Friday, 1 July 2016

Portencross. The Three Sisters Walk. Goldenberry Hill. West Kilbride.

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High summer in Scotland usually means clammy, energy sapping humid weather when it's at its dry best or.... alternatively..... frequent showers, thunderstorms and unsettled weather during the Scottish Monsoon season of July and August. Although collectively the nation always looks forward to summer every year this is never my favourite two months in the Highlands due to the number of biting insects, reduced visibility over the mountains and the almost inevitable thunder and lightning storms. Spring, Autumn and even Winter are preferable these days, especially last autumn which was glorious and long lasting.
Another reason for feeling summer is always something of a let down is that I'm a very visual person normally and by July most wild flowers have already given their best displays (except in private and show gardens where they have been deliberately selected for colour throughout each month) and everything is just and in need of a lawnmower. Wild dog rose at Portencross.
Portencross is a small hamlet on the Clyde Coast at Farland Head about a hour's drive from Glasgow, around 10km south of Largs. Apart from a small castle, seen here, a tiny harbour, a couple of derelict piers and around a dozen houses there is not much to it. What it does have is a good visitor car park, extensive views out to sea over the middle section of the Firth of Clyde, and some lovely walks.
Heading north from the car park and the castle a good flat track follows the coastline to Hunterston Power Station and if you wish to keep flat without any ascents this can be followed round to Hunterston Sands (return same way or continue inland and enjoy a longer circular walk back via Campbelton, Thirdpart, green fields and farms. The path from Portencross to Hunterston seen above.
Scenery inland from here is not too shabby with a lovely rolling aspect of fields, farms and small hills- very similar in fact to the type of landscape I grew up in- minus the sea of course.
Yellow flag iris, low growing vetch, clover, and wild rose were the main flowers on display.
Also patches of thrift or sea pink near the castle- usually a sure indication that you are close to a coastline when you see this although I have noticed it on rare occasions growing high up on selected mountain summits inland... probably seeds blown by the wind reaching a soil and environment to its liking.
After heading past the Three Sisters Cliffs, seen here, on the coastal track Alan and I took a much smaller path inland and uphill just immediately before the Hunterston buildings, skirting the security fence to reach a farm track and then the summit of Goldenberry Hill, 140 metres. We had picked a low but very scenic outlook due to the changeable summer weather with frequent heavy showers everywhere and this walk has plenty of shelter in beautiful woodland. It is a pretty walk at any time of year and fairly short and easy. A 7 km circle that can be added to easily enough to bring it up to 12 to 15km with the add on of the inland wider circle or the sandy beaches running south towards Seamill.
From the summit of Goldenberry Hill good views stretch out over Little Cumbrae Island, the neighbouring island of Bute and the Cowal/Argyll hills. The small private community on Little Cumbrae Island is seen here with the old Stevenson lighthouse visible on the island high point and beyond is St Blane's Hill, 123 metres, and Suidhe Chatain, 157 metres. This rugged and layered landscape on both islands is the result of successive lava flows from the volcano where Suidhe Chatain lies today so the Firth of Clyde islands and their unique appearance owes everything to volcanic activity in the distant past.
A view over to the town of Millport on Great Cumbrae Island from Goldenberry summit. As you can see views were hazy with sticky humidity and a real threat of heavy showers at any time. If we had picked a higher range we would have seen far less and would probably have got soaked but I'm so accustomed to working with the weather now good conditions and dry days are a given throughout the year. July and August remain the most unpredictable months though.
Bluebells from earlier in the year. Spanish variety- popular in gardens but creeping as ever into the wild to mate with sweet Scottish females. Maybe we can build a wall to keep them apart- that will fix it for sure... or simply make a change to the constitutional boundaries as those seeds will never get past that barrier. Another problem solved.
The rolling landscape inland from Goldenberry Hill. We returned via the farm track to Ardneil Farm then visited the beaches of Ardneil Bay and Bell Stane rocks where families with young children were playing beside the waves. An enjoyable, easy and varied day out.
The houses of West Kilbride from Goldenberry.

Some more wild flowers from spring just past to add an extra slice of colour. Yellow poppy in a garden.
Same poppy protecting itself from a sudden heavy downpour.
Lush flower/ weed covered verges in Brisbane Glen near Largs.
A buttercup and daisy meadow in Glasgow. Ant sized viewpoint of the sun setting.
Dandelions. The first sunflowers for most young children... and adults call them weeds. Hard to kill- they appear in numbers every summer where you don't want them- they spread alarmingly- modified or programmed by persistent adversity to survive, despite or even because of an ancient and ongoing battle to get rid of them every year. A remarkable ever smiling little plant born under punches that refuses to die off despite centuries of gardening aggression and does everything to ensure that each individual lives long enough to produce a new generation to take its place. You can learn a lot from nature :o)
Dark water sunset.

A thundering steamroller of a song and an anthem for the homeless and dispossessed around the world on this increasingly overcrowded ball of dirt. Written slightly before the current European situation developed in the Med incidentally.   Great driving drum and piano rhythm throughout.


Linda W. said...

I enjoyed the recap of your latest ramble. Great flower photos!

Carol said...

That looks a beautiful walk.

I love dandelions and no longer try to get rid of them while they're flowering. When they've finished I usually pick off the seed heads before they spread. But the bees love them and I love bees :-)

"everything is just and in need of a lawnmower" so true of summer. My garden just goes green, wild and overgrown with few flowers - such a let down after the gorgeous abundance of flowers I get in spring!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda W.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
"Wild and overgrown every summer" I just call mine a wildlife garden as every time I go out in it plants and animals try to attack or scold me. I do have visits from local foxes, cats, and a sparrowhawk though to get my own back on the feathered hordes that gather there.

Linda said...

I love taking long walks in nature and I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Your photos are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this tour.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda.

Carol said...

Much as I love cats, I won't let them in my back garden as that's where I feed the birds. They're welcome to sit in the lawn jungle in the sun in the front garden but not round the back. They know now and, as soon as they see me, they b*gger off! I'd have a fit if I saw a sparrowhawk there - although there is one in the village somewhere :-( I hate birds of prey :-(

Your captcha is off again making me select around 20 images!

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Carol,
I'd be interested if anyone else has this image problem which seems to have occurred after blogger changed it's format recently. I've taken off word verification altogether and a few other things so maybe it's folk using Wordpress as Mike said he found it hard to comment as well.
Any other suggestions? I'm not changing to Wordpress :o) Way too much hassle by the sounds of it as I contribute to other blogs as well.

Carol said...

I don't really know - I think you'll have to put a post out asking all your readers if they're having the problem and what platform they're coming from. Mind you, many might not want to jump through the many photo-recognition hoops to make a reply!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
I will do that on next post.