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Loch Thom Wilderness.
This was going to be the last post on the Skye trip but my camera expired during the Storr walk and I had to use Alex's spare camera for our last hill day. As I don't have the photos from him yet I thought I would post this outing instead. Throughout the spring and summer I have been engaged in my new project which is a guide book detailing popular but also lesser known walks and cycles in my local area.
I was intending to write the follow up to Autohighography as I did have elaborate plans to expand some of the darker complexities, hinted at throughout the first book, which would take it well beyond any hillwalking memoir into a completely different realm entirely, which was always my intention, but the general lack of interest for this deceptively simple to read novel ( I've earned £5 so far after it being on sale on kindle for six months:o) and my reluctance to spend another two years of my life locked in a room every night typing on a computer persuaded me to ditch that in the meantime for a book people might actually want to buy for a couple of quid.. even for the photos alone if they don't actually live in the area.
I am in good company however as most writers fail to make any money from writing no matter how interesting the book. Herman Melville (author of sea faring classic Moby Dick and a book often quoted as one of the greatest American novels of all time) gave up writing for a regular 9 to 5 job with steady cash flow, and 95% of other well known authors, artists and entertainers struggle to make a living from their work. In some respects you almost need to have a private income to be able to afford the luxury to write books for a living as I've already spent 100 times more than I've earned so far from my first one.
Port Glasgow from The Cycle Track.
As I soon discovered writing my guide book, it is not enough to know the routes yourself. Many of these trips had to be done again as my knowledge of them was out of date for detailed route descriptions even if I had only discovered them myself a few years ago. ( New roads, new estates, closed lanes or detours etc since then.)
B788 into Greenock.
Many of these walks and cycles I have therefore revisited and have enjoyed doing them all over again this past year. One of the finest was this trip to Greenock and an epic tour (Well, for me anyway) covering what felt like most of the hills in North Inverclyde. For this run I had company in the form of Alan, who unlike Alex, doesn't mind steep hills and town and country cycle rides. We both agreed this was a fantastic tour of a great area.
THE ROUTE: Start at Cornalees Bridge Centre beside Loch Thom (see first photo) GR NS 247722. Firth of Clyde Map. Sheet 63. Park car here and cycle on glorious, mainly traffic free, single track minor road around Loch Thom then take the rough track to Dkyefoot along the south side of the Gryfe Reservoir. A mountain or hybrid bike is required as this track and the loop running back over from "The Cut" is fairly rough going and probably too much for a road bike though smooth tarmac alternatives are available down into Greenock. The minor road (yellow on map) is then followed past High Mathernock to reach the Route 75 cycle track leading north to skirt the upper edge of Port Glasgow. (See second photo)
A cracking balcony trail is then followed along the cycle track as it passes high above the Inverclyde towns of Port Glasgow, Greenock and Gourock.
Greenock's Titan crane from the cycle track.
Half submerged sugar boat and small yachts in the Firth of Clyde. The sugar boat was on its run to the Tate and Lyle sugar factory when it came to grief in the Clyde, which is pretty shallow at this point.
It sank in 1974 after a severe storm which saw it hit another boat and sustain damage causing the captain to ground it on this sandbank when he realised he couldn't reach a safe haven in time. It's a surprisingly large boat up close and the aquatic life and seabirds love it.
The full story and better pictures of it here. http://clydesite.co.uk/articles/captayannis.asp
THE ROUTE; The cycle track continues along the edge of the houses before winding down into Greenock but we headed instead for the minor road past West Dougliehill which would bring us out on the B788. We already knew this would provide further balcony trail views over the River Clyde estuary then a brilliant long freewheel down into Greenock.(see third photo and this one below)
As we felt fresh however and the day was still young I thought I would combine everything I knew about Greenock and Gourock, walking wise, into one mammoth bike tour.( I realise this is not a long day by keen cyclists standards ,being only around 40 km and climbing sub 200 metre hills, but there are a lot of them to climb and I'm approaching my dotage fast so it was an epic for yours truly.)
Victoria Tower. Greenock.Although Alan had travelled through Greenock before, like a lot of folk he had never explored it properly and there are many hidden surprises for visitors. One of the reasons for the guide book is to pass on 40 years worth of knowledge before I kick the bucket and the book describes many walks and interesting cycle trips in areas many folk might dismiss as not being worthwhile. Greenock is a case in point as I've always loved the place since I explored here in my teens and met the two girls who would influence and change my life in a new direction. The music of the Velvet Underground and the first realisation that you could actually move people into different areas of development through mere suggestion, like pieces on a chess board, became my twin obsessions here as we launched ourselves between buildings and across rooftops in an early rudimentary version of Parkour. Both of them provided me with a lot of input and fresh ideas as regards " The Great Game" which was to become my life choice.
As Alan had never been up Lyle Hill (seen here from Battery Park) to visit the Free French Memorial and was still keen we snaked our way uphill again towards it via Coves Reservoir (another little known jewel of the area.)
A cracking and varied trip and a full day out at 7 hours and around 40km of mainly up and down cycling. Best bike trip of the year so far though. Highly recommended.
There are around 80 selected walks and cycle rides in the book, many little known. Also included are 140 colour photographs, plus accompanying text, providing an original profile into each area. This is just one example and obviously more precise info and details are included in the guide itself which will be published on kindle soon... if I can be bothered. Roll on another fiver in the bank.
Update. My new photo heavy guidebook is now available for the grand outlay of £1:99 on kindle bookstore. Fully illustrated throughout with 146 colour photographs taken by me over several decades along the Clyde it is both a pictorial journey down the river on various craft and a descriptive guide to over 80 lesser known walks and cycles along the river, through the towns and villages that line the banks and into the often spectacular countryside beyond. Arran ,Bute, Great Cumbrae and Alsia Craig are all featured for routes and it is a book that should appeal to both armchair readers who have lived in the area and locals who want to explore the district further, from walking and cycling beginners and experienced veterans alike. This cycle ride of great scenic variety is one of the longer day rides described in the book along with a range of featured walks in the Inverclyde towns and surrounding hinterland above. A good Christmas gift perhaps?