Author Archives: gm7something

About gm7something

64, married, three kids......overweight, unfit, folically challenged, need I go on ?

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.

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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.

 

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

 

 

 

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.