Thursday, May 31, 2007

Garden Safari 2

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Kelvin Museum


Anne dragged me up to Kelvin Grove Museum today, I wasn't keen M8 traffic, parking problems all came to mind, but it was all OK and I really enjoyed it.
The museum is big enough to have plenty of variety but small enough not to bring on those sore feet and the cafe is very good if a little dear.
The video displays on the Arctic was stunning, four screens projecting different views on the same theme, great stuff.
The highlight for me was the short organ recital, it really brought the place to life.

It wasn't a completely idle day, when we got back the sun was out and I managed a bit of garden safari with my new macro adaptor and then a lovely (almost) run along the beach in beautiful late afternoon sunshine.
The good weather hasn't lasted though its raining outside now.

Video of the visit here

Some photos here.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Garden Safari

One of todays better photos

I was looking at the web for a macro adaptor for my digital camera and came across a site that explained how to go about making one, this morning I set about it using a lens from an old SLR. I had all the bits I needed to hand so it was pretty easy just an hours work and it was ready for action.
I got out the back and went on garden safari.
I spent a long time out there on hands and knees but got some really good shots and even managed to improvise a decent flash diffuser to get good stills.

Great fun... I'm looking forward to doing lots more photo safaris.

Garden Safari video here

Some macro photos here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ayrshire trails

Greenan Castle south of Ayr

Yesterday Graham and I went down to Alloway to do some Ayrshire Single Track, we did all the singletrack we'd intended but there seemed to be a lot of road stuff along the way, not only that but it was cold, cloudy and it rained, fortunely we were having lunch at Stair Inn during the rainy bit and missed the worst of it.

Out through the grounds of Doonholm, near the big house I always feel a bit apprehensive of some confrontation even though we don't go immediately past the house, just turn away across a field, sure enough and we got the call....hoi!...HOI!...HOI! but on the grounds that all that follows is pointless and unpleasant we ignored it and carried on, if they're really upset they can follow us!

There's some lovely trails up the River Doon at Skeldon House and back along the River Ayr from Stair the links between are just... well...links really, road bits to get from one trail to the next, OK but only in anticipation of whats to follow.

Route description here. except we extended the road bit to Stair Inn for lunch.

Video of the day here minus the road bits.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A trip to Inveraray

Weather at Inverarey only fit for gulls

Well I certainly got it wrong today, I should have listened to my instincts and stayed at home. Instead I went up the road to Arrochar to do a couple of loops on the MTB. By the time I got there it was setting in to rain. I killed some time in a couple of tea rooms, then the tourist information at Ardgarten, then a trip to Inveraray and back to Arrochar. It was still pelting down after three hours of hanging about so I headed home without turning a pedal. Its the furthest I've been just to turn back, what a crap day.
The best bit of the day was a little jog down the beach after it dried up about 5pm and now its looking very nice out there, may have to go for a stroll.

Yesterday I was out for a little spin on the MTB up Biglees and got into shooting off some macro photos, I wish I could just get a bit closer to get those really unusual shots but my efforts can be viewed here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A day of disappointment

A couple of months back I was biking down by New Cumnock and noticed some new open cast coal mining.
I wondered then what impact it might have on some of the trails in the area, well today I discovered the answer and it isn't good.
A lovely rough trail has been gobbled up and another has had a conveyor layed on it, although its still passible its not really worth it.
Following miles of conveyor housing isn't my idea of a good wild trail.
I need to check out a couple of tracks to see if the original loop can be diverted away from the effected area without using the busy main road.

I was heading along the route when I came to a decision point and realised I'd left the map in the car, .....argh...if I continued there was a good chance of getting lost in the hills so the only sensible thing to do was head back.
I did a left turn hoping I'd recognise a ride link I'd used about 3 years ago in the hope I'd get a loop back to the start without retracing my route, turned out OK, but it did shorten the days outing rather a lot.

Back at the car I payed a little visit to the old limestone working just off the road.
They're cut into the strata and form caves, the roof is held up by pillars of rock left in place interesting enough for a quick look.

A short video of today here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Around Kilmaronock

Loudoun church near Galston

I was born and brought up in Kilmarnock and cycled for years and years around its little country roads before moving to west Kilbride and later discovering mountain biking, (after hill walking, rock climbing, winter mountaineering, cross country skiing, munro bagging, running, orienteering, backpacking - basically all things outdoors not on water).

Anyway today was a trip down memory lane, Tom and I did a very nice little loop around Kilmarnock starting at Kilmaurs and stopping off for coffee/tea and cakes at Galston and Hays (garden centre).
We didn't need to but the idea was too appealing to pass up.

The loop is 33miles and today with cool clear air and sunshine it was great, not as clear as a few days ago but still lovely.
Finished up at 3pm late enough that I didn't feel compelled to nip out on the mountain bike for a couple of hours, just had a cider out front in the sun.
Great day out.

Photos of the route here incuding a wedding at Dundonald

Route description here

A little mishap

Busbie windfarm

Graham and I agreed to stick local, the weather looked a bit iffy and I hate driving for an hour just to be rained upon and drive back so we went across to Busbie windfarm, great views, especially of all the showers coming our way.
Luckily we only had to shelter for a few minutes as the edge of a shower caught us, after that the day just kept getting better except for my little mishap at Fairlie Glen, I stalled crossing the burn, put my foot on a slippy rock and ended up headlong in the water.
All down my left side was soaked, I had to strip off to wring out the water before heading back.
Fairlie was as far as we had planned to go and it was quite warm so no problem.
Back home after a change and some coffee and cake I was off again on the bike to fill the afternoon with yet more mountain biking and great views.

Todays video here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cycling over Ayrshire's backbone

Hunteston Castle

Yesterday the air was crystal clear and, as my cycling chum Tom pointed out, we could see for 93,000,000 miles.
We did a lovely road cycle that in part follows the higher ridges of central Ayrshire with great views out over the Clyde to Ailsa craig.
Its an ancient volcanic plug but is more famous as the source of rock for manufacturing curling stones.
To the south we could see the Merrick the highest Scottish hill south of Ben Lomond (also clearly visible to the north) and one that can be cycled all the way up and down.
We hadn't gone two miles from Dundonald Castle (one time royal castle of Robert II)before my grumbling stomach called for a coffee and cake stop.
It seemed a long time since I'd had breakfast, or so my stomach was saying.
Later after most of the route had been done we stopped off at Craigie Village Inn for some lunch before heading back through Symington past the lovely little Norman church.Great views, great cycling, and history around every corner.
Route description here.

Today was every bit as clear, I cycled across to Dalgarven Mill Museum for a coffee and back over Fairlie moor while Anne was out at the hairdressers.
The view of Arran from Fairlie moor was absolutely tremendous.
I met an old workmate up there, he was taking some visitors up to see the view before lunch, boy were they in for a treat and I don't mean lunch!

Pictures here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Playing at Dundonald Hill

A couple of days ago Anne and I went off to Dundonald hill for a walk and while there I thought it would be nice to come back with the MTB and do a little video of the trails with bluebells in bloom.
There's not a lot of tracks but some of them are nice singletrack and since the 'Smugglers trail' has been layed its vastly improved both for walking and the bike.
Yesterday we went back and had an hour or so playing about round the hill and this morning I finished off the short video.

View the video here.

Route description here.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Greenan castle walk

Burns cottage

Yesterday, because it looked a bit showery Anne and I just took a local stroll.
We just managed to get back before the worst of the two hour downpour, it poured down till 3pm then the sun popped out and so did I, up Goldenberry Hill to admire the views in the cool clear air.

Today looked much the same so we opted for a sheltered walk down at Alloway out to Greenan Castle and back through the local parks.
I made the mistake of trying to walk all of the railway old railway track only to be reminded how rubbish (muddy and overgrown) the first bit is to the Tam O'Shanter visitor centre.
Its much better just to loop round Rozelle and go to Alloway on the road past burns cottage.

From here we ignored the new tarmac in favour of a coffee stop, a visit to Burns Garden and the Auld Brig O'Doon before going down to the new tarmac trail.
Although the walking is easier it feels like a quiet track has been given OTT treatment, from a sometimes muddy singletrack its now virtually a minor road.
I was hoping it might have been extended out to the Carrick Hills road but no sign of that happening as yet, so I don't really follow what the reasoning is behind the upgrade.
Its nice enough I suppose linking the cycleway to Alloway but I'm prepared to bet the track will flood at the west end in the winter.
It always tended to get very muddy, its low lying and I don't see any evidence of drainage so I think the track will just hold the water, hope I'm wrong.

The tide was well out down by Greenan Castle and we had a lovely walk below the castle crag then back through Bellisle Park.
Anne reminded me how many years its been since we had our wedding reception in Bellisle house, only one week until our next anniverary, a good excuse for a bit of over indulgence, not that I need much of an excuse.

Walk description here

Some Ayr pictures here.

A very short video here.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dodging showers to Fairlie

View above Fairlie
The weather looked doubtful this morning so Graham and I had a local MTB outing over the hill to Fairlie chased by showers all the way.
Cycling up Biglees quarry a shower streamed past out over the Clyde just missing us then another chased us along to the wood above Fairlie again just missing us.
We payed a visit to the Mudhook Inn for a spot of refreshment before heading back for a following wind along the beach.
Finally a shower caught us at Portencross, we sheltered at the Castle for a few minutes until it passed over then went for the beach dash.

Nice short easy day just what the showers dictated.

Local route description here

Video here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Corrour and Kinlochleven

Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

Day 1 video here.

Day 1 photos here.

Route description here.

I suddenly thought the other day this good weather with dry trails would be a great opportunity to have a couple of epic days up Rannoch way.
I thought at first a two day loop through Corrour would be a good bet but couldn't get hold of the hostel at Loch Ossian so then decided to do two single day loops from Fort William covering the same ground but doing a few more miles, (a lot more miles actually).

First day I wanted to cover some new ground so started at Fersit over the thieves road below Creag Dhubh.
Don't think I'd recommend this, its hard work climbing up a grassy trail through the forest, I'd have had an easier time on the forest road.
The thieves road certainly wouldn't be worth doing in the wet.
It was easier going from the bottom of the thieves road round to Loch Ossian Youth Hostel its all on good estate roads.
I took the south track along Loch Ossian its rougher than the north, passes the lodge, and was quite good fun.
At Ossian Hostel I met the hostel warden had a blether and got offered a nice cup of coffee, lovely!
He has been looking after the hostel for five years now winter and summer, quite a remote spot, nice, but you'd need to be just a little bit er...different... to stay there all the time.

The warden told me about the new road which goes north west to Loch Treig and Graiguineach Lodge its a fabulous firm track with a great descent to Loch Treig's old track along the lochside to the lodge.
The old track is a real gem, rough and mature, running just beside the loch.

I wasn't looking forward to the push up the west track in the Lairig Leacach but the dry weather had worked its magic and it was about 25% ridable and on the basis that riding is faster than walking I took every opportunity to get into the saddle.
At the top of the glen is a small bothy, there was a group of youngsters camped and the bothy looked as if it was being improved.
Up the rest of the glen from here the track is nice and ridable and the Larig descent seems to go on and on, I was wishing for full suspension so I could sit down to take the weight off my hands.

The last little bit along the south side of the river Spean was a lovely surprise a nice track through woodland to the footbridge river crossing at Monessie (Landranger 41 MR299810) giving 4km on the road back to the Fersit turn.

Day 2 to follow but its too nice outside to sit any longer at the computer, time to get out!

Well now that the sun's down and my outdoor need is over its time for the tale of day 2.

Loch Leven and the Pap of Glencoe

Video of day two here.

Photos of the day here.

Route description here

I stayed the night at Glen Nevis youth hostel and decided to start cycling from there.
I managed to avoid most of the busy road start by turning off into the Alcan mill taking a track to the left (before the level crossing)into the forest and on to the bottom of the gondola along the old tramway.
There seems to be some MTB track building going on in the forest but I didn't have time to investigate, I'll maybe take a look on the net for any info.
The early trail I was taking is forest road following signs for Spean Bridge then a little singletrack just after joining the return loop.

On the first day I'd come down the Larig Leacach and wasn't looking forward to the climb, however it wasn't as bad as I feared, I just took my time had a rest half way and managed fine.
From the bothy there is a great singletrack over to Luibeilt, I've never seen or heard reference to it in any MTB mags, but I think its great, 5 kilomtres of 90% ridable rough singletrack in the middle of nowhere, fabulous.

On the way across to Luibeilt I met up with a couple of trials motorcyclists coming the other way, they were telling me there's a six day trials event starting on the 7th of May. Hope the weather hold up for them.
I don't like trials bikes in general they just rip the trails to bits, I could see scars on the softer bits of the trail all the way over, fortunately most of the trail is good solid rock and is holding up.

Had to take my boots off to ford the river at Luibeilt, using the bike as a ballancing aid. A couple of walkers passed by as I sat having a spot to eat, they'd been bothying some where over the hill.

The next bit of trail was just as I remembered, unrelentingly rough for the next 6 kilometres, but most of the many puddles were dry which was something to be thankfull for I suppose.
By the time I got to above Kinlochleven I was shaken to bits and would have been very happy if the route ended there, shame there was still 21 kilometres to go, every one a bone shaker.

I met some more trials motor cyclist above Kinlochleven, organisers this time, marking out the trail over the hill to Blackwater reservior, at least they would be keeping well off the mountain bike trail.

This is the point where the view down Loch Leven to the Pap of Glencoe appears as the ridge is crested, the track improves a little, just enough to allow a glance up at the stunning view every now and again.
It doesn't last though the track soon goes back to super rough with no chance of admiring the view except by stopping, so thats what I did.
Nothing for it but to eat the last energy bar adimire the view and tell myself pain is natural, it can be accepted and tolerated just like.....sleep...argh!

For all the sore body parts I still decided to follow the West Highland Way, rather than the road, back to the Hostel.
Its shorter but it certainly isn't the easy option, three almost impossible stiles, loads of drainage gaps to jump, stairs, and three very steep climbs before a hugh blast down a smooth forest back to the hostel.
All that was left to do was have a much needed shower and a bite to eat before setting off home.
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