I’ve never really thought of writing a piece which shows the excellent cycling available in my local area, I have written about some of the counties to the east , north and west of me so it was the turn of the coastline running from Greenock to Inverkip where I then returned home via higher parts.
Polly had been in for a few new replacement bits, it cannot be much fun hauling my sorry overweight butt about.. so I headed down to collect her. A quick whiz around the car park to check if everything felt okay. It did.
I picked up my bag, etc from Katie, ‘I’ll see you later’ and off I set past the Container Terminal along a shared path, I did my slow-down for any pedestrian I met but the usual looks of disgust, hey ho!
A trip along Greenock Esplanade where dog walkers walk on the allocated cycle lane and cyclists cycle on the wide walking path. The cycle path merges onto the grass area between the road and the main path….dog heaven…the gulls have been dropping mussels onto the hard surface, tyre shredders…weaving essential.
I stopped to check out the bird life just off the prom. I could see one keen fellow rowing westwards, moving at quite a lick. I stopped to catch a photo and a chat. I was almost ready to leave the Esplanade when I spotted someone standing on top of an old public toilet block and typical I just had to know him, an ex workmate. Don’t ask, please.
Battery Park on the boundary of Greenock and Gourock was the next diversion plus Route 75 is signposted through it, I headed down to the shore path on what was familiar territory when I was pre-teenage years, I laughed as I cycled along the very path where I gained my cycling proficiency award approx 50 years ago…
It was a slow run around Cardwell Bay due to traffic and pedestrians mid road before exiting on to the road that leads to Gourock Pier, busy today with ferries going to Kilcreggan, Rothesay and Dunoon. I stopped to watch ferries docking then unloading compliment of cars and passengers.
Oh, I was tempted. A quick walk through the station area according to rules and it was along a new shared use pavement at Ashton car park before a short road ride to the local promenade, the lunchtime regular dog walkers were out enjoying the mild, calm weather. A bit of weaving required, a ding of the bell or a ‘Passing on your left, please’ seemed not to work today. I gave out a hearty ‘Good day!’ as I passed.
It was soon back on the shore side pavement where I watched ferries from McInroy’s Point making their crossings to Hunters Quay, 9 miles from home if I remember correctly. The Cowal hills were showing well in the crisp winter air and snow could be seen dusting Beinn a’Mhanaich and Beinn Chaorach in the Luss Hills. Warship activity in the water off Kilcreggan, a few warships have been in the area for a week I’m assuming an exercise. I stopped short of a well kent Cloch Lighthouse, another with a Smith/Stevenson connection now private housing and the scene of more than a few all night fishing sessions for its then large cod catches. In days gone by, the shore marks would be busy with anglers looking for their supper, I saw a solitary one at Gourock Pier.
Onward until cutting down into Lunderston Bay with its large car park, a place well-used by dog and other walkers. I headed along the coast looking out for feathered friends and the odd stop to add another species in my notebook. The path is a mix of hard packed whin with rougher parts which have been worn away by water either from the fields or from high seas, not before long I was heading through the woodland stretch, finally arriving on to Kip Marina.
The marina was filled with boats and yachts of all sizes. I stopped at the old bridge over the River Kip where I’d broken my ankle as a six-year old, memories of before the marina got sculpted out of fields cut through by a fast flowing river. Progress? I dunno.
A left back along the A78 towards Greenock and I was glad to cut off on to a roadside path, a bit manky in bits, but safer. I took the path on the opposite side where at the top of the rise, I would head up Shielhill Glen to Loch Thom, I stopped for a last water break before setting off up a steady but up, up and uphill, the thought of a coffee at the Fishery café spurred me on….no latte, no americano just a white instant Nescafe… and a Toffee Crisp for the sugar, of course. A busy hut with the mild calm weather. Scroggy Bank was tempting and only just over a mile away but I’ll leave that for another sunny crisp day, I have raved about the views on many blog-post, it is worth a visit, trust me..
I spoke with another cyclist who’d cycled up from Fairlie, he mentioned the surrounding countryside and how much he enjoys the roads and forest tracks, vindication for me writing this piece, eh? I can see his point as the area is moorland interspersed with excellent surfaced single track roads and rough tracks to enjoy all types of cycling, mountain biking on the forest tracks and small tracks around the old reservoir systems. A choice for everyone.. the Loch Thom area has one drawback… its at the top of a hill either way you come, but some sadists like that.
I set off knowing roughly 10 mile to go, firstly up and alongside Loch Thom which dominates the area before my cut through Garshangan and its forest tracks..
A hard packed whin, but potholed wide track brings to a junction, left would be home and the now single track was now a cycle round and ‘miss’ water filled potholes. I could see a small car ahead of me and thought ‘not a good idea, pal’, the track isn’t really that bad and soon I reached the top part of the forest track and there was the car, front bonnet up and steam pouring out..a quick exchange with the driver, then I dropped slowly down swinging from side to side to a cattle grid that had tarmac on the other side, a rough tarmac track which rises slowly, a busy track with vehicles today and rather than fighting for space I just drew in.
I was soon heading down towards Mansfield Bridge where soon I was joining the B788 for 150 metres..Auchentiber Rd, familiar cycling and walking ground for me, the odd rise, but a good downhill run until Penny’s Arch, a red sandstone bridge on which Route 75 runs. I was just over two miles from home, but Route 75 could deliver me into the centre of Glasgow, south to Irvine mostly on a good surface tarmac ex-railway track. I keep promising a guide to the local track, someday.
I was soon was off the track and heading home…
24 mile the GPS said, it felt more probably to my lack of any serious cycling….I must remember drink the coffee and don’t hang about keeping the legs from stiffening up (an age thing)
The route I had taken is a mix of shared tarmac path, esplanade paths, hard packed whin dust with forest tracks… all capable on my hybrid. Any questions on the area, feel free to ask. The video below shows part of my journey (from a previous trip) from 35 secs in and does let you see the variance in track surfaces around Loch Thom. The video finishes at a local landmark ‘Penny’s Arch’ (see above).
The sky was looking ominous so I headed home without taking any images of the area around the Loch although the time lapse video gives you what you need to see, I will add to this post in the near future.
Thanks to all sources linked to…