Sunday 31 May 2009

Glasgow.A kaleidoscopic cycle tour.

Alex was feeling ill when I phoned.Despite our blog name he doesnt like it when its too warm ( not far off 80 degrees on sunday) so a sudden attack of man flu was called for."You`ll have to go it alone" He croaked."I`m counting on you.Feeling a bit rough."
Where to go? No challenge in finding the sun this weekend it was golden and roasting uk wide a la chicken on a spit.The challenge was simply to enjoy the day.It looked like I was soon going to be grafting hard at work in sweaty conditions so I wanted an easy day out.
The answer? An old favourite of mine that never fails to lift my spirits.Cycling around half of Glasgow and Paisley from my house on the western outskirts of the city.Its got everything. A true Kaleidoscope.
Although this is an urban ride it is surprisingly green and pleasant with large sections linking up meadows and parks.
So took the mountain bike and followed the Loch Lomond cyclepath from my house down past Glasgow Harbour (nice flat biking along the waterfront)
This is just the usual glass and steel towers common on UK wide new build waterfronts. Ok, but I just wish They had a bit more verve, boldness and individual style like a lot of continental projects I`ve seen.
So, continued into Glasgow centre intending to take the wee riverbus which runs to Braehead only to find its now on Loch Katrine plying its trade and the river is now an empty desert again.Gutted! It was a real tourist attraction for the city and brightened up many a journey for me on its decks.R.I.P. Thanks Glasgow district.Tourism is safe in your hands.
Back to Bell`s bridge then and detoured to take this pic of the Angel building with the aforesaid winged one looking pretty hot high above Paisley Road Toll.
After that it was a short distance to Festival Park which is cycle friendly and has a man made stream system you can follow leading you out to Ibrox. Smashing wee park ,shame about the usual heatwave rubbish though that people leave in their wake.BB Qs, takeaways,cans of drink.If they carried it in etc.
Next up, after a merry canter through the picture postcard scenery of back street Ibrox.....
it was into the cool shade of Bellahouston park.
My usual steady uphill push past the much enlarged dry ski runs (3 now) of the Glasgow ski centre brought me to my favorite seat atop the hill for a lunch stop and a great view west towards the Barrhead braes and the southern arc of Glasgow.
Although still in the middle of the city all you can see in this direction is trees, green rolling hills and more trees.My next destination,the vast and leafy Pollok country park lay ahead.
As I sat gumming down on my spicy chcken slice a fat old man was happy.After 15 minutes of sitting down,sweat tricking freely,I knew the bike was the right choice for really hot weather like this as a constant breeze dawdling along kept things pleasant and cool.Alex.Take note!
Had another wee detour just to take a picture before entering the north gate of Pollok park as there is a smashing short link section above the south side of the M8
with good views
Altough this is just off route from what I consider the best classic circlular route
the beauty of this tour is that most parts of it have many different options so its never the same route twice once you know your way around.
Cycled happily through the dappled woods of Pollok Park until I came to Pollok House.Done well here and managed to get this people free pic of the grand house without getting a kicking as maw, paw and scantily clad females of all ages wandered around.I was very careful where I pointed my camera.I only wanted this one iconic shot.
Next up skirted Pollok on quiet roads (Crookston Castle is worth a visit,can go to the top usually.Chain your bike!) then followed the slow meanderings of the White Cart water through the green meadows and inward pointing spiked railings of Leverndale hospital grounds with its dark tower a reminder of its past.Had a few mad relatives incarcerated in here when I was growing up but its quiet and serene mostly nowadays.
This is a lovely stretch of track leading into Paisley with gentle ups and downs along the river.You can continue through this town and out past Bridge of Weir to Greenock on the cycletrack but I cut off it down to Barshaw park as I was going through Renfrew and the ferry which would take me back near my home.
All in all this is a great little day out with endless variety.Braehead waterfront promanade, X scape and the newly constructed ferry village park next to it are all worth a look see on the bike as well.You could do this from anywhere near this route or park and bike from Braehead or Pollok park. Allow 3 to five hours depending on your speed and, or curiosity.
As I said in the title. Kaledoscopic man! Ma eyes are knackered! (No sunglasses as yet). Alex, you missed yerself boy!

Monday 18 May 2009

St Abb`s Head.

Forecast time.Off we went to the far east again as it was cloudy or raining most other places. (What a surprise)
What started off as a throwaway bet in the pub has grown to a firm commitment to see if we can go a full year in scotland without getting a soaking.As you,ve probably guessed we,ve both served apprenticeships in the usual mist, rain and snow and we are determined we`re not going to take it anymore! Summer is always out there it just takes a bit of finding some days ,thats all.
Parked in the £2 car park above St Abb`s then wandered down to the harbour for a wee snoop around...

Very popular with divers from both Scotland and England this place, as its the start of an underwater eden of caves ,rips and steep"hanging garden" dropoffs.After a tour around we climbed back uphill to start the route where we found this handy board...

A gently ascending climb on short grass took us to the start of the cliffs and sea stacks.

After that every new turn and bend opened out to further views of stacks and cliffs asking to be in the camera lens.Here`s an intrepid old coffin dodger nonchalantly balenced on the end of one.

Seabirds...Guillemots,Razorbills,Kittiwakes and Fulmars clung to every ledge and a few dedicated snappers with serious zoom intentions clung to cliffs nearby braced above the waves on tripods.

Soon we reached the lighthouse and left most of the tourists behind going on to further stacks and cliffs before reaching the famous headland itself where a little scramble was called for to test the nerve.

Having been down to our local mountaineering club recently and given a lukewarm reception to our sunny sunday exploits(i.e. sad old gits-well past it....humour em,they`ll be dead soon!) we decided to pull out all the stops and show these young whippersnappers what it was like in an era before ropes.
Not having sufficent comely madiens hair to chop off and weave into a confidence line just like in the old days, we soloed up the near vertical grass in style.
Ha! Eat your heart out men of St Kilda,these two old gits will do anything for a photo opportunity!
(Dear milk tray ad,here is our c.v....."having swam from the boat with the chocs stuffed down our boxers" etc....)

After the adventure of the cliffs we headed inland at Alex`s insistance to bag the usual trigs,fundamental skid marks and assorted little lumps of white sticking out of fields in the middle of nowhere.(What,s wrong with that boy!The cliffs man, the cliffs!)
A great remote epic can be done, if your lucky enough to be without a bagger, all the way to Fast Castle missing trigs and wee white sticky up bits en route.
Anyways the views were suberb, as always, all the way back to the car.
We then motored to Eyemouth (interesting big harbour) for further trig adventures round the back of a sports centre .
Incidently,Eyemouth has more curry houses,chinese takeaways and kebab shops than I`ve ever seen in a small town main street before.
Must be a hell of a laugh in the toilets at chucking out time.Facilites being at a premium hereabouts.

All in all a brillant day on what must be some of the most varied and exciting sea cliffs in scotland. A real five star gem of a outing.

Divers returning to St.Abbs.....

Saturday 2 May 2009


A trip to climb a hill I,d never heard of sitting in a glen I,ve never explored.A rare event indeed given its only 2 hours from Glasgow.
After an evening study of the forecast then a quick morning Internet look at the BBC weather to see if it had changed, Ayrshire seemed the place to be to top up the tan, so, when Alex phoned and suggested going to climb this steep little peak south of Girvan (also known as the false Ailsa Craig),I was keen..... but not expecting knockout surroundings as some of the Ayrshire towns and villages can be a bit industrial and bleak due to the history of mining in the area.

Knockdolian was a gem however,steep and rocky with extensive views but the real surprise was the stinchar valley it towered over,a lovely fertile kingdom of prosperous farms,ruined castles and attractive villages,Colmonell and Barr.

Couple of pics on the way up...

Pub sign in Colmonnel....

As the hill was only a couple of hours work we next visited Bargany gardens near Dailly. This was also a real pleasure,a beautiful mix of pond,walled and sunken gardens and parkland.

A few Bargany pics....

A great day out was finished off by bagging Kirk Hill above Dalquharan Castle to give Alex his 2nd customary tick. I,m not really a trig collector post Munros and I wouldn`t cross the road for a fundamental bench mark but the view was worth the short climb.

All in all an unexpected and very scenic small adventure.

A few more pics from Alex to compliment Bob`s.

Ailsa Craig from Knockdolian...

Bob looking down on Ballantrae from Knockdolian summit...

The ancient hill fort on the slopes of Knockdolian....

Centre of Barr conservation village...

Looking down on the trig from the Yeaman summit of Kirk Hill....