Saturday, 3 June 2017

Millport. Great Cumbrae. Largs. Arran. Skiing In Scotland Video.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Heat wave conditions over the UK for the last couple of weeks saw myself and Alan head down the Clyde coast for the short hop over the water to the island of Great Cumbrae. Under a fiver each to get there  and we swapped sticky heat for a nice sea breeze. This was a few weekends ago now so the tulips in Largs were at their best.
Largs is a popular seaside resort that still attracts loads of day-trippers to its shopping streets and range of beaches from shingle near the ferry to sand and wide grassy meadows around The Pencil area- a large tall monument to commemorate the last major battle on the Scottish mainland between Vikings and Scottish locals. As the result was more or less a draw the  modern day vikings are happy to celebrate it as well.
Once on the island we proceeded to walk across the path network inland straight from the ferry landing, seen here, leaving the rest of the tourists to catch the bus into the only village/town on the island, which is Millport. In doing this we immediately left 99 percent of the visitors behind.
A signposted path leads through fields on a dusty track past cattle, horses, sheep and a large bull. As we had Alan's dog with us (on a lead) we were careful to give them a wide berth as I know from previous experience with dogs, the dog might be OK and well behaved, but cattle, bullocks or cows with calf's seem drawn to any dog crossing a field like a magnet and usually gallop straight towards it whereas humans by themselves they are not as concerned about.
It's a lovely walk over to Millport using a mix of quiet minor roads and fields with spectacular views as you climb towards the island summit. This is a modest 127 metres, roughly the same height as the hill I spent all my childhood years living on in Pollok but often small hills can have exceptional panoramic views and this was certainly the case here.
Looking over to Bute (Garroch Head area) and the Peaks of Arran.
Pretty little spring flowers
Goldenberry Hill and the Three Sisters cliffs near Portencross on the mainland.
Kelburn Castle Glen.
A zoom of Kelburn Castle with its cartoon like facade artwork. This is one of the few big estates where you have to pay to visit the grounds- Finlaystone and Culzean Castle being the others I can think of offhand but popular with families for the extra attractions here centered around children. As I don't have any it's one of the few places in Renfrewshire/ Ayrshire I haven't visited. Not officially anyway.
We found this on the road leading down into Millport. I think its a rabbit... or a push- me- pull- you.
Roads really are efficient killing machines for wildlife and even on this tiny island with few cars we found many victims. A few years ago, on a bike ride back from the Arygll area I was amazed at the carnage on a quiet B road to Tighnabruich during a sunny summer weekend as squashed snakes, hedgehogs, frogs, rabbits, two badgers, birds and assorted small unknowns decorated the tarmac every few ups and downs of my bike wheels like some surreal blood splattered, sometimes still alive and wriggling, wallpaper. It really shocked me as an animal lover just how many victims there were on what was a single track road with passing places in fairly remote highlands. In a car you would never notice this mayhem taking place and would be looking at the scenery instead, which was impressive, but with very dark undertones I now realized anywhere humans have spread their ribbons of death and destruction. In an increasingly fast paced world nature has to be equally speedy and ruthless to survive.
Largs and the ferry from Great Cumbrae.
Thought this was a sparrow at first but it's a reed bunting. Not seen many of them on my travels.
The tide was out when we arrived in Millport, exposing the rock pools. Alan's dog managed to strand itself on a boulder here so we had a pester free lunch for a change until it figured out how to rescue itself- by jumping/swimming across a narrow channel.
Lunch just seemed to make us hungry a couple of hours later so we had a tasty bag of chips as well.
Although there were numerous tourists around the main seafront shops, many hiring bikes to cycle around the island or just enjoying the harbour area... literally a three minute walk along the busy promenade brought us to this beautiful sandy beach which was completely deserted. It looked a far better proposition than the slippy rocks at low tide.
Yet hardly anyone visited it for most of the day. No shops along the street here so no people either. Something I've noticed about tourist patterns before all over the world. No cars here as most folk leave them on the mainland but even with that omission 99 percent of people don't venture half a mile from the centre of anything. Popular tourist attractions all over the world with amazing back country trails to follow on foot- 99 percent of people guaranteed to stay under a mile distance from their vehicle- sometimes suffering several hours of driving in a hot car to reach a nondescript car park- take a selfie with view- then straight back into car... usually after a fast food takeaway meal at a roadside pop up van if one is available. Noticed that in Ireland as well yet only half a mile further up the coastline path on that occasion we discovered some of the best cliff scenery any of us had ever visited- supremely wild and empty of the human my outsider mindset far better than the tourist infested commercial midden of the Giant's Causeway... nice though that is scenery wise but the swarming crowds lessened the impact.
The peaks of Arran from Millport Bay.
An Oystercatcher. A misnamed bird as oysters are not usually on the menu for its probing orange bill.
Ponies near Millport Cathedral.
A daisy lawn. A sure sign of spring morphing into summer in the UK.
An Eider Duck male. Very elegant bird. Also called the sea pigeon as rafts of them can be heard cooing out at sea, often before you spot them.
Old red sandstone cliffs from a time when sea levels were 10 to 20 foot higher than today. The same material many of Glasgow's Victorian and Edwardian upmarket tenements and civic buildings are hewn from. The rose red city from a few posts ago.
Sculpture at the ferry slipway.
The return to Largs and the waiting car.  (There are other free places to park in Largs away from the  busy ferry paid bays, along the coastal strip leading back to The Pencil. Seek and ye shall find) A grand day out.

From a Scottish spring heatwave to a west coast winter. An excellent video of Scotland when we do get loads of seasonal snow. Unfortunately for the resorts it's never predictable or guaranteed here... the past ten years dumping anything from 10 feet of the white stuff in one week over the high summits at Easter and folk actually digging down to find the roof of their cars at sea level to some years with only a teaspoon of snow all winter and still green hillsides. Even when we do get snow falling in large amounts the weather for skiing can still be appalling with gale force storms and lashing rain for days or sheets of ice and vicious hailstones sweeping the slopes, forcing visiting polar bears to scamper back  towards the more settled, stable weather patterns of the high Arctic. So this group from the south of England, who usually go to the Alps presumably, ( probably much closer to London time wise) were very lucky with excellent conditions giving you a real flavour of how good Scotland can be when all the stars align.


Rosemary said...

You are lucky to have the opportunity to pop over to the islands on these ferries so easily and readily - they are a great asset. Been on the ferry to Bute and Arran but not to Great Cumbrae.

Linda said...

Beautiful photos! Sad to see the animal carcass, but that is part of life. I love taking long walks in places like this. Thank you so much for sharing.

Anabel Marsh said...

We have noticed the same phenomenon- walk a few hundred yards and you lose most people. Suits us! Not been to Millport for a while - tempting....

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
yes, only an hour away from Glasgow and a ten minute ferry crossing to reach Great Cumbrae. Under a fiver. Same drive and 30 minutes on ferry over to Bute. An hour by boat to reach the Arran Peaks for a tenner. Still a real bargain.Just as well these days for me as it's £60 in petrol to go past Fort William so most of Highland Scotland is only accessible if we have several folk in the car sharing the costs. £50 for a tin of exterior masonry paint in the B and Q today so I never bought it. £50 quid for one tin of trade paint!!! I'm not someone that always counts the pennies and if its something I really want- like a camera - I'll splash out but modern Britain seems to be a constant outlay of £20 notes flying out the wallet to buy anything unless you are in a pound shop type discount store. You would like Great Cumbrae and Millport.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
Maybe for humans but I don't think animals evolved over millions of years just to end up splattered over a road :o) In the next hundred years if humans keep increasing in numbers at the same rate and cities keep spreading across the planet there will not be much room left for wildlife at all. The best they can hope for is our own extinction first. It certainly worked for mammals and dinosaurs.... roll on that next meteorite :o)

blueskyscotland said...

Evening Anabel,
It's not changed much and if you've not been over the inland road up to the Glaid Stone summit then down into Millport it's a lovely walk on a nice day and still quiet and peaceful. Really scenic in winter if you have snow on the Arran peaks but sunny and sheltered at lower levels around Cumbrae. Great for bird life then as well. Gets busy in the town area during the peak summer months. Also a good alternative return walk via Mid Kirkton to Fintray Bay and past Skate Point back to the ferry.

Ian Johnston said...

A grand day out indeed Bob, I really like the quiet and relaxed atmosphere of Cumbrae, it seems much further away from the mainland in "feel" than in miles

Neil said...

Love Cumbrae, some wonderful scenery especially from the west coast. I have a day walking round the island every year and finish off with a fish tea in Nardinis in Largs.

Anonymous said...

I've heard alot of good things about Great and Little Cumbrae islands. I can see why now.

Linda W. said...

Enjoyed the video! I'd love to ski in Scotland one day.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Nice one, Bob. Enjoyed that - I've been dragged round the island on a bike and thoroughly enjoyed an ice cream in a very retro place, Nardini's, in Largs. Also famous for its battle, of course - Largs, I mean, not Nardini's. Sorry - I've not dropped in for awhile - I'm finding it impossible to visit/comment on blogs as often as I like.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian,
Another island for that effect is Kerrera beside Oban. Close enough to see folk walking into the town's busy shops across the water yet feels very remote and isolated.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Neil,
same here.

blueskyscotland said...

Worth a visit to all three Firth of Clyde islands Andy although for a hill-walker Arran is the real gem.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda,
Thought you'd like it. Unfortunately predicting good skiing in Scotland is almost impossible- even when you live here.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
That's why I stopped at half a dozen or so blogs. Enough to feel you are not sending posts into a void but manageable enough to comment weekly on other bloggers updates. Having said that it can still take a couple of hours out of an evening as I do read them thoroughly.

Carol said...

Horrid about all the squashed wildlife - we haven't any mammalian wildlife left any more in our area due to drivers and 'hunters'. How on earth anyone can't see and avoid a hedgehog, I've no idea - I think they run them over for spite!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yes, I was just thinking it's only in the last 60 years or so all this carnage of road kill has developed. Walked the old road to Ba Bridge a few years back then came back along the main A 82 that crosses Rannoch Moor and we spotted at least a dozen deer killed by traffic lying in the verges beside that highway. You only really see the damage caused by roads when you walk them on foot.

Carol said...

I think you only really see anything much when you either walk or cycle. It always amazes me and Richard that when we cycle down a road we think we know, we see all sorts of things (e.g. roadside wells) which we never knew about. And walking down into Plockton from the train station recently (we've always driven in), we saw a new shoreline path to the nearby castle, the war memorial and an outside church - that was fantastic!