Holiday Monday, May Day..
but I was to spend the earlier weekend up in NE adding a new job to my expanding resume..
If you know Mhor then you know it isn’t the obvious..
I was helping strip wallpaper off a room in an old Victorian villa. It had high walls and as was the norm in those days, a large room. Interesting part was that we ‘found’ pencil drawings beneath the paper which by the style was possibly drawn the first time the wall had been wallpapered as we knew that when we removed the layers of paper to the original plaster. The style of drawing would place this well over 100 plus years as the villa was built over 120 year ago.
It was an early start to head the approx 100 mile to our destination. A quick stop at Dunblane then off to Tayside and to prepare and finish the job hopefully that day. We did finally finish after breaks for juice, tea and cake…and sat afterwards with a litre of cold cider as a reward. (two litre bottles actually)
I then found out that the next day was to prepare the ceiling..but it was quickly sorted and late Sunday afternoon it was back down the road and to see what the holiday Monday would bring weather wise. You will notice I make great mention of the weather in these blog posts but having worked outside the whole of my working life that it plays a great part. My hobbies seem to take account of it as well.
I woke up to grey skies but little wind so as I had risen at the usual time of just before 6, I had a quick cup of coffee before getting everything ready for the off.
Question even until I left home was, Where ?
I’d mentally pencilled in a return trip to Largs which was my home in the early to mid 70s and is a regular destination, once before by bike see HERE. This time I chose a different route which would be more a circular. I set off feeling slightly under the weather and decided to see how I felt as I headed.
It was ‘dodge the potholes’ until I headed up a short, sharp hill before joining route 75, the dog walkers were out and about even this early as I this time I wandered slowly down the track passing through Kilmacolm, Bridge of Weir then skirting Brookfield and Linwood.
I stopped at the junction with route 7 and headed west towards Kilbarchan, I have written more than a few times about this area so I’ll go a bit more in detail of the trip after I reach Lochwinnoch. I passed through Castle Semple country park and followed the signs to keep me on route 7 as this was now virgin ground for me but the track followed the same pattern as I had cycled down.
As I left Lochwinnoch, I saw to my right the old remains of Barr Castle, I stopped and the crow on the remaining top part of the tower sounded as if it was laughing at me…I could see to the left of me a few flocks of geese on the fields on the banks of the Barr Loch but then the track now headed through cuttings with occasional glimpses of the A760.
It was not before long I came across an old abandoned wooden water viaduct, interesting as I’m guessing this was its use. Water for the trains ? and as I looked at the opposite bank from it I saw no possible continuation point. Anyone?
I soon saw signs through the trees that I was now in Kilbirnie and saw a left access point which led me on to the A760.
A quick left and soon I swung around a roundabout following A760 Largs signs and outside the local police station I took a quick water break as I knew what lay ahead.
I know this road well by car/motorbike but never by bike. I knew that 600 ft of ascent lay in front of me. I set off in the low gears and soon was passing the golf course which marks the start of open countryside.
I had mentally noted the Hourat Toll junction as the area where it would level out to a gentler climb, the road was very quiet for a holiday Monday as I made my way slowly towards the high spot. One of the lycra mob on a road bike called a brisk ‘Good Morning’ as he passed me, half my weight plus a lighter bike gave him a big advantage ( I’m believing this ). Soon I was passing Muirhead and Camphill reservoirs but I had looked at the hills to the north of me looking for access to visit some old plane wrecks which are in these hills. I have already visited the one on Blaeloch see HERE. I made a mental note of a possible parking spot to head up a track which goes part of the way but that is for another day. The road surface varied from a rough slightly broken in places to a smooth perfect surface.
Soon the new access track for the wind farm which now occupies the Blaeloch Hill area appeared, if you read the previous linked post on Blaeloch you will see how much of a difference this track makes access to this hill.
I was now at the highest part of the road and had now a long steep descent into Largs via the Haylie Brae. I was wary of the road surface as I descended as to hit a pothole or any other road furniture would not be advisable at speed so caution was the order of the day.
I remember working for the roads dept being on call in the 70s to head out and throw sand and salt on this very road in adverse weather when there was no gritting lorries like today’s specialised machines. We stood on the back of a lorry and shoveled a sand and salt mix into a hopper/spreader towed by the lorry, it was fun…not and in all weathers.
There are points on the west side of this road where you can take in the fabulous views to the west and north west, if you have time then find a parking space and enjoy. The Cumbraes, Hunterston, Arran , Bute and the Mull of Kintyre await you.
I soon swept round the sharp bend which has been now made safer and down I headed until I arrived at the junction at which I headed right along Largs main street. The chippy was closed, I’d arrived too early.
I’d a quick break at the lifeboat station for water and now was to brave the A78 as I headed back to Greenock. I made sure that both back and front lights were working and along with my flou orange jacket, I hoped I would be visible as I moved along the coast road. I know someone who commutes from Largs to Greenock but prefers the alternative back road journey, I can see why. It can be a bit hairy at times.
I stopped not far out of Largs at one of my old fishing haunts (NS 191628) where a natural pool in the sandstone rock forms at high tide, many a midnight swim took place here whilst doing ‘all nighter’ fishing, it was alternate Saturday night/ Sunday morning between here and Portencross Pier. A place where I picnicked on a few occasions with my Katie….did I say good memories ? Yeah, it was.
Pedalling briskly I soon reached and passed through Skelmorlie, Wemyss Bay where a short sharp rise tested the legs before a long sweeping downhill passing Inverkip where I soon joined a path alongside the road, I had felt Cornalees would not be my road home today and as I had pedalled towards Greenock, I thought about which route to take…Local knowledge would help me avoid sharp steep hills. A quick right turn and oops, my intended route is now one way so it was up a steep hill which after 40 mile I could have done without but not long until I was heading downhill before a quick exit into the Wellington Park which led me through another housing area. 10 minutes later, Lady Octavia Park and route 75 was reached.
One little blip was to soon appear, the 40% short hill up from the burn floor in the Devol Glen but I kicked down the gears and got there….out of breath, its a wee killer.
It was now along a quiet track and almost home but I saw the milometer showed I would fall slightly of the 50 ml I estimated. A quick couple of laps around the local factories and just slightly over 5 hours I arrived back home again with no geocaches chased, another day for them.
The weather could have been better but with 50 miles and over 2,000 ft ascent in the bag I was more than delighted.
A route I’ll certainly use again and with so many return possibilities too, via Cornalees, Gourock, the Old Largs Road amongst a few more.