Great Cumbrae and Millport. A Winter Trip. A Gallery.
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I've still got two Edinburgh weekend posts to come but I thought I'd squeeze in a winter solo day trip to Great Cumbrae and Millport for a change. (small island in the Firth of Clyde)
Snow had been forecast falling over the higher hills which surround this low lying fertile island so it was an ideal choice for an easy day trip without the commitment of a full blown winter adventure on the peaks. Although a sunny bright day it was bone chillingly cold with a vicious wind, so not many folk were brave enough to stay out on the open deck of the ferry for very long, even on a short sea crossing such as this one. Looking up the Firth towards Dunoon and the Argyll mountains.
Great Cumbrae with Arran Ridge behind. I did think of a day on the Arran Ridge itself but it's a long hard outing under winter ferry timetables which meant a really early pitch black start to catch the first ferry over- a 6 to 8 hour walking day, then a night-time return. The mind was still keen but when it came right down to it the body refused to get out of bed at such an ungodly hour.
It was also a serious range to traverse in winter on my own and as I like the sun on trips away I wisely remembered all the previous times I've been walking on low lying Bute or Cumbrae in full sunshine all day while the higher Arran peaks held onto cloud, dull conditions or mist most of that time.
With a strong wind blowing constantly I didn't think I'd enjoy it as much as I used to up there... and I didn't enjoy it much then come to think of it. Snow is for sunshine!... not howling winds and grim dull conditions... not in my book anyway.
This was much better- a pleasantly green fertile island dotted with sheep, cattle, and horses...
sheltered, low lying, and sunny... yet still with fantastic views of higher summits around.
With my magnificent zoom all I needed was a cosy bed on wheels, a pipe and slippers, plus a 'push around the island' chap and I'd be sorted. Unfortunately, the bike and wheeled bed hire shop was closed for the season. This looks like The Cobbler and maybe Beinn Ime, 1011 metres, around the Arrochar district.
Young Herring Gull. Even on a sheltered island like this one sea breezes kept the temperatures below freezing so very few tourist types braved the ice coated beaches as I crunched across them. The sea was not freezing of course but the frozen wet sand and the sea bound beach streams running across it had succumbed to overnight ice.
All the birds were fluffed up in an attempt to stay warm. European Blackbird here.
Which didn't always work. Ruffled wind blown feathers on this oyster-catcher here.
A Redshank I think. A small wading bird. Another reason I came here is that these islands usually have good wildlife in winter and birds like sunny sheltered areas as much as I do. We seem to have an affinity.
This is the minor road over the middle of the island leading to it's highest summit which then drops down into the island town of Millport.
A down hill view of Little Cumbrae, Castle Island and a distant Ailsa Craig.
Millport itself. Palm trees, ornamental ponds still free of ice and even, amazingly, a late flowering water lily bursting open in one. Gulf stream exotic magic.
A curious rook joined me- looking half comical- half menacing with its impressive beak. I would not be at all surprised if the child catcher figure was not based on this look.
You can also see the obvious difference between rooks and crows here. Rooks have grey beaks and faces... crows are black all over. Eyes are different as well. Rooks have a cheeky sparkle in them.
Even though Great Cumbrae is a small unspoiled island there are examples of mega structures on the mainland. This is the conveyor chute for coal beside Hunterston B Power Station. Coal reserves are situated some distance away from the buildings with lines and railway infrastructure leading to container bays capturing the ship delivered coal reserves, to prevent accidental fire risk spreading towards this nuclear facility. Nearby Hunterson A closed down in the 1990s but this one has been running from the 1970s and may well last until the early 2020s all going well, despite greener energy policies kicking in-hence the two giant wind turbines situated nearby.
Hunterston coal port unloading cranes and wind turbines dwarf a small boat passing by.
Another view from Millport itself.
A raft of Eider Ducks. One female- three males. Just like a night out in Glasgow.
The island bus that runs between the town and ferry slipway.
Largs from the returning ferry.
And a new full moon appearing above a herd of cows. This was not the official UK 20 percent larger 'super moon' or a 'wolf' moon (where do they get these titles?) but I was pleased with it anyway as it did look big enough to me.
And here it is again sometime later. This one was not a 'super moon' either sadly just the ordinary kind.
and one above a remote hill cottage.
And a sunset to end.
Always liked this sweeping, very beautiful, but little known, musical classic and a great visual collection of extraordinary images gathered from around the globe. Worth a look if you like great photography and mood-scapes, which in my own small way I always try to achieve as well in the posts.