Monday, 4 April 2011

Ayrshire Coastal Path.Storm conditions.

Hi Bob here.No thats not me I,m slightly better trained.

How true this is.The last thing you want flying at you in sixty mile an hour winds is a big lump of dog muck.
It`s been a long time since I was out on purpose in a big storm down the coast.It`s not that easy to capture one unless you live beside the sea.A few times now I`ve raced down to a likely spot only to find its not that special or wild after all.
So...I sacked the normal weather forecasts letting me down and went back to tried and trusted methods.
Emptying my bag of small animal bones,spirals,dice and murdered mice heads I threw the first cast across the polished floor of her shrine.
It always lifts my heart to see those little heads and their accusing eyes tumble across the mahogany.As my frog from the garden pond sat quietly watching the proceedings I rolled nineteen times more before I hit a winner.In my experience murdered mice heads tell no lies!
So be it....three weekend Saturday outings would be needed where high tides and winds combined.

The Ayrshire coastal path runs from Skelmorlie beside Wemyss Bay for 100 miles along the Firth of Clyde to its end (or beginning if starting there) at Glenapp approx 10 miles from Stranraer.
Its certainly not the best long distance path in Scotland (the three coast to coast routes would be my pick if I were into multi day trips here) but it is entertaining and easy to follow with cliffs,castles,sandy beaches and lots of history.A few parts are semi industrial others like the stretches between Irvine and Troon or Ayr to the Maidens are wild and exposed.
Some walking sections have been covered in this blog(Maidens to Culzean Castle for one) other parts are suitable on a bike.It was these I wanted to cherry pick during extreme conditions on my rusty, trusty metal nag.

Any method of self propulsion just somehow feels right and exhilarating.Skiing ,kayaking,climbing,rowing,cycling....they all feel natural and energizing.Just ask Icarus here.
I`ve been cycling on and off since childhood.Mainly on.It`s great for keeping fit and covering distance yet still being close to the outdoors and nature.You can also follow paths no other form of transport can get across as its light enough to be carried if need be.
Its also free,a big consideration in this age of soaring fuel costs.A return trip to the far northern parts of Scotland now costs over 100 pounds in a car. I remember a  full weeks Munro bagging trip up there for a fiver!
I love cycling but it can also be dangerous.If you fall off at speed it usually hurts......a lot!
For fifteen years I was into rock climbing,a perceived dangerous sport,and never had a serious accident as I climbed within my limits.I was also lucky with folk I trusted holding the rope.
On my bike however,also cycling within my limits,I`ve had a broken collar bone,nose,ribs,missing tooth,and various minor injuries to ankles,legs, neck, back and head.Thankfully I wasn`t pretty to start off with and it still gives me a thrill every time I sit in the saddle.Each trip is a great new adventure.....if you survive.
National cycle magazines always have a yearly obituary list of all those keen roads cyclist members who have met a sticky end pursuing their sport.
It makes a hair raising  read.
Head first into an opening car door,flattened by a lorry,sideswiped by cars,knocked down and tramped by cows running  across a country lane,taken out by golf ball,throttled and dumped in a canal,bricked or crossbow bolted in a dodgy part of city or town..........sometimes it seems like the whole world has a secret agenda to take out the brave cyclist as the lists are so bizarre!
Anyway..I would be safe down the coast in a storm.
First trip was Saltcoats,where they did indeed used to make sea salt in the natural salt pans still there to be viewed by passers bye.

It was pretty wild but I set off  towards Kilwinning along the promenade then the beaches heading for the long crumpled mass of  the Ardeer peninsula.

It was out here far from anywhere that Alfred Nobel,the peace prize founder,was allowed to set up his explosives and munitions factory sprawling across the miles of sand dunes.At its peak this employed 13,000 workers with its own power station and railway network.It even had an on site bank,dentist and travel agent.
You can still see the remains buried in the  shifting dunes.Its a flat low tide canter on a bike out to the dead end of the Irvine River mouth passing  disturbing mounds of huge empty worm casts like the setting to the very end of days.A bleak,eerie and desolate place.Even Nobel was struck by how remote it felt though Kilwinning is not that far away.There is still a  smaller explosives plant at Ardeer and in 2007 kids somehow managed to sneak in and blow up something that was heard for miles around and needed the emergency services  to  go out and deal with the resulting  fireball.
One of the strangest beaches in Scotland.
It was only when I returned from this trip that Alex informed me (ahem... he`d read it in a paper somewhere) that it was one of the top dogging sites in Scotland.Seems a funny place to walk your dog though.And he,s not even got a dog!
Next outing was an old favourite...Troon.A canter along the sands towards Barassie where there was some kind of kite surfing competition going on,loads of guys that were really attacking the waves for a change.

There were even some brave or mad enough to take off into the air,soaring for a good distance before landing.

I had a  tentative go at this sport a couple of years ago, great fun but it nearly ripped my arms off.Sadly I`m past it now. Its a young folks game.

This is more me nowadays, old enough to be a  granddad yet still belting along the sands on a bike.OK I admit it I`m mad.With a strong wind at your back though you can go like the clappers,you just have to watch out for dips, dogs, folk, puddles,ripples and softer sand.You soon get used to reading the route ahead at speed.

Britannia watched proceedings with her usual cold but not unkindly stare.It was so exciting I felt some happy songs coming on.
As I covered the miles "Two fists of sadness" got an  vocal airing then a triple tear jerker of old time American classics.."Baby in the bloodhound" ..."Muleskinners stole my darling bride"....and the towering "Suicide Apocolypse" by the mighty dooms.A memorable outing in bright sunshine.What a day.

The last bike outing was the section between Prestwick and Ayr.It was so wild bits of seaweed and stones were flying onto the promenade as well as sea spray.Magic stuff! Inland, a few hours  later on, it was almost normal though.Sunny ,dry and pleasant if a tad windy.

Here's the interesting  clock in the old town

Back in the house,after consulting my book of best home made pagan remedies I mixed up a health drink for Alex`s sore foot.See ,I,still think of him even when I`m out enjoying myself.What a pal!
Small mixed bones,jelly fungus and several minced mice heads too tatty to be rolled across her shrine any more made a fine smoothie but he was reluctant to be a guinea pig.(Come to think of it bits of that might have been in it as well,also a handy, not quite fast enough, tame frog)
Whats wrong with that boy! Doesn't he want to get better.Its all good natural produce I use.
Pity he`s not that keen on cycling though.Its such good fun.Few sports give you the luxury of getting killed or maimed  every time you roll out your own front door.
(Disclaimer....although this is posted today it was written on  the first day in April  :o)


The Glebe Blog said...

Very interesting and entertaining post Bob.
I remember watching the Coast episode about Nobel's factory.That was some place.When you think about it at times Scotland has been one big munitions factory.

You've let the cat out of the bag now by mentioning doggin.They'll be round there in their hordes with their Schnauzers.Pugs and Curly Coated Retrievers.There'll be Doggy Bags everywhere.

I love every one of those songs you mentioned by the way.Classics !

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
Got an email from Alex around the same time I posted Ayrshire coast.
"Your going weird on me again bob!
No more videos of those daft nutters and all that gothic garbage.This is supposed to be a hillwalking blog!"
Opps! too late.
Well,It was April 1st:0)

The Glebe Blog said...

Variety is the spice of life Cf. [Euripides Orestes 234]

I'm in the middle of reading Bram Stoker's original story,and while surfing I came across this video clip.

That'll get Alex going.

blueskyscotland said...

Afraid you will need to give me the word title of that Jim.When I type that in all I get is "kitten in a box" I take it its in you tube?Sorry!

The Glebe Blog said...

Are you winding me up Bob ?
It's Vampiria - Unholy war

If that's not for you then maybe The Rheingold Prelude (Nosferatu 1979) might interest you and Alex being intrepid mountain climbers.

blueskyscotland said...

No wind up.thats what I got.Kitten in a box!
Anyway have now watched Vampiria.....Not to my taste,I dont mind girls that are disturbed cos the songwriting is more interesting but I like them less messy when they are eating at the table.All that slurping would drive me nuts watching a film:0)Didnt take you for a heavy metal goth Jim! However the Rheingold prelude was amazing.I,d love to walk those mountains.I,m also a big fan of Herzog films.I,ll be back to see all those other clips later.
Also saw russell,s two gallants...surprisingly Irish,almost like Christy Moore in musical style.Liked nothing to you vid the best.They could grow on me.

russell said...

I'm a bit late in leaving this comment, Bob. On Thursday I was talking to a guy at my work. He is ex-army and was telling me about his cycle ride coming up in France in June to raise money for injured soldiers. This reminded me of the bit in your post about injuries to cyclists. Two Junes ago this fellow cycled in the same charity event. - I think it was from Cherbourg to Paris. After several days and many kilometers the cyclists finished by cycling up the Champs Elysees. - Hope I've spelt it right. When this was all over he was cycling to his hotel. A couple of hundred yards before he reached it a motorist opened the door of his parked car and knocked my friend off his bike. he ended up in hospital for several days. Lucky white heather! However, he recovered and managed the ride last June and, as I said, is doing it again this June.
I see the appeal in cycling but due to its dangers I don't think its for me.

blueskyscotland said...

Just after writing up this cycle ride there was a front page spread in the independant(I think) which I spotted out of the corner of my eye in the shops with tiny pictures of all the bike riders no longer with us.Gist of it was that if this were boxing, football or any other sport with this level of mayhem there would be an outcry. Cycling ,not a peep! I always try to cycle on quiet( OS yellow )roads with few cars as they are the biggest culprits for taking you out.
Also noticed a total black hole of good samaritian strangers when I did fall off.Sitting obviously hurt on a pavement verge,bike sprawled beside me and passed by 40 to 50 folk without even a query as to how I was. Ended up driving back from Edinburgh myself with a broken nose and collar bone.Not too hard apart from shifting gears.