Saturday, March 31, 2007

Portencross and Goldenberry

Portencross harbour

What a beautiful spring day perfect for a walk along the Portencross shoreline and over Goldenberry to the clifftop looking out to the castle and the Cumbrae islands, shooting a bit of video on the way, nothing very exciting just trying to capture the atmosphere and views. I did manage to get a nice little clip of eider ducks just off shore.

Photos here.

Todays video here.

PM got out for a bit on the MTB up to Kaim for a downhill thrill, the ground is drying nicely so it was a lot easier getting up there, the downhill was great as always. Route description here.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The hour broken

Goldenberry summit view over Cumbrae

I ordered a camelback thing from Chain Reaction Cycles yesterday early afternoon first class post and it came this morning, now thats service! There're good those chain reaction people. Naturally I thought I'd get out for a short spin on the MTB but when I got to the bike the front tyre was flat, then as I was puting on the wheel I noticed the front disc pads were worn to the metal, so it was 40minutes before I actually left the house. It was lovely out there a nice breeze kept me cool on the tough climb up Biglees Quarry in lovely spring sunshine. A bit of downhill from Biglees, a loop over lovely Goldenberry hill, a beautiful wind assisted cycle along the beach track and a slightly naughty return through the glen.

Later after a mid afternoon stroll through Kelburn with Anne I decide I'd do a bit of running from Portencross over Goldenberry and back, in the end I was out running for 68 minutes, wow! haven't done over an hour for years, not only that I felt quite good! There's a reason for the training though....but thats my little secret for now.

Some portencross pictures here.

Short video of our old cat enjoying the spring sunshine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Dundonald Paths

Dundonald Castle

Had a nice walk with Anne this morning around the new Dundonald hill paths, well nice if you ignore the litter at the start and the noise of the quarry workings. I think this is one spot that is best walked at the week end when the quarry is not operating.
Its possible to do a figure of eight walk (or MTB) by using the new path in combination with some of the better rough tracks, although there are one or two trees down breaking the flow of the trails for mountain biking, still good though.

Dundonald route description.

Its only 3pm, the sun's shining so I'm away out to enjoy it.

Went part way up the moor in the car and ran up into the old millstone quarry then up to the top of Kaim Hill. Tough going but I'm pleased with my fitness at the moment just about right for the coming cycling (recreational) season but I'll need to keep up the efforts to build up so that I can enjoy long days in the saddle.

Some Dundonald Hill photos.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Misty Law

Barr Castle

I was a bit slow off the mark this morning I wanted to get out on the MTB a little further from home than recently but I just couldn't make up my mind where. Eventually though I decided to go over to Lochwinnoch and climb from castle Semple loch up toward Misty Law. Usually the track is waterlogged but its been dry for a few days so I was hoping it would be reasonable, in fact it was great, some kind person has drained the path at most of the worst spots and those left were just fun splashes.
I spent quite a bit of time taking video so the climb felt fairly easy up till the last half mile where it gets very steep and loose. The last little bit is a carry to get the bike to the top of Misty Law marked by a tiny cairn.
From there its a very long very rough descent with lots of fun splashes and rock dodging, absolutely great fun.

Misty Law route description

The first video I produced seemed a bit low resolution first try (better after a few plays for some reason) so I did another shorter one more of the downhill bit from the summit.

Todays longer video.

Short (downhill) video

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A long way to Largs and back

At Largs Marina

Originally today I thought I might get dropped off down at Girvan and cycle back with wind assistance but the wind had other ideas so I dropped the thought in favour of a local bit of mountain biking. A long hilly figure of eight, first around the pretty Hunterston Peninsula passing Portencross castle and the three sisters (crags), doubling back to climb Biglees quarry, a steep rough track with great views, a little bit of lovely singletrack to Fairlie, a huge climb up through Kelburn to Douglas Park View point above Largs, then the Douglas Park downhill (I took the chicken run around the jumps).
There was a young lad just at the steep drop in the park, I hope he forgives my language as I dropped through, a sort of hello....oh! f**k!.
Down at the marina it looked like one of the yacht owners was paying a flying visit, the helicopter was sitting beside the shore, I wonder if he/she goes mountain biking. The helicopter would certainly be handy to get to the best downhills.

Some Kelburn pictures here.

Today's video here.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Road and Mountain

Barcraig reservior

I looked out to mist hanging over the village this morning but it cleared quickly to blue skies, it looked good for a road bike outing.
I needed to get a new tyre and some brake pads for the mountain bike so thought it would be good to start from Eglinton and pick up the bits at Walkers cycles Kilmaurs., soup at Stewartons coffee pot cafe then up to Dunlop to take in the view from the ridge over the Garnock Valley. Its a cracking little road, views down to Ailsa Craig over Irvine and out to Arran across the Garnock Valley, it is a strong contender for prettiest road in Ayrshire.
Got back about 1.30 had another snack and, after changing the bulging rear tyre, got out on the MTB over scarey Glentane to Kaim hill for a downhill thrill. By the time I got home I'd bonked so stuffed my face with yet more coffee and cake then crashed out for an hour. Guess I'll need to put in more time on the bike to get the endurance up a bit.

View a similar route here and the downhill description here

Some photos here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

No frost

Newborn lambs in Hunterston

I was hoping for hard frozen ground this morning, although the puddles were frozen the mud was still mud, ruling out the idea of a Fairlie moor crossing.
The breeze was from the south so I tootled off down the beach for a following wind, almost effortless cycling beside the sea from Seamill toward Portencross.
It got a bit dull, Arran disappeared in haze and before I reached the top of Goldenberry light snow was falling luckily it passed quickly so I carried on up to Biglees quarry, a long rough climb only just cycleable near the top but with a great outlook over Hunterston peninsula, then along to Fairlie and up into Kelburn to get the downhill past Fairlie castle.
I was having a picnic lunch up in Kelburn when I noticed a very large bulge in my tyre wall, I'd noticed a bit of wobble earlier but hadn't thought to check.
I let some air out of the tyre but it was too soft to cycle, I needed to fix it.
I've been caught out in the past with exploding tyres and carry some thickish polythene, if you wrap it round the tube at the bulge it keeps the tube inside and gets you home, its saved me (and Graham) several times.
In the end I had a tough but enjoyable 3.5hours on the MTB.
PM was still dry so I went along to one of my trails to kick over where the downhillers have been making a mess and to do a spot of trail clearing till tea time.

Similar route description here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Kaim hill millstone quarry today

A beautiful day crystal clear but with a cold breeze, ideal for a climb up to the summit of Kaim hill to admire the view, shoot a few video clips, and enjoy the fantastic downhill run. Back home through Hunterston then a post lunch walk around Goldenberry hill, taking more video and admiring yet more marvelous views.
There's to be a hard frost tonight so it may be good for an outing over the moor tomorrow if the ground is frozen.

Todays short video here.

Photos here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Riverside walk

Stair Inn

The temperature today took a dive and with the stiff breeze Anne and I decided to walk in the shelter of the River Ayr, doing a variation of one of out regular walks from Auchincruive, extending it to Stair Inn for lunch then walking back along the other riverbank.
The walk was pleasant enough but the new river Ayr track is a bit dull I much preferred the return loop on the south side of the river, no crunch of prepared track and much less mud.
The walk took 4.5hrs including the lunch stop and I may get round to adding it to my web site.
Got back about 4.30 and went out for a spell to check up on one of my secret trails, sure enough its showing the scars of the downhill MTB'rs. I kicked over some of the damage but I'll just have to wait and see what reaction there will be from the land owner and other users, not good I'm sure.

While up there I shot some clips of a dramatic sky over Arran and have put it into a video of some spring flowers, birds and views.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Cottage near Mauchline Gorge

Mauchline gorge may be a nice spot but the old road is a tip, literally, 250m of rubbish, sad to think that its only the locals that will be doing the littering, what a mess.
It ruined our walk from the gorge to Sorn, well that and the blocked bridge at the pretty Catrine voes leading to another littered wilderness, and almost getting run down by a guy on quad bike hell bent on destroying the footpath.
Thank goodness Sorn is a nice spot pretty and well kept with a nice pub, the only saving grace of a 'rubbish' walk.

However I have put together some video showing the route from Ayr to Sorn, the whole route has more than enough to compensate for the unfortunate old gorge road.

River Ayr Way photos here

Friday, March 16, 2007

Trail Troubles

Spring Blossom

Haven't been out on the bike since Monday but I have been out and about, clearing trails, walking Failrie to Largs, a brolly walk or two into Kelburn.
Met an old rock climbing friend in Kelburn, he has just got early release from the life sentence He was taking his dog for a walk around Kelburn, one of my regular trails. Unfortunately the dog isn't really very keen, its a bit of a couch potato dog, I think he needs to trade it in for a livelier model and leave old lazy bones (the dog) at home.

On the Scottish news a couple of nights back a photographer chap in Edinburgh was mentioned having a video on YouTube (video link), I had a looks and it got me thinking about speeding up video clips to give movement on 'stills'. I've shot a bit over the past few days and put it into a Spring2007 video of spring blossom and blowy views around West Kilbride.

Recently one of my trails has been getting debris intentionally thrown down to inhibit the passage of mountain bikes, today I met Mr BlockaTrail and without being confrontational I'm hoping the little problem is solved, time will tell.
He is a walking chap, has done a number of long distance paths with friends arranging their own transport support so they only need to carry a day pack and can camp on route saving cost. He's been walking the local trails for 30 years, although I spend many hours keeping them clear and haven't seen much evidence of anyone else doing the same, maybe he just walks elsewhere once the bracken comes up, and crawls through the undergrowth when it gets dense.

This morning I was up one of my secret MTB trails, oh dear! the downhillers have found it and the scars are there to prove it, skid marks, speed ruts, trees have been cut and the start of berms put in. I know there are some chaps up there who don't like that happening in the wood, and removed some little things I did there, so its all about to become a bit fraught. Ah well it may not last I've noticed flurries of work before then nothing, short attention span perhaps, I just hope its the same this time.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Burning calories

Dunlop Village

A check of the immediate weather this morning, ie step outside and look at the sky, looked good so got out the road bike again, third time this year...must be spring.
I'd decided to over to Stewarton and the Coffee Pot cafe for some lunch about 50km round trip.
It wasn't long until I was beginning to doubt the decision the clouds were piling in and the sun disappeared, however I stuck with it past the chicken out turning.
As I approached Dalry there was a cyclist pushing his bike, no flat tyre that I could see, I slowed and asked if he was OK. He was fine saying he likes to walk down hill and cycle up hill so that he can burn calories, I was flabbergasted, wasting all that potential energy by walking, why not just go up more hills, or cycle on the flat, or just go further, arrgh, it makes no sense, its a waste, its daft, not only that he was thin as a rake....guess that means it works... but its still bonkers!..walk down!!
Discounting lunch that was the highlight of the day really it was dull, cool, and breezy, just the kind of day I don't like on the road bike.
Got back about 2pm and after a quick shower and coffee break went up Fairlie moor to do some trail bashing till tea time. The sun came out to smile on my efforts, lovely shafts of light shone out around the clouds over Arran and I didn't have the camera to capture it, what a bummer!

Similar route description here

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Linn

Seamill shore and Arran

A dry Saturday morning yipee, a quick phone check with Graham and then we were out on the mountain bikes straight up to Busbie windfarm. Fabulous views up there across West Kilbride over the Cumbrie Islands to Bute and Arran. The new windfarm roads makes going easy for a while then a short push got us to the quad track and new pond behind Blackshaw Hill. A short road stretch then up through Crosbie, Graham was in front and lead us through a new track along Glentane. It was a bit of a scooter push at times but it was quite firm, a little bit of work on it and it could be quite nice. From the Fairlie moor road we cycled the lovely muddy/wet rough track that leads eventually to a short singletrack through a burn crossing to the beautiful Fairlie Glen trail down by Fairlie Caastle ending up at the Mudhook Inn for some lunch before a leisurely cycle back along the Sustrans cycleway (trail map here).

As it was reasonable weather late afternoon, Anne and I drove over to Dalry for a walk in Blair and Dalry Linn. Blair was nice as always although the snowdrops are past thier best. The Blair walk is short so we went across town to view the linn. The start of the Linn path was very muddy but we persevered, it was worth it, there was enough water in the burn for a good display at the waterfalls, I shot a bit of video to add to the MTB outing clips of the morning.

Blair in spring photos here.

Surfing I came across this article about solo at Srathpuffer

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Strange goings on

Law castle

Checked the track this morning where Mr BlockaTrail has been active, sure enough there were rocks and logs across the trail, the nice thing for him is that he is now walking up a trail I opened up. Before I did some work it wasn't at all easy to get along it, now he's blocking it, what a bam pot, but I've got to smile, I don't go down it on the bike very often now that they have turned the bottom into a bog with tree extraction and I'm sure blocking trails is not his favourite activity when out walking. Have lots of fun out there Mr BlockaTrail.... w**k*r!
I spent some time clearing another little bit of walking trail this morning trying to give a nice local woodland loop, I'm saying no more though, never know who's waiting to get out to block those trails tee..hee.
While out on the MTB in the afternoon I met a couple of chaps doing something I though a bit unusal on the cycle way, there were two wheels involved but not the usual ones on a cycle track. They are organisers of a five day endurance event and were having a trial run so they could advise competitors, see it on the video

A cool days cycle

Blue Tit at Lochwinnoch RSPB centre
Peeking out toward the coming weather yesterday I could see a pretty rainbow below a dark cloud, time to have another cup of tea and a bit of internet surfing while the weather decided what it was up to. Luckily in 40minutes or so the sky was clear almost from horizon to horizon, time to break out the road bike for the second time this year. Looking at my blog for last year I can see I'd been out several times in February, although it was cold there seems to have been less wind and rain last year.
On my bike but where to go, never a question that goes unanswered long, Dalgarven for an early cuppa?.......Stewarton and the Coffee Pot Cafe?......Lochwinnoch RSPB?.....yip! that'll do nicely. Ah but which route? it goes on until its all decided, then I change my mind. I did a couple of route changes to visit some little roads I hadn't been on for a long time and risking getting mildy lost. By the time I got to the RSPB centre I was in need of a warm up. At this time of year I find it hard to go slow enough to keep warm, sounds strange I know, but if I go just a little too fast I sweat up and then the cold goes right though the sweat and chills me. If I put on another layer I sweat even more and get more chilled, a vicious circle, the only solution I've found is to keep the pace down, spin the legs and try to stay cool without sweating.

Lochwinnoch RSPB was pleasantly quiet when I arrived, I enjoyed a half hour break of tea, coffee and cake while videoing a few birds. There were some lovely little long tailed tits at the feeders but they darted about so much that I couldn't get a clip. I did get clips of Goldfinches and blue tits, then a crowd of youngsters came in, time to leave. I was nicely warmed up by then and ready to tackle the cycle home but which route?....the Sustrans cycle way?....Fairlie moor?....yes, the moor it is.... I need the workout to get ready for the long summer days on the bike.

Sometime soon I'll get around to puting some of the bird clips into another video but some photos can be viewed here and the route description here.

Video of a recent vist here.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Around and about Ayrshire

River Ayr near Annbank

Graham phoned Friday, he thought the weather looked best for a Saturday MTB outing so after a confirmation phone call Saturday morning we arranged to meet on the high road to have a go on some local trails, the beach, Goldenberry, Biglees, Fairlie, a sort of up and down figure of eight with a nice pint of ale and light lunch at the Mudhook Inn in Fairlie, afterwards we were quite content to take it easy back along the cycleway. Beer and food don't mix well with mountain biking, nice enough, but its best to get the serious effort out of the way first.

Sunday and Monday were bright am wet pm, Anne and I managed a couple of short walks in the mornings one at Auchincruive and another at Lanfine. Today was bright and breezy and the weather forecast looked OK. We walked one of our regular trails from West Kilbride to Fairlie, it was nice walking weather, the views were good if not great and we timed it nicely for the train in Fairlie, also the ticket lady was past our carriage so we got a free ride back home.
PM I got out on the MTB for a couple of hours over my secret trails, luckily they seem to stay quite firm even after heavy rain, although I'm sure that would change if they saw more MTB action, another good reason to keep quiet about them.

Shot a little bit of video over the past few days so stuck them together and onto my YAHOO videos, there are some nice views over the Clyde but no thrills, spills or excitement, just a little reminder of a nice days walking.

A few photos here.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Girona Costa Brava

We took advantage of Ryanair cheap flights from Pretwick to Girona to have a midweek visit to Olot in the Garrotxa region, a volcanic natural park inland from the Costa Brava.
A couple of years back Tom and I had a 6 day cycling tour around the region and I was impressed with both the region and
Olot town. This time round I booked Anne and I into La Perla hotel in Olot for four nights. I chose the hotel because its an information centre and I hoped to get details of local walks. It turned out the three walks we did were all in the sunflower guide I took out with me, but the afternoon post walk sightseeing was helped by the local guide books from the hotel and one or two short afternoon strolls as well.
We discovered there are lots of fully signed and numbered routes in the area described in leaflets so even without a good map its easy to have a glorious day out.
First day we spent walking through the volcanic area and down into the small crater of Volca Santa Margarida, through an absolutely lovely oak and beach wood to another volcanic cone called Volca Croscat. About 4 hours lovely easy walking. In the afternoon we took a walk through Olot town and up to the volcanic ash cone above the bull ring at the north edge of town, great views over the town and north to the snowy Pyrenees.

Day two we drove up a very twisty little road to Col de Bracons to do a 3.5hour easy walk up a lovely meandering trail to a hill named Puigsacalm at 1515m its very close to 5000ft, great views all the way to the Pyrenees. Later we had a visit to Castellfollit la Roca for another short walk along the river and up to the village on the rocky point.

Day three was much more of a climbing day, from a little picnic area near Santa Privat and accompanied by the restaurant dog we zig zagged up to Santa Magdalena, a hill refuge and a lovely place for a picnic lunch, shared of course with the cute little restaurant dog. Later we payed a visit to the medieval town of Santa Pau, it was a pleasant surprise very well kept with the newer sections sympathetic to the old quarter.

Last day we had to catch the flight back in the early evening so we headed off toward Girona but stopped off to have a look at Besalu, lovely old bridge with a portcullis leads into the old town. On to Girona for a bit of sightseeing around the city wall and the old quarter, a spot of late lunch then homeward bound. Great few days, I picked up a couple of good maps and learned a bit more about the area so I may well be back for more of the same or even a bit of mountain biking.
A 1:2500 map 'Garrotxa zone volcanica' by Editorial Alpina is available from Stanford maps complete with an English traslation of walk descriptions other maps around the area can be seen at
Pictures of the Garroxta area and Girona here

Short video here.
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