Monday, 16 April 2018

The Spectacular Firth of Clyde. Saltcoats and Arran. Act Two. The Death of Celebrity?

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN
West Kilbride beach near Farland Head. This is the continuation of our trip along the Clyde Coastal resorts. The weather was fantastic with crisp clear light and great views.
A dump of snow made each hill stand out in profile, even ones under 3000 feet that wouldn't normally get a second glance.
Although not Munros the Cowal and Argyll hills are still hard to ascend- many of them rugged, steep, wild ground underfoot, with few paths to summits.
And Queen above them all the Island of Arran- the crown jewel in the Firth of Clyde.
One of the Arran ridge. Entertaining and narrow in summer conditions with several scrambling sections along it- in winter, under snow or ice, a more serious proposition.
Not being hill-walkers my two companions were happy just to sight-see from the car although we did get out briefly in selected places to walk around. After a long spell of poor weather- rain, snow, endless grey days etc, this was a rare beauty of a day, forecast in advance, so several yacht races were taking place out on the water.
It made for excellent photo opportunities on the day- especially as my companions always seem less than keen to appear on the blog- which I find both annoying as a photographer yet also very refreshing as I have the exact same attitude towards myself appearing, just by natural inclination so I can't really complain. I'd rather take landscapes instead anyway. As Boy George sagely noted recently in an excellent and funny TV programme I watched.... pre- internet it used to be fans were just pleased to see celebrities as famous individuals- but now it's fans photographing themselves with some celebrity or other as mere background wallpaper to be seen beside. Much harder to be a genuine celebrity and star these days when every other bugger normal considers themselves one as well. The focus has shifted entirely in the 2000s and switched right around...  now everyone on the planet has the potential for a diva sized ego and the seductive means to promote, encourage and increase their profile every day online. Can that really be healthy for society in the long run though, especially for youngsters who think that's normality and can't remember any kind of life without living online and being judged and valued through it ? Obviously, I know myself how seductive that can be (as a major online star since 2009... and I'm still a star... it's the blogs and the Mars Bars that have got smaller! ) and I'd imagine that's very addictive for most folk but not so good for real stars although people are still willing to pay cash for live concerts thankfully. Mind you, with proper nine to five traditional jobs going down the toilet you need something to feel good about.
The Cal Mac ferry with the sun hitting  it.
A lone white house on the Ardmore Peninsula.
A large service ship off Arran- one used for erecting wind turbines and bound for Greenock docks- its previous port of call being Liverpool.
Another view of the Arran Ridge.
And another. Being so cold visibility was excellent.
Another yacht race taking place off Largs- this one lining up for the start presumably.
Next up came Saltcoats and Ardrossan beach where we did park to go for a proper walk along the sands. Arran behind.
It was a real surprise to find Saltcoats so busy on a winter's day and the large seafront car-park here was almost full. We just managed to get a space. Of course I was one of the original divas of the internet darling, having had a well known blog for the last ten years promoting places in the Central Belt that people wouldn't normally think to go... so I can honestly claim sole credit for this unexpected winter tourist boom in such an unlikely spot. No need to thank me. Perversely, I wasn't best pleased by this new situation as it's only ever been all about me... and only me  normally:)  What if I couldn't get parked at all or parked in any other favourite resort if this alarming trend/ influx continues? Would visual documented history and great photography die out on the west coast!? It doesn't bear thinking about....Admittedly we arrived fashionably late in the day, around 3:00pm- but that was all part of our splendid plan.
Day trippers enjoying Saltcoats promenade. By this time the sun was fully out.
The wide expanse of Saltcoats beach. For a winter's day it was busy and popular here but I preferred an empty sands photo the good old days wondering why nobody else ever came here anymore. Be careful what you wish for....  Besides, why should I promote someone else on my blog! A mere stranger in my ointment.... A non famous interloper... on my beach.  Take your own pictures you johnny come lately gatecrashers!
Probably due to stagnant wages, food prices rising in the shops, families watching their money...  more info online etc,...  the more traditional no frills holiday resorts like this one seem to be enjoying something of a limited revival.... like vinyl records. Six year ago Saltcoats in winter would never have been this busy I don't think even on a sunny day.... and it is after all a  monkey see- monkey do world we live in.

 My God, I've just realized how very important I am to the Scottish economy! I caused this seaside rush to the beach all by myself...A true trendsetter! Somebody should hire me for tourism purposes right away..... but never forget dear readers if I'm ever headhunted away from these shores to far more elegant locations abroad for glamorous photo shoots.... I was showcasing these areas first!  Me- all me!!!!!! Me, Me, Me!!!!! and I'll not change one bit as I've always been a natural born narcissist with the solar system spinning around my pram linked to every smile,, laugh, or frown since birth- but now there's trillions of me out there ... it's so annoying and unfair.   Follow my world online ... '# Me @ why I'm so completely special... but every other ********* is too these days apparently' :o(

After the delights of the beach- (Alas, although sunny it was too cold and windy for sunbathing so I still don't know how many secret tattoos Anne and Belinda have or haven't got under their jackets.) Damn Scottish cold wet summers.  A lifetime spent in a shapeless cagoule is no fun at all. Nine long years without a sun kissed naked body glimpsed, apart from my own sad carcass reflected in the mirror after my yearly bath and tidy up.
Anyway, after a bracing beach walk along the sands we walked in the other direction to here- which is the newly restored southern walkway leading to Stevenston and Ardeer. This used to be heavily broken up, full of holes, and prone to flooding and giant waves during winter storms hitting the railway line, stopping trains running but last year they restored it as it's part of Route 73 National bike trail and also the multi day long distance Ayrshire Coastal Path. It's now a beautiful cycle ride or walk but from a photography point of view it's been drastically tamed as people used to get huge breaking waves here captured on camera 30 feet high and now they don't.
Hundreds of boulders dumped into the sea below the wall diffuse the big waves before they hit full force against it so no more great crashing wave action at this hot spot. Wah!!!! Nice railings though.
To be continued- the last part.
PS. Naturally, I have a gallery of the best and highest waves ever photographed at this spot...well, I would do, wouldn't I?.... but luckily I have very little ego so I will not mention a link to that earlier fantastic post as I'm the modest, self effacing type.

But's a brilliant one of me, and only one of me.... on Gran Paradiso ( High Paradise) 4,061 metres, 13,323 feet.
Aren't I brave and handsome? :o) A mountaineering colossus staring over the vertical edge in disgust at the 10,000 foot pimples scattered below :o) No ropes required as usual for me and hands casually placed in pockets caressing my mighty balls of steel. No crawling about on my knees and ass here. Although it's one of the easiest 4000 metre peaks in the Alps to climb it has fantastic views from the summit as it sits alone on an offshoot from the main alpine chain yet close enough to the surrounding giants to appreciate them properly. This is not the official summit but a free standing tower/ pinnacle nearby...that looked suspiciously higher from some angles so had to be bagged just in case.  "Top of the World. Ma... it's yer wee boy!" Undoubtedly, one of the highlights of my life this trip.
This excellent and atmospheric video link of the Aosta region and ascent up Gran Paradiso really captures the beauty and essence of this memorable area. Takes me right back to a very special holiday and moment in time. Fleet footed Chamois and heavy horned Ibex grace the slopes below the snowline in summer. Although an easy snow plod this Italian giant has a knife edged summit ridge of shattered, tottering pinnacles and is one of the most beautiful mountains I've ever climbed. This video also shows my pinnacle near the end, immediately before and right after the Madonna summit statue close up- rock climbing and scrambling is never easy with crampons on and this tower is balanced right on the very edge of the cliff at a worrying angle. The views from Mont Blanc summit were not that special as everything else around seemed rather flat and unassuming below, even the Matterhorn-... on Paradiso however ridge after ridge, peak after peak, soared high above or far below our feet, and some peaks close by were on the same eye level but super enhanced somehow so it's well named and the highest mountain sitting completely within Italy. ( all the other large Alpine Italian peaks straddle the border with summits shared with another neighbouring country.)
Even if you are not into climbing hills this is an excellent short travelogue and visual extravaganza of the entire region and well worth seeing.



Linda W. said...

Those snow-covered mountains are so beautiful!

Anabel Marsh said...

Previously unknown aspects of your personality coming into play here 😉! Great views of Arran, and I am impressed by the picture of you at the end. It’s worth boasting about.

Anonymous said...

Great contrast between snow covered mountains and beaches/coast. Like you I hate to see myself on camera, I take the odd selfie and then really wish I hadn't. Great video of the Alps, some memories of my own days when I had the skill and fitness to climb a 4000 foot peak.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

I enjoyed that, Bob - made me smile. You also reminded me to think about going to Arran again; I've thought about it before. Huge congratulations on the success of Saltcoats - and may I wish you luck with the naked ambition? You wouldn't get me up that stack, or whatever it is; I started smoking because I was scared of heights...but it's a great photo!

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Anabel,
That Paradiso holiday was a real gem. Fantastic area rich in Alpine meadows,Cobbler like rock summits to scramble on then higher snow peaks above that- the entire region rich in wildlife and spring/summer valley flowers so it ticked all the boxes for me.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Andy,
like you I always enjoy my beach walks and it was a novelty/privilege to share it with two very special females, even shapeless ones, six layers deep in fabric... but they still enjoyed it like spring lambs let loose outdoors after a winter in a barn. Most of the male hill-walkers I know would never be seen dead on a beach unless it was
a. a family outing (under protest.)
b. a wrong turn, (quickly rectified with disgust.)
c. the only route into a new hill. ( to be suffered without any signs of enjoyment or interest)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mike,
I can't think of anywhere better in May or early June in good dry weather than Arran. If you haven't been yet a day walk around Holy Isle is a wonder... Goat Fell is a straightforward hike from Brodick without any scrambling or exposure but a lovely walk and the castle grounds underneath that mountain never fail to delight. Hope to get back there myself this year, either for a day or weekend.

Rosemary said...

That's a fantastic shot of you on Gran Paradiso Bob.
I have never seen snow like that on Arran having only ever visited during the summer months.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you - a coastal walk is a fine thing. Especially if it can be combined with a nearby mountain. Brandon in the morning and a dip in the Atlantic in the afternoon for instance.

blueskyscotland said...

Thanks Rosemary,
This was the best I've seen the Arran ridge looking for several years as either there's not much snow or it's slightly hazy conditions.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Mark,
Yeah, I love coastal walks and I even cycle beaches if it's a long distance over low tide firm sand. A great experience and faster than you'd think.Brandon's on my wish list but can't see me doing it now.

Carol said...

Boy George is spot on with his comment! and I think it's pathetic. What annoys me even more is people who go to concerts and have no interest whatsoever in the experience or taking part by screaming, shouting, cheering, stamping feet etc. like wot you're meant to - they just want to film the damn thing to say they were there. That's irritating to those of us who want to experience the actual concert and have to look at a sea of phones (although I generally get on the front row nowadays and refuse to move for the whole night!)

But I suppose us bloggers could be accused of being vain in wanting to share our moments (whatever the subject). I don't like my photo being on my blog though - I want people to read my writing not see what I look like! (or possibly look at some of my photos)...

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
I think younger folk are starting to turn back to some things from the past and a recent survey seemed to indict that. Many successful games like The Last of Us and The Bioshock Trilogy and others since then either hark back to past ages or exist in a future world without mobile phones. You can buy modern record players now at a decent affordable price that can not only play records but transfer other forms of music, tapes etc into turn table stereo and bedroom speakers. I was half thinking of buying one myself. When you have 1000 plus songs on a single hand held gadget and can watch a choice of 100s of box sets or weekly drama programmes on TV at the click of a button it stands to reason that you don't appreciate them the same and I think people are realizing that, young and old. It's like being in a sweet factory knowing you can eat as much as you like every day compared to a two week backpacking trip on grim camping rations and water then returning to that first soft drink, first fish suppers or first fry up. Less is often more in other words.

Neil said...

The Gran Paradiso is the only Alpine 4000m peak that I have climbed. Many moons I'm climbing former pit bings in Scotland!!! It looks a lot scarier (Paradiso, not the pit bings) than I remember. The hut hasn't changed though.

blueskyscotland said...

I really enjoyed G.P. Neil and that region. So many great rock and snow peaks to do in one day from the same campsite and great paths, wildlife and flower meadows. We camped at the hut and only went in for drinks- hard to sleep usually in busy alpine huts.