Friday, 24 June 2016
Nine and a half miles off the coast of Girvan, in the middle of the Firth of Clyde, sits a thousand foot high granite monolith, where some of the UK's finest curling stones were once cut out then polished in the days when curling was a major winter sport, before health and safety, the folly of standing on untested lochs and ponds in large numbers, and warmer winter temperatures kicked in. If you are a big golf fan you may be familiar with the profile of Ailsa Craig already as it features as a TV star in its own right when any of the Ayrshire golf championships appear on telly and this unique island offshore comes into its own, via telephoto lens wizardry and clear conditions, promoting Turnberry or Troon coastal links with the island often a framed scenic highlight in the background, looming large and seemingly just within touching distance between the shoulders of the famous players walking around the course or as a good talking point history feature between holes.
Didn't know about the slow worms living on the island either.
The path up to the summit starts from here, continues past the old castle, then heads for the highest point past the halfway well and old curling industry buildings.
A great trip during this extended heatwave and thanks to John and Gail for the invite. Hope your engine set back was not too expensive to fix.
Friday, 10 June 2016
Another Sunday of heatwave conditions saw us take to the kayaks once more. With temperatures nudging 25c-28c degrees most days we had little enthusiasm for a long hot hill walking day. Out on the water it was goodbye to midges, sheep ticks, clegs, and other biting insects and "hello" to a light breeze, cooler conditions, relaxation and the thrill of visiting very familiar places but in a completely unfamiliar way. Ardlui's wild and water-filled back door.
This is Ben Lomond, above, viewed from the River Falloch, where it enters Loch Lomond near the waterside village of Ardlui. Loch Ard, where we were kayaking two posts ago on this blog, lies to the east just through the low point between the mountains in the middle of this photograph.
Ardlui is a water sports village at the top end of Loch Lomond just seen here behind the board paddlers. I don't know if you can hire them out in Ardlui but we noticed quite a few board paddlers, like this couple, and a teenage group taking instruction on how to use them in this vicinity. Kayaks by comparison, are much faster, more relaxing and use less energy to travel long distances although the board paddlers looked cooler and more sophisticated somehow.
A suitable sultry video for this post. Mysterious, slightly dark and Hot Hot Hot!
Saturday, 4 June 2016
A trip over the border to climb Cross Fell, 890 metres, 2,930 feet, the highest mountain in England outside the nearby Lake District and also the high point of the long distance Pennine Way. It's a big beast of a hill notorious for having it's own powerful wind, the Helm Wind, which roars down its flanks during certain conditions and in ancient times was known as "Fiends Fell" due to the howls and shrieks sometimes produced by this unusual phenomenon at its severe best. The only named wind in Britain, incidentally.
It's also known for dense fog banks hanging over the summit so we were very lucky when Graeme, and Alex suggested a trip to climb it a couple of months ago on a lovely sunny day.
I'm not a fan of tribute bands normally but I came across this group on You Tube recently and they really capture the soul, magic and essence of the original artist to a high degree. Obviously you need the original songs and material/creator in the first place to start with but as Kate Bush rarely tours and her tickets are like gold dust I would happily watch this band live- not as any inferior substitute but as a unique experience in their own right. At £60 to £100 plus pounds a ticket I would never expend the energy to see K.B. anyway in person as it usually involves dates in major English cities rather than Scotland but I would definitely go to see Cloudbusting and really enjoy it... and at £12 to £20 pounds that is well within my budget range for bands.
On the strength of their videos online they could do a nationwide tour in their own right and fill halls across Britain and Europe if they so desired but the music industry being what it is today even the original artists struggle to make a reliable living at it and they probably have full time jobs that pay better money on a dependable month to month basis. Worth a watch. Real star quality and dramatic tension achieved.