Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Ayrshire Coastal Path.Bent over in a big wind.

Yes I know.I`ve been here before.But the last time I visited the Ayrshire coastal path I was able to cycle parts of it on a bike although very windy but it was hardly the biggest storm to hit Scotlands coast.A mere dress rehearsal but it did give me a chance to find the best places for sea hitting land and places where I could stand without going under the waves or getting hit in the face by half the seabed.The report card would have read.Ach! Could do better! So I waited patiently for that perfect storm to arrive and one came when I least expected it,in our normally calm and tranquil spring  a few weeks ago which has been a real brute this year.
This time wind speeds were predicted to reach above eighty miles an hour,structural damage warnings were out in advance on television and peak high tide times matched in during the day for a change.Luckily I had a free day so off I trundled down the coast, camera and  two elastic bungee cords (for clipping me against poles and railings to keep the camera steady ) stuffed in the rucksack.No bike this time.This was the real deal.
A playful Armageddon.I felt sorry for the poor suffering wildlife as this storm hit in the middle of the breeding season and I,m sure casualties were high with nests torn from trees and chicks and eggs smashed countrywide.Even disgruntled badgers would be tossed about in their holes wondering whats going on above.
Mind you they would never call it a hurricane up here in Scotland....Just a bit gusty...A leave your brolly at home folks kind of day.You  wonder how much  more of a kicking some species can take though.This one storm with the trees top heavy in full leaf must have been devastating to tree nesting birds.Can,t have been a picnic for the wee rock pool creatures either.
Anyway it was here so off I went in search of it.This is my soggy tale of being bent over in a big wind.

First place I arrived at was the rugged little hamlet of Dunure clinging to the Ayrshire cliffs where the local kids like everywhere else in the world amuse themselves by altering road signs.I had a good laugh at this.If I`ve learned one thing by middle age its that one of the greatest gifts you can  have or be born with is a sense of purpose, that if your very lucky stays with you throughout your life.Money,happiness,relationships all that might add to it of course but if you have a genuine driving sense of purpose that stays with you that's all you really need in life.It doesn`t even matter if you achieve what your goal is,as long as you keep trying to capture whatever it is you are attempting as its the quest that's the important part.Even on a minor level these local children or child obviously spent a fair bit of  effort rubbing out the missing letters and derived satisfaction from the result.For that short time he or she was totally  focused and had a purpose.
The secret to a happy life contained in a road sign :o)  Oh dear.... I sound like Professor Yaffle from Bagpuss now!

Although windy It wasn`t that impressive at Dunure.True I was struggling to get out the car and keep the door from being ripped out my hands but I could still stand without getting blown over ( very disappointed by that!) and the waves when I reached them were dramatic without being spectacular.I`m never happy me!
It was enough for this poor cormorant though.It had clearly had enough on this coast and was flying inland to a more sheltered river to feed. It probably knew the worst was yet to come.

Next stop was the industrial sea front at Ayr.Now this was more like it.Much wilder, bigger waves and a flooded road still being used by cars.In the case of the bus depot they didn`t seem to have a choice as buses arrived and left from here to service the town.Suppose its just a way of life down the coast,most folk just see it in good weather.
I climbed over a wall and staggered up a small mound of industrial bricks and rubble,the highest point I was willing to climb  given the conditions to capture the views around me.
I don't know if they make cars  and buses differently nowadays but I would imagine this would do them some damage due to salt water penetration.It was certainly penetrating me but at least it was fairly warm.

Here`s one of the bus turning into the depot.A cracking day for the beach,bucket and spade :o)  Back at the car,even though I`d parked it well away from the seafront the windows were so badly streaked with salt spray and blown lumps of sand I could hardly see out and had to find a puddle to splash over the glass before I could drive off.

I couldn`t believe this road was still open to traffic and that cars were still prepared to use it.Took a few videos which Alex is busy converting to a more suitable format hopefully.Cheers good buddy!Next time you should come along.Its not boring after all.And its easy on the foot :)
Next up was Prestwick,just a short distance away.Another struggle to get out the car then a stagger down to the sea front.Now this was spectacular! Waves and spray hitting the concrete embankment and leaping 40 feet into the air.The best yet.The wind here made an audible howl as it hit the coast and I could hardly keep the camera still long enough to take a clear picture.It also kept getting covered in spray which wouldn,t do it much good. I found a safe place to sit down and admired the view ignoring the spray and seaweed falling around me..This was the same day,a few weeks ago now, a little dog (dead ringer for Toto )  was out with its owner and was lifted  clean into the air near Glasgow by the wind then was found days later wandering miles away.It had a happy ending as the owner got it back unhurt.
Yet  unbelievably the seagulls were still able to fly in this.Perfectly adapted to cope with a storm lashed coastline.Anyone who
just thinks of them as greedy flying dustbins should see them soaring effortlessly here.Respect.


Didn`t matter where I moved hereabouts that pesky spray still  managed to find me but it was all good clean fun.
Not many folk were out watching nature at its finest which surprised me.All you tourists out there....The Ayrshire Coastal Path doesn,t get any better than when its fine walking conditions like these.A big storm is the time to see  the Ayrshire coast at its best.As dramatic in its own way as a mountain range.

Got wet feet here but a good video.
Next in my leapfrog up the coast towards home was Saltcoats.I thought once high tide was over the sea would die down a bit but the wind actually increased as the day wore on.Driving though some of streets in Ayr and Prestwick overhung with mature trees was like being in a green war zone, road and pavements covered in fallen leaves and branches several inches thick in places.When I got back to Glasgow I read the winds topped 114 miles an hour  during the day and in this city alone 300 matures trees were either toppled or badly damaged.Happy hand rubbing times if you are a tree surgeon though.( Hi Jules!) Every cloud etc.....

Found myself wondering how any electric lines on the railway cope with this level of battering.I was just taking a video of this when a wee car suddenly appeared crawling along this  dead end road,waves smashing around it.Priceless.It stayed for a few minutes then decided against further progress,inching back between  giant lumps of water.

I was getting cold by this time so the final stop was Largs.
Although less dramatic it was the worst of all in terms of a soaking.I couldn,t stand anywhere near the railings and avoid the spray so just had to put up with it.Even the main road here was partly flooded despite being set well back  from the beach front.Cant imagine any ferries sailing in this.Be an adventure though.
See! You can have plenty of excitement away from the hills you just have to pick the right day.

I¬m never happy though.Back in the house I was  wondering what it would be like in 150+ miles an hour winds and if it would be possible to capture that properly on film.
A sense of purpose....that's the key :o)

Kept the lumps of seaweed that slapped me in the face..Good for the garden.Kills the slugs.
Video to follow......
Alex thinks I should shorten this video for the fast forward, 10 seconds then elsewhere generation out there.I don't.Its fine as it is building up bigger and wilder scene by scene.If it was shorter there wouldn't have been any point taking it at all.See what you think.I doubt I`ll take a better one.In a greater storm than this one I`d never hold the camera  steady and upright long enough  unless it and I were bolted down..........................................

.....hang on .. now there`s a thought!.


Anonymous said...

Top notch storm. We don't get big waves up here on Loch Long but they were the biggest I've seen since I moved here.

Loads of trees came down here by the shore including a couple I had taken a photo of earlier in the day when they were bending. The weirdest thing of all is the windburn. Looks like autumn on the Shore Road (and has generally felt like it too). The wind whipping across the loch is fairly common but autumn in May/June is bizarre.

The American wife is going crazy about the weather. Shaping up for the worst summer of her life....

Cracking blog btw: I've been lurking for a while.


blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mark.
Should be a video soon if Alex can squeeze it down to size(I got a bit carried away,both in person and on camera)
Just completed writing the Vanoise trip last night which I,ll put up next.

The Glebe Blog said...

Amazing pictures !
Some day that Bob,I guess it was during the high winds of May you did this trip.
I don't remember waves as high as that since I was a teenager on the esplanade at Kirkcaldy.They never used to close it in those days no matter people being washed away.

My pal Gordon walked a 23 mile section of the Ayrshire Coastal path early this week.


It's a totally different picture.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim.
Twas a monday about three weeks ago now.Maybe its too early or wet but I have not seen a single baby bird in the garden.Nor any caterpillers or grubs they feed chicks on so I suspect its a poor year for wildlife.
Watched an interesting programme about failing honey bee populations last night.If it wasn,t for Australia helping the rest of the world out with their as yet unaffected bees we,d all be in deep manure and vegetarians and vegans would have a very limited choice of menu :0)