I seem to start to start most of (okay, them all) posts by mentioning the weather but it seems the most talked aspect of our daily lives albeit with a World Cup taking place.
The weather had been warm, sunny yet very humid and I had finally got my bike back with replacement parts fitted and I headed out just after Sunday midday eastwards to check everything was tickety boo . 30 miles and 8 caches bagged it was back home for a welcome cold drink…It was almost time for another Mhor adventure.
Tuesday booked as a day off, I knew the forecasted weather would be hot, hot and humid but I couldn’t let this weather go by without getting something done.
A- A trip across the water to do the Haul Rd (A 817).
B- Those 30 caches still not bagged in my local area to the S and E.
I’m sure whoever placed them must have looked at my heat map of routes.
They would wait for another day or more possible knocked off over a few outs.
It was a quick check over everything early on Tuesday morning with liquid, health bars packed in the Topeak..
It was off down to join Route 75 cycle track where I would head west to Gourock Pierhead to catch the Kilcreggan Ferry. I made good time and stopped en route to speak with some of the lads who work with me. I nipped along the Greenock waterfront before heading along a now busy Greenock Esplanade. Soon I was resting Polly against the railing whilst watching the ferry leave Kilcreggan. I chewed the fat with someone heading over to do a bit of walking and made a mental note of this for 12 months time.
The ferry set off and with flat calm conditions it was not long before we were berthing at Kilcreggan, about 1 mile out we passed the yacht ‘Drum’ which has a chequered history although with the lack of a strong breeze it was still tacking at a reasonable speed.
Polly and I disembarked and we stopped at the roadside to get all the electronic gadgets going. Endomondo on the phone, the Edge bike computer and as I was caching, I got the Etrex ready.
A steady run west brought me to the ‘Tut Tut rock’ on Kilcreggan shore, I hunted high and low but a DNF(did not find) which isn’t a good start to the day. I carried on and bagged caches in nearby Cove and Ardpeaton before I reached the end of the road at Coulport where there is lots of security, it must be an important place *eyes to sky*. I spent my 21st birthday fishing on Coulport beach in the pouring rain with a few beers and a wasted day with one undersized fish for my troubles. The following day the delayed party began.
I had reached the first serious climb of the day, it was a constant run with no relief stretches but I soon saw my exit road on the right BUT the hill still had a wee bit to go, I’m getting brave now and carried on the 500m to the summit where I crossed lanes and headed back down to join Peaton Rd where I’d turn left and rise slightly before enjoying a quick drop into Rahane. I had my best ever result in a sea-fishing competition, a Drumfork Open if I remember where I caught a large cod of 7lb 13oz and with other fish I got 7th overall, my prizes? a pool for the biggest fish which was almost a weeks wages and I got a ‘Party Seven’
for my placing. I had the mother of all hangovers and had to be dragged from my bed to go and I’m glad I did although the stony beach is no where to lie hung over. The other memory is of the time I tried to teach Katie how to fish, not a good idea. We agreed that it wasn’t a good idea.I could have stayed on the higher road and found my way to a roundabout I would eventually meet the Haul Rd start but I’d wanted to bag a couple of caches in Garelochhead and Faslane plus I’d put the village down as my first break for a liquid and scran intake where I chose a bench facing the Loch and sat and enjoyed the peace and quiet. I bagged the magnetic nano within an arm’s reach.
I headed to Faslane where I found what I was looking for then it was serious work time as I turned up the A814 and started to climb up to a roundabout where I would then take the Haul Rd, I had to stop 100m for the top, my eyes were stinging as I was perspiring heavily. The road is enclosed by trees and with no moving air, it was hot. I carried on and was soon on the Haul Rd (A817) and it was steeper than I imagined but down into the granny gears and I slowly plodded my way up, I called over to a lay by and jokingly asked a motorcyclist for a tow up the hill, the reply? unprintable as was my reply to him.
I thought ‘I’m getting there’ when I saw ahead on the right a sign proclaiming ‘Low Gear’ this took the wind out of my sails and my heart fell and I just stopped. Right, ‘Mhor get moving again!’ and I did and found out it was a small ramp and then I was at the summit of the hill, cursing myself loudly. I soon stopped at the gate where you access the hill path (the Strone) to Beinn a’Mhanaich. I could have done it! I spotted a lone walker about to climb the gate so I had a quick chat before I headed quickly downhill (the advantage of ascending) before I saw my next exit the track to Auchengaich Loch, roughly 1km from the road where my last cache of the day was hidden. The track is in good condition with the collapsed bit now fixed, I had used this track before to start of one of my ascents of Beinn Chaorach…
I spoke with a couple of workmen putting signs in place and was sorely tempted to just empty my pockets and jump in but this is someone’s drinking water so I just filled my ‘Water To Go’ bottle (thanks Roddy) and headed to main road where it was off to my next watering/feeding point at Balloch still a good few miles away. It was like riding a rollercoaster then finally a steady climb before once again dropping down rapidly to meet the A82 just south of Luss. I joined the West Lomond Cycle Track and soon was passing Duck Bay and the normal crowds who frequent this area on sunny days.
I was in Balloch and got more supplies which I intended to enjoy next to the Barrage on the River Leven. My chain started to act funny, I’d picked up some string and it had wrapped itself among the cassette but it only took a minute to remove and the string was flung into a bin. I sat and enjoyed watching boats moving out of their moorings then heading N to the Loch. It looked like those heading out to troll for salmon and sea trout in the early evening.
If you haven’t travelled along this path, I would recommended as the sights and sounds are excellent, the path ? in excellent condition the way to Dumbarton where you have a bit of road work until you are back on to Route 7 which takes you to Bowling along the Forth & Clyde canal where I headed towards the Erskine Bridge at the old Ferry rd, to think of the high volumes of traffic that now use the bridge, I remember taking the ferry in the 60s where queues of up to 60 mins were commonplace on the rattly old red ferry of which others placed at sites eastwards along the river towards Glasgow ..The bridge ? built on an excellent site with an estimated 35,000 vehicles crossing daily.
I did stop for 10 minutes to watch the weed cutting boat keeping this stretch of the canal from being weeded up, an ongoing job on all stretches.
Leaving the bridge I decided it was to be home via the Georgetown straight, the road was now busy with peak-time traffic but I managed to get through the Erskine roundabouts safely before taking a right towards Houston where it was another stop for some goodies at the local supermarket. I was thirsty and with no real delay I was heading out through Crosslee where I took the Lochar Rd to the cycle track and 8 mile later I was home.
66 miles logged, over 3,000 ft ascent en route, eight geocaches bagged and the next day, a badly burnt forehead.
If I do this run again, a cooler day with preferably a west wind at my back.
I’m glad I headed.
If interested You Tube video of the old Erskine Ferry HERE.