Cowal calling…….

I haven’t posted for a while, folks. Time to get back on track.

I was to do my yearly review but I think it will now take the place of my regular ‘Radio Days’ post as nothing has really happened in the radio field. Back to the ‘day oot’.

I had been out over the previous two days racking up 42 windy miles and with the best weather forecast of the holiday period beckoning. It was where and how.

Roddy IOB had mailed me midweek about a line of pylons which cross Loch Long from the Cowal side just N of Ardentinny and it was put into the back of the mind I would go check this out. Was it one of the usual tracks but a light bulb popped up and it was Ardentinny. I thought pylons or over Glen Finart. I’d decide when I arrive at the pier or on the road.

This all took place at 6am (possibly earlier), I sat monitoring the HF bands while I worked what I was to do. Sod it, got all I needed ready, fresh water, a couple of cereal bars (Lidl’s Crowni bars recommended) and a quick check of all backup in case of punctures etc.

I had by this time missed the early train to Gourock so I put the extra time to good use and soon I was slaloming downhill (potholes) to the local station. The train had a cycle area so a seat this time. I reached Gourock and time was tight to catch the ferry.

Looking NW up the Holy Loch

Looking NW up the Holy Loch

The lad on the ferry helpfully placed my bike in a safe area and I headed inside to enjoy a calm crossing. 25 minutes later, I was wheeling Polly off the boat and up to the main road. I headed right along the promenade towards Hunters Quay where I would stop at the Ardnadam war memorial to seek a cache. I saw the nano as I arrived. Logged. The morning was brisk with just a light breeze.

I looked out on the loch which had been an American Navy base during the cold war and was silent now. The odd evidence of that heyday still show. Further up the loch, post war America’s Cup challengers were built at Robertson’s boatyard. Today timber is shipped from the pier at Sandbank whilst a marina development is ongoing.

It was off to meet the A815 to the top of the Holy Loch, the road was quiet as I rounded the top of the loch where I stopped and had a look at the big Eachaig which was in fine flowing fettle and soon I turned down the opposite side of the loch (A880) passing through Kilmun where I remember fishing for sea-trout just down the loch from the church. Autumn days, a campfire and sizzling fry up. I could still smell the bacon.

Talking about smells, I could wiff wood smoke at every turn and you get to discern the different woods being used, I found the further round the corner as I neared Ardentinny it was more a ‘piney’ wiff. Obviously as the hill slopes are covered in pine. Lovely.

Strone Pier

Strone Pier

At Strone, I knew there was a cache just on the lochside but after shredding my calves on brambles (I must wear longer breeks) I never found anything, a DNF. I tried to muffle the ‘aaaghs’ later as I applied antiseptic cream.

Passing through Strone, there are many fine large houses that have cracking views. I did read up on one recently Dunselma House but no time today to go explore as winter daylight is short and I didn’t fancy hurtling (aye right!) down the loch side in the dark.

It is sad to see all the piers not being used and in various states of condition. The heyday of the Clyde pleasure steamers is a subject that I have read about over the years and stories of ‘races’ between piers to pick up passengers. I remember standing on many an occasion on Gourock Pier to head ‘doon the watter’ with many steamers heading off to their varying destinations full. Sad now to see only the Waverley plying her trade during the summer months.

Heading into Blairmore, it was time for a regular scran and water stop, the road soon becomes a single track but I was only meeting the odd car and as I entered Ardentinny I thought ‘Ach up this wee hill’….Glen Finart it was. I have fished the spate river (Finnart) in this area in the 80s on a few occasions. Catches ? one wee sprachle of a trout on a fly half its size.

Wee hill ?

I saw the 20% sign and my legs groaned..

Looking to Cruach Bhuidhe

Looking to Cruach Bhuidhe

I started off in low gear and finally as it got steeper it was the ‘granny’ gear but not for long. I peched up what in parts was a bit more than 20%, I think it is the average over the stretch but finally I managed to do some sections but my legs were wabbit. A rest to get more than my breath back at the top before hurtling down to Whistlefield. Glen Finart left behind with disturbing but enjoyable memories. The big shiny ‘5p’ promised would stay in the IOB pocket.

I turned left and I was on my way back to Dunoon passing a very quiet Loch Eck which in the summer months would be heaving with anglers, boaters and day trippers. The hills across the loch were showing a dusting of snow on their tops and being honest it was a chilly run down the lochside. I passed Benmore Botanic Gardens which I intend to return at some point to visit. Not before long I soon reached the Holy Loch where I just reversed the route I had taken back to the pier at Dunoon.

The last couple of miles heading into what could be described as more than a strong breeze plus I saw the ferry leave with only one mile to travel, I would have to wait almost an hour, damn.

I parked the bike at the terminal and nipped across to look at the prominent statue of Highland Mary, I headed up the stairs and enjoyed the views from above the statue. I’ll let Wikipedia tell the story of Mary HERE

Loch Eck beckons

Loch Eck beckons

Dunoon was an old stamping ground in the mid ’70s when I worked at Ardyne Point, oh the memories of the Monday and Friday ‘pass out’ to go sample the local brew but there was a cracking music shop in the town where I could pick up American import music. How often did I miss that last ferry.

A bemused Katie when I called her asking for a rescue mission, ‘Where are you?’ ‘Dunoon Pier’ You are nuts but it doesn’t surprise me’ she said. Waiting for me as I came out of the station, Polly placed (gently) in the back and it was off to hot water and more antiseptic cream…oooooooooooooooh!

I wonder where next although there are one or two places I’d like to visit in the same area.

One is an old workplace of mine Ardyne Point oil yard, I’ll bore you about it if I make that nostalgic trip.

A big ta! to Roddy for putting this in my mind.


2 thoughts on “Cowal calling…….

  1. 2m0iob

    Well done Mhor. The shiny shilling is still there for you when you conquer Glen Finnart without resulting to pushing yer bike up the hill ( as I done too :-0 ). It’s a braw run, pity you were into a head wind on the way back into Dunoon town. You could of course have gotten the Western ferry back over and turned the head wind into a tail wind with a cycle up to Gourock station where your beloved was waiting for you? Pity the WX forecast is so pants for the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t mind a good run Argyll side myself.

  2. gm7something Post author

    I made it to the Port station, Gourock would have kicked the backend out of it. Like I said at end of the post, a wee nostalgic trip down to Ardyne will be in order. You can keep yon shiny bawbee as I would need a motorbike to do that hill.
    A good day out mind you.


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