The Kilmarnock Water

VisitScotland are celebrating Scotland’s coasts and waters this year. You’ll find thousands of photographs all over social media using the hashtag #YCW2020 for Year of Coasts and Waters 2020.

With a breathtaking coastline changing from north to south, east and west, we are spoiled for choice in Scotland. Lochs, ponds and rivers all provide a vital lifeline to the wildlife and of course us humans who live on this planet. We should appreciate this fully and be thankful it rains a lot in Scotland!

As I get older and hopefully wiser, I realise that even though the rain can be annoying, it’s also very refreshing and vital for our survival. Lots of rain means we have lush green landscapes to enjoy and good quality water running out of our taps to drink from.

I feel lucky to live in Ayrshire, South West Scotland, with around 100 miles of coastline to walk along, following the Ayrshire Coastal Path. A route I’ve still to see more of.

Last year, I started to think about towns and villages that don’t have a coastline to celebrate, including my home town of Kilmarnock where I grew up. Most towns and villages have rivers running through them, so for Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 I started to wonder what water stories I could share about Kilmarnock.

I thought of the Kilmarnock Water that runs through the town, then my mind went a bit crazy, thinking I could write about the water’s journey and how its name changes as it moves through new places. It would be like a tour of the town, talking about the buildings and places the water passes on its way to its final destination, the vast ocean. Afterall, most water reaches the coast at some point. This then became an idea to try writing another rhyming poem.

The river bank isn’t perfect. Sometimes I saw litter floating in the water. Overgrown trees and shrubs were hiding the perfect picture I wanted to capture. Then some days I visited, the sunlight made the water glow and sparkle making it look like a different place completely. It’s all about finding something good in everything. Balancing the positives and negatives.

I wrote the poem last year for a competition when I wasn’t getting outdoors much. It will probably mean more to the people who know this area. It’s a simple poem and my punctuation might be wrong in places, but here is my water story about the town of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire, Ayrshire, Scotland.

Running through the toon

Water collectors float high in the sky,
Ready to burst, releasing their cry.
Filling lochs, ponds and rivers,
A lifeline that grows,
Rivers run far, to the vast ocean they go.


My journey downstream is an adventure for sure,
New places to run through, admiring all their grandeur.

Exploring the shire, splashing along as I go,
My name often changes wherever I flow.

I’m the old Fenwick water who visits the Dean,
Passing the castle, hundreds of years it has been.

Dean Castle Country Park

Old stories to tell, but I can’t really stop,
I keep running downstream with a jump, skip and hop.

I meet the Craufurdland water, we blend like a fine whisky,
Kilmarnock water I am, flowing stronger and briskly.
Hello Rabbie Burns high up on the hill,
Gies a wee poem from yer words that are brill!
Robert Burns
The pond ripples its presence in the park called the Kay,
Who sadly can’t join me, it loves where it stays.
Kay Park Pond, Kilmarnock
Flowing under the viaduct, impressive arches they are,
23 standing tall, the finest by far.
Kilmarnock Viaduct
Trains high above with places to go,
This way or that way I find where to flow.
Kilmarnock Viaduct
Approaching the bridge a church points to the sky,
Close to my makers the clouds passing by.
Kay Park Church
I run under the arch, follow the banks,
I’ve reached this far, it’s time to give thanks.

Moving with purpose on my journey downstream,
Passing the Palace, best little theatre I’ve seen.

Twisting and turning, dancing and swirling,
Singing along to the music that makes my flow whirling.

Palace Theatre

I need to keep running and see this great toon,
Before the ocean I reach, which could be very soon.

Before I go under, there’s another great wonder.

Now hidden above the obscuring trees,
An old building of sandstone that used to see me.

Palace Theatre (front) Kilmarnock Academy (back)
Perched high in the toon with proud history to tell,
The old school of Kilmarnock has stopped ringing its bell.
Old Kilmarnock Academy building
Echoes of voices, pounding feet doon the steps,
A time in folks’ lives they’ll never forget.
Kilmarnock Academy Steps

Slowing my pace I move under the toon,
A dark place it is, I hope it ends soon!

The swimmers above stop to breathe as they go,
Marking the journey of my hidden flow.

They peek in on King Street to check on toon folks,
Linger a while, sending thoughts of high hopes.

The swimmer, Kilmarnock
The happy swimmer

Darkness has gone, the Sandbed I reach,
The old bridge is still there with the pub at its feet.

My powerful presence will find its way,
Some places I gather brings lots of dismay.

Sandbed Street

I remember the time my flow was too strong,
I flooded the toon, it all went so wrong!

1852, was not a kind time to stop,
The toon folks weren’t happy, I ruined Johnnie’s old shop.

No time for a tipple, Johnnie’s whisky still thrives,
World famous he is, in Kilmarnock he lies.

Laigh Kirk in the skyline towering above,
Chiming the time to this toon that I love.

New Laigh Kirk Church

I’ve no time to linger, on my journey I go,
Doon the banks of the Sandbed with great speed in my flow.

I run through the Howard with more bridges on route,
Another wee park where folks like to chill oot.

Sometimes the runners are faster than me,
Both running together, feeling alive and so free.

Howard Park

I’m nearing the end of my run through this toon,
I soon meet the Irvine, playing a much stronger tune.

The Irvine has travelled from valleys afar,
Our blending is smooth, fine friends we now are.

Running many more miles through the shire of the North,
I meet friends here and there as my presence goes forth.

I flow wider and slower to the mouth of the sea,
Where the meeting of shires join together as three.

We each took a journey from far and away,
To a new water life, a new home to stay.

The End

I hope you liked my water tour of Kilmarnock. I’ve been inspired for a while now to write a more detailed post about where I grew up, but I still haven’t gathered all my thoughts on it. It’s nice to find something you love about where you live.

Thanks for reading 😀

Love, Dawn-Marie x

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