ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
As we are in full lock down at the moment and have been for a month, with possibly a second month to come I am restricted to a handful of local walks around the house. One thing that Covid has highlighted is how much I miss even just a 30 minute car journey to somewhere else. Being the age I am, the high mountains in full winter conditions, climbed solo, are probably beyond me now, especially as I have a damaged shoulder at present- too much hard effort just to come back down again with the risk of a slip and fall onto my bad arm something to be avoided.
So I don't miss access to the mountains these days. What I do miss is the simple ability to jump in a car, bus or train and travel to Renfrewshire or Inverclyde, just across the river from Glasgow City, but out of bounds- not just from last month but effectively from March until now. So this is a gallery of several different trips taken over the past few years around the three Inverclyde Towns. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. As you can see from the photos above the connected strip of towns- Port Glasgow, Greenock, and Gourock, could easily pass for a Nordic Crime series as they do resemble parts of coastal Sweden, Norway or Iceland, especially in winter. As I've been watching several Nordic Crime series recently on TV ...The Valhalla Murders (Iceland) The Bridge (Denmark - Sweden) All The Sins (Finland) I know the fantastic winter scenery around these Scottish towns is the equal of anything further north.
Here you can be just across the water from serious, rarely climbed, mountains in Highland Argyll yet feel no compulsion to struggle up them. Rugged, mostly path free, and as wild as anything further north they fall below Munro standards so are remarkably empty of hill walkers but make for a great scenic backdrop. Even though they are under 3000 foot high they are usually desperate hills to climb, winter or summer, with few ascents and no beaten trails to follow to the summits so I'm always happy just to look and admire them from a distance these days, having sampled their vertical delights in the past.
And there's always something going on in the Firth of Clyde anyway. A Greenock hill top view here on a windless day after heavy snowfalls with the Clyde Estuary looking semi frozen, yet still open to shipping. A sea of slush basically. It was around minus 10 below and the sea did partly freeze with solid ice in the shallower bays. Apart from the deep water channel leading up to Glasgow (See line of markers) the view here is mostly mud flats at low tide, covered at high tide with only a shallow depth of water. If the Gulf stream (North Atlantic Drift) ever changed course or slowed/ deviated slightly we may yet see this channel frozen over, coastline to coastline. And as Covid 19 has shown us- things we thought were static and reliable can change in an instant if we mess with nature enough to cross a line..
Another reason I like this area is that there's always a chance down here by the coast that the unexpected might happen, and often does. Shipping and submarines to look out for in the various sea inlets, lofty surrounding mountains, or even a Royal Navy Helicopter Rescue with a Westland Sea King, as here.
So unlike my local handful of well trodden walks, good though they might be for mere exercise, this is a place where interesting events might occur.
A climber trapped on the 1000 foot high Cross of Lorraine that towers over Greenock. See black dot (climber) with helicopter about to land.
Helicopter landed and a rescue attempt underway. Rope lowered down to casualty.
Rescue completed and another life saved. Hooray! Yes folks, you never know what will occur by the seaside.
The Great Orme of Inverclyde. Over eighty feet long, nose to tail, and a fearsome ruthless hunter, despite the smile.
Ginger. Greenock's towering heavy horse sculpture, soaring high above this coastal town's tenement districts, watching proudly over Greenock's docklands like the Pharos lighthouse watched over ancient Alexandria.
Port Glasgow's Endeavour Sculpture. A representation of the tall ships that used to carve a path through the icebergs to reach this port. At one time the main gateway for goods going into the city where ships docked here before being hauled overland on wooden rollers, full masted galleons pulled through the low Renfrewshire hills by teams of panting heavy horses to deliver their goods to the eager masses waiting in the valley beyond. What a sight that must have been!
Incidentally, in an age where no one reads books or newspapers anymore, fails to check every fact, no longer trusts government advice, science, or history... and gets all our information via the internet...or populist leaders with their own agenda to push... do you think that's a good thing for society at large? Will we even survive this bold new Eden unfolding? 'Smart' phone in hand- or soon to be implanted in wrist? Do puppets care what hand is inside them... as long as they move and come alive?
Lang Craigs and Gourock Bay viewed from Greenock.
Greenock Docks at Night.
Greenock and Port Glasgow, lights at dusk.
All three towns climb up steep hillsides making them a photographer's dream, day or night, to explore. I've been coming here since the 1960s and know the area well through every passing decade.
Port Glasgow daytime.
Port Glasgow at night.
Hillside wonderland. Port Glasgow.
Ice covered streets at minus 8 below in Port Glasgow several years ago.
Tower Hill in Gourock from Lyle Hill. Dusk descending.
Ice coated streets in Port Glasgow.
Twinkleland Empire. Exploring the hills of Greenock with Anne and Belinda in happier, free movement, times.
The up and down nature of urban Inverclyde. Towns built over many different hillsides. A joy to explore.
Waterloo Road School. A fictional UK TV series set in a real (but recently empty) Greenock School. Would not like to chase a rolling football here.
Warehouse apartments. Port Glasgow.
Winter ridges on Arran.
The Firth of Clyde island chain. Great Cumbrae with the mountains of Arran behind. The end.