Sunday, 31 January 2016
On a lovely sunny morning in October 2015, a golden autumn which seems like a dream now after three months of almost continuous storms, flooding and rain, a group of us set off early to explore the east coast around Edinburgh and Lothian. This is a distant view of Arthur's Seat, the ancient volcano in the heart of Edinburgh seen from Falside Hill above Wallyford.
" I can't see a scooby. Hold on a minute. Don't be hasty here. " I squeaked as Graeme insisted on pushing me towards the entrance to the tunnel to let me enjoy the darkness fully.
"Get down there ya big Jessie." He encouraged, forcing me on.
Eventually I made it to the bottom with the aid of his mobile phone giving off a spooky half light. We held hands together in the Stygian gloom as we crept further along... then I discovered it wasn't his hand....
And on that happy note we will end our tour of Lothian and return to civilized Glasgow.
An excellent video of a descent into Goblin Ha' made with a great deal of imagination and style. Worth a watch in full screen mode with the lights out. Spooky stuff and well conceived. Although a night time tour of the cavern it's actually much brighter and better illuminated than our daytime visit with two feeble glow worms as a guide. Nice to see the stonework details and the roof of the cavern properly.
Monday, 25 January 2016
The Ardeer Peninsula, a large tract of sand dunes, desolate beach and bleak river estuaries sitting between Stevenston and Irvine in North Ayrshire has fascinated me for many years now. Once the site of one of the largest explosives factories in the world, manufacturing Dynamite and Gelignite for mining, construction, and both World Wars it had a maximum work force of 18,000 at its peak, its own train station (Ardeer) and dozens of explosives blending and mixing huts, a dining hall for meal times, boilers, cooling towers, engine and power sheds, underground bunkers, and warehouses. For many years, unless you worked there, it was a closed site and terra incognita on many maps. Even today it is a remote and little known destination with a very real atmosphere of end of the world desolation and decay.
I was initially surprised to see so many young girls had been recruited and killed but I suppose during the war years most of the able bodied men would have been already called up to fight. From my own point of view I was intrigued to see what it was like and if you could make an interesting walk out of it.
As it was nearby I left the bike and wandered over out of curiosity to see this empty building but an automatically triggered loud hailer soon informed me that it was out of bounds and that the police had been informed and were on their way. Considering it's remote position and the fact that the bridge across to Irvine had been removed I wasn't that bothered and had a quick look around anyway as they would have to reach me first and I wasn't doing anything untoward. As this message kept repeating loudly it did put me off exploring the rest of the peninsula however, (I assumed at that time it was all off limits) and I soon returned to my bike and cycled back along the sands.
He should have watched more old cowboy films as the bad guys in them always give a cheery grin before they shoot someone. That will teach him to relax near me. Classic beginner's mistake when meeting a psychopath in a deserted area. I didn't much care for the colour of socks he was wearing anyway and he seemed a right dodgy type to ever turn my back on. If you are not fast you're last in the quick draw game....And that is a true story. I haven't been back since. (the houses in the background seem empty but are guarded by cameras and patrolled)
We managed to get a bus back in Kilwinning and arrived in Saltcoats just after nightfall. 12 to 14 km one way depending on curiosity and mostly flat. Around 4 to 6 hours at an easy pace, exploring on the way. Interesting sculpture.
As a more scenic alternative here's a stunning route in Wales (Tremadog) that Alex and I have actually done years ago. One from Classic Rock and a great video. It's a deceptive climb put up by two Scottish intruders into the Welsh heartland so we were keen to tick it off. Starts easily enough in the security of the trees but soon becomes very exposed and elevated on a toenail traverse with no handholds for a few moves then weaves a devious snaking line up a near vertical cliff face to the top.
http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=3014 Photos of Tremadog climbing in here.
A brilliant open route we both enjoyed, along with a few other fine routes nearby before a well earned snack in Eric Jones' climbers' cafe below. Wouldn't fancy doing this climb now as I've lost my bottle for serious verticality these days. Worth viewing full screen. Great rock architecture throughout. Wish head cams and Go Pros had been around when we were climbing as we were fairly prolific around the UK in those far off days.
Monday, 18 January 2016
Had a couple of short trips to see friends in Glasgow and Greenock recently and as I am rarely without my camera these days here's a gallery of snaps. Stan Laurel and one of the Cluthas, (small passenger ferries that used to run across the River Clyde from bank to bank taking workers across to the numerous factories and ship yards that lined the Clyde in those busy days.) They were phased out when the Glasgow Underground was built running under the fast growing city, making them increasingly redundant, though a number of them held on until the Clyde Tunnel was built and cars took over instead of foot passengers. Heavy horses and ordinary nags were a common sight on Glasgow's streets as well until around the 1940s/50s and my grandfather was a carter in the city which might explain my father's love of horses as he probably grew up around them as a boy himself. Stan Laurel's father managed the nearby Metropole Theatre and Stan himself appeared at the Britannia as a young entertainer, still the World's oldest surviving Music Hall. Yet even today many Glaswegian's are unaware it exists in Argyle Street. I only found out about it myself when the Doors Open Days started.
Glasgow of old as the Saltmarket used to be a notorious warren of close entries and drinking dens in the 1800s. http://www.oldglasgowpubs.co.uk/saltmarket.html Well worth a read. Colourful description and period photos of this maze of lanes and alleyways running off a comparatively short street.
Amazingly this arch used to stand one floor up in a much larger building erected in the late 1700s called the Glasgow Assembly Rooms. It was not even an entrance gateway into that building which was demolished in the late 1800s and was never designed to be walked through in its original setting. That shows you the scale and grandeur of old Glasgow in the past. This arch was just a window frame.
A colourful and beautiful if somewhat scary video of some of the world's best climbers visiting China and the Li Valley to climb the massive towers and vertical walls of Karst limestone there. This is mind blowing stuff in full screen HD. Not for the faint hearted but well worth watching.