‘We could go for a drive?’

10.20am…’What you doing today, bike?’

‘Dunno, I’ve been out almost every day for the last three weeks, my legs are asking for a break’

‘A drive then?

‘How about a walk up Conic Hill?’

‘Eh, okay’

10.35am… we leave home.

Luckily, I’d my handhelds all charged up, just for when. Rucksack packed in readiness.

12.04.. we set off from the car park at the base of the hill.

Lower forest path

Lower forest path

We’ve had unseasonable weather the past month, temperatures reaching 30C and the last rain was mid June. I’d a screenshot from my bike computer of 91F two days earlier. 91? not often that happens but I’ve found I was getting used to the well above average temperatures. Today would be helped by a cool NW breeze near the top.

We turned through Balloch, headed to Drymen where we headed down to Balmaha.

To the top

To the top

The car park was full, boots on, a last minute check and off we headed through the  cool forest section before heading up the open hillside and a stepped path, we kept moving to avoid the plague of clegs(horseflies) that were in the area. A slow ascent meeting those returning, this hill is always busy, with many accents and ‘ages’ today.

I spoke with two North American couples as we ascended. It was busy even on a Friday lunchtime..

The breeze, we reached at the point where you turn to head parallel to the hill’s north flank, a well-worn and dusty wide path today, Dusty, a word unknown in any walking done in Scotland. This  part of the path is also part of the ‘West Highland Way’ .There a few ‘tops’ to this hill, the first couple as you get higher are the ones for the magnificent views of Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond south basin

Loch Lomond south basin

The highest point is 361m (just under 1,200 feet). The summit on this top is bare after being trod on over the years, I found a grassy area just off its summit to set up the portable mast and beam antenna. I decided to have a call on 4m FM first just using the handie and the centre loaded antenna, nothing, nada, came back to my call. I had expected it could be quiet as weekdays and especially sunny days, people are not stuck in the house but after a few calls it was on to 145mhz.

Looking N

Looking N

Quiet at first then a call from Paddy IPO in Paisley, followed by Ken NTX south of Stirling, Graham GHM was mobile at Prestwick Airport, finally the hill got qualified when Steve XPZ in Greenock returned my call. I had alerted that my time on the summit would be short. I kept calling on 4 and 2 for another 15 mins but nothing, no more takers.

Looking to Arran

Looking to Arran

I switched everything off, broke down the antenna and mast, packed everything in the rucksack and headed to get some photos before descending back the same route. I counted over 40 people on this summit plus a constant stream of people moving up and down the hillside. I spoke with those who had shown an interest in what I was up to.

Luss Hills

Luss Hills

A gentle descent and soon it was back through the cool forest section and the car park. Kudos to the local council who make no charge for this car park, I dread to think the charges in other areas. The loos are now a charged one in the Park Authority building.

The car was like an oven and as we waited, I asked ‘Fish and chips?’, ‘Aye, lets go!’

Soon we were in Balloch tucking into haddock and chips, lovely.

Heading down

Heading down

An hour later, back at home, ‘I know some other hills you might enjoy!’

Still waiting on a reply……

I’ve done SOTA(Summits on the Air) from the hill before

The first in 2009 HERE

For full image, click on to open in a separate window.

Advertisements
Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Corlic Hill……………..by bike

Not for the first time, I’ve taken the bike hillwalking.

Previously HERE I pushed Polly to the top of Corlic (or Corlick, the OS map says). Five years ago!!!

I checked to see if any SOTA alerts for the day were posted, I saw one for a hill on the Isle of Mull. I thought ‘where could I work it?’.

Corlic(k)…..

I’d treated myself to a bike pannier rack which fits on the seat post, I quickly fitted it and checked over everything, I did this on a spur of the moment and I ran about looking for my antenna, portable mast etc. I packed the pannier bag, a power pack to charge my phone en route. This was an late off the wall decision. I’d 90 mins to the alerted time of 11.30. I left and dropped down on to NCN 75 where it would take me into Greenock, along some back roads and then I joined Old Largs Rd out of Greenock and the constant climb until my destination, one lower part has sections of around 20% which test the legs but as I passed a farm en-route and saw an OS NBM, I stopped to take a photo. By this time it was hot and I was glad of the buff below my helmet. It was a steady climb to where I’d turn left up the narrow single track road to the base of the hill.

Trig Point, Polly and 2m Beam

Trig Point, Polly and 2m Beam

Passing a radio mast, the tarmac ends and I ‘bounced’ slowly down a rough track and made my way to the base of the hill. When you approach, you can see the faint track running up the hill to the top. As the rough track turns north, there is a stile to the right of you, so I lifted the bike over a wire fence then it was a push up the rest of the way. I was glad of a steady cooling breeze from the south west. I arrived at a familiar summit.

Polly on the summit

Polly on the summit

I parked the bike at the trig point and got busy setting up the portable pole and fitting the delta quad beam. I had the other handie in my handlebar bag and heard Robin PKT. I quickly called him and made the 2 M contact to Mull, he was on Beinn Chreagach, a 377 metre high Marilyn in the Borlass area of the island. A few higher hills in the Cowal area between us but no problem. I worked him later on the 4 m band.

View N

View N

I checked APRS and saw another possible contact heading up Ben More on the same Island, I’d been on the same hill in 2011 HERE. I just sat in the sun and enjoyed the view, the panorama

Not long after, I saw they had reached the summit so I answered their call and worked Caroline ZCB. Time to head home, they way I’d came? I decided to head back by the rough forest track at Garshangan before enjoying a run downhill to join NCN75 between Kilmacolm and Port Glasgow, I was two miles from home and a welcome cuppa.

Plenty of WW2 activity took place in these hills,

War Department Boundary Marker

War Department Boundary Marker

Cairn marker

Cairn marker

 

Cycle profile

Corlic run

Corlic run

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Mhor meets Mhor

Fancy Beinn Mhor on Sunday?‘ An email drops in my inbox on a midweek evening..

Seconds later, reply sent ‘Aye’no thought needed.

I’ve never been on any of the Cowal hills (I’ve cycled over a few!) so a trip to the highest and of course, the name Mhor was not to be missed. Sunday couldn’t come quick enough.

got everything charged and ready, packed on Saturday, walking boots nixwaxed etc.

8.30 at Roddy’s, well…

I’d been up to the early hours following baseball and had slightly? Overslept, with a quick look out the window to check the Luss Hills across the water, mist to 1800 ft, it’ll clear they said. Saturday afternoon I‘d watched a spectacular fork lightning display just beyond the summits of a’MhanaichChaorach and Banknock. I‘d followed the storm moving SW but the wind changed and we (locally) avoided any of the tremendous downpours or localised lightning. I‘d thought if it had reached Glen Masson, the place would be damp and alive with midges next day. I had prepared for this by wearing a merino mid layer long sleeved, of course and a pair of lightweight walking trousers and my regular floppy hat.

Off to tie up with Roddy and Gordon, our canine pal for the trip.

A sail across a flat Firth to Hunters Quay then off along the west side of the Holy Loch and a turn to travel up the single-track road in Glen Masson.

River Masson parking spot

River Masson parking spot

The Landy was parked in a designated parking spot next to a pool on the river, a 1.5 mile trek along the Glen to the rough track which would steer us up through the hillside pine forest en route to Beinn Mhor. After a leisurely walkit was upup then up whilst moving quick to avoid any of the flying insects, the path stopped and it was a 200 metre steep walk up a grassy break in the forest on to open ground where we followed a faint quad track to the left which led us almost to Sron Mhorit made for an easier ascent to the summit via the ridge.

Looking through to Glen Tarsan

Looking through to Glen Tarsan

You could go directissma but in this heat, the ridge remained the more preferred option.  I would say to take a grid reference or GPS waypoint as you come out the firebreak as any of the other breaks would be a difficult way back down. I used OS Locate (app) on my phone for an approx reading (I always carry OS mapping with me and a compass, in case). Roddy took a GPX way point.

Beinn Mhor summit

Beinn Mhor summit

The track can be faint occasionally but can be easily picked up again and there are occasional ancient metal fence posts heading to below the summit. Views west and south west to Glen Tarsan and beyond so it is worth stopping to take these in (and a breather). Horizon views were slightly hazy due to the day it was, sunny and warm, very warm.

We arrived at the summit with its views across to Inverclyde, the North Ayrshire hills, Old Kilpatrick hills but to the west, north and east, the panorama is superb. It had taken 2 and 3/4 hours with plenty of breathers to walk the 4.7 miles.

Countless hills to try make out, Ben LomondLuiBeinn Bhuidehills out Kintyre way and countless others I couldn’t place a name to. It would be worth a return visit on a crisp Autumn or Spring day.

Holy Loch and the Firth of Clyde

Holy Loch and the Firth of Clyde

We sat down and had some scran before setting up the radio equipment .

Roddy had the hill activated (SOTA – Summits on the Air), I‘ll explain we are both radio hams and the activation was a small part of the reason we ascended Mhor. I’d often thought Mhor would be an excellent hill for this.

I started off on 4M FM,70 mhz, and established three contacts within minutes, I had solely operated the handheld radio and small centre loaded antenna. I spoke with Jack COX in Lanarkshire, Andy GDE in East Kilbride and a new contact in Jim NTL in Sanquhar. Jim had just recently set up 4 m and I was his first contact on this band 105 kms away, good.

Sron Mhor and Loch Tarsan

Sron Mhor and Loch Tarsan

Whilst I had been calling, I‘d set up the main 2M 144-146 mhz beam and had attached it on to the pole, attached another handheld to it and I was ready to go (you can identify it in the video below). A quick break then I spoke with COX, John KSJ on the nearby Isle of Bute, Ken AXY and Christine YMM in Edinburgh, Steve XPZ in Greenock (also on 4M), Tony AIB who up in holiday at North Ledaig, a site I spent a few holiday breaks at over 30 years ago. Next was Peter HWB in Motherwell then Steve XPZ who told me Robin PKT was summiting Buachaille Etive Beag (Stob Coire Raineach) in Glencoe. It was back to 2M and make contact.

Roddy and Gordon

Roddy and Gordon

A few more calls with turning the beam but no more takers so it was time to break the equipment down and pack away the radios, etc.

I walked about capturing some photos and a panorama video, a lie on the grass, some sugary sweets and water then it was the 4.7-mile journey back down to the Landy back in Glen Masson.

I was glad of the breeze at the top and on the way to the forest where once again, there were no lengthy stops. Roddy had pointed out the forestry roads and their end points so I anticipate a trip across on Polly and a further explore at some point soon.

Beinn Mhor

Beinn Mhor

It was easier on the descent and soon back on the glen floor track back to our set off point.

Leg weary and knowing that a good day once again spent in the hills and thanks to Roddy IOB and Gordon. Another enjoyable day spent in the hills.

 

Where next? Indeed.

Click on any image to embiggen.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Time to get the walking boots on…………….

I looked North and saw hills shrouded in low cloud, will I won’t I?

I’d the rucksack packed just waiting. Yeah, time to go….

I’d worked a couple of SOTA stations the previous weekend and thought it was time to stick on the boots and head into the hills

But what hill?

Plenty of choice within an hour from home, the Arrochar Alps with it’s four Marilyns, Ben Donich amongst many others. I can sit here and see thirteen ‘Marilyns’ from my window.

forestry path

forestry path

I settled on Ben Arthur or as it is more widely known, The Cobbler, last visited in 2013 so time to renew our acquaintance.  In Gaelic Artair, one recent TV programme suggested a possible connection with King Arthur, mmm.

The day started well, a drive to the car park at Succoth, still only a quid , I’m sure if this was the Lakes or Snowdonia, a much heftier charge would be made, well done to the local council.

the iconic view

the iconic view

Boots on, quick check, rucksack on the back and I said goodbye to Katie. The first mile and a bit is spent ascending up through a purpose made path through a conifer forest, advice here is to keep moving as this area is notorious for its midge population. Just under an hour later, I was on open ground slowly rising on a well worn path running alongside the Allt. The Narnain boulders are handy for stopping for a break.

looking to Loch Long

looking to Loch Long

Mist still clung to the top of the Cobbler and the south west steep flanks of Narnain, it promised to clear around midday. I came to the junction, The junction on the path at this point leads you on to an improved path to near the base of Beinn Ime, there were volunteers working on repairing a section of the lower Narnain path, eight lads I assumed from the Forces as they passed me on the lower forestry section, some carrying pinch bars. I asked if this was a daily occurrence, one lad said ‘Our last day’. The mist was still around 2,200 ft but I turned left up the steep rock stairs of the north flank, slow progress was made as by this time it had got hot, a steady pace soon found me on more level ground and in the disappearing mist I could see the last push to the main summit. The hill was busy today. I should have done some more walking on the lead up to this.

north summit

north summit

Most folk tended to be on the north summit and I arrived to an almost empty summit with two lads ‘threading the needle’ (see the Wikpedia article for this). Once I had been fed and watered, I erected the mast and tried my luck on 4m FM first, two contacts, Paddy IPO Paisley then Steve XPZ Greenock. I gave a few calls but nothing, time to head to 2m FM. First call back was CMK sitting at Tyndrum, Stuart ROT in my home town was next. I now swung the beam to point south and had a listen but I’d started much later in the day around 2 PM. I’m almost up and away by this time on other occasions. I like to have a couple of hours working the bands but midweek especially on a sunny day would be quieter.

Off again and spoke with Eric FSZ in Girvan, chats are normally kept short due to weather conditions but today would have no WX problems apart from a strong sun beating down, bringing my wide brimmed hat was a good choice.

Beinn Ime

Beinn Ime

Norn Iron next with Bernie POC calling me from Bangor. Things started to slow down and I finsihed with ZNC Bill in KIlmarnock, XPZ Steve, WER James in Paisley and finally Niall SXV on the Haul Road above Helensburgh.

Ten contents in just over an hour, I walked around and snapped some photos before packing everything away, a drink of water and a phone call to Katie. The views were a bit hazy and not as clear as previous visits to the hill.

It was off the hill, I took my time heading down the ‘steps’ and soon was on the path down the hillside, at the Narnain Stones, I watched eight deer making their way up the side of the track. The small dam looked tempting but I imagine the water would be freezing cold, pass.

The forest was quickly passed through and I saw Katie waiting in the car park, she had visited nearby Dunoon and Inverary.

A cold drink and cookies were waiting, nice.

Another enjoyable day if not too hot.

Thanks again to Wikipedia…

Click on the images to embiggen.

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

King Edward VIII postbox…………..

Edward VIII post box

Edward VIII post box

Found this in Glasgow’s West End, there are still a few to be found in Scotland.  This one apparently is a listed building, it has Category B listed status. This one resides at the corner of Cecil Street and Great George Street, other Glasgow Edward VIII’s reside in nearby Hyndland Road, Shields Road (G41), Cathcart Road (G42), Nithsdale Rd/Pollockshaws road (G41), Clarkson Rd (G44), Afton Street (G41) and Cartside Street (G42) and there could be others. Glasgow has its fair share, these have still to be verified as still in use.

During the short reign of Edward VIII, approximately 161 of this type of box were erected throughout Britain.

Edward VIII box

Edward VIII box

Found a local connection, Suttie of Greenock produced an ornate box circa 1856-1857. It was ‘stove’ shaped and had a crown on top. Only used in the UK in Scotland, none in present use. They were used in the British Empire, Pakistan and India.

(I did find mention of a Thomas Suttie and Co, Blacksmith, Grate Maker and Bell Hangers at 18 Cathcart Street, Greenock in a Post Office Greenock Directory 1857-1858, I assume the box maker)

Found this image of a Suttie (the one on the right)

BLW_Fluted_and_Suttie_pillar_boxes

Attributed to Mike Peel under  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales license.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Toward Toward……and Ardyne

Time to get exploring again.

I haven’t been across in Cowal since ’17 so I thought a trip was in order.

I headed downhill to sea level from home and the back brake seized on yet again, I’d stripped it the previous day and thought I’d cleaned the gunge etc but obviously not, I carry a multi-tool and soon got everything back to normal, it was time to head west for MacInroy’s Point and Western Ferries terminal. There is also a regular ferry from Gourock Pier which will deliver you into the pier at Dunoon. This is the best option if you travel down by train from say, Glasgow.

It’s 9 mile exactly from home, dropping down to sea leveI, I made my way to Greenock joining NCN 75 at Victoria Harbour in Greenock and a quiet run along the quays down through Greenock and Gourock with the usual meander along Greenock Esplanade avoiding dog walkers who tend to walk on the designated cycle path. oh well.

Ferry awaits

Ferry awaits

Rounding Cardwell Bay, which for some reason the tide always seems out. I reached Gourock train station which has a no cycling rule, this is part of NCN 75 heading down to MacInroys Point. NCN starts at the opposite ferry terminal and heads north via the west side of the Holy Loch before heading up and over the B 836. The shared pavement on Ashton Esplanade was busy and I could see a ferry approaching the landing area so I pootled on hoping to catch it.

The river was flat calm and as I waited to board, I saw some movement just offshore and saw two dolphins sliding in and out of the water. A couple of weeks earlier as a pod of Orcas had been spotted in the area. I boarded the ferry and scanned the water in case.

A short 2.5 mile crossing and I cycled up on to the road heading west through Kirn then Dunoon, I had a look for OS benchmarks en-route but it wasn’t much of a day for that although I found a bolt and three cut benchmarks during my cycle. Dunoon was busy and I headed towards Innellan, I’d last been down this road over 40 years ago when I worked at Ardyne Point, a concrete oil rig building yard.

Toward Lighthouse

Toward Lighthouse

I made tracks for Toward and more specifically, the lighthouse,  I took the side road down to the shore, taking in the views down the river towards the Cumbraes, Bute, Arran and across the river to Wemyss Bay, Largs and Hunterston in the distance.

The lighthouse built by Robert Stevenson  in 1812 commissioned by the Cumbrae Lighthouse Trust,  the foghorn building is on the opposite of the rough track on the shore side, an unusual design.

There was a slight haze but after a cold, snowy winter a spring day like today enjoyed, I’d a walk around then sat for a scran and water break.

Foghorn Building

Foghorn Building

I stopped at Toward Church, and found an OS cut mark, with its two tall Yew trees at its entrance.

Ardyne?

I headed west, I stopped to admire the ornate Castle Toward Court of Office building, across the road was the Toward Sailing Club, an ideal spot for sailing up the Kyles of Bute.

I took the single track tarmac road into the old now deserted Ardyne yard, then along a concrete road with some low-level structures still standing, I stopped to see where each rig had been when I worked  circa 1975/76,

Looking to Loch Striven

Looking to Loch Striven

I had been a ‘MacAlpine Fusilier’, a green hard hat, I mainly worked on the Elf TP1, a concrete gravity base structure headed eventually for the Frigg Field in the North Sea and it all slowly came flooding back, the busy yard with over 3,000 of a workforce, the wooden huts, the canteen, ordering your break rolls from the ‘nipper’, the shouting your works number to the timekeeper as you headed out on the floating walkway to the rig, the winter months I spent working outside in cold, biting north winds, cleaning out rubbish from the bottom of the cells, the trips up the ‘legs’ in a Skyclimber, clipping your harness on a wire (the Skyclimber!!) for safety, the day we had to tie it down the best we could to a support leg as the wind had got up and the couple of hours spent waiting on the wind speed to decrease so we could gingerly work our way back safely to ground level..the night shifts in a freezing cold winter and hoping we’d get an inside job which in many cases was using a scabbling gun up to your chest in manky water, the wages at the end of the week made it worthwhile, it was big money.

Looking to Kyles of Bute

Looking to Kyles of Bute

The 7 day 12 hour shifts, 28+ day constant concrete ‘slips’ (pours), spent in the ‘cell’ hoping your replacement for the next shift would appear, scrambled egg rolls, hot coffee, aye, it really was fun, not. The daily trips back and forth across the Firth to Wemyss Bay on the Glen Sannox and occasionally across to Rothesay to spend the odd, riotous night, aye, that was fun. Trying to carry cans of beer to try avoid the ‘flat’ beer on the boat and the queue to get a pint. The ‘Monday’ club heading into Dunoon. It was an open-eyed adventure for a young Mhor into the world of big construction.

Quiet now

Quiet now

I finished up with offers to work at Portavadie which never came to fruition, another of work at the Howard Doris yard at Kishorn but I decided just to stay home.

It was back along to the ferry and I’d a slight tailwind behind me as I headed back, I reached the ferry terminal and popped in to a coffee shop and grabbed a bite to eat. I was peckish. The river was still flat calm and I was trying to work out my route home, I live around 500 ft above sea level and in a mile rise form the lower town the roads are steep.

I decided on a gradual route through Greenock working my way to the B788 road to Kilmacolm, with a gradual 5% average rise and my run along Auchentiber Road and my late decision to climb over the rough track over Port Glasgow Golf Club and a quick drop down to home. My legs enjoyed this bit.

Including the ferry trip, I logged just over 50 miles, the longest run of an up and down year. Enjoyable.

On further reading about the Toward area, I came across to what referred to as the ‘Dunoon Massacre’, a bloody tale of over 200 Clan Lamont members being put to the sword by Clan Campbell soldiers, further reading HERE

Further reading on Elf TP1 HERE  (PDF)

Offshore Concrete Structures – TP1 (is no. 7) HERE

Four days later, I decided to return to the Peninsula but this time it was to take the Three Ferries route, the last time I’d taken the train to Wemyss Bay and started from there but I decided I’d cycle down up over the forest track to Loch Thom, down to and via Inverkip, a start of 15 miles via a mixture of hills, rough tracks and tarmac.

High Gryffe reservoir

High Gryffe reservoir

Another ferry crossing with a near flat calm sea before setting off to Rhubodach eight miles away, I made good time and took the short ferry ride to Colintraive. I’d remembered how hilly in parts the route was but felt I’d enjoy it again. I mentally tried to remember the route and hadn’t realised how far it was to the B836 cutoff over into the top of the Holy Loch. I stopped for a drink and decide, Strachur at 17 mile or 15 to Dunoon, Dunoon won. The single track road was very busy and I met lorries, buses and other traffic. It was hard going as I’d overdressed and had worn my hi-vis winter jacket, I’d no where really to stuff it.

Rhubodach slip

Rhubodach slip

I swept down into the head of Loch Striven with a steep ascent approaching but I knew this time I’d enjoy again the sweeping run down Glen Lean. I passed a sign for a footpath down the side of Loch Striven to the Jetty at Glen Striven. Must look more at this.

Looking to Tignabruaich

Looking to Tignabruaich

I was just about to join the main road on the Holy Loch and a red squirrel ran across the road in front of me.

I headed for Hunters Quay and the Sound of Soay which would take me across the river to Gourock (again). 9 miles later with the same hilly route home, on which I had to stop a couple of times. I must learn to pace myself and eat regular when out, tut.

62 miles logged, a good but tiring day.

The earlier Three Ferries trip HERE

 

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Mon………….

Mon, or Ynys Mon, the Isle of Anglesey.

I first visited the island mid Sept 13′.

I’d always intended to return and take Mrs M down for a break in the area.

Anglesey Round

Anglesey Round

I’d thought of a bike ride around the outer roads of the island, I finally decided on a route of around 105 miles trying to avoid the main roads where possible taking in the N, NW and SW parts. I looked at the height elevations and decide the way to go. I later found that looking at this pre-warned me how ‘up and down’ parts of the Island are, folk say if you have to climb that you always get the descents to recover the legs, true to a point.

I’d thought to do the island anti-clockwise in two days but as you’ll read later that the plan soon went south. I hadn’t been off the main roads on my previous visit so it was unknown territory and was looking forward to the trip.

Menai Bridge

Menai Bridge

I choose a random 4 days in late March as I’d hoped, it being an island might have been milder at the time of the year plus it would be the first of this years planned cycles.

We headed down and arrived at Bangor, our base for the trip, booked in to accommodation and headed across Thomas Telford‘s Menai Suspension Bridge to the place with the long name for a touristy bit first.

I decided just to start at the Inn where I prepared the bike before heading along a new shared path towards the Menai Suspension Bridge, a couple of photos then a slow cycle over the bridge.

I’d decided on going anti-clockwise, coming off the bridge and turning right along the A545 towards Beaumaris, the road was quiet mid morning, I arranged with Katie to meet in Moelfre around 20 odd mile into my first day. I’d a quick look around the castle area at Beaumaris then headed into roads unknown, taking on higher parts and meeting signs like 17% en route passing through Llangoed, Mariandyrys heading west going over the highest point of this part of the ride, just over 600 ft ASL.

Dragon

Dragon

Beaumaris

Beaumaris

The legs enjoyed the more level roads after Llanddona whilst heading to Pentraeth then Benllech. It was hard going at times into such strong headwinds, the wind was forecast from the south-west, I’m not exactly aerodynamic but I plodded on enjoying new roads of which the surfaces were to enjoy, I stopped at Benllech for a bite, my handlebar pannier filled with goodies. Roads were very quiet and not one cyclist spotted, I wonder if the hilly part I’d came up was something to do with it?

I wasn’t too far from the town of Moelfre, my meeting place with K. It was an enjoyable ride down to the small beach car park where I found my back brake had been lightly seized on, I assume it must have stayed engaged as I headed down the steepest last part into town, a quick tweak with the multi-tool and all was well again, I hoped.

Looking to the mainland

Looking to the mainland

Off up the short , steep hill and I turned on to another side road which lead me eventually back on to the A5025, wind now getting stronger plus I was heading to Amlwch and my next meet with K at Cemaes. Passing through Amlwch I stopped to look at ‘Paddy’s Boat’, a stunning looking church see HERE then a slight detour rolling down to Bull Bay, descending quickly whilst trying to soak in the views, I knew if I was heading down, I’d soon be heading back up. You can see a pattern here but as I crested out of Bull Bay I was now exposed to a strong headwind which was making the going tough. I decided that either at Cemaes or Tregele, I’d stop for the day. I knew the next section was on very narrow country roads it could wait until the next day. Rendezvous with K and a meeting point near Tregele made. I stopped and had felt the effects of the ascents but more of the constant headwind in places. It was back to base and a hot bath to ease the tired legs.

Day one

Day one

 

 

Next day.

I had mulled over the planned route and had a thought of heading clockwise and hoping to reach Holyhead at least, I’d options after that, one being the original route or heading up from Valley toward Tregele, I’d see how the legs felt as I headed.

Llanthingy

Llanthingy

I took the same route to the Menai Bridge but headed for ‘Llanfair etc etc’ and took the A4080 heading towards Niwbwrch, I cycled along fairly sheltered roads, Rhosneigr was our first rendezvous point, I soon hit the long straight through the dunes before Aberffraw, wow, this was heavy going. I wondered if I’d made the correct call. I had a quick bite and drink before setting off again. I took the loop down through Rhosneigr and emerged back on the A4080 heading towards Engedi and a left turn along some country lanes where almost immediately I got stopped as a tractor had broken down, I just carried the bike past and carried on, I was enjoying the sheltered lane until it was back on to open roads but the thought of a cake break kept the legs pedalling, I soon cycled along the Airport/RAF base before heading south past Valley down towards Trearddur, cycling along I could see Katie standing and gesturing to a Cafe, I padlocked Polly and sat to a coffee and clotted cream scone, delicious. Worth the stop!

Breezy

Breezy

Onward to Holyhead via the coast road (South Stack Rd) but I kept heading with the ups and downs of the shore before heading inland again with Holyhead Mountain ahead of me. I finally had the benefit of a tailwind, this made the last miles enjoyable.  Cycling along the harbour I soon made our rendezvous point, I’ll finish it next day.

 

Day two

Day two

 

 

Final day..

Decisions, decisions…

The easy run down from Tregele on the main A road towards Holyhead on a day which the wind had strengthened but no, I’ll revert to the original plan of down over country back roads. I set off from Tregele and within minutes I was ascending and laughing saying downhill Bob, downhill. Nope, I enjoyed the rollercoaster run of this section of NCN 566,

Cemlyn Bay

Cemlyn Bay

I decided at Rhydwyn to head out and suffer the headwind on the main road to Valley. Tough going at times but I knew as soon as I hit the town and turned west along the A5, my tour would end, it was along the Stanley Embankment onto Holy Island before continuing along  the cycle lane into Holyhead, a quick run over and down and it was over.

 

Day three

Day three

 

 

106 miles, three sessions, 40, 45 and 21.

hard-fought, heavy headwinds, occasional steep ascents but enjoyable.

I had thought two days but in hindsight with a calmer cycle it was possible.

Do it again? why not as there are still side roads to explore.

The route had everything, leafy country roads, interesting geographs to stop at, coastal roads, a mix of main and back roads, I find back roads more interesting as you never know what is around the corner, traffic on the main roads wasn’t that bad and pleased to say apart from one twat going through a red light as I made my way right on to the A5, I felt safe. Every mile is different.

The following day, it was the long drive north, it was good to be back in the area, I’ll be back but I’ll leave Polly at home as there are plenty hills in the area.

Click on each image for larger view.

Thanks go to Veloviewer for the use of my ride profiles.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

2017, a reprise

Another year over, and gone.

It was a year in which I spread my wings on the bike.

Firstly, two bikes were strapped onto Roddy’s yellow Land Rover and off we set 2 days into the year on what was a frosty morning heading to Callander.

White rime was everywhere and the car park by the Teith had its own icy covering.

The story of the run HERE.

Glen Ogle viaduct

Glen Ogle viaduct

It got me thinking about things I’d often mulled over, a couple of years ago, I read about a route which continues to inspire me. It was two years plus in its planning but more on that later. As we headed back to Callander, I made my mind up.

I’d the usual local runs around Renfrewshire, across to Roseneath then back over Loch Lomond, a couple of visits to the Cowal peninsula, one a return to revisit a climb which left me milking it on my only visit but this time I returned to conquer the climb up over Glen Finart from nearby Ardentinny, a mix of steep sections and surprisingly only a 6% average over the 1.4 miles. I’ve been only beat on one hill in the last two years, I’d done the hardest part and blew up on the gradual rise to the top, bad.

I’m not fast on the hills but more a determination to get there, I’ve had folk tell me to change to a road bike, I’ve been tempted but the hybrid lets me go 99% of anything I meet, I see a rough track, I head down the track, nosey? no, just interested.

I was visiting Newtyle more so the bike was broken down often and placed in our wee car, I decided to explore Strathmore, the Carse of Gowrie, even up as far as Arbroath and south to St. Andrews. This is a cracking hub for exploring and I’d many a trip out in the area.

Broughty Castle

Broughty Castle

The Arbroath round trip HERE

Other posts in the immediate area HERE HERE .

A couple of other highlights, Katie had an ‘important’ birthday and due to bad planning, I decided to meet her halfway back to home in Dunblane. I picked what must have been the hottest day of the month to do this, more HERE. I can still feel my eyes stinging with sunscreen from that day.

One more cycling trip to mention from Invergowrie was my trip over into Fife and down to the ancient town of St Andrews HERE.

Kinpurney Tower

Kinpurney Tower

Whilst I was at Newtyle, I decided after almost 40 years to climb up to Kinpurney Tower, which dominates the landscape, as I saw when cycling through Strathmore, it would guide me back to Newtyle almost the foot of its hill. Blog post HERE.

I’ve still to do more exploring in the area hopefully this year.

Ah, the route I mentioned earlier, the family had gone abroad and I’d taken a now regular run through to Falkirk to house sit. I’d hadn’t really planned anything but having travelled through via the Forth & Clyde Canal and the start of the Union Canal, I thought I’d have a trip to Edinburgh, aye, it’s HERE.

Oor Wullie

Oor Wullie

I even visited California on my travels in the higher areas to the south of Falkirk.

Barge

Barge

The canal paths are in excellent condition and barely a road to cross.

The family came back and Katie said ‘Your break?

I’d kept all this one to myself, mentioning it to my son but I grasped the nettle and said, ‘The Hebridean Way’. ‘Yourself?’ ‘If need be, yes’. ‘I’d like to go too’.

Short, sweet and it was a wait looking for a settled period of weather, two days later returning for a midweek birthday lunch, I said ‘Tomorrow?’

Yer man on Vatersay

Yer man on Vatersay

The rest of the story is HERE and HERE

I’d the regular Lake District trip in August and as I do, I did a couple of SOTA activations on firstly, Red Screes and Dale Head. I’d missed the previous year but now in ’18 and onwards hopefully getting a couple of trips to the area. I’ve still a fell or two to climb.

Middle Dodd and beyond

Middle Dodd and beyond

Story on HERE

A busy year for me,

I’d been mounting up the miles with the intention of topping last years total and coming into December it was looking good and all I needed was a below monthly average to make the 6,000-mile mark.

Family issues and to a lesser extent the weather caused me to fall short by 180 miles, I’m more than happy with 5,820 miles. It gives me the motivation to top the total in 2018.

There is a list on my desk, I wonder what I’ll get done out of it in ’18.

 

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

3 Days in the Carse

It was time for another trip to the roads of the Carse.

Polly packed away and off to Invergowrie for a few days.

I’d pencilled in one day for a longish run but first, I had my run east along towards Glencarse with a few diversions in my ‘where does this road/track go?’. It was a strong headwind as I headed down along through Kingoodie, heading along the now flat open road with little hedging to shelter me, this is cycling country if you want to build up leg strength but a headwind out normally means a tailwind home, it never seems that way here.

Stumped

Stumped

Along now familiar roads, I was scanning looking for OS benchmarks explanation HERE with a list of in my front bag to look for. The road was busy just before Errol, a market day in the airfield. I had two locations in Errol to find, both found, I have a system, I use the app OS Locate to find the grid reference then email the information to myself, sorted. This is a handy app especially if you do hiking or general hill walking. see HERE

The roads were busy with other cyclists, I can see why, with flat, good surfaces although as I found out on a later day, plenty of hillier stuff to the north of the A90, a good combination I found on my third day but later.

It was dry but the wind steadily increased as I reached my destination of Glencarse, a quick break for some scran, water and time to head back. This time I had a tailwind on some parts but a divert trip up to Longforgan to nosey then I headed back down the hill to the railway crossing with its still in use junction box and a short return trip back to my start point, a quick look around the village, a couple NBM’s logged then home.

Day 2.

I loaded the route onto my bike computer just after breakfast, chain oiled and bike checked over and it was off along Dundee Riverside or at least, via the diversions in place. I reached the Tay Bridge and cycled into the lift, I met a few pedestrians as I crossed the raised centre path before dropping down, finding my route along a shared path towards Tayport, a clear day to start and an unknown route to me, something good about venturing on new ground. I made steady progress as I dropped off the roadside path heading through some woodland before arriving at Tayport.

Tayport Harbour

Tayport Harbour

I followed the blue signs directing me through the village, harbour then through a caravan park. I cycled along a rough path past old WW2 tank defences before heading into Tentsmuir Forest, a wide excellent path. One or two sections had larger loose stones but it was a smooth run through, I stopped to look at an old fishery boundary marker post and soon after aold  fish house. The main car park was busy, I passed through the barriers and soon was heading towards the town of Leuchars along the military airfield but no activity today.

Guardbridge was next and you can see how it got its name, one old bridge over a burn that enters the Eden estuary, the track leaves the roadside and travels along a wooded area behind housing, I soon crossed the road and crossed another old bridge that crosses the River Eden. The town sign had birthplace of David Finlay VC see HERE

Yer Man

Yer Man

 

Next stop in about 4 miles was St Andrews, my destination. I travelled along a tarmac path which I assume was the old road as the white centre line still showed to my left.

I swept down past golf links on my left, I could now see the main town ahead but my first port of call was the Old Course. I cheekily asked someone to take my photo on the bridge over the Swilken Burn, a quick nip on between four balls and a bucket list item logged.  A short tour of the area around the first tee and eighteenth green before a short, touristy bit taking in St Salvador’s Chapel, the old castle, the ruined abbey and the city wall and one of its gates.

Castle Ruins

Castle Ruins

On the pavement outside St Salvador’s was the initials PH for Patrick Hamilton see HERE. At my next stop, the ruined castle, more initials on the ground for George Wishart, same fate see HERE,  I bagged a few NBMs as I spotted them.

I had decided not to head back the route I’d come but I took the road out towards Strathkinness which is still NCR 1 but I headed out towards Dairsie, I took time to take in an old church on a hill above the road before dropping back down, this is where it all went wrong, it got dark and started to pour. I saw signs for the Tay Bridge and followed them up and through Balmullo.

Abbey ruins

Abbey Ruins

The light was fading fast due to the weather and I thought it would be safer if I headed back over to the route I come into St Andrews. I headed back to where I saw a sign for Guardbridge, I realised later that half a mile on I’d have cut some miles and got across to Leuchars, ces’t la vie.

Guardbridge then through Leuchars, east until I met the road into the Forest, this time I stopped for some scran at the Crepe Shack in the forest main car park, I hadn’t had a crêpe in years, Cinnamon Apple filling and a coffee, it was delicious. An unusual thing to find but enjoyable. I spoke with a couple out on their tandem who were heading back to Dundee, a quick chat then I was on my way back towards Tayport, up over the Tay Bridge.

As I climbed up the access path to the bridge, the heavens opened and it dumped on me the back home. I’d hoped for a diversion but not in this weather.

I reached home and would you believe it, it stopped 10 minutes after I put the bike in the garage and even worse, the sun came out.

Day 3

I headed up over Liff, Fowlis and my intention was to head towards Glencarse and drop back along the roads of the Carse I’d been on two days earlier, it never works out that way, Bob’s randomness kicked in and I kept climbing up and over mud strewn roads, the local farmers were busy lifting potatoes I guessed, Polly caked in mud, I took care on a few descents as wet mud isn’t the grippiest. I passed by Berryhill, Knapp and I stopped at an old church above Abernyte for a break. Martyrs, old churches seems to be a theme this trip.

Tay Bridge from above the Carse

Tay Bridge from above the Carse

I was now back on a familiar road I travelled down before and knew I’d soon be whizzing down the Braes towards Inchture, passing through the village I decided to have a look at the sandstone church. Another church?. Ah, but this one has family connections, Katie’s grandfather was the minister circa the 1930s.

The Carse and back to base, this time the wind was at my back so I made a good time and soon was heading up out of Kingoodie towards Invergowrie.

Three cracking days, except the damp parts of Monday’s trip. Over 115 miles rode.

Thanks to all sites I have linked to.

To embiggen any image, just click for a larger image.

 

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

The Hebridean Way….by bike. Days Two and Three.

Day Two.

An early rise, sunshine streamed in the window.

The legs felt good and after a Scottish full breakfast, it was up to Caranis, first head towards the ferry terminal on the island of Berneray.

Ruin

Ruin

View to Harris

View to Harris

The A865 road was quiet, and I made my way along the western part of North Uist, a nice rolling start to my run, I met a few cyclists heading south. Passing through Kirkibost, I finally felt the wind at my back which pushed me on my way, the road surface was excellent with the odd rise and fall, I came across a tower on a small island on Loch Scolpaig, I’ll leave the history bit to HERE. I’d left plenty time for the first stage of today’s journey and had met Katie en-route who pointed out mountain bikers crossing (later found out) Traigh Bhalaigh ford across to Vallay Island, a line of them all strung out and I met more than a few on the road as I headed, apparently part of The Heb 2017, looks fun.

Leaving Berneray

Leaving Berneray

Loch Scolpaig

Loch Scolpaig

Tempus fugit and a quick stop before finding myself on the long causeway to the terminal at Berneray. A quick, scenic journey. I chatted with two cyclists, one doing the Way and the other just working his way around North Uist, with his last day on Harris.

Berneray shore

Berneray shore

Cyclists called on first, one other bit of advice if doing it the way I did, make sure the car has a booking, luckily we got on. As I sat waiting on the sail to start, I called CalMac and booked our ferry trip from Harris to Skye a few days later, just for when.

A smooth journey of 50 mins saw us landing at Levenburgh on Harris, I knew the hilly bits started here but I was looking forward to seeing the famed white beaches as I passed through the lower half of the island heading to Tarbet. We had decided to get three days B&B in Tarbet so Katie headed on. If no contact, I’d head to the pier-head at Tarbet and we’d meet there.

Levenburgh awaits

Levenburgh awaits

South Harris

South Harris

A short, steep climb out of Levenburgh and a chat with one or two people doing the same route, I swept down past Northton and the first of the beaches stretching out to my left but the best was yet to come, I turned a corner and was taken aback, wow!.

I think every car had stopped to take a photo, the laybys were busy but a bike can sneak in anywhere. This part of the coast is as good it gets for scenery. I headed inland to start the first haul up over a freshly surfaced road, a low gear and steadily I reached the summit of the road, the run into Tarbet would be fun. Sweeping down and I saw the sign for the Golden Road, we were later to spend one night in Cruer, the history of the road HERE.

A long gradual descent found me meeting the car outside the Isle of Harris distillery, a smidgen under 50 miles covered. The run was done in perfect cycling weather.

It was off to find dinner.

Looking to Luskentyre

Looking to Luskentyre

Stunning

Stunning

 

Benbecula North Uist Harris

Benbecula North Uist Harris

Tomorrow would take me up to the highest point of my trip.

Day Three.

The worst is over

The worst is over

I’d hoped to split the rest of the Way into two days, making to the area to the north of Callanish then heading to the Butt of Lewis the following day, merging that with a trip into Stornoway. There was some drizzle in the air as I set off from the distillery, rising up past our B&B and turning north into the hills, cloud hid the summit of An Cliseam, the highest point in the Outer Hebrides and it was a steep rise up its eastern slopes levelling with more rise to come before descending down quickly to sea level, I plodded up with a steady drizzle and occasion breeze in my favour, I summited the first part and set off to meet the next rise which had looked much steeper on my route planner but in reality, after the main climb it was an easy hill to top, I got my breath back knowing it was time to whiz downhill, I soon slowed down as the gusty cross winds made my front wheel twitch so better to be safe than sorry.

 

 

High road behind me

High road behind me

The forecast had been for rain and high winds. The worst was over and it was a steady, gradual run up to the sign welcoming me into Lewis. I wonder why one island, two ‘Isle of’? Harris is the hilly part to the south, Lewis the flatter part is to the north.

 

Bob

Bob

I carried on through townships making good speed and took the A 858 towards Callanish over long stretches of barren moorland, the drizzle had turned to light rain but I thought I could finish this today, I stopped and said ‘Let’s go for this’, legs were feeling good plus I was making a good time, feeding and drinking regularly. The roads fell and rose but with no serious hills, I arrived at Callanish, I’d pop in on my return at the Standing Stones in case time was at a premium.

One of the many sea inlets

One of the many sea inlets

A refuelling stop with a fresh bidon of water and more chocolate and gummies. I’d fuel every few miles to keep the legs fresh. I passed through villages which I knew through doing family history, it was satisfying to finally see them. I now had the wind at my back on occasion with the odd crosswind, it didn’t seem to follow any pattern. I could see occasional mounds of cut peat piled up at the side of the cutting area waiting to be collected.

Passing through Carloway, Shawbost, Bragar and it was on to the A 857 to Barvas, I knew I was on the final stretch and this kept the legs going, I did stop at Suainebost as there are strong family connections with the area. Onward and it was a quiet road, maybe because it was Sunday. This is where it kinda went astray, we’d been following the excellent signage and I saw a sign on my left saying Rudha something,

Barren landscape on Lewis

Barren landscape on Lewis

I thought as I headed on, that’s Gaelic for headland, I soon arrived at the Port of Ness. This wasn’t right. A quick consult with a map, the turn off had been where I had seen the ‘Rudha’ sign at Lionel so it was back and off out to the lighthouse with the final section being an easy journey.

Harris Lewis

Harris Lewis

I saw on the return journey, the blue sign had been damaged but was behind another other sign, you couldn’t see it until you were passed, oh well.

The end

The end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three was 75 miles. A total of three days cycling,  spending just over 16 hours in the saddle, 185 miles and approximately 9,000 feet ascent in total.

The End, was it worth it? Aye!

I was so concentrated on getting the final part of Day Three, I never took the photos I intended but I’ll have a follow-up post which will be a short resume of my Stornoway, Skye visit.( Soon, I promise)

What’s next?

I’ll spend the winter months mulling over options.

I’d like to thank Katie as without her help, I’d have had to make alternate plans, CalMac for getting me there and the encouragement given out by everyone I met.

Lesson learnt? as in Part One, I said to book ahead for accommodation and on Barra, dinner reservation. Ferry tickets? HERE

I’d bought a ‘Hopscotch’ ticket which took me from Oban to Barra, Barra to Eriskay, Berneray to Levenburgh, Tarbet (Harris) to Uig (Skye) and a further link to Mallaig. Various options are available, check first or just wing it if it’s you and the bike.

I found a book dedicated to the route in a Stornoway bookshop.

‘Cycling The Hebridean Way’ by The Offcomers HERE 

I wish I’d found this earlier, a fantastic guide with all the information you will need and updated it seems yearly. I’ll use it next year.

To embiggen any image, just click on.

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

The Hebridean Way….by bike. Day One

10 Islands, 6 Causeways, 2 Ferries….

185 miles of rugged coastline, machair, white sandy beaches, remote moorland, townships, flatlands, steep hilly sections.
I often mulled over the route, Vatersay to the Butt of Lewis and thinking ‘aye’.
Having retired over two years ago and taken to cycling in a way I’d never have imagined. Over 5,500 miles in year ’16. I’d planned this from 2015 and in the months of June, July I got busier to put in regular 50 miles plus, I’m not the lean flying machine like the Froomes of the word, more your MAMIL and not known for having a sylph-like figure.

Castlebay

Castlebay

I enjoy all my cycling around the back roads of Renfrewshire but ’17 has seen me spread my wings and visit places like Arbroath, Forfar and the Angus area basing myself occasionally in the area. Runs across the country to the Falkirk, Edinburgh, Dunblane areas.

Mrs M has joined me in retirement, I had a plan, let her holiday in the sunshine then ask her to join me in my Hebridean odyssey. I should have planned this meticulously but this time everything had been so random.

Bernie the Bull's legacy

Bernie the Bull’s legacy

A visit to the Lake District was soon followed on the drive home by a ‘Do you fancy the Outer Hebrides?’, there was no hesitation, ‘When?’, ‘Soon’.
A month passed and I pencilled in September to mid-October, the problem is trying to find good weather for at least four to five days. I don’t mind the rain, the wind is another matter especially on such exposed terrain. A family birthday attended to and that night on the way home, ‘Let’s go tomorrow!’, with one of Calmac’s excellent Hopscotch tickets soon booked online.
The next day was Oban to Barra ferry…
The first piece of advice, PLAN and BOOK ahead.
We booked accommodation at Breibhig for the night, hoping to wing it as we headed north, I’d cycle and Mrs M would scout ahead and get things organised. advice for dining out, once again for Barra, phone and book ahead as we struggled to find a table.

West Barra beach

West Barra beach

We packed Polly (my bike) into our small Chevy and left earlier than needed on our journey north to Oban. Last minute shopping and lunch before boarding and setting off on a five-hour sail, now Mrs M gets seasick looking at a glass of water but the crossing was a gentle one with sightings of dolphins along and at one point deciding on giving us a display of leaping in and out of the water.  We had spent the first couple of hours on the outside deck watching Oban, Lismore them Mull disappearing behind us. Time to catch some coffee then later, I stood outside watching Barra and the Bishops Isles coming into view and thought ‘Tomorrow starts my biggest adventure’, I’d complete this before I’d turn 64(I’d 15 days).

We arrived at Castlebay and with the words of our landlady advising having dinner first before heading but no, we did the opposite, bad move.

We booked in and back over the hill to Castlebay, at the third eaterie we were lucky, last table. Tucked into a pleasant meal before having a walk around the bay,  the one thing I found was the randomness of everything, houses etc. The village is well named by the impressive ruin of Kisimul Castle.

One building dominates over the bay, the Lady of the Star of the Sea Chapel HERE. It was back to prepare.

Day One.

After a good sleep, I looked out on a still, calm morning and thought midges. Prepare to meet them throughout the summer months, I normally use Avon Skin so Soft as a deterrent but not when cycling, I just hope I go fast enough to avoid them. A filling breakfast and it was off up over the island and the causeway to Vatersay and my starting point. I readied Polly and 13 miles later I’d meet Katie at the ferry terminal. A slow rise and descent to my first causeway, one built after the loss of Bernie the bull HERE and now back on Barra, a trip around the west end of the island and it was just over an hour travelling when I drew along the Chevy. I’d stopped midway around the west side of the island to marvel at the first of many white sand beaches en-route. I spoke with an American couple from North Dakota who was doing the same trip on their tandem, impressive. An organised cycling party of six were also boarding the ferry heading north.

Third island

Third island

We could see a vehicle moving up the sands to the north at the airport then caught sight of a Loganair Twin Otter plane descending to the unique airport at Traigh Mhor HERE, a trip now planned for ’18.

A calm, smooth ferry trip and we had arrived in Eriskay, the island of ‘Whisky Galore. I found out that not only did the SS Politician carry whisky, it carried bicycle parts and banknotes on board. Whisky would be more popular, I’d think. As we headed towards the ferry terminal, I could see the outline of a ruin high on An Stac, Casteal an Reubadair HERE. It was a short stay in Eriskay and I was crossing the causeway which brought me into South Uist, I looked across to the area where the boat had grounded and thought of the delight in the islands when a cargo of whisky salvaged. Katie had headed north to find us accommodation in an area I’d estimate I’d finish my day (Benbecula) and with an intermittent mobile phone signal, I stopped occasionally to check texts etc. For reference, I was on EE. Coverage was better than I expected.

Hecla, Choradail, Mhor

Hecla, Choradail, Mhor

I moved up quickly through a sunny but breezy South Uist, impressive hills to the east on my right I headed north on the B 888 then following NCN 780 signs, I left the road passing through South and North Boisdale, Kilphedar and joining the road again at Daliburgh, It was back onto the main road with only an occasional car passing, I passed through Askernish and the location of a ‘lost’ Old Tom Morris designed golf course being rediscovered, story HERE.  Just a few miles on is the track leading to Flora Macdonald’s birthplace, an inspiring woman whose life changed after helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape the Redcoats, her story HERE.

Heading still northwards, another left off the main road and a gentle flat run through Bornish, Ormacleit then eventually joining the A865 once more. Near Gerinish you join another causeway which takes you across Loch Bi, a short run before thenext causeway which takes you into Benbecula.

It was on to Linicate, the 780 takes the route to the west off the main road. I stopped at the hotel where we would overnight, I decided as it was still early, a quick snack and drink to head a bit north on B 892, passing Benbecula Airport, I stopped after fifteen miles, just north of Caranis. Headed back to a well-earned meal and some chilled cider.

Tomorrow would be another ferry day leaving North Uist over to Harris and the first of its serious hills.

Day One was over 62 plus miles of mostly flat terrain, elevation graph below.

Vatersay to North Uist

Vatersay to North Uist

Elevation data courtesy of VeloViewer

Click on any image to embiggen.

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Red Screes and, the regular

I’d missed my previous annual trip to the Lakes due to family commitments.

Once all was over we contacted our regular base but full rooms and work then called for Mrs. M. No problems this time as we are both now retired but we decided to just head down at our regular time.

If possible with the Lakes, a watch on the WX forecast hoping to catch four decent days in a trot. A quick call and we back at our regular base in Keswick.

I’d 2016s maps and routes printed off and loaded on to the Etrex. I’d a few weeks earlier taken a day off the bike and made a now annual visit to the summit of Beinn a’Mhanaich just to test the legs, a little ache the next few days. I think a lack of serious walking played its part.

Two hills, four days to get them in, if possible.

I had a late change of mind en-route and thought Red Screes from the top of Kirkstone Pass, any excuse for an after walk pint.

Kirkstone Pass summit

Kirkstone Pass summit

We headed down on what looked not too promising with varying weather en-route and as we crossed the border, light rain was falling. A stop for breakfast then to Penrith and then down past a tranquil Ullswater before ascending Kirkstone Pass.

Red Screes trig

Red Screes trig

Wispy cloud was scuttling over the upper part of the route and literally as I stepped out of the car, a military transporter came roaring overhead. It was the first of a few planes that day out practicing low-level flying. I’d arranged I’d get picked up later on either The Struggle or in the town of Ambleside.

Looking down the Struggle

Looking down the Struggle

There had been torrential rain in the area the previous day but there was no evidence on what is a steep sharp ascent of just over a mile, a 1200 ft rise in height, with a good path and the odd light scramble but easily ascended. I met a lad who had just left before me with his young ‘un in a carry-pack on his way back down ‘ A couple of minutes will have you at the trig’, just under 50 mins of my usual slow pace I was standing drinking in the views at the summit trig point.

Middle Dodd and beyond

Middle Dodd and beyond

A photo shoot, 360 video before setting up the radio equipment and antenna. A quick bite to eat then it was ‘CQ’, I worked 17 stations, first one was in Liverpool on 4m FM, the rest on 2m FM calls on 70cm FM went unanswered. I’d worked in Wales and an almost 300km contact into Gorey, Co.Wexford in Eire.

Looking across to Helvellyn and others

Looking across to Helvellyn and others

Half way through, I heard the scream of a jet coming up the pass which flew below me followed by a slower training plane.  Two days later, the flyby would be more exciting.

Rydal Water

Rydal Water

90 mins later, I broke down and packed everything away. Time for the rest of a late lunch and speaking to a couple who told me they were geocaching,  we headed just off the summit to log the cache.

I left and head down a gentle descent path towards Ambleside with views to Windermere in the distance, a steady, slightly damp in places with a few crossings of glaury mud with a constant stream of people ascending the track. The previous day’s rain had left its mark and my boots were deciding to get wet. I took the odd detour to try stay dry. I soon came to the gate which leads you on to The Struggle.

One thing I don’t like is walking on the tarmac after a hill walk. Wires crossed with Katie who has returned to the drop-off point, some one (me) had given the wrong direction after a text, the wee red car drew up and we were on our way back to Keswick.

The next day, I felt the regular ache in my thighs, an easy day doing tourist stuff but I would go and get new boots fitted the next morning, a pair of mid leather boots now lying downstairs with a layer of wax waiting for the next outing, the old boots placed in a recycle bin outside a local shoe shop.

I swithered all day as to whether the other hill was a possibility on our last day, I’d sleep on it. I woke early and although I still had a dull ache that I’d visit my favourite fell,  Dale Head. You can see why in the panorama video at the end of this post.  It was up over a busy Whinlatter Pass, Newlands Pass then over to Buttermere, which are the most picturesque roads in this area, a narrow track in places but worth the stop start effort.

Local sheep

Local sheep

One of the endearing things about the lakes is Herdwick sheep. Buttermere and the slopes of Honister Pass did not disappoint. Cyclists passed on a hill I would love to have a go at, from the west, yes. from Borrowdale, no. One bloke on a fat bike towing a young ‘un on his bike was at the base, they cycled over the Pass summit two hours later, I’m told.

At the summit of the pass, it was into the Honister Mines car park, Mrs. M could have a look around the shop, we have slate everywhere at home and I wondered what we would be taking home this time.

Boots on (the new ones) and off across on to the path and upwards.

As you rise the views down Honister and across to Fleetwith Pike, Brandreth and on to Great Gable come into view and the air clarity was good, I made steady time, I tried slowing my ascent but legs felt okay. I spoke with a couple of walkers on their descent and soon was on the last stage of the ascent when I saw the now familiar summit cairn.

The view towards Skiddaw and the north never tires, standing at the edge where the north slope fall quickly away, is stunning.

Dale Head cairn

Dale Head cairn

A chat with more walkers and it was time to set up the radio station and I used the handheld to call on a WOTA station across the Pass from me on Brandreth, a quick chat and I threw up the 4m JPole but as the previous hill, only one contact, Jim in Berwickshire. I made STS (summit to summit) to two stations activating Pikethaw Hill north of Langholm in the Scottish Borders. In total, one Welsh contact in Cardigan and the rest to the S and SW.  12 contacts in total, the station who had been on Brandreth was now on Grey Knotts so another WOTA contact.

I called and made arrangements to get picked up but no problems this day on my descent. A quick change and it was a return trip heading N and home. Time to rest the legs but no flare up the following day.

Oh, and the fly past?

Three jets in order came screaming up Honister Pass and veered dramatically to their right at the top of the pass heading towards to the left of both Green and Great Gable and as they disappeared, a solo jet flew the same route. Amazing how they twist and turn at these speeds.

Red Screes 360°

 

Dale Head 360°

The hill I ‘missed’? first in line next visit!

Treated me to one of these HERE

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

The Union Canal and others

I had another trip through the Central Belt planned, a stay in Falkirk for a few days.

The run through was dependent on the weather which looked a bit hit and miss but after having a run down to Elderslie,  up high over into Paisley but avoiding Gleniffer Braes although I’d a look and thought ‘No’, I travelled down into the centre of Paisley, past St Mirren Park, through Ferguslie and my regular escape route along Candren Road to Linwood and a food break. The home run was via NCN 75.

Falkirk I intended the next day BUT after checking the latest forecast which said rain AM, I decided to just head through.

I got ready to leave, checking the bike over before heading down the hill and my route through Langbank, Bishopton out to the Erskine Bridge. Up over and down Lusset Glen and I joined the Forth & Clyde Canal and headed east. A busy track before I dropped down to join the opposite track and the canal path towards Falkirk, I’d a slight breeze occasionally at my back but with the added weight I still made a good time and arrived at the entrance to Falkirk Wheel Basin. I carried on up at the start of the Union Canal, I resisted the Dark Tunnel this time so up to a short rise and I’d reached my destination.

A 75-mile day and I felt fresh.

The following day? it rained heavily most of the day, handy for watching the Le Tour and baseball, I looked at the tablet OS maps and thought tomorrow, aye, that’ll do me.

Union Canal to Edinburgh

The intended route loaded into the Polar, if, I headed off track.

Canal stretch east of Falkirk

Canal stretch east of Falkirk

Scran, water loaded and on my way, I was soon skirting up over Glen Village and the drop down to the canal towpath, the canal builders denied to use their original route so they tunnelled 620-metre through solid rock (see the earlier post), I joined not long after the east entrance to the tunnel. I rode along a leafy path but not too far from a built up area. I soon passed the high walls of HM Polmont and before long, I was into open countryside. I wondered as I rode east how many bridges I would pass under as it seemed one after another, over 60 apparently so with the return a reverse, well over 120, a few, eh? I soon found out, that you had to warn those coming in the opposite direction of your approach as there is not much room under the bridge (see image).

I slowly cycled over the odd overflow uneven cobbled sections, innovative in their day, I can’t remember seeing anything like this on the Forth & Clyde.

Narrow!

Narrow!

Next was the impressive Avon Aqueduct crossing high over the River Avon with its rough cobbled towpath so I took the decision to walk the 250 metres across, just in case.. The aqueduct stands over 90 feet above the river, a fine piece of architecture, more HERE.

Avon Aqueduct

Avon Aqueduct

Next landmark was the ‘stables’ at Woodcockdale, now sectioned off with wire barriers and not long after I was passing through Linlithgow Basin which was a hive of activity with boats heading mostly west. I stopped as I spotted an OS NBM Bolt, took a photo, position logging.

St Michael's Church tower

St Michael’s Church tower

Linlithgow Basin

Linlithgow Basin

St Michael’s Church with its ‘metal’ sculptured tower was prominent along the skyline, interesting as it is timber coated with aluminium, erected in the 1960s., more info HERE. Not long before more open countryside and still a fair bit to Edinburgh.

I was making a good time even with all these bridges, old and numbered, I met the occasional cyclist, all coming towards me, I assume a regular out for Edinburgh folk. I glimpsed my first view of the new Forth Road Bridge just before Philpstoun, all three occasionally came into view at varying points as I headed East.

Near Winchburgh, I could see Niddry Castle, info HERE. with its backdrop of a now ubiquitous shale bing. A cooling breeze was welcome as the middle of the day neared.  The canal at this points snakes through Broxburn, Ratho before entering the urban sprawl of Edinburgh’s suburbs, the track was clean and free from the usual debris you meet in some built areas, one overfilled litter bin but at this point the track was quiet as I headed towards the eastern terminus of the canal at Fountainbridge, the canal originally carried on towards Port Hopetown. The canal has a variable history, read the timeline HERE with a more potted history HERE

The last couple of miles were busy with people out enjoying what I assumed was a lunch break, a wide track at this point. The basins were busy with boats either starting their journey west or on a few, sun worshippers. I’d travelled 31 miles along the canal back, the canal is 32 miles in length and I had enjoyed the run east.

Edinburgh

The end, Edinburgh

I sat and enjoyed a scran break, plenty of options for food though in the area. I decided and not let the old bones stiffen I’d head back.

The return journey I interspersed with breaks every so often to enjoy the solitude, I spoke with a couple of anglers but nothing was happening for them. I headed up the approach over to Falkirk but took a diversion to explore more of the area.

60 odd miles which were most enjoyable, I’ll do it again.

The next afternoon saw me being lazy and watching Le Tour, it had to have inspired me as I decided a run late afternoon, I headed south passing through Slamannan, Limeriggs, Avonbridge and a visit to California, no sun, no sand just a rural village. I decided to head back via Shieldhill and a welcome descent toward Glen Village where I traced my steps over into Falkirk.

California

California

I treated myself to a takeout meal, I’d deserved it.

Over 20 mile of an up and down, a circular route but an excellent leg stretch.

The next day was run back home…

A 200-mile plus week.

I could get used to this.

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Aye, it’s been a week………..

Monday was a day off the bike, parcel duty plus other stuff took priority. The legs would be rested for the following day with its forecasted high temperature.
I’d decided a run down NCN 75, turn right down NCN 7 to Glengarnock then decide the next move, it would be down to the conditions.

Tuesday AM, it was hot and humid.

Ben Lomond from Balloch Pier

Ben Lomond from Balloch Pier

I put ice cubes into the bidon, spare SIS tabs in the bar bag as I’d have to get a refill or two en route on such a hot day.

After a quick climb up to NCN 75, it was downhill literally the way ’till Linwood. The track was surprisingly quiet considering the WX conditions, too hot for folk?

22 miles later, I arrived at Glengarnock and mulled over the options, up to Beith, over Caplaw, followed by a swift descent down the Gleniffer Braes into Paisley?. Back to Lochwinnoch, up over Clochodrick, Kilbarchan? Nah, it was a return up the track, I reached the high point at Port Glasgow and thought, ach, why not back down but 5 miles later, at the ‘Lost Legion’ I decided just to turn back, it was getting a bit stifling.

Wednesday was another day taken up odds and ends, I’d decided a run to Loch Lomond the next day. The usual drop down to sea level and out east through Langbank, up the Hatton Brae, Bishopton, over the Erskine Bridge down Lusset Glen then head west to Dumbarton, up along the river Leven path to Balloch. I’d thought I’d have a lunchtime special fish and chips, I arrived outside the chippy to a road and pavement all dug up, no hot food here, ah, well.

I grabbed a baguette and coffee down at the services on the A82 at Dumbarton whilst mulling over my next move.

Home over the bridge or Glasgow?, but I decided Yoker, the ferry across to Renfrew and head back home on familiar roads down past Glasgow Airport.

Passing through Clydebank, I met a fox, I slowed, he looked at me, me at him and he nonchalantly headed on his way, me too.

I dropped down to the ferry slip at Yoker where a big notice informed me that due to technical difficulties the ferry was off, a minibus was in place.

Back to Erskine then home.

XVII Legion

XVII Legion

It was frustrating but I’d logged the first metric century of ’17.

114 miles on the past two runs, no bad.

I got home and found out we got an invite to a BBQ the next evening

It was in Falkirk, aye, the computer quickly switched on, yes, Bob checked the WX, aye, looking good I thought.

‘I’m going to cycle through, okay?’ I asked……

Falkirk Wheel in operation

Falkirk Wheel in operation

Friday lunchtime arrived,

The wee rucksack packed and off I headed, over past Clydebank then not far up after the usual escape point down the Kelvin Walkway, I met the canal junction which heads to the East or Spiers Wharf.

I dropped down on the road and 100 meters away I cycled up the track along the east branch of the canal, I’ve been previously as far as Twechar Bridge but today I’d be on ground I didn’t know. I stopped at Twechar Bridge where a barge was heading west through the bridge, interesting to see how the bridge lifts and how quickly the barge gets through and everything get back to normal. I carried on past Auchenstarry Quarry, I was now in an area I’d done some fishing. I’d a feeling it wouldn’t be long until I was at the spot where I caught my smallest ever pike, it must have been 9 inches at the most, a red maggot if I remember rightly. A day remembered for one of the lads suffering a hangover falling asleep in the pouring rain whilst we sat dry under our brollies.

It was soon under the busy M80 and it wouldn’t be long until Falkirk. Along with a quiet track at Bonnybridge, I soon saw my turning which took me into the Falkirk Wheel Basin.

Falkirk wheel

Falkirk wheel

An impressive piece of machinery, and a busy area with visitor buses in the car park, I cycled up the hill for a better view. I hung around waiting to see it in operation, I’d seen it on TV but surprised how quiet the operation was, it took roughly 5 mins from lift to finish.

Tunnel roof

Tunnel roof

Time to find the start of the Union Canal, I knew of a long tunnel in the area, a quick cycle through a smaller one and I came across the longer one, a 600-metre long tunnel impressively dug out of solid rock underneath Callander Park. I should have taken the off track to the left but couldn’t resist a trip through.Space is limited and with wet cobbles, I didn’t fancy a swim so I walked through. I just reached the end and heard a group of students speeding through on their bikes..brave lads.

Hmm, where do I go now? I left at the next off track, saw a bridge and was checking it for a CBM, I got asked if I was lost but I had seen a sign for Slamanan Rd so I knew that was where I had to go. I got further directions and 10 mins later, I had reached my destination.

A good run?

Aye, most enjoyable 44 miles plus.

The track from Old Kilpatrick through to Falkirk is an excellent mix of surfaces, tarmac, compressed dust with the odd dusting of surface dressing, the odd road crossing but generally all single track. I found it busy at Kirkintilloch and the usual traffic as I passed through Glasgow. A good run.

I’ll do this again.

Scottish Canals blurb HERE

Wikipedia on Falkirk Wheel HERE Forth & Clyde Canal HERE Union Canal HERE

To embiggen images, feel free to click for full size.

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Riding towards Dunblane

Another trip up East, I wrote about Monday’s, the first day run back over the country roads of Angus, then down to Carnoustie, finished by a dash into a strong breeze to Invergowrie in the last post.

The next day was taken up by the reason we headed E.

The first plan was to grab what I could and had only just the two days BUT a slight mistake WE made (I’m not taking the full blame).

We were to drop into my oldest daughter for a meal on the way home plus our Ailsa was to get a lift back home.

Nope, driver, passenger and a bike, no room for anyone else.

I offered to stay another night, I could finish the work and have a free day following, my options were a cycle, cycle and train home but after a quick check of the map, I’d meet Katie at halfway, Dunblane.

I created my route and downloaded to the Polar.

I woke early, opened the laptop and studied the route over and over, I wrote a crib sheet with towns and villages en route.

The forecast was for temperatures in the 20s, light breezes, not the best for a longer run but.

I arranged a meet-up time around 17.00 and I normally estimate a 10 mile per hour which gives me time for any hiccups etc.

I left slightly later.

I’d slathered my face in sunscreen, packed some scran in my top back pockets. I must remember not to put too much sunscreen on under my eyes as flying downhill along with it being a hot day meant the occasional nippy eye.

A check of the bike first, the Polar route screen on and it was off along Riverside Drive, Dundee first, a bit of diversion stuff before arriving at the lift on the north side of the Tay Road Bridge. This lift is fun. Rumbling across the raised platform that is a shared path which was busy this time across, I soon dropped down and I was in Newport on Tay. I pedalled up and through Newport on into Wormit. I spotted a CBM on a bridge so stopped to record and emailed myself the OS coords (I got another one later outside Bridge of Earn). I was following NCN route 777. I used OS Locate to email the location to me.

Tay Bridge cycle lane

Tay Bridge cycle lane

I was now enjoying the open countryside with occasional forays through cooler wooded areas.

I knew there was a big climb after Balermino but boy, my heart fell when I saw this as I rounded the bend, so it was down the gears, I pedalled steadily up and reached the bend, it looked even steeper now, oh boy. I finally topped out just under a mile at an average 8% gradient, tasty to have done that. I soon reached a junction, right and the Perth road, a quick sarnie then off again. I soon came out on  an open hillside with cracking views across the Tay Estuary, north, west and east. It was a slow descent to Newburgh, the route map was carefully watched to my next point, I passed by a new shopping development and I felt what felt like light rain, they had laid turf and were watering it with a sprinkler, I passed through this 3 times being laughed at by a couple of locals, it was cooling.

The Tay north west

The Tay north-west

Passing through the town, I headed along busy roads towards Abernethy, Aberargie then on to Bridge of Earn.

At Bridge of Earn, a break to take on some milk, sandwiches and a bag of Haribo.

Heading out the B935, my next port of call would be Dunning, it was now hot, very hot. I was glad of the odd woody area, passing Forgandenny, pedalling through the farming country I’d met more than my share of tractors on the road. About half a mile outside Dunning I stopped to ask a cyclist who was having gearing problems if all was okay, we headed towards the village, I asked him where the local shop was, I said I needed some water. We stopped at the start of the village, he took my bidon, filled it with ice cubes and water, an act of kindness I appreciated.

Dunning

Dunning

Passing the centre of Dunning it was out the B8062 and a stop to check out the site of Maggie Wall’s burning before heading for Auchterarder, this isn’t as it seems apparently see HERE and HERE. I placed an item on the stones, just for when. I was soon on the old main road heading into Auchterarder, boy, I never remembered how much of a drag uphill it was plus I knew Orchill Road, my next branch off point would be the same. The town was busy, I resisted a stop for fish and chips. I soon spotted Orchill Road on my right, it would take me up behind Gleneagles Hotel, funny, eh, in my last two ‘outs’ I’ve passed two championship golf courses, my next stop would be Braco, the road was a bit of a rollercoaster, strangely quiet with only a couple of cyclists passing but after Braco, I’d be within touching distance of Dunblane with the last part a downhill run. Braco was reached and out the B8033 I would head. I was surprised by how quiet these roads were especially as it was now late afternoon.

Gleneagles

Gleneagles

I stopped for a water break at the highest point of the road before dropping down through Dunbuck, a windy road. I soon could see the main A9 in the distance. I passed along a tree-lined road, welcome cooling run among a tree-lined road, I soon reached the top part of Dunblane, a downhill finish.

A quick run around M&S car park, I was early so a quick run out to the roundabout, back then up the hill out past the tennis courts, I wonder who learned his trade there?

Another clip downhill and I saw Katie was waiting.

The bike dismantled and soon I was in M&S getting cooled by the air conditioning which blasts you. Lovely!

A tub of fresh-cut pineapple and ginger beer for the journey home.

I made another boo-boo, I missed the first 100 km of the year by meters, I never thought to check the distance and just stopped the ride, ces’t la vie!!

I’ll be honest, due to the heat and the need to get to Dunblane on time, I never took as many photos as I would have liked.

I enjoyed the run even up over Balmerino, though next time I’ll take the main road through Gauldry.

I’ve another run planned along some of these roads but that will be for another day, I hope to explore some of the roads to the N of the A9.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Mmm, Where Today?

Arbroath, I think.

Polly was sitting all nice and cosy in a dry garage recovering after her Monday tea time run from Newtyle up over Collace, Abernyte, whizzing down The Braes, Inchture and another run along the Carse. An enjoyable leg stretch followed by a swift descent to almost sea level and a race for dinner.

I’d a day off so the legs would be fresh for an explore. I’d preplanned this one and the Polar had the route in its memory. I’d probably and wing it even as I had studied the route well, or so I thought, more on this bit later.

Invergowrie Bay

Invergowrie Bay

The sun was shining and a light SW breeze was at my back as I left Invergowrie on NCN 77, I took a detour down through Riverside Country Park which was busy with pets and their owners. I could see both Tay Bridges and the hills of Fife to the south of me.

Passing Dundee Airport I’d a quick look through the boundary fence to see mostly private small planes and one prop plane. One or two small planes took off while I was there.

Onward along to Riverside Drive but I’d a few diversions due to sea defence work going on. I stopped to look at the stone memorial to those lost in the Tay Bridge Disaster HERE, I’d earlier passed the scene of another major rail accident at Invergowrie HERE.

I carried on, avoiding the ongoing works and arriving at the Tay Road Bridge, I couldn’t resist the chance of a quick dip of my feet in Fife then back across. You access the footpath by using a lift, I like that and I headed across and back on a shared path running along the middle of the bridge,

Tay estuary

Tay estuary

On the return, I could see the waterfront of Dundee back west to Invergowrie and beyond, I’d head east after I descended the lift and looked for signage to get me on my way, the signs now said NCN 1, It carried me along the back streets of the dock and arrived a what I thought was a dead-end fence, I saw a button and pressed it and the gate opened and I was on my way thinking ‘Mmm, am I allowed in here?’ A blue ‘1’ sign let me know I was, I reached the other end and an automatic gate let me out, a quick wave to security and I was on my way.

I didn’t have time this visit but I must make time and visit both the Dundee Heritage ships, the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Frigate Unicorn’, I passed the RRS Discovery Point Centre and the boat in its dry dock with scaffolding around the stern of the ship, history of the boat HERE. The Frigate Unicorn is not too far away at its berth in nearby City Quay, history and info HERE

Looking to Broughty Ferry

Looking to Broughty Ferry

It was now onto a quiet stretch of road before reaching a shore path into Broughty Ferry, I could see Broughty Castle ahead. I stopped to have a drink and have a quick look around. It was now to head NE, the Esplanade was busy with mid-morning walkers, I kept a careful eye for signage, I’d been known to miss plenty in the past.

A steady breeze blew across me which was welcome as the day was warming up, the track so far was flat although that would change on my return journey over the back country roads of Angus. The track now took me past Monifieth with the golf course between me and the town, plenty of golfers were out taking advantage of the fine weather.

Carnoustie

Carnoustie

I stopped at the entrance of the military area at Barry Buddon, my ‘squeaky’ brake bought out the sentry. I could hear rapid gunfire in the distance. I had a quick chat before heading on my way through wooded areas until I reached Carnoustie. I’d a blip as I never noticed the sign, a quick ask for directions and it was on my way, I missed an obvious sign, Doh!

I entered the track which would take me along through the hallowed links of Carnoustie Golf Links, famous as one of the Open venues.

I soon made my way past and headed up and along a shore path with views out into the North Sea,  I met the odd dog walker and passed by West Haven taking a quiet path until East Haven, I spotted a CBM under the bridge so a quick log, photo and the next stop was Arbroath.

B10202 East Haven, Railway Bridge

B10202 East Haven, Railway Bridge

This part of the path gave the sense of remoteness but still an excellent surface to pedal along, I occasionally could see the remains of concrete anti-tank cubes placed along the shore during WW2 HERE.

It wasn’t long before I could see the town of Arbroath in the distance, I headed along Eliot Links, where I’d my first holiday away from home a half century ago, a 2-week camp. It hasn’t changed much, the burn I tried to catch small fish had a bridge now.

Looking to Arbroath

Looking to Arbroath

I wouldn’t be heading into town but a cut back along a busy main road before heading northwards up past a retail park before winding through country roads to first Forfar (although this wasn’t the original plan), I reached RM Condor high above the town before heading through Woodville and onwards to Carmyllie, this is where I messed up, I blame the lack of road and direction signs, honest!  I should have carried on the west but no, I headed along quiet roads until I reached Redford, west this time joining the B9128, Forfar it was. I passed through Craichie,  soon after I was enjoying a swift descent into Forfar, I reached a junction, a quick look and I recognised where I was, not too far from the local football ground. I stopped for a bite to eat from a supermarket, I also bought a bar of chocolate. I intended to ration it a small piece a mile but it never works out that way, does it?

I was now almost on the homeward stretch (or back to Newtyle), I headed out towards Glamis, I joined a rough pavement for most of the ride but soon reached and bypassed the village and took a country road passing through Eassie, Balkeerie then past the entrance to the Den (see earlier blog post), Newtyle was only minutes away.

56 mile logged, I had to look and I could see where I’d gone wrong but hey, that’s what life is all about.

I headed the opposite journey a week later almost the original route but via Glamis, back roads through Charleston, Gateside, Inverarity, Whigstreet then a downhill run into Carnoustie then a reverse on NCN 1 and 77 to Invergowrie, there was a strong headwind this time which made it a bit less fun but It was well worth the visit, I’ll be back? you bet!

40 odd this time.

Thanks go to Wikipedia and any site I have linked to, all photos can be embiggened with a click.

 

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Third Day In the Carse area……Kinpurney Hill

Kinpurney Hill.

On the previous day’s cycle around the area to the north/west, I could see the tower on the summit from every possible direction, and on the final stretch before Newtyle, I thought tomorrow.

Nearly 40 years visiting the area, always threatening to climb the hill but never getting round to it, I had time to spare and on such a crisp, spring morning, why not?.

Den Path

Den Path

If you are visiting the area to climb the hill, there is no parking at the entrance to the Den.You can park in the village, it only involves a short walk. See the end for parking information.

I was lazy and got dropped off.

A slight breeze, blue sky and the sunshine, what more could I ask for.

Newtyle

Newtyle

I set off up the steps and entered the Den, the start of the path to the summit, a woodland area alive with birdsong, I could see Chaffinch, a pair of Grey Wagtail flitting down the burn, low water due to the recent dry spell. I could hear a Jay ‘screaming’ and caught a quick glimpse but I’d left the binocs at home, tut. The Den has steps and gangways across wet areas, The path obviously well-kept and free from litter, with benches to sit and enjoy the tranquillity. The wood floor with its patches of wood anemone and occasional wild primrose. A slow gradual rise through and I soon opened the kissing gate on to the open hillside.

Kinpurney Tower

Kinpurney Tower

The path which you can see from lower is more just trampled grass, I assume used by the local farmer on a quad bike but today with the recent dry spell, an excellent walking surface, the village started to show as I ascended, another gate to pass through, There are regular marker posts to follow. It is steeper in places but today with the cool breeze and views made it all worthwhile, a handily placed bench as the tower starts to show to catch the breath if needed but I carried on.  Not before long I could see the tower as I approached the easier ground near the summit, sheep scurried everywhere. I had made the top.

The Tower is joined on the summit by a trig point and viewfinder. Hills visible on a good day are the Lawer hills, Ben More, Schiehallion, Beinn a’Ghio, Glas Maol, Lochnagar among many others, unfortunately, it was a bit hazy.

The Tower built in 1766 by James Stuart-Mackenzie.  I’ll refer you to a blog with an interesting twist on the reason for the Tower HERE. It was built as an observatory.

I had a quick bite to eat and a drink about then set off down.

Tower and TP4242

Tower and TP4242

I’d grabbed a couple geocaches on the way down, not planned but phone internet got patchy the near the foot of the descent. I found the surrounding area a dead spot for calls and mobile internet. Beware.

I was up and down in less than two hours but it would be a perfect place for a leisurely day out with a picnic.

To finish the day, I grabbed the bike and repeated the previous day’s run around Strathmore with a slight difference, a wry smile as I saw the hill en-route.

Further info on this walk and others in the area, the Newtyle Paths Network are available in leaflet form from the local store in the village on North St. there are 5 in total covering walks and the wildlife of the area. A good buy, full of information, local history and helps fund further work, please support  HERE

Further info on the walk and tower HERE

Parking info.

There is a designated area at Commercial Street in the village, there is parking available at the Park. A short walk of a kilometre from the village to the Den but no footpath so take care.

Usual rules, click on the image to embiggen.

Newtyle walks map

Newtyle walks map

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Three Days in the Carse

Day One….

I’ve threatened to pack the bike in the wee Chevy and head East to the area around Newtyle. I’ve been beaten, a combination of things but the forecast was looking good and this time, the bike was ‘squeezed’ in as I soon found out I had to.

It was a slightly (?) cramped journey as we headed through Glasgow, Perth then up the A94 and the back roads I’d soon be pedalling on, I’d two routes created and loaded the V650 (more on this later).

We arrived just before lunchtime on what has been a regular run for us the past 40 years, so with a quick bite of lunch, a finger in the air to check the wind and it was south-west towards the village of Kettins. As I left the village, I could ‘smell’ the wild garlic growing prolifically along the edge of the road in places, pleasant.  I passed the impressive KInpurnie ‘castle’ with its tree-lined avenue as I left the village (HERE).  It was here I first felt the effects of a considerable breeze but it was sunny, the roads dusty and I was happy.

Looking over to Fife, River Tay below

Looking over to Fife, River Tay below

I had no set route and mulled over where to go and as I reached the village of Kettins and I decided a back road route so it was a left on to the A934 and cycled uphill for just over a mile before a right turn down the unlisted road which would take me through Kirkton of Collace, Kinrossie and join the B953 which  would lead me to the Perth end of Balbeggie. En-route I had views of Lundie Crags, King’s Seat, a hill I’d previously ascended (and did a SOTA activation) HERE and the nearby hill of Dunsinane, the ancient hill fort with Macbeth/Shakespearean connections HERE. I still have to make a visit, maybe next trip up as I’ve other walking plans in the area. There was plenty of activity in the ploughed fields, tattie boxes on trailers as it was time to bury the seed tatties in the drills. It seemed every farm was out working on this Easter holiday Monday. I passed fields of daffodils just before Collace,

Signal box

Signal box`

Fields of rapeseed covering the landscape everywhere with their yellow flowers, awfy bright. Yellow a predominant colour today.

I soon met the busy A94 at the Perth end of Balbeggie where I cycled along a sometimes overgrown footpath on the opposite side of the road, before long I was passing Perth Airport, no flying activity though.

It was downhill towards Scone, a town with long connections to Scottish history, the historic capital of Alba, short history HERE. I joined the cycle lane which I was grateful for as buses, artic lorries rumbled past. I soon was in Perth,

At the traffic lights in Bridgend, it was a left turn and long plod up a steep brae to join NCN 77 which would take me over Kinnoull Hill, a long drag easing at points and I stopped near the high point to admire some free-range bacon running about in a roadside field, they took great delight in making an awful racket and chasing each other.

I reached the road summit and took a quick look at the Kinnoull car park information boards, I was running late and a table booked for early evening so a trip to the tower would have to wait another day, I always leave an excuse to go back.

I swept down towards Glencarse passing through varying landscapes, oh, and this ‘breeze’ seemed to persist,  views on my right of the river Tay, the estuary and back to Friarton Bridge and over towards the Fife hills.

Polly packed away

Polly packed away

Passing through the village of Glencarse, I followed the classic blue NCN signage and was now on the flatlands of the Carse of Gowrie, I passed through the villages of St Madoes, Errol and I could see the sandbanks of the river which have names like Cartagena Bank, The Turk, Sure as Death Bank, Dog Bank, Eppie Tae’s Bank. Sure As Death Bank sounds ominous.

The road was flat and that wind was still in my face. I cycled along passing fields, more rapeseed showing its yellow flowers, more farmers were out preparing the fields. I pedalled on thinking I could stop in Invergowrie for some sustenance, I reached level crossings which made me remember Paris-Roubaix ’16 and the scramble to get through even after the gates came down. A nervy feeling as you cross them even though you see it clear in both directions, I stopped to have look at the signal box at Longforgan, KIngoodie passed and up the hill into Invergowrie. I reached my destination but no one was at home…typical, reminded me of making a surprise visit to an Aunt on a visit down south, she wasn’t in either as she was back in Scotland. Phone first, Bob!

Decision time, I left Invergowrie pedalling to the junction of the A90 and the Kingsway roundabout, nose to tail traffic and no obvious crossing point, I was intending to head over Liff but I knew an alternative route up via the ‘Birkie Dykes’ (Gourdie Brae), first a slow slog up towards a crossing, I struck off left past a local industrial estate before a sharp left and a constant hill which my legs weren’t appreciating, I did cut off the road to allow traffic to pass by at one point then finally reached the village, passing where I’d dine not much later. The last 6 miles to Newtyle was testing, I tried to call ahead to give an ETA but no answer. I thought I’d sweep out the village and head towards Auchterhouse but in the headwind, I’d to pedal even downhill, I was tiring.

I could hear someone ‘tooting’ me and a wee red Chevy drew to a stop in front of me, it was Katie. I took my bike off the road and as I did a car stopped to ask if I was okay, ‘Tired legs only’ and I thanked the fella for stopping. ‘Throw the bike in the car’, ‘No’ I was determined to finish the last 3 or 4 miles.

I knew the last mile into the village would be a clear run downhill, with the breeze strengthening it wasn’t but I was glad when I finally reached the village. Leg weary, 47 miles cycled, the distance wasn’t the problem but the constant headwind which seemed everywhere I turned.

I met this fella in the eaterie (not much later). The meal was certainly worth it and a couple of pints, much deserved.

Oh, and guess what. I’d forgotten to pack the Polar, HRM and my bike lock key…

Enjoyed it? of course, I did.

Inner Tay info leaflet (PDF File) HERE

Oh, and met this fellow later.

Oor Wullie

Oor Wullie

Day Two…..

An almost rectangular route this time, heading right out of the village toward Glamis along a well-kent road, I’d double checked if I’d meet any big hills but as I reached Balkeerie, the first rise of the day was pedalled up with no problem, I’d printed off a map of the area and had a quick look and down heading towards Craigton after crossing the A94, open fields with a single track road splitting them and the wind again, on my regular roads there are hedgerows, dry stone dykes to ‘hide’ behind but here was mostly just flat open countryside. The tower on Kinpurney Hill was in my vision at every turn, prominent at the top of its hill. It was a good marker later on as it let me know that Newtyle was getting nearer.

River Isla bridge

River Isla bridge

I joined the A923 at Craigton, heading south (I’d guess), passing through Airlie and Ruthven where I saw more daffodil fields in full bloom. I had to stop outside Alyth to check my route, I noticed a maintained area, flower beds, benches with a woven figure in a flower bed, the beds were in between planting.

Near Alyth

Near Alyth

I reached the junction where I’d head back across the country to reach Ardler, sweeping country road until I came across what, I thought was an odd, type of bridge over the River Isla, a metal bridge at Aberbrothie, possibly a replacement for a stone bridge as this area has a history of flooding. The road was quiet until I reached the busy A94 again, crossing at a dedicated bike crossing. Of course, Kinpurney Tower was still in my eye view. I soon passed through Ardler, I’d choose the road towards Keillor, just before I reached the road junction I stopped to look at a roadside ruin, I could see it could have been a doo’cot.

At the junction, it was left and a couple of miles back to my set-off point, 20 odd miles on new roads. I felt good after Monday’s run. One day left in the area.

Day Three to follow.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Up the Scottish Khyber……..

Carry on? on one of her many jaunts to the north of her queendom, Queen Victoria christened Glen Ogle ‘Scotland’s Khyber Pass‘, and after cycling up (us not her!), then back down through the glen. Who am I to disagree? A bit more peaceful I reckon.

The Roddy fella suggested an ‘oot’ but this time, I wasn’t told the venue, start or finish. I did remember one or two of his suggestions so it was off to find where I’ve stored his ‘ideas’ (and mine). I narrowed it down to three, Loch Katrine, Callander/Killin or Drymen/Aberfoyle.

I did get a hint the night before when I asked the food situation, I’d asked ‘carry’ or ‘dine out’. Callander it was.  A supermarket ‘Express’ store is located at the start, the same shop mentioned a few days earlier by Lora . You can’t fool the Mhor. Touche, Mr Rod.

The bike was ready to go at the designated time but in true fashion, he was late.

The bikes fitted to the back of the yellow Land Rover and we were off northwards on a crisp, frosty morning.

Leaving Callander, old railway bridge

Leaving Callander, old railway bridge

Getting dressed for this trip in a cold, ice patched car park next to a river is not recommended, this before heading north out of the village. NCN 7 to Killin, into the unknown (for both of us). I’d only briefly read a little of this section, I wish I’d read some more. The climbing legs would be needed on two sections. The grass edges were showing white frost rime as we travelled along a flat slightly uneven surface before hitting some icy stretches travelling through the Pass of Leny, the nearby Garbh Uisge was in good flow, I’d came upon a couple of patches just before the Ben Ledi car park and with flashbacks of a recent spill in mind but no repeat. the car park was busy with walkers heading up to one of the Trossachs high points.

Looking down Lubnaig

Looking down Lubnaig

Soon we were riding along the west bank of Loch Lubnaig, heading out past holiday cabins, the track started rising higher above the loch before meeting a forest track before dropping down through the village of Strathyre. We left Strathyre on a recently upgraded tarmac track before passing views opening down to Balquhidder, there is an alternative path which takes Balquhidder in but today, we carried on across the road and headed up past the old station area, the track at this point was mostly compressed whin dust. The track at this point is a cracking run, slight rises, falls with sweeping bends before running straight towards Creggan

Looking towards Balquhidder

Looking towards Balquhidder

but we had now left the original railbed which wound high above us but it was on to start heading up the ‘Zig Zags’, a rise of over 220ft in roughly half a mile, a constant climb up a tarmac track before meeting the original track bed, a welcome water break. As you rise excellent views of Loch Earn start showing to your right, soon we crossed the bridge to start the constant rise up through Glen Ogle, I was surprised to learn later that it was a Cat 3 climb, mind you, it was a good free run back down on the return journey. The green glen and road are a bit below the old railway track but the jewel of this track is the short run across the spectacular Glen Ogle stone viaduct,

Glen Ogle viaduct

Glen Ogle viaduct

this must have been an achievement to build this in so isolated a place, trains must have laboured up this route at such a gradient. Nothing stopped the Victorian railway pioneers. You could almost imagine the conditions the navvies must have worked and lived in. Their camps, conditions and winter working must have been tough. No ‘Health and Safety’ in those bygone days.

The sun was shining on the opposite side of the glen which made for keep a brisk pace up the chilly open hillside, The viaduct was soon passed after a quick look at its structure.

Its popularity as a walk was soon clear as we met many family parties heading in both directions. A ‘ting ting’ and a ‘good morning’ passed

Finally, Glen Ogle conquered and it was across the main road to ride alongside before through a gate and a three-mile descent to Killin, down first a steep tarmac track, a run through a rough grassy, edged forestry track riding along one of the two-wheel ‘grooves’ before heading down a wide roughish forest track to the village of Killin. Ice still showing in puddles as the thought of the climb back up to Ogle was playing on my mind.

Looking North

Looking North

The track now joined the main road with a stop to have a quick look at the Falls of Dochart then it was off to find a chippy, no joy so we headed back the way we had come but stopped at a picnic bench to stock up on carbs and liquid. It was chilly in the shade but after a quick coffee and sarnies, it was back to the busy track.

Fish and chips aren’t the healthiest of food but I don’t care, I’ve been watching the calories but I needed carbs for the haul up from Killin.

Looking towards the Lawers range

Looking towards the Lawers range

The run back up was a steady climb with the steepest part at the head of the glen but after crossing the road it was almost a 5 mile downhill run, the legs being pleased about that. It was now mid afternoon and we would be fighting the light to get back to the start. A short stop to look at the views above Lochearnhead before sweeping down through the ‘zig zags’, easier than the climb, then along the bends with their switchbacks, up and downs was fun. Climbing up through Strathyre, the light was fading fast. My thoughts of icy patches at the path between the car park and the Pass were at the back of my mind. The forest lodge resort was alive with people out for a pre-dinner stroll and as we left the Ledi car park, a couple stopped us to say ice was forming on sections of the path. Roddy proposed I led as my light was brighter, aye, right, you go first old yin and I’ll know its icy when you fall on your erse. I shrugged my shoulders but the return trip into Callander was incident free. One twitch of a back wheel on a wooden slatted bridge at the edge of the village was all, thankfully.

It was pitch dark now but we were safely back.

An excellent day, good company and one I’d gladly do again.

My thanks as always to Wikipedia and all I have linked to.

Further info on the old Callander/Oban/Killin railways HERE HERE

The video is a (2x) descent from the top of Glen Ogle down NCN 7 to Killin, this gives you an idea of the various surfaces the track throws at you. I have other sections on film which I may add to this post in the near future. A big thanks go to Sustrans and its volunteers who do such an admirable job on their network country-wide.

I mentioned navvies and work, camp conditions earlier. I’d recommend Patrick McGill’s ‘Children of the Dead End’ which gives some insights, part of the book has local connections as he worked on the Greenock-Ayrshire railway line which now is part of NCN 75. A track I use daily. The book is available online HERE, hard copies available from the usual places.

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Local Quirks

I’m always keeping an eye out for any photo opportunities when I’m out on the bike, here are some of the quirkiest things I’ve come across this west of Glasgow.

I think I’ve cycled every side and back road in this part of Renfrewshire, I see a track, I have a nosey, more often it just goes to a farm or dead-end. About turn and back out.

The ‘quirks’, two are on the same stretch of road, one I’d describe as a gazebo (Google said it was), one a ‘metal’ plaque which has become obsolete by thoughtless later planning (IMO) and the others? an odd thing in an obvious place, a stair which ends halfway down, another ‘Rest and be Thankful’ and an ornate fountain.

the-stone-throne

the-stone-throne

I’ll start with a ‘odd thing in an obvious place’, a ‘Stone Throne’ found at the top of Gallahill Rd, high above Langbank. I’ve been over that way recently ‘enjoying’ the Wall’, an 11% average short climb on the road heading west. A Strava segment makes a mention of ‘Stone Throne‘, I took this to be a reference to a local landmark but it took a few visits to realise what. I’ve taken photos but they do not do this man-made ‘throne’ any justice. It’s positioned at the apex of two steep ascents on this country road and has excellent views in a 270-degree vista.  A place to sit, enjoy the views N and W.  A work of rural art, perhaps.

gazebo at barnbeth rd

gazebo at barnbeth rd

The gazebo is next to Barnbeth House in what I assume was an old orchard but the land is presently being built upon, the gazebo shows the ravages of time, a fixing of the broken slates, a repaint and voilà.

Hopefully, it will be restored to its former glory, I’ll keep an eye. I’ve another post or two of ‘oddities’ in the pipeline so if repaired I’ll post an updated image.

Golf course plaque

Golf course plaque

Slightly further along the same road which splits a golf course, you come to a stone with a ‘silver’ metallic information plate, it stands at the 16th tee on the roadside. The tee named ‘Rothesay Pier’ see HERE

It has inscribed all the 54 hills and landmarks that would have been seen at one time from this viewpoint. Tree planting has taken place over the years and has obscured most of the views west and north. Course management coming into play. Someone has filled in the lettering with black paint at one time but unfortunately, only traces remain although the plate is perfectly readable. I normally stop there for a water break before dropping down into Ranfurly.

stairs to?

stairs to?enlarge

The stairs that go nowhere, cycling between Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch on NCN 7 in a cutting, there is a set of metal stairs (with handrail) but as the photo shows they just stop. On a closer inspection, there is a small concrete square in the rock face near the old track so I’m assuming at one point the stairs have been cut to the present level to prevent unauthorised access the logical explanation. Why not remove them completely?

the other

the other

Mention ‘Rest and be thankful’ and thoughts immediately go to the road which winds its way up from near Arrochar and drops down to Glen Kinglas, this one is a stone built shelter on the Beith Road as you pass through Johnstone, it was reputedly built by a local worthy in the 19th century.

the fountain

the fountain

Finally, I recently was on a geocache hunt which took me into Fountain Park near the centre of Paisley, I came across this ornate and colourful fountain, walruses guarding, cherubs holding crocodiles, dolphins, herons among others.Oriental? I’ll let you see more about it HERE and HERE. An impressive statue of Robert Burns stands nearby.

Thanks  to Wikipedia and the sources I have linked to. Click on images to enlarge.

rabbie

rabbie

 

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Into the (Arrochar) Alps…..

It was a welcome return visit to the head of Loch Long, the last twice I’d cycled in to the Arrochar area via Kilcreggan, the last was a left and up over the Rest and Be Thankful, the other a right turn across to Loch Lomond. I’d last been into the Arrochar Alps three years earlier when the iconic the Cobbler was the hill of choice.

I’d asked Lora if she fancied a hill over the weekend and due to the WX, plans were left but Sunday evening, a photo produced and ‘That one, please’, Narnain it was then. I had to hurriedly look out and get my radio equipment ready as the days of having a ready-to-go pack seemed over.

Check, double-check, mentally putting up the mast and antenna, connections and it looked all ready to go, handhelds to finish charging. I had packed everything, charged by early AM..

Loch Long

Loch Long

Waking up to a cloudy sky which soon cleared to show patches of blue, and off we headed.

Arriving at the roadside car park outside Arrochar, there were many cars already parked, the early birds were out. I’d alerted for around 12.30 local but was running late for once. oh, and a quid for parking? excellent, hats off to Argyll & Bute Council.

We’d stopped to pick up lunch (and another coffee) en-route at Dumbarton.

Off we set in sunshine, the first mile and just over 1,000 feet of ascent through the lower steep treeline, being passed by a pair of runners whom we would see later on the summit. Soon, we were on the open hillside, the view as you emerge for the treeline is one to enjoy, the high cliffs of Narnain on your right and the impressive faces of the Cobbler to your left, it made the hot slog through the breezeless forest worthwhile as a fair breeze was blowing down the Allt a’ Bhalachain which made for a pleasurable ascent along a well made and kept path.

The Cobbler from the ascent

The Cobbler from the ascent

A short break at the Narnain Stones, the ‘sleeping quarters’ of some of the early climbers to the area,  a drink and off up to the bealach where ‘tracks’ to the three hills merge, the Cobbler path was busy and the odd walker could be spotted ascending the highest hill, Beinn Ime. We took the first path up Narnain with over 900ft still to ascend, slowly over a varied broken path, with boggy stony patches everywhere. Soon we were making our way through a fallen stone field, it levelled, the stone shelter and the trig point let us know we had arrived at the flattish rock strewn summit. Narnain means ‘Hill of notches’ in Gaelic. The views today were excellent in all directions as on my last visit in 2012, I had ascended in poor visibility due to the clag being down, I had one fleeting glimpse down Loch Long that day but the return trip made up for it. There are too many hills on the horizon to mention so have a look HERE. I use the app which is handy when just on even local hills.

Beinn an Lochain, Luibhean and Binnein an Fhidlheir

Beinn an Lochain, Luibhean and Binnein an Fhidhleir

I found a grassy spot, set up the radio equipment and thought I have a better look after I’d finished. I first called out on 4m FM and surprisingly worked 2 stations, MTJ and USI, Paisley and mobile in Glasgow. I kept calling but nothing, between calls I built up the 3 element quad. A quick changeover of antennas and I logged another 10 contacts on 2m, Rob YTS on Tinto, YMM and AXY through in Edinburgh, UYE in Stirling, HQC Largs, KSJ Wemyss Bay, ROT Port Glasgow, next were two contacts into Northern Ireland, AZA and AZB both on Loughermore in the Sperrin Mountains, finally IPO in Knightswood, Glasgow. I’ll take that, 12 contacts on a weekday isn’t shoddy. 3 were STS (summit to summit), excellent. I’d normally have a break and try again but when I’m with someone non-radio orientated I can’t spend too much time but I’d been on air for over an hour. I sat and took in the view down Loch Long, Ailsa Craig stood out in the far distance over 100 kms away. Time for lunch, a certain bakery ‘tuna crunch baguette’ was enjoyed, Bob is going through a calorie conscious time in his now later life, a target has been set and hopefully the ‘Mhor’ can be renamed.  I wonder what the gaelic for ‘slightly less than big’ is. I’ll never achieve a pro cyclists body shape.. but I’m doing fine.

Looking down the Loch

Looking down the Loch

 

With everything packed away it was time to take took a wander around the summit plateau, snapping the views. Dark clouds were now scuttling above us, it was time to descend as light rain had been forecast for late afternoon. We retraced our steps and not long were at the bealach and turning down the Allt.

Ascent panorama

Ascent panorama

I knew of a geocache at the Narnain Stones HERE so it was a stop and soon we found the container, the log signed and placed back in its hidey hole, no. 275 logged.

Bob and Lora

Bob and Lora

As we dropped into the treeline, the first spits of rain started and it was a steady walk down, this area is midge heaven and I didn’t want to stop for I’d be eaten alive by the wee beasties.

There are other routes up Narnain, the traditional direct one from the car park, which takes you past the well-known ‘Spearhead’, some light scrambling required HERE

I was glad to reach the car, I must work on lightening the load, age? lack of fitness? I dunno. Boots off and trainers on, relief!

An hour plus later, we were home, a coffee poured.

A great day out, pleasant company and with views this time, happy? yeah.

Oh, I’ve still more images to sort out so pay another visit and see what else there is.

Beinn Narnain info HERE

Interesting article on climbing history in the area (mostly the Cobbler) HERE

My previous posts in the immediate area HERE HERE HERE

As usual, click on each image to embiggen

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Where Next, Indeed…………………

Aye, where?

I’d been asking about NCR 755, the Strathkelvin Railway Path, from Graeme as local knowledge always helps. I had decided at some point to visit the area and tying in with my last blog post that I’d made the trip out 754 to Kirkintilloch which handily would allow me to tie in with the path and its journey along westwards along the edge of the Campsie Fells.

At the end of the path, would I take the busy route down through Glasgow or enjoy a reverse of my NCR 7 journey to Drymen, remembering this time to avoid the main A811 road to Balloch. Croftamie was my chosen turning home point and a run down NCR 7.

I choose what turned out a perfect day weather wise and set off down to sea level, it’s good dropping almost 500 ft but not returning. Soon I was through Langbank, Bishopton and crossing over the busy Erskine Bridge.

A quick drop down the Lusset Glen and a turn on to NCR 7, travelling eastwards along the Forth and Clyde Canal working my way through Clydebank, into Glasgow then up past the Kelvin Walkway over Maryhill Locks and soon I was down, under and on NCR 754 heading east to my first destination, Kirkintilloch, I’ll link to earlier blog posts which have info and images of the in and outwards journeys HERE HERE HERE

Dunglass

Dunglass

The track along 755 at this point is a mixture of whin dust and tarmac, today I met a few cyclists and walkers as it had been a quiet journey last time. I mulled over to explore a bit further thinking maybe out to the Carron Sea Lock but nope, I decided to turn back at Twechar Bridge retracing my steps to Kirkintilloch. The canal out from Glasgow is a bit bland in places with very little to break up the route but except the occasional canal boat. I spotted a well weathered stone pillar with the initials ‘FCN’, it was ‘Forth Clyde Navigation’. An old marking stone. I saw the sign for 755 but carried on into Kirkie to pick up something for lunch, soon stuffed into the back pouches on my cycling top, and in pro-cycling fashion, it was a filled baguette. it was now to find my way down to 755. I’d checked street view so it was easily found.

I set off along a tree covered tarmac path, I stopped at the first bench to have lunch, a healthy one to boot. No chippy for Bob. I was soon passing through Milton of Campsie with its ornate well designed tunnel frontage, the track although tarmac here is a bit bumpy in places. I skirted Lennoxtown as the path runs parallel to the Glazert Water as it heads down to meet the Kelvin.

Dumgoyne

Dumgoyne

I was soon in open countryside with the Campsies prominent to the north and  I stopped to admire an impressive basalt volcanic plug which is Dunglass, one of the few in the area. An impressive landscape feature. The track is part of the Thomas Muir Way, not the well-kent Muir but I’ll leave it to this to tell about him HERE and HERE, a bit of a lad indeed.

Glengoyne distillery

Glengoyne distillery

Too soon, it was the track end and the town of Blanefield, on road again, I took my choice, the A81 westbound. It was busy and surprisingly, I was glad of the odd rise and fall in the road after many miles of ‘flat’ cycling, I passed the eerie ruins of Killearn Hospital en-route. I was to look for B834 and A809 which would take me to Croftamie. I carried on past the twin plugs of  Dumgoyne and Dumfoyne and stopped for a water (aye, water) break outside Glengoyne Distillery, lots of tourists visiting today. Busy snapping photos with themselves and the distillery in their background. The West Highland Way runs parallel at this point.

It was off again and I turned into B834 and set up a long ramp to head west at the junction, views of Ben Lomond and the north were stunning. I thought that I’d maybe missed the road I wanted but soon I could see the village ahead, I looked for the 7 sign, I previously been up this way and along an old railway bed  (Forth and Clyde Junction) I headed. It was on to quiet country roads and could see an occasional stretch of obvious old railway en-route. I did think of heading down Auchencarroch Road into Jamestown but I’ll save that for another day. I met a few cyclists wending their way NE. I was in familiar territory so I knew I’d be heading down before crossing the A811 and uphill into Balloch Castle Country Park, an impressive grassland area.  I would find a now regular run down the side of the River Leven, busy with anglers today even with bright sunshine. I passed through Dumbarton, skirted Milton, through Bowling where I’d meet the canal again.

Looking west from south of Croftamie

Looking west from south of Croftamie

It was over the bridge and down through Erskine, I’d join the Houston Rd at Inchinnan end and make my way to  NCR 75 and home. I spent part of the journey speaking with a Dutch couple who were heading across to Argyll, where’s my bivvy bag?

85 miles travelled, a new Bob record although the mileage is irrelevant, I had a great day out, new places visited and all enjoyed. Where next, indeed.

NCR 75 HERE HERE

NCR 7 HERE  HERE

NCR 754 HERE 

NCR 755 HERE

All things Sustrans HERE Sustrans Scotland HERE

Previous posts HERE HERE

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Up The Kelvin Walkway, Where Next?

I’ve since as noted on the last blog post ,I did a reverse of the walkway run with the Roddy fella.

The legs had been resting after a month in which I reached over 700 pedalling miles, I’d realised that I was just over 8 short as I uploaded my latest ‘oot’ on the 31st and pondered ‘will I or won’t I’ to go out and nab the ‘extra’ miles, I bit the bullet after teatime and had a run of just over what I needed. 700 bagged and a new high monthly total, I now think I’ll take it easy.

The following day, I did absolutely nothing, never moved.

I set off with the intention of joining NCN 75 and following the well-signposted route through Elderslie, Paisley, Pollok Country Park then over the M8 and into Govan.

Kirklee Bridge stone

Kirklee Bridge stone

I joined Govan Rd. just before Kingston Bridge and made my way to the excellent two-way cycle lane which brought me out at the Squiggly Bridge, poshly known as the Tradeston Bridge.

I wandered westwards through walkers, workers on their break, runners, tourists towards the SECC area where just past, I’d walk over a bridge spanning the busy A814 which takes you into the lower half of Kelvinside.

I made my way towards Kelvinside Park before heading upwards via the Walkway to the Forth & Clyde Canal at the Locks, having reached the canal, and after further reading about the area after posting my previous post. I found it amazing to read that the first ‘Puffer’ was built at the nearby Kelvin Dock, the ‘Puffer’ was a traditional Clyde boat, a potted history HERE. The most famous ‘puffer’ was, of course, the Vital Spark the command of a certain Peter MacFarlane (Para Handy). 

Firhill Stadium

Firhill Stadium

It was off eastwards and once again, I missed the turn off which would take me along the Falkirk branch of the canal, there is a trend here but I never planned the route, honest! Winging it is much more fun although later I would find that a preread would have improved my understanding of the area I could be passing through but hey, it’s an excuse to return and explore.

I soon was travelling along an excellent pathway, this was the Glasgow branch, just NE of the city centre passing Firhill Stadium and the basin where I once fished on an odd occasion, a few anglers were ‘waggling’ today. I soon arrived at the impressive Speirs Wharf (named after Alexander Speirs, one of the Glasgow Tobacco lords) and it’s converted buildings, I was now in Port Dundas the end of the Glasgow branch of the canal, time to head back I. An area steeped in industrial history.

Speirs Wharf

Speirs Wharf

I stopped at the canal junction, a sign pointing to Falkirk when I came across the obvious junction with its navigation sign, sod it I’m off to Kirkintilloch and I could have a late lunch to boot. Down onto a short stretch of road and, I was soon pedalling on a narrow canal path eastwards, I passed a very occasional walker and canal boat, mostly pleasure cruises.  I skirted Bishopbriggs, Cadder and just before the Stables I came across the weed cutting boat hard at work,see previous post for an image of. A never-ending job in summer months. With the ecology on the canal, a much safer and cheaper option than chemical means. The Southbank Marina bridge (the ‘pointy bridge’) just before Kirkintilloch was an attention grabber as I cycled past.

I arrived at Kirkintilloch where I proceeded to find my lunch. The path from Glasgow had been quiet, the odd drop of rain in the air may have been the reason. I cycled back along a short stretch and found a bench where I fueled up with a healthy baguette washed down by Scotland’s other national drink, the sugar was needed, you see. I’d watched two canal pleasure boats pass and thought an idea for another day.

Pointy Bridge

Pointy Bridge

I’d passed through an area with a strong Roman history with the Antonine Wall crossing the canal at one point. Another excuse for heading back. The canal engineer John Smeaton had followed the route of the wall in places.

The skies were now becoming awfy dull and I hoped that I would avoid the worst of any rain. It was a reverse back to north Glasgow and a run along a now familiar north bank towards the Erskine Bridge. I passed the fish and chip boat at Clydebank and quickly made my way west before temptation set in, calorie counting is taking its toll, I shall try the wares someday.

On the last stretch heading into Old Kilpatrick, the rain lightly fell and climbing up Lusset Glen, I sensed a wet journey home but after I crossed the Erskine Bridge, I took my normal run of over by Bishopton, the Barochan Road to Houston and the short run to Bridge of Weir. The heavens opened at the viaduct in BoW and the last six miles was done in the pouring rain.

I arrived home with 75 miles clocked, a new furthest distance for me. My limit going by the aches and pains but funnily not the legs, age showing its face I think, we’ll see.

I read this HERE and having no experience of the areas mentioned, I have to say the state of the cycle tracks I used on this trip were nothing short of excellent, very little broken glass encountered but I accept you must and will meet this on your travels, the litter problem is well looked after by certain councils and Sustrans volunteers whom I met a group of on the stretch west of Canal St, Paisley. If you meet any workers/volunteers, please always say a ‘thank you!’.

Another day, another adventure, where next?

Further reading, I recently read and enjoyed Last of the Puffermen by Keith McGinn, the story of a life spent working the ‘coastal tred’ and of course, the Para Handy books.

Sustrans Scotland HERE

Cycling Scotland HERE

Scottish Canals HERE

To embiggen any image, just click on it.

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Down the Kelvin Walkway

I was cycling along the B788 mid-week when I was rudely honked at.

I thought ‘I know that vehicle’ and at the next junction, a smiling face was offering me toffees, the whole packet, but I resisted accepting only a handful as I needed some sugar, you see.

It was the Roddy fella so a ‘get up to date’ chat and the thought of another cycling adventure was hatched.

‘Where ?’, ah, Roddy had asked at one point about the run along the north bank of the river from Glasgow. I thought as I’ve been up a few times we’d catch the one down Route 75, 7 across the river and back along 754 (Sustrans routes). Sustrans info HERE.

A day was arranged, now yep, you guessed the WX was watched so the intended route was reversed but it was suggested (by R) to incorporate the Kelvin Walkway so it was off to read up as I’d never ventured to that area. A visit to poltaroute.com and I soon had the route planned and loaded into my v650.

It promised rain later and strong breezes but as we left and headed down to the A8, it was dry and making excellent time along through Langbank and up to Bishopton, heading out and soon up over the Erskine Bridge.

River Kelvin

River Kelvin

A quick drop down Lusset Glen and it was east along the Forth & Clyde canal, a cracking surface and today, busy with both walkers and cyclists. An excellent facility, the cycle counter at Clydebank showed plenty daily activity so far. I did the usual tourist guide and pointed out stuff (stuff? You know what I mean), all other bikes seemed to be heading west today and soon we were on virgin ground (to me), stopping to look at this and that before Bob missing our turn off at Maryhill Locks (duh), a quick check and back to our downward drop through the said walkway, impressive structures en route. My excuse is the map shows cycle tracks in a broken red line, the route? is a solid red track.

Iron bridge

Iron bridge

I liked the fact the Walkway was a downhill drop, I like downhill.

Bridges?, there are quite a few, grandly built in a style which sadly isn’t used nowadays, Kirklee Bridge, a red sandstone bridge with grand pink granite columns,  Gibson St Bridge with its ornate cast iron metal work and city coats of arms, Ha’penny Bridge which was swept away but replaced with a modern version amongst others. There is pillar remains the entire length of the river walkway.

The Roddy fella

The Roddy fella

One intriguing ruin is that of the old North Woodside flint mill which has been preserved after closure in the 1960s, the river was once littered with mills along its length which used it as a disposal point for their effluent and had killed the river of its wildlife, now salmon and trout and many species of birds have returned.

It was a quick run down before a tentative run round the BMX track in Kelvingrove Park as a bit of fun, I should act my age, before finding our way down to the city waterfront.

The city waterfront was quieter than normal, it can be chaotic at points during the day, we cycled to the squiggly bridge and sat and admired the view.

Boat at Dalmuir

Boat at Dalmuir

It was on to the 2-way cycle lane on the south side of the river, under the Kingston Bridge and a stop for a burger lunch.

It was now to find Route 7, a job that I keep failing in, I can find the way to Kinning Pk but keep taking the wrong path but finally it was up over the M8 and onward to Pollok Park, a steady run through parkland and along the bank of the White Cart before a run through housing estates before meeting up with the dedicated path at Hunterhill, through Canal St and soon we were in Elderslie, not long to home, 11 miles.

It was a now very familiar run up Route 75 from Linwood and back home.

50 miles logged and a fun day out.

If you had told me a few years ago, I’d be now regularly cycling to Glasgow city centre, I’d have scoffed but this makes a good circuit which has a few different routes home on the north bank of the river.

I have since made the trip going the opposite way with a grandstand finish last few miles over two steep rises I hadn’t attempted before from the back of Langbank to Kilmacolm, I’d forgot the Barochan Road was closed, oh well.

Rather than me prattling on about the Kelvin Walkway and its history, I’ll link to HERE HERE HERE

Botanic Garden heritage trail (PDF) HERE

Sustrans Glasgow Waterways Loop map HERE

Scottish Canals Cycling HERE

Maryhill Locks HERE

Thanks go to Walkhighlands, Wikipedia, Scotcities, Glasgow City Council and Sustrans.

Kirklee Bridge photo © the Roddy fella

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Glen Fruin (on a whim)

My impulsiveness shows no ending when I leave out on my bike. I check the weather before I head to get prepared. Uphill or downhill?  I decide a rough route after the first rise as I see what my legs are saying. I come to a junction and at 50% of the time, I just choose what way. I have been known to preplan something but rarely. I see a side road, where does that lane go to?  Plenty of time to explore.

This run was no different, I’d left mid morning a little later than normal and stopped to chat with old workmates. I’d mentally made a thought of heading up, over and back over the Erskine Bridge.

10 miles later, I was topping the bridge and as I swung under to return, I just dropped down  Lusset Glen.  A quick left, right and I was on Route 7 and heading west alongside the canal and its boat harbour and up over on to the track built on the old Lanarkshire and Dumbarton railway. I decided as I was later out than normal, I’d drop into a nearby service station for some lunch but it was busy. I thought there must be somewhere else (it turned out to Roseneath).

Forth and Clyde Canal

Forth and Clyde Canal

I headed towards Bonhill where I’d drop down and join the track which runs alongside the River Leven, yes, the last and other posts have this run. Soon I was in Balloch, I keep missing the path but after a quick run through the Shores car park, I was soon passing through Duck Bay, I saw two portable barbeques being used and the skewers on one looked inviting.

The Arden roundabout was crossed and next to the B831 to Helensburgh, there is an excellent cycle path which runs to above Helensburgh but today, I’d head off into Glen Fruin at the Crosskeys roundabout.

Heading down into the glen

Heading down into the glen

I was soon pedalling up, and up until finally, I could see the glen ahead. I have been along the newer Haul Rd which runs parallel just a few hundred yards to the north with its rollercoaster of hills and dips. It was done on a June ’14 day but WX was much different, I’d suffered from the sun and heat that day and as I dropped down the first hill today, the rain came on, heavy.

A stop at the bottom and a throw on of a waterproof top but in usual sod’s law, the rain stopped. I could see activity on the road ahead and I got waved through by the local estate shepherds who were ready move a flock to the west side of the glen.

Oh boy !

Oh boy !

I could see work taking place on the new John Muir Way path which comes over from Helensburgh and runs along the Fruin hillside. I could see the route up Auchengaich Hill and a figure in red jacket moving down, I assume coming from Beinn Chaorach.

I could see the road slowly rising out of the glen and a quick drop before the slog upwards, I came across a sign which told me ‘troops may be training, expect loud explosions or illumination’, I did try to see if the red flag was flying on the nearby Strone (the ridge up Beinn a’Mhanaich) which indicates if training is taking place but low cloud masked any view.

The road surface was far better than I’d expected, a smooth surface and a joy to plod on even the hills which I’d really meet as I exited the glen, finally at the top, I’d the choice of dropping down or taking a short MOD blocked road.

River Fruin

River Fruin

The short cut it was although looking back I should have taken the direct road, next time! I just wanted to whizz quickly downhill into Garelochhead. The main road was strangely quiet and I passed Faslane Naval Base then into the village where I took the road to down the Gareloch towards Kilcreggan and my intended ferry trip back to Gourock on the south bank of the Clyde. The road along the loch was busy as I neared Clynder, a rumbling tum and a lack of food meant the next food stop I was filling up. I spot a sign for Polly’s Cafe but as I passed, it was closed. I cycled up into Roseneath, I saw a Co-op, I parked up and headed in, a BLT sandwich and a can of Irn Bru.

I sat on a nearby church dyke, enjoying the sandwich and drink and thought not long until the pier. I forgot how steep a rise was between the villages but I soon topped and freewheeled to the pierhead. I’d 30 mins until the ferry left. I sat and enjoyed the view.

Kilcreggan hasn’t really changed much since I spent my ‘holidays’ with my dad in an old canvas tent, a couple of old army blankets and my days spent on the beach fishing with a handline, gathering whelks and mussels for a ‘boiling’, aye, good easy living. We’d spend a fortnight (or near enough) unless the weather really got bad.

Polly at Kilcreggan

Polly at Kilcreggan

Soon the ferry arrived at Gourock Pier and it was 7 miles until home, I cycled towards where Route 75 would start to go uphill but instead of following the recommend route, a detour cut out some of the steep stuff and soon it was the track to almost home.

53 miles in the log and a great day out (they all are).

I’ll certainly redo this outing.

I’m really peeved at missing the stone commemorating the Battle which took place in Glen Fruin at the west end just before you rise out of the Glen, an excuse to return, eh?

I’ll link to HERE HERE for further info on the battle.

My thanks to Wikipedia and other websites linked to.

 

Click on any image to embiggen.

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

A Few Days In Life Of…….

We have had sun, sun, sun which has made May one early summer month. (yeah, I know it’s now June)

Lora, my oldest daughter took the plunge and bought herself a bike. It looks like being a winner and has me touring around showing her some routes and destinations.

We’ve been east, west, south and now it was the turn to head north, to the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. I’ve been to Balloch on more than a few occasions but this would be Lora’s first 40-mile plus run. I’ve tested out my Polar v650 new routing facility so it was to plotaroute.com and creating a route using the cycle tracks and roads we would take. One variant on the return journey from the normal route would let me see the mapping in operation (worked well, bright sunshine kinda made it a bit harder to keep an eye on)

Loch Lomond from Balloch Pier

Loch Lomond from Balloch Pier

Bikes had a quick check over and off we headed, a day for first putting on sunscreen and even as it was a Bank Holiday Monday the initial roads were quiet, I did put in an effort up Hatton Brae but only equalled my 3rd best time, I’d thought I’d cracked it, another time. We met at the top and cycled through Bishopton, up over the Erskine Bridge and a drop down through Lusset Glen (kudos to the volunteers who keep the glen neat and litter-free) to join Route 7 at the Old Ferry Road in Old Kilpatrick. The track was busy, walkers, dogs and cyclists aplenty all heading one way, west. Another excellent surfaced track.

It wasn’t long before we were heading through Dumbarton and heading on to the track which runs along the west bank of the river Leven. For a sunny, blue sky day, the river was busy with anglers, bait, spinning and fly fishermen but the river was flowing through at a fair rate.

Lora and the Maid of the Loch

Lora and the Maid of the Loch

It wasn’t long until we reached Balloch and headed through the busy parkland paths and reach our destination at Balloch Pier. We parked our bikes next to the Maid of the Loch and enjoyed the view of the Ben, slightly under cloud.

A quick break then it was a return down the track to Bonhill Bridge where we’d detour south along the A813 to Dumbarton and our lunch break at Greggs. Coffee and a filled roll, one thing out cycling together we eat well. I’m nromally guilty of buying chocolate.

The route I’d planned in now came into use and we followed it through Dumbarton and not before long back on familiar ground. We headed back the reverse direction which I knew would be interesting as the rise to home from sea-level is up some seriously steep rises but a quick last water break and a slow plod up and I’d made it to home. The legs would be feeling this later. An excellent day out and just over 45 miles logged.

Bogside gun emplacement

Bogside gun emplacement

I headed out the next day and thought the time to test the legs again, I headed to Kilmacolm and the steep climb over West Glen with its welcome downhill drop and your choice of the route but instead of heading south towards Houston, I’d travel across to Gallahill Rd and up to the telecommunication masts. I knew there are constant steep rises before I’d stop and check out a geocache site at Bogside. I gradually worked up and came to the last rise before the top, aye, this looked a steep ‘un but I just turned the pedals and made the top. I now know the steep rise is locally known as ‘The Wall’, I made my way over to the gate where I’d head in and check out the WW2 anti-aircraft battery of Bogside (Gallahill Wood). I parked the bike and made my way over a nearby fence and wander about the buildings and old gun emplacements, still in good condition considering the 70 odd years they have been in place, graffiti covers some of the buildings, maybe a couple of bulls which live in the field containing the nearby High Mathernock battery buildings would help keep people away. The battery was built on a hilltop which has great all round vision, communication masts are nearby now being surrounded by conifer trees and sadly more than a few spoil heaps of discarded fly-tipping.

View from top of Gallahill Rd

View from top of Gallahill Rd

I’ll leave the history of Bogside (Gallahill Wood) AA Battery to these HERE HERE

It was then back and down to meet Old Greenock Rd and its long drop down to the back of Langbank, where next? Bishopton, Houston? a last second swing right and Netherton Rd was next, another hill, I was pushing today, into the lower gear and a stifling ascent along a breezeless narrow tarmac road, once topped the breeze returned and it was off to head towards Houston and home. Good leg stretches which I recently reprised.

The geocache? it had been muggled and not replaced, time to place another in the area, I think.

I’ve recently been venturing further east and now just disappearing down side roads, industrial estates just for a nosey. I’ll document a few of these soon, an excuse to return to some of them.

 

 

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

Images……from my week

Dipper in Gotter Water

Dipper in Gotter Water

Cycling over the new bridge at Quarriers Village, I spot this wee fella and a quick turnaround and he waited patiently on me setting up. Every bridge seems to have a Dipper but can be hard to spot, the white breast gives it all away.

Wheatear

Wheatear

I was dropped off at the Greenock Cut car park early the previous Saturday morning and just as I crested the Waterman’s Road, I spotted a Wheatear, another patient subject.

Lazy day

Lazy day

These calves never seem to move far from this spot on the south side of Devol Rd…nice and clean until the midweek rain and glad I snapped them at this point.

Glennifer Braes car park view north

Glennifer Braes car park views north

Last Thursday, I headed up to the well know ‘Car park in the sky’ to catch someone on the radio and whilst I waited I tried out the panorama feature on my camera. Oh, and what a hill to climb on a bike.

Grey Wagtail at Gryfe

Grey Wagtail at Blacksholm bridge, Strathgryfe

and finally two local

North from Port Glasgow golf course (Devol Rd)

North from Port Glasgow golf course (Devol Rd)

North West from Devol Rd

North West from Devol Rd

Click on each image to embiggen

Image | Posted on by

Doon The Watter………….again

It’s back to Wemyss Bay on Easter Friday, I had to enjoy another trip down the river from Gourock to Rothesay. Pier renovation work has been taking place down at Wemyss Bay over the winter and Gourock was the port in use. Gourock is much handier for me as for Wemyss Bay (no shame) I normally catch the train and it is a rush to buy a ticket then board the ferry.

The week ahead promised to be dry so first day available it was. Parcel deliveries killed Monday, Tuesday? yeah, why not….

Bike checked, then off down through (and past!) commuter traffic heading west, around 9 am is not a good time, I’d ahem, used the empty pavements then down along the waterfront joining Route 75 at the harbour then along shared use walkways, pavements until Greenock Esplanade where dog walkers used the cycle path and I kept to the main path until ‘Billy’ attacked me, a dog the size of my trainer decided Polly was the focus of his anger. His owner apologised for his bravado, I smiled and went on my way, it wasn’t to be the only dog ‘attack’ this day.

DSC00433

Gourock Pier

 

Not before long, I was cycling onto Gourock Pier where tickets bought, I was soon in line waiting on the good ship ‘Argyle’, a busy day with cyclists as another 6 were making the crossing, three were to do the ‘Three Ferries’ (see HERE) route.

It was down to park the bike on the car deck then up to find a seat and enjoy the 45 min trip ‘doon the watter’. A chill breeze rippled the water, some snow still was showing on the Arrochar hills, a scattering on one or two Cowal ones. Dunoon soon slipped by followed by the Cloch, Inellean and soon Toward was on our port side and the turn into Rothesay Bay. I could see Largs, the Cumbraes, Holy Isle et al to the south-west.

onboard

A life on the ocean wave

The sun shone as we berthed, a warming glow sheltered in the car deck, cars and lorries were first to leave followed by us cyclists. I’d thought about the route, the strong breeze was from the east so I thought 50-50 no matter whatever route I’d take. I decided on Ascog, Kerrycroy then round to Ettrick Bay, and lunch. The road was quiet on the trip round to Ettrick Bay, a trip of just over 20 miles. Lunch was the usual, with homefries and a chilled juice. I chatted whilst sitting looking at the view across the bay to Arran, one you could never tire of. It was time to take the 5-mile trip back to the pier, I had no idea of ferry times so I decided to head over and if I had to wait, I’d padlock the bike and I’d pass time strolling along the prom, ice cream too. Coming through Port Bannatyne, I saw the ferry berthing so a kick up the gears and I drew into the boarding area with plenty of time.

 

The sun made the decision that I’d sit outside on the return journey and enjoy the rays. I watched the ropes being loosened and taken on board  and the boat edged out then picked up speed and Bute was quickly left behind summer visit? hell, yes.

DSC00444.jpg

Loading up

 

Back in Gourock, I had 7 miles to home but as my usual route was off limits, off I went wondering the easiest climb would be.

It was into a now stiff breeze, I retraced my morning route and I decided on local roads, after almost 40 miles my legs were not for steep and I did walk up some of the hills.

In the back gate, just over 40 miles logged, a good day, a great circular route, life was good, legs weren’t too weary. Oh and the other dog?, ‘Bailey’ took exception to me at Ettrick Bay.

I’ve not included many images as there are plenty in my last two trips, click HERE  HERE and of course, the Three Ferries blog already linked.

A time lapse excerpt of my trip around the island…..

Posted in Oot'n'Aboot

A Busy Week Indeed…………………

A busy week indeed for yer man. Interspersed with a couple of bike rides to the east and south of the county, I had daily walks over hills and dales, one day venturing to my old stamping ground of Corlic, two reasons which were, I hadn’t been on the hill for a month or so and to catch Iain WJZ, doing  an SOTA activation just to the north of Corlic on The Brack. A pleasant journey via Garshangan Rd and a direct route from the higher Gryffe dam whilst being entertained by a pair of Reed Buntings who seemed to follow me at a safe distance as I walked the grassy path up from the dam wall.

Looking from the Pencil

Looking from the Pencil

I headed down via the south-east moorland. Other walks were a trip to Largs, an on the spur moment, it depended on whether the Largs or Gourock bus arrived first if Gourock I’d have crossed to Kilcreggan but as the Largs one drew in, I was soon heading to North Ayrshire.

I got off just before the mouth of the Noddle Burn(apparently called the Noddsdale Burn) and walked the esplanade paths to out past the marina at its far end, I did some geocaching en route, 4 bagged and one to return to. Regular readers will know I stayed there for six years in the 70s, it was a trip down memory lane in a sort of way although I do have an occasional visit but mostly car, a few on the bike I may add but in warmer weather, The sun had disappeared but a slow steady pace kept me warm and there hasn’t really been all that much changed except as you approach the marina.

The Pencil

The Pencil

This once had been an excellent shore walk alongside a railway banking to almost Fairlie but now a shared used path is in place, I must head back down with the bike to explore. The hills of Arran were snow capped showing behind Great Cumbrae, the views to Ailsa Craig and north to Bute and Cowal were excellent. I headed back via the back streets to see some old stomping grounds and after a quick bite to eat, the rain appeared so it was off home…

On Friday, I had headed late afternoon to try to catch some SOTA stations to the east from the local trig point, I caught one on Cairnpapple Hill almost 70 km away, I waited on the other but no joy then I decided to head a different way home and as I started the walk back, I spotted a short-eared owl hunting in the expanse of grasslands to the west of me. I stood and watched it soar over the rough ground looking for its supper. It disappeared after 5 mins. I spent an hour the next evening in the same area watching but nothing.

View from Conic Hill along boundary fault

View from Conic Hill along boundary fault

I had been thinking of heading out for an SOTA activation and had looked at both my regular Luss hills but Lora had just bought a new pair of walking boots so a choice of Conic Hill at Balmaha was made. The boots were new and as Conic is a short, sharp rise it would be a good test. I quickly got everything ready for the next morning.

It had been six months since I last activated but everything was still packed in a state of readiness but a full check had to be done and handheld batteries charged.The usual double check just in case…

Luss and Arrochar Hills

Luss and Arrochar Hills

It was off mid-morning towards Balmaha, a return to Conic Hill which I’d first activated in 2009. The day was sunny, light breeze with a sharpness to it, excellent walking conditions. A stop en-route at a Greggs for a coffee and bacon roll and onwards through Balloch, Drymen and we were soon turning down to Balmaha.

The car park was now busy and a constant stream of folk heading out the forest path which soon takes you out onto open countryside. There has been great work done on the lower access path with wooden and stone steps being used to combat the erosion caused by so many walkers. It was busy.

Lora and the view north

Lora and the view north

We made our way up the final path and took the short sharp rise to the viewpoint summit, I’d thought of heading to the nearest high part to do my activation where it was less busy.

I threw up the antenna for 4m and gave a few calls, in between I built the 2m beam but 4m wasn’t a success so it was off with the antenna and quickly the beam was in place, I called and worked Jim GLM who was on Bishop Hill just east of Loch Leven in Fife, an STS start to the day, next was a station in Greenock followed by Neil NCM out for stroll with Cat CNC on the banks of Loch Bradan (or Braden?), a quick chat with Neil and next in the log were stations in Mauchline, Kilkerran, East Kilbride, Ayr, Shotts, Glasgow, Paisley and two stations on Cold Fell, one of the north Pennine hills SE of Carlisle.

Stations worked

Stations worked

Finally, I worked Brian HMZ in Howwood, Roddy IOB in Gourock and one in Milngavie. A total of 17 stations in just over an hour, a break for some scran then time to go back over to the busy ‘view’ hill.

Rocky path

Rocky path

The 270° views were excellent, the hills above 1,800ft were snow capped as if someone had drawn a line along them. A haze in the distance but I could still the Old Kilpatrick hills, the North Ayrshire hills, the hills of Arran and the south basin of Loch Lomond spread out below me. It really is a ‘must see’ hill. Conic is part of the Highland Fault Line which I’ll leave to the experts to relate to you HERE

Time to head down, a lazy saunter and not before long were getting ready to leave a now full car park.

A sunny day from start to finish, a cooling breeze on top of the hill, tee shirt weather..not bad for the end of February. A good week in all with lots done in good weather, it will take a lot to beat this in the following weeks!

Thanks go to those sites whom I’ve linked to…