your mum.

Across the road was also a grocers shop and, a  Sub-Post Office run by a Mr Kennedy. On the same side, was, and still is the two closes that make up 'Bourtree' Place, well known for the three ornamental birds and their nests at three different stages. One as they are building the nest, two as they have laid their eggs, and three as the chicks hatch out, and being fed by their parents. ( I always thought that these nests were in the wrong order, going that High Street starts a the junction with Victoria Street and Guildford Square ? ) Beside this building was the Fire Station. ( now Scottish Water). ( now a store)

As I stayed two up I got a 'birds eye view' ( pardon the pun) of all that went on at this station, and as the sirens went off (If it was a Chimney on fire, the siren at the Council Chambers in Castle Street went off,  if it was a big fire, the Pavilion siren went off as well to summon all fire fighters) I rushed to the  window to see all that was going on, and how quick the response time was, or, a big rush to get my bike and try and keep up with the fire engine and see the fire being put out by the brigade officers.  After the men had put the fire out, they would come back to their depot and lay the hoses up and down the pavements to clean them.  Beside this station was the Gas Works and showroom.( now Cotton Mill Lane)
Not my cup of tea, as when they extracted the gas out of the coal it was reduced to coke and cinders, creating  a horrible smell, and if you were down wind, then it was yuch. After a few years you would be used to it, but I was glad when it was no longer there. It was a lot cheaper to buy the coke than coal, and it was much lighter to carry, as  you could carry a bag as big as yourself.

Next in line was a private house,which was demolished and the 'Burgh' offices were built in  it's place,(now Argyll and Bute Council Offices) . The Public Park was next. ( now the King George the Sixth playing fields) with it's cinder pitch,(courtesy of the gas works). After that was the row of Pre-Fabs, with  Macraes fields behind,(now a Leisure pool and playing fields) Then Charlies Park, which was a great place to play in as the beech trees were very accessible.  Next in line was  the Cemetery. Not our cup of tea, so we kept out of it, except, we were always dared to go and touch the Copper Man After that were a few cottages then an area that they stored sawn timbers. I believe it was a Sawmill, but it had stopped working  at my time, and the stored timbers were awaiting to be sold and uplifted. ( It was then the Creamery for many years, but is now waste land, awaiting to be transformed once again).

  Behind this is flexible Technology( which was not there at my time. Then and still is The Wilkie Houses which had garden plots to the rear of them. Still heading up, and you had  a tenement and a few other smaller buildings,( now the entrance to the Primary School) then you were on your way round the Kirk Dam, but first let us go back to Mansefield Place and head up High Street on the same side.  After number eight was  a small piece of land leading to the Foley woods. (now council Houses), then a tenement building and Foley  cottage. ( now Park View Cottage) Then the Foley Nurseries, (now a sheltered housing complex. And up the drive way was The Foley Hotel ( Now A' Chrannag, a new impressive building built by Fyne Homes). After this were three  private houses,now put into one. (Fiscal's Rood) and the next one up,was Sergeant Duguid's, ( Ashtree Cottage)  which we kept out of, as we kept out of all policemens properties. Past Eden Drive, then a two close tenement (and still is), and on to Macraes nurseries, ( Now the Health Centre and the extension to the Victoria Cottage Hospital. Casualty, X-Ray Departments,offices etc). From this point there has not been a great deal of changes until you arrive at  the road to Thomson Court, ( then Thomson Home) and the Robertson Stewart Hospital,( now the Victoria Annexe.

The road was given a Bell Mouth (widened at it's exit) to make it easier for vehicles to enter and leave as it was very hard to exit from this road before. Cross over the Annexe road and we come to  the Parks Department, ( now the Creamery). where they had greenhouses to bring  on plants for their displays at the promenade.   Next a field , and once more we are at the lane leading  round the dam.

The first stop was at Mrs John's wee shop where you could by sweets and ice cream etc.  Although sweet rationing was still in force, I never noticed, we either had them or not, as it was not a daily thing in those days.
Then head for Ashfield Farm, but at the present time after heavy rain, it can be a bit mucky at a few small sections after the farm.  Most people know this area as the Kirk Dam but some more elderly people may have known this as  'Lower Loch Fad'.

 Carry on, and on your right were fields,( now the Primary School).
Arrive at Ashfield Farm, and it still is a working one.
  At my time pigs were kept as well as cattle. and the smell of the piggery was something else,as it was right beside the road that you were walking on. They were very noisy, and I think that every person that passed would do their own impression of these animals, trying to get them to answer. Further on where a stream came down from the West Road were Crab Apple Trees  (still there) that were a source of many a sore stomach as we gorged on them in the Autumn.  After a short way , we come to 'Lochly Farm( now Lochly Cottage,) the land has been taken over by  the tenants  of Ashfield Farm. and the cottage now being occupied by an employee and his family of Loch Fad Fisheries Ltd.

We are now at the causeway that has The Kirk Dam on one side, and Loch Fad on the other. A few yards up on the left hand side was  a small jetty that would be used for getting on and off boats, but there were no boats on the loch when I started going up there many years ago, and  It has all but disappeared now, and replaced with an enclosure for the boats used by fly fishermen, and on land ,now sits the bailiffs hut, offices , workshops,toilets, and rest room and kitchen for the use of  the fishermen. The stone built causeway takes us over to the other side of the loch, and it has gone from being a gravel path to being re-surfaced with road tar,so we now have a smooth road and also a pavement.  Below the pavement lie blue water pipes that lead all the way from the Dhu Loch to Loch Ascog. With the raising of the surface of the Causeway, it makes it a lot easier to sit on the retaining wall, as it is now at an ideal height that mean that your legs don't dangle any more as you sit facing the road.

Cross over, and now head home on the other side. Only a few changes here. Just past the turn off for Woodend House, and The Dhu Loch, was a quarry with a corrugated iron shed which was  possibly for the men sit and  eat their piece, and to house their tools. Long since disintegrated and the quarry is overgrown.  Behind is the Chapelton woods, and at the north end of them at the  end of the wood was a timber built house, also long gone. Barone Park farm, where a lot of my time was spent, has changed with the times. Gone has the big fan that dried the hay in a big shed, which had stopped working at the time that I was playing about there.  The cottages that were once full now lie empty. I had many friends that stayed in them, and one of them ended up my boss when I was sixteen.. I would help with the harvest and anything else that I could do, to get a wee shot of the tractor. I helped with two tenant farmers at this farm for many years, and it seemed that every meal that I got there consisted of porage and ducks eggs. ( not a good mix). Take the short cut from the farm to come out at lovers walk, play hide and go seek, or cowboys and Indians in the Rhodie's. Head through Charlies Park to High Street and then home, hoping that you were not late, (more times late than early)
A short walk with lots of memories.

Norrie Mulholland


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