Saturday, 24 September 2016

Gourock And The Cowal Peninsula. Ships, Planes, Landscapes.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Inspired by the Dear Frankie film featured on the blog last week I decided to go kayaking in the Firth of Clyde around the Lunderston Bay/ Gourock and Cloch Point Lighthouse area. This is a photograph of the Cloch Lighthouse with the mountainous island of Arran in the background. Although in the morning it was calm enough for kayaking near the shoreline the wind picked up in the early afternoon, creating choppy conditions so I stayed local and kept well back from the shipping lanes. I only had a few hours paddling then it got too rough so I turned back to be on the safe side when the waves increased in size and the photos are a mixture of ones taken on the water then later on dry land. As I expected, being a wide open body of water it's not that sheltered for kayaks but I struck it lucky once again with a wide range of shipping passing down the River Clyde then into the largest and most complex enclosed estuary anywhere in the British Isles, which is the Firth Of Clyde.
Gourock is a lovely place for tourists to visit, great for adults, families and children alike with a choice of ferry destinations from the town and as you can see here it has a lovely flat esplanade along the seafront, a small scenic hill to climb that offers magnificent world class views and numerous interesting walks. Unlike many seaside towns throughout Britain that look forlorn and empty, waiting for better days and the golden years of stay at home holidays to return it still has a prosperous feel about it. Which is why it's totally baffling to me that they should change the seafront car park from one where you were always guaranteed a free space anytime I visited to a monstrosity that is now split into two different sections. One half was free for an unlimited time and was jammed solid with parked cars and according to locals I asked it's always that way now... the other side which tellingly was three quarters empty was also free but had a three hour time limit and you had to get a ticket from the shops otherwise you got a fine. To me this is a crazy set up. As I was planning to be away longer than three hours I had to leave and park further down the esplanade where luckily I managed to squeeze in next to some toilets, well away from the shops.
This suited me as I was near the water for getting the kayak in but if I was intending on coming here for a day trip and going on a ferry it meant I couldn't use the car park with its stupid three hour rule unless I wanted a fine. They have had a similar set up in central Ayr for decades and its been decades since I visited any of those three hour limit car parks down there. Maybe they think the three hour ticket scheme will encourage folk to use the shops more or reserve them for locals but I think it will also chase away a lot of tourists who might spend money in the town. When my parents were still alive I used to take them down to Gourock all the time, sometimes with other friends included, on day trips. They would happily spend an entire sunny day wandering around the shops, going for flat walks then come back to the car, buy snacks and sit in it if it turned cold or rained. Meanwhile, I would be off walking or cycling all day either myself or with friends, having got a ferry somewhere, happy in the knowledge that they had the car to shelter in or drive away whenever they wished if anything went wrong. With this three hour rule, that puts a stop to parking there as a full day visitor so maybe they want folk to use the pay and display ones around the ferry terminals which are a fair distance away from this one and the shops. I noticed over in Dunoon recently it was all pay and display car parks there at £1 an hour so maybe this is a way for councils to get extra cash. I'm convinced pay and display will come in everywhere in the future. It's too big a cash cow not to bring it in.
I will go back to Gourock for day trips but it just means I'll have to find somewhere else to park, away from the shops and that seafront car park and arrive early elsewhere to get a spot. I can't understand why they changed a perfectly good system but they obviously have their reasons. Just makes it more inconvenient for me when planing trips from there and it speaks for itself that the 3 hour car park section was almost empty when I arrived with a few drivers entering, reading the rules, then leaving again whereas the unlimited section was packed solid with no spaces available. In effect what they've done is half the car park park size for day trippers. Seems like madness to me but maybe I'm wrong. I know councils countrywide are getting squeezed tight and have to find cash somewhere but as usual it's the ordinary punters who pay for it all.
A photo of the Western Ferry service which runs from Gourock at McInroy's Point over to Hunter's Quay at Dunoon. A passenger and vehicle ferry, both ends of this service are around a three km walk from both town centres which is nothing by bike or car but an extra 5 or 6 km on foot to reach Gourock or Dunoon's main shopping districts. In the background are the Cowal hills of Argyll.
The other service is this one which is the Ali Cat Argyll Ferries, a passenger service which does run between Gourock and Dunoon town centres but according to locals I spoke to it is affected more often by strong winds or rough seas whereas the red Western Ferries are more able to run unaffected through bad weather conditions. The Argyll Ferries replaced the much missed Cal Mac boat which was a very large vessel but probably ran at a loss for the company. When I'm on a bike I just tend to use the Western Ferries as it looks easier to roll on and off but that's just a guess as I've not been on the other one yet.
In the distance I could see a large boat approaching. This is the Clyde Fisher, a chemical/oil tanker which had an escort of a Tug, the SD Reliable, and a fast police boat.
This is them here with what might be the small Greenock to Kilcreggan Ferry in front. Not sure if it is that ferry as my attention was elsewhere at that moment but it is roughly that size. Obviously this is a zoom as I kept well clear of any boats and ferries.
What captured my attention even more was the distant drone of a large Hercules plane getting closer then passing straight over the tanker I was looking at.
A close up. I think this is a Hercules transport plane from the Second World War period. I assume it was off to a air show somewhere as another one soon appeared following an identical flight path a safe distance behind. Opps wrong... Update- One of my friends, Graeme, found this info on it online. Thank you smarter man that me :o) 
Great video in this link showing the true size of this beast. Here's me thinking it was just one guy with a ladder and a spray can :o)

As you can see this one had all the markings of an air show event commemorating 50 years of  being in the skies. A lucky day indeed for interesting photography.
One of the Tug, the SD Reliable, with the Cowal peaks as a backdrop.
And one of the Kingdom of Fife, a larger offshore tug/ supply boat, crashing through the waves with the wind really picking up.
One of the Skog, a medium sized cargo ship, passing Gallow Hill, 128 metres, near the peninsula village of Kilcreggan. A nice walk runs from Kilcreggan along the scenic shoreline through the Portkil Estate grounds to Roseneath point, as highlighted in my walking and cycling guide book to the Firth of Clyde.
A lone heron wondering what all the fuss was about.
A view of Gourock from the water.
On the drive back I had to stop to photograph this ship as it was so eye-catching and unusual sitting in Greenock's Dockland area. It's a modern deep water pipe-laying ship capable of putting pipes on the seabed up to 3000 metres down and valued around £200 million build cost. A lucky day all round for spotting rare things at sea.

On a different topic here's an excellent short video of someone lucky enough to capture the big three on Suilven, a spectacular mountain in the far north of Scotland. A nice first sunrise, a sunset, then some faint Aurora Borealis then an absolutely stunning west coast second sunrise of the type I know and love but doesn't happen very often with this quality.This is a brilliant video and well worth watching until the end in full screen. The best big three combination I've seen in Scotland.


Linda W. said...

Nice pics of all the river traffic and the old planes too!

Anabel Marsh said...

Totally agree about car parking in Gourock though if I have my (almost) 90-year old Mum with me I have more choice as she has a blue badge. The Main Street is less congested since it became one way so I suppose that's an advantage. Great pictures!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Linda W,
Yes, it's the busiest I've seen it in that area for a long time. All that was missing was a submarine. Just a lucky day I guess.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Yep. Still think it's ridiculous. Nothing against the one way system at all but I stopped going to the car parks in Ayr when they changed and I'll avoid this one as well unless they get it back to normal for day visitors as it's no use to me the way it is. It's a shame because I really like Gourock.

Lux G. said...

Oh, you went kayaking. That's fantastic. What a great view you have.
Nice shots.

Ian Johnston said...

Interesting stuff concerning the parking Bob, like you I'd look for somewhere else! As the Clyde Fisher had an SD tug and a MOD Police boat escort, I guess she was heading for Garelochhead or Glen Mallan.

Kind regards

Linda said...

I love all the photos and the lone heron is delightful!

blueskyscotland said...

Hello Lux G,
Best wishes to you and I hope you're having a good time.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Ian.
I was pretty disgusted about that change as it's one of the few places left where you used to be able to arrive fairly late on in the day and still get a parking place. Probably due to the internet and more folk having cars but on a nice day these days you have to arrive early anywhere to get a space. I'm always shocked now by how busy it is anywhere popular so just as well we do the lesser hills which are always empty.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank you Linda,
if you ever see two grey herons together they are usually fighting or mating as they like to have their own stretch of coastline to fish on and defend it vigorously.

Revo Residential said...
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