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Places of Interest about Girvan
Girvan to Lendal

THE road from Girvan to Ballantrae is one of the finest coast roads in Scotland, and Sir Roderick Murchison, the Geologist, in one of his books, expresses his regret that "the fine scenery of this grand coast section has not been sketched by a good artist and made known to the public."

The road winds close by the sea, into which the hills descend abruptly. Ailsa, Arran, Cantire, and Irelan4 are all clearly visible across a Firth, which is never bare of vessels. Sea-birds abound on every hand, and the fantastic shapes of the rocks are a perpetual delight. Murchison speaks of Craig Skelly at Shalloch (1 miles from Girvan), "which exhibits so beautifully the junction of the conglomerates with the flagstones and schists"; and he stooped down to gather not fewer than twenty varieties of rock which were strewn on the beach. He next notices the Greywacke schists near Ardwell (4 miles), "which jut out from the grassy sward between the hills and the shore, like books in a library, or the tombstones in a closely-tenanted churchyard." Finally, he calls attention to the rocks at Kennedy's Pass (4 miles), which, he says, are "by far the finest example of coarse Silurian conglomerates I have met with in any part of the world."

The rock figured second in this article stands by the roadside about 5^ miles from Girvan, and just as the coastline bends round to the beautiful bay of Lendal. A short way before coming to it, there is a cave by the roadside on the left, called Ardmillan Cove, partially filled with water. This cave is below the level of the road, but the Hole in the Rock stands high above it, and as all striking natural appearances in this part of Scotland were formerly explained by the action of evil spirits, so is it with this one. According to tradition, therefore, the Prince of Darkness was one day building stacks of stone, two of which still remain, when the minister of Colmonell, on the border of which parish it is situated, suddenly appeared on the heights above, with a Bible in his hand. This was enough. The Fiend at once fled for Ireland, knocking in his hurry a hole through the ledge of rock which stood in his way. So runs the story; and to keep it in countenance, I may mention that what Murchison calls "the beautiful junction of the conglomerates with the schists" at Craig Skelly, used to be explained to me in my boyhood's days, as the track of the Evil One's wheelbarrow!


Beautiful as the whole road is, it is specially beautiful at Kennedy's Pass, so named after the Right Hon. T. F. Kennedy of Dalquharran, who was the first to pass through it. Previous to the year 1831, the road at this point led along the face of Penbain hill, about 300 feet above the sea, and was very steep. Another steep part of the old road may still be seen at Games Loup. Being the main highway between Portpatrick and Glasgow, Mr Telford, the famous engineer, was engaged to survey the whole coast road, so as to ascertain the probable expense of making it serviceable for coach traffic. He gave ,15,000 as his estimate, but as it was found impossible to raise this sum in the district, the project was abandoned. However, the late Mr M'IIwraith of Auchenflower was convinced that the estimate was too high, and engaged to have the improvements effected for one-third of the money, and this was accordingly done.

About a mile past the "Hole in the Rock," and close by Lendal village, there stands by the roadside a neat tombstone, surrounded by a railing, bearing the following inscription:—"Erected to the memory of Archibald Hamilton and crew, natives of King's Cross, Arran, who were drowned near this place, September 11, 1711.

"Ye passengers, whoe'er ye are,
As ye pass on this way,
Disturb ye not this small respect
That's paid to sailors' clay."

It is a long way back to 1711, but the people of the district have piously preserved this little spot of ground, and thrice at their own expense renewed the tombstone. A few years ago, a big storm washed away a portion of the earth to the right of the stone, and the skeletons of the drowned fishermen were still seen lying side by side as they had been laid on the day of their burial.

Lendal village consists of only half-a-dozen houses or so clustered round a School. In former days the houses were clustered round a wayside Inn, which shows at least a change for the better. In one of the houses dwells one of those self-taught geniuses in humble life who have always formed a creditable feature of our country. A good many years ago, when travelling along this road, I used to observe a young man wandering about in the evenings, with a gun under his arm, or a moth net in his hand. This was Charles Berry, on the outlook for specimens wherewith to stock his cabinet of Natural History. These specimens have grown on his hand until now he possesses nearly 200 different species of birds' eggs, all the common local species of British moths, many stuffed specimens of rare birds, all the various kinds of crustaceans to be found on these shores, with a heterogeneous collection of curiosities, which make his small room quite a Museum. Some years ago, he collected for me the 36 specimens of our common Wild Birds which I presented to the Maybole Public School; while he has also collected for me 34 specimens of our local Sea Shells, which I have presented to Girvan Burgh School. At first he used to send all his bird-specimens to Glasgow to be stuffed; but latterly he has set to the work himself, and has turned out some exceedingly creditable specimens of taxidermy. And all the time he has been doing his day's darg at the lobster fishing, and merely indulges his passion for Natural History at hours given up by others to pipe smoking or idle gossip. Not being a professed Naturalist myself, I asked Mr Morris Young, of the Paisley Free Museum, for whom he collected many specimens, to furnish me with his estimate of Mr Berry's attainments as a Naturalist; but Mr Young suggests that I should simply refer those interested to "his numerous contributions to the Paisley Museum, more particularly in British Fishes, Stalk and Sessile-eyed Crustaceans, Annelids, Sponges, &c, as these testify to his painstaking perseverance and discrimination."

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