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Posts tagged ‘Allendale’

The Route Home

The route for the first book determined itself.  The 9-hole courses on the Scottish northwest coast are limited so, it was a simple task of joining the dots from Lochcarron, northwards to Durness.  Returning south, beyond Perth, has been an altogether different proposition, there were simply so many choices.  In the end, it came down to expediency – I have been lingering in the north for too long and I need to get home.  There are fine 9-hole courses in the Scottish Borders I have played for years so, it seemed logical to return via familiar roads.  I then realised there was a direct connection between my final destinations and roads didn’t enter into it – the Lauder Light Railway, North British Railway, the Border Counties Railway and the Hexham & Allendale Branch Line.  I simply needed to board an imaginary train and I would be home, where ‘home’ is the old Allendale course at Thornley Gate.

Reproduced with the kind permission of John Alsop

Reproduced with the kind permission of John Alsop

Golf in the Wild – Going Home will visit the following courses, with many a diversion along the way:  Reay, Wick/Reiss Links, Lybster, Bonar Bridge, Portmahomack, Castlecraig (closed), Fortrose & Rosemarkie, Covesea, Cullen, Rothes, Blair Atholl, Lauder, Melrose, Newcastleton and Allendale (Thornley Gate).

The eagle-eyed will spot a few 18-hole courses among this selection.  In the case of the far north, this is simply because there are no 9-hole courses to play – and anyway, Reay and Reiss Links are suitably wild and simply superb.

The old course at Thornley Gate was only a half mile walk from the station, a good deal closer than the centre of Allendale after which the station was named (Catton would be more appropriate).  This was a problem repeated along many stretches of these old lines – stations sited too far from the communities they served.  When bus services were introduced, rail passenger numbers inevitably went into steep decline.

Bon voyage …

… to Roger and Cate!  I have met a number of people determined to complete the Golf in the Wild Tour over a period of time and several journeys but this fine couple intend doing the lot in one trip.  Their first project/holiday since retiring, the journey started in fine conditions under the bluest of skies – it is always like that at Allendale 🙂  The journey to Durness is scheduled to take three weeks with various detours and the possibility of returning in time for the Golf in the Wild Open on 12th June.  Having seen Roger in action (playing off 11), he would be a serious contender!  Many thanks to Neil, Ian, Malcolm and Mike C for making them feel so welcome – Allendale at its best.

001-Roger-and-Cate-GITW-Version

The journey starts here …

The second promotional video, starting with Chapter 1 and Allendale:

Allendale and Traigh

I had thought publishing Golf in the Wild was the end of a long journey but it turns out it was just the beginning. The slow, arduous distribution and PR process has already introduced me to some very supportive people from out-of-the-way places. Last weekend the good men of Traigh (see chapter 7) visited Allendale and were as enthusiastic about our course as I am enthusiastic about theirs. David Shaw Stewart produced an impromptu watercolour of Allendale’s signature hole, the 17th – Grand Canyon, in celebration of a grand, if windy and cold day out. I am proud to be mentioned and wish I had the talent to reciprocate.

 

The Grand Canyon

An interesting fact

An interesting fact – taking into consideration all of the detours, the overall route is in the region of 727 miles and forms one part of a figure eight.  A return trip via Thurso, Strathendrick and Dumfries & Galloway would form a pattern worthy of Torvill and Dean.

As a taster I will use this blog to publish occasional golf course pictures which will not appear in the book – this is Allendale’s second/eleventh approached from two different tees.  Named Penny Black on the front 9 and Penny Red on the back 9, it pays homage to Troon’s Postage Stamp.

A journey through place

The picture of gentlemen golfers putting out is from the course at Broadwood Hall, probably taken not long after the club was formed at the turn of the last century.  The farm buildings in the background, which still exist today, are at 955 feet, a slightly lower altitude than the current clubhouse.  Thornley Gate was just down the road from Broadwood Hall and even Portgate Links near the town centre was well above 800 feet.  Golf at these altitudes is always testing.  Consequently, Allendale golfers have always been obliged to play the elements as well as the course and it is evident as soon as you arrive at High Studdon that the present day course is no exception.