Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Spectacular Firth of Clyde. A Day Gallery. Act One.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
A compilation gallery of three different trips around the Firth of Clyde Estuary, coastal towns and villages over the winter period. Two undertaken by myself solo and one more recently with friends Anne and Belinda. As Easter just past was something of a washout- cold, windy, rain and snow- and they didn't bother going anywhere I decided to show them some of the best highlights the Firth of Clyde has to offer as a consolation prize- turning their trip into a scenic extravaganza of well known spots but also some secret places. This is Dumbarton Rock and Castle with yellow gorse in full spring bloom. A closer inspection however reveals a black dragon lurking on the rock- which I can only assume is some kind of wayward tarpaulin as they have had scaffolding up here all year to do repairs. That's the obvious simple answer as dragons don't exist in Scotland, not around the River Clyde anyway. A logical explanation every time.
A small lighthouse near Port Glasgow and an even smaller low tide island. In a new budget strapped reality TV programme two groups of unlucky/plucky individuals may be stranded here- one party from a local run down council housing estate and one from a posh neighborhood forced to fend for themselves, live off the land, hunt animals, and explore the surroundings working together as a team. Too far fetched an idea?
A beautiful and brightly coloured Shelduck nearby, one of the UK's largest ducks and my favourite meal along with oven chips. Even stranded on a tiny island food can be had. The sea will provide.
The equally beautiful Eider ducks- very tasty in thin slices- both species having feathers and colours  resembling painted silk on the plate, up close and personal. Good eating in a duck I'm told if you can hunt one down dressed in a loincloth and carrying a makeshift spear.
Harder to catch but a meaty mouthful all the same- Sandpipers and a lone Redshank. On reflection maybe it's better sending the stranded group to a tropical island instead to eat the wildlife there for entertainment purposes as it's exotic and no-one will complain as much. Nature is after all there for our entertainment, apparently. It's a funny old world at times. I mention this as I wonder how we will look back on this decade 35 years from now as we currently compare the strange old, quaintly dated, 1980s programmes on TV recently with the much more enlightened TV version today? During the 1980s it just felt completely normal, mostly, living through it... or in modern parlance- "it was what it was" back then. Now that we are living in a far more enlightened, supposedly equal environment era, we would never screen a period middle ages drama (competing with the internet mainly- TV's major threat these days) where most of the women portrayed in it routinely strip down naked almost every episode apart from an old women and a young girl while the male actors get to keep their clothes on mostly. You couldn't possibly get away with that sort of rampant gender inequality today without complete outrage happening surely :o)
What? It's an extremely popular show worldwide !? Who would have guessed that!
Meanwhile, the Cowal and Argyll hills unfold in full winter splendour...demurely covered up.
Seen after heavy snowfalls over the mountains just past the Easter break.
A container ship in the Firth of Clyde off Greenock.
Glasgow tower blocks seen from Greenock. The red and white one -possibly Anniesland Tower.
 It seems to me that we are fighting wars on all fronts at the moment- not only a new, fast evolving, cold war but technology and innovation wars and what they will bring to society... the various complex internet addictions plaguing humankind, introduced fairly recently...leading to potential cyborgs in a few decades time once internal IT implants develop fully?.... increased narcissism/ and loss of self directly related to number of likes/ dislikes/notion of  self-worth online etc /.... identity and complete personality theft via modern 3D graphics, home control gadgets, and data advances in the near future...where you could potentially copy anyone with perfect recognizable mannerisms and looks as already seen in certain games today... increasingly unstoppable fake news with the death of conventional media outlets...artificially manufactured wars to make the super rich even richer, get rid of overcrowding problems, or grab vital assets like oil reserves and minerals... the ever growing divide between rich and poor worldwide...blah, blah blah.....ah, these are always exciting times to be alive in----usually looking back in nostalgic hindsight- Hey...just like the 1960s were....and with all that distraction going on who can be bothered with boring wildlife, leaving the EU, and general planet health I wonder?
Gourock in mid-winter. I was pulling out all the stops on this trip for scenic delights. Always seize the day by the throat is my motto and squeeze really hard! Fiddle merrily away while Rome burns regardless.  Hedonism above virtue and self sacrifice! :o)  A and B usually visit these places in summer so a deep midwinter trip was a complete novelty for them- as were the ribbons of mist hanging over the mountains.
Evening sunlight hits Brucehill in Dumbarton with the Lang Crags behind.
Football match observed from Lyle Hill.
Gourock as night descends over the town.
Two forms of flight. We invented it of course- birds just copied us- a well known, well documented fact in 2040 in an era after paper news has ceased altogether and we really lose the plot.
Sea kayakers off Gourock. Hardy people given the freezing conditions and the inevitable wave spray in choppy seas.
A ship in the Firth.
Dumbuck Quarry and Rock. Like Dumbarton Castle rock another volcanic plug in a hot bed area with over 50 other examples of volcanic ancient eruptions existing between here and Edinburgh to a geologists experienced eye.
 Dumbarton again in this one with Doughnot hill 374 metres, under snow. A volcanic lava escarpment frozen in time. It makes perfect sense for me nowadays to use the car less and take the bus more as I can save between £10 to £30 in petrol each time by doing so but it's also nice on trips to stop anywhere that takes your fancy so all three of us thoroughly enjoyed this scenic car ride... and the best was yet to come.... to be continued.

A cracker of a video now. The first mountain we climbed on our backpacking trip across the French/ Spanish Pyrenees many years ago, the 11,000 foot high mountain chain creating a physical and geographical border between these two countries was a holiday to remember and it gets a full chapter in my novel 'Autohighography'.
 The Pic du Midi D' Ossau was the first major rock peak we climbed on that trip, - a 2884 metre, 9461 foot soaring spire with the easiest line being an entertaining scramble not unlike Curved Ridge on the Buachaille Etive Mor, 1022 metres- only higher. We had a rope with us but never used it once as we had been intensively scrambling and rock-climbing in Scotland beforehand in preparation for this trip. I must have been not too shabby then in my prime as I wouldn't attempt it today without a rope I don't think..Camped at the Pombie Hut on the first day, then experienced a full scale biblical thunderstorm, sheet lightning, and floods overnight then climbed the peak in the morning as the mists cleared and the vultures took to the skies. A good link here to a superb video giving you a real taste of what the Pyrenees have to offer the adventurous visitor.  Professionally put together, gripping stuff and better than most things on mainstream TV recently, although I did like the history prog shown a few days ago about Jesus' Female Disciples: The New Evidence-  key woman getting erased from history (nothing new there)  in a now male dominated church. Well worth seeing.


Anabel Marsh said...

I watched that video - it was the descent which really caused my stomach to lurch. Undoubtedly beautiful (had to mute the terrible music though).

beatingthebounds said...

Pic du Midi is amazing. I've walked through there, but would never have had the nerve to try climbing it. The area of your three trips is one which I've always driven past. It's ironic isn't it how some areas can be neglected in our haste to get to the more famous spots.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I didn't mind it played softly in the background as the photography makes up for it. Lost count of how many good outdoor mountain videos I've seen with totally inappropriate loud rap music added on.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers BtB (Mark?)
Most hill folk I know as well usually head for the big stuff further north but you would like an Arran trip in good weather with a ridge line there the equal of Skye or Rum but not as far to travel. The next post features that.

Carol said...

I think TV programmes were a lot more moral back in the 70s - you had Dukes of Hazzard and the first Star Trek - always had a very, very moral theme! (and great looking blokes ;-) )

Linda W. said...

Lovely scenery! Thanks for sharing.

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Carol,
That's the main difference now I realise. Then we didn't know any better and just forged ahead regardless- now it's all done with consent and the ' best possible taste' -not exploitative at all :) Of course I'll not be around 35 years into the future to be proved right:0(

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

The reason why this is a good mix- video and post is that the Pyrenees seemed like a higher, less eroded Scottish Highlands with many of the same features. Our Buachaille a smaller crumpled version for a reason- with Scottish glens boasting some of the world's oldest rocks- hence a worn down copy of the Pyrenees.
I move slowly but I get there in the end.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Excellent, Bob! A wonderfully eclectic mix, accompanied by tongue firmly in cheek in places. I keep meaning to get to Dumbarton Rock, to visit the seat of the old kingdom, but maybe I'll wait until they've finished building it. If you reckon there's no dragons that far south, I saw a couple in Sauchiehall Street once :-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mike,
Although I like and watch both programmes mentioned myself it did strike me as slightly incongruous that it's a group of folk in an entertainment programme killing local wildlife on the other side of the world whereas folk would be up in arms here if you did that to anything 'pretty or lovable' instead of a gator, shark or lizard- like hunting, spearing, and eating a baby Panda or puppy... or a wild duck,- especially when half the wildlife now is under threat and declining around the world as shown by a guy in Cambodia (Ben Fogle prog recently) risking his life to save seahorses and local reefs being stripped out by illegal fishing trawlers.
Likewise, the most popular TV prog currently where the woman still spend much more time naked in it than the men in a supposedly #metoo 'fighting for equality and fairness' age. What will we make of that 40 years from now, looking back? :o)
If you do visit Dumbarton Rock(worthwhile) the Govan hogback Viking burial stones are not far away (in Govan church) as is the Riverside Museum and the Hunterian Museum with its Roman Wall collection. You can easily do them all in a day in summer after checking opening times.
all the best

surfnslide said...

Another great insight into your locale. Like Mark, we walked through the area around the Pic du Midi a couple of years back so I loved the video as well. One of the most spectacular mountains I've seen although the day we walked around it we were in fog for the whole day right back to the car. I toyed with the idea of climbing it and its doesn't look that difficult but my wife and son are less experienced on rock and to be honest I don't have the nerve I used to. When I was younger I'd probably have made the climb without any hesitation, today I think I'm a little more conscious of my own mortality. Must be an age thing!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy,
Same here with dwindling confidence that comes with getting older in serious situations- 20 years ago I was happy to solo North Buttress and Tower Ridge now I just think looking up at them I must have been mad as I would never do it now. Whatever bottle I had is gone for vertical climbing, especially the descents, where elastic limbs, spring loaded knees and fast reflexes to avoid slips turning into accidents are a thing of the past.

Rosemary said...

I missed the programme about Jesus' Female Disciples, and will see if I can find it on iplayer following your recommendation.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
I think you would like it and it has the ring of truth about it given past history in that department. I usually watch channel 4 or BBC 4 history, technology, or Horizon style programmes in the last few years given what's generally on over the rest of the mainstream channels.(i.e. not a lot) But I do confess a liking for American Pickers,Storage Wars and Forged in Fire (all on Blaze. 63.) just for entertainment value.

Carol said...

I've watched the video now... Well, okay - I'd go up it... certainly... but no way in hell would I go down that route! roped or not