Sunday, January 27, 2008

Is it spring?

Woodpecker (RSPB Lochwinnoch)

Strange weather today, mild, dull, breezy but with good visibility and quite high cloud.
Anne and I decided it would be nice down by Auchincruive for a walk, very nice it was too the river was quite high, if it had been much higher we would have been forced to take the bypass for the low riverside trail (floods if the river is high).
Being Sunday there were lots of walkers about but the further away from Auchincruive we got the fewer we saw.
One couple were about half a mile from the car park a few yards in front of us when after a look at their watches they about turned and headed back, what rubbish is that, walking to a schedule...its crap!
Not like that for us though we meandered the whole way round took us three hours but it could be done in 2 at a smart pace, but who needs a smart pace on a fine day like today.

The snowdrop were poking up all over the trail, a hint of spring to come, I love those little white flowers, they hold such promise!
At Annebank beside the old railway trail they were lovely, its just such a pity they have to grow through the piles of rubbish the locals throw down, but I suppose the snowdrops don't care.
I can't fathom the mentality of littering, well thats not true the thoughtless shits that do it just don't give a damn about much at all.
OOPS! I think a rant just crept in there need to watch that in future!

Back at the car park at Oswald Hall I was hunting snowdrop groups for a nice photo opportunity, among them were a few crocuses, but a lot less than I'd expected, and amazingly a flowering daffodil! To me daffodils mean spring.... IN JANUARY?! the climate's definitely going mad!

Photos from the River Ayr here (Failford/Stair)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Double downhill

Arran from Kelburn

Took me a bit of time to get out and about today the sky was dull and the weather could have done anything.
I made sure the waterproofs were in the rucksack and a snack just in case the rain held off past lunch time.
Up over scary Glentane (even scarier than usual with the mud and strong breeze) onto the moor, I found myself cycling and pushing up Kaim Hill.
Local cycles sometimes take me by surprise I end up somewhere I hadn't planned to go. Thats what happened today, found myself up on the top of Kaim Hill for the big downhill run before I'd made any decisions. The run down was great as always but again random decisions took over and I headed along to Fairlie to the new downhill route I've been investigating and clearing over the past week. Its a long way up through Kelburn onto the side of Blaeloch hill to the sart of the route but having gone down it I now know there's a few bits to be sorted out or bypassed before I give it another go.
Got back at 2pm after 3 hour on the bike just 15minutes before it started raining, I just love it when that happens it makes me feel so smug!

The route is a sort of combination of Kelburn and Kaim

Some Kelburn and Fairlie photos here.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sleaty morning

Bellisle Park Ayr

It sleating outside so thought I'd do a blog entry while waiting for it to pass over, trouble is I haven't been doing much since Sunday's outing with Craig to Loch Bradan. The weather has been mostly wet so I've been spending my time outdoors trail hunting up in Kelburn.
I've found one downhill line which I've cleared ready to give a try and another possible line I'm going out to look at today. It's quite relaxing meandering about looking for natural downhill mountain bike lines sheltered from the worst of the weather by the trees.

Yesterday was better than some but not good enough for the bike so Anne and I decided to go for a sheltered walk through Rozelle and Bellilse parks in Ayr with the extra bonus of lunch at the Secret Garden Tea room.
Alloway is Robert Burns birthplace and being close to Burns day the 'Tam O'Shater' visitor centre was chock a block, three bus loads and cars everywhere, we skipped it in favour of the Secret Garden Tea room.
A nice walk for an iffy day.

Some Ayrshire photos here.

The walking route can be viewed here.

Still sleating out there but its time to get out.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Loch Bradan slog

Loch Doon

I wish Loch Doon today had looked like the picture above for Craig's first visit but it was dull and cold... yuck!
Even so it was nice to be out on the Bradan Doon singletrack especially the little loop to Cornish Loch and along the side of Loch Bradan but the track over to Loch Doon was soft, not muddy just soft, so climbing was just hard hard work.
Stopped off at Loch Doon Castle for a picnic lunch before settling into the cycle along the forest road back.
The forest drive was soft and grotty so return was a bit of a drag pedalling through a half inch or so of soft whin dust, character forming is about the best that could be said for it, but a bit too late in life to (re)form my character.
On the way home we dropped into 'The Buck' cafe in Straiton for a coffee and lovely Apple Pie with cream, delicious...just about made it all worth while.

Time to relax with a good book in a nice warm bath while Anne makes dinner, I know, I've got it made!.... took me almost a lifetime getting here though.

SB Summer video here.

Route description here, really worth a visit but wait till its warm sunny and dry.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Harlequin Cafe

Kaim hill rocky ramp

I was searching maps yesterday looking for a route away from todays forecasted fresh breeze or somewhere north south to minimise the effect of the west wind.
In a flash of inspiration it came to me....local trails West Kilbride to Largs stopping at the Herlequin cafe for lunch.
Graham came over at ten and we set off up to Biglees quarry, oh dear someone's been doing 'track improvements' and its a bit of a muddy mess, luckily its only a surface thing, progress was messy but not difficult.
We continued level to Fairlie, slogged to upper Kelburn (Fairlieward) and then super fast down the Kelburn forest track to the Haylie Brae. The Kelburn track was a bit erroded and rutted in places due to recent heavy rain, just added to the adrenaline buzz rocketing downhill into Largs and the Harlequin Cafe.
Coffee and apple tart with cream..... yummy!
On the way back the Kel Burn had lost its stepping stones so rather than get our feet wet we took the cycleway up to the main road and to keep away from the traffic we went into Kelburn, good decision, more off road and some lovely singletrack down behind Fairlie castle.
It was a lovely way to avoid the Fairlie main road, I'll definately be using that little route variation again.
Finished over Goldenberry and along the beach track, 4 great hours out on the bike!

Local trail detail here.

Video of the route here (summer).

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1st road cycle 2008

Burning bush on Goldenberry

Today was an ideal day for the road bike, just above freezing, beautifully clear and virtually no wind.
Phoned Tom, he was keen to get out, picked him up in the car and transported us and the bikes across to Dalry for a cycle over to Stewarton on little quiet lanes that make road cycling around here so very pleasant.
We just pottered along keeping the cadence up and pace down, the pleasant sun and three layers kept us nice and warm.
Stewarton is blessed with the 'Coffee Pot Cafe', an ideal stop off point for some light lunch and little break before heading back on some more quiet roads.
Our route was an easy figure of nine just about 30km long, a lovely start to road cycling for 2008!

A similar route can be viewed here.

Got back about 2pm, so after a coffee Anne and I had a stroll up Goldenberry to see the sun set, thats where the burning bush picture came from stunning finish to a lovely day!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Trail grooming in Kelburn

Kelburn mud

The past couple of days have been wet especially today it was thowing it down this morning but there was no wind so I decided to go back into Kelburn to continue yesterdays trail grooming work. There's a trail leads down to Fairlie castle, yesterday it was more like a stream than a trail so I did a bit of water diversion off the track and today I went up to finish it off and to open up a mud bypass.
It centainly passed most of the day but there's still lot of mud since they had a machine in doing 'ground improvements'.

Got back about 2pm and decided to get downthe beach for a little jog, oh dear it was SO hard! I definately need to do more to get some fitness, just can't seem to get to that mental/physical place where its a 'must do'.
Maybe it will come if I keep at it.

Some Kelburn photos here

Short video of Kelburn 'Graffiti Castle'

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Frosty Muirshiel

Muirshiel in frost and mist

We had a bit of a storm during the week and I was left with a little roof repair job, just a ridge tile to replace.
That done though I arranged with Graham to get out on the bikes Saturday over the moor from Muirshiel Country Park to Kilmacolm.
Its a figure of nine loop up over the moor and down for a stop off for coffee and cake at Kilmacolm's 'Java Minute' cafe.
On the way up there in the car it was very misty, our fingers were crosssed that we'd get above it 600ft above Lochwinnoch, luckily thats just how it worked out.
It was beautifully crisp up on the hill, our tyres made a marvellous crunching frost sound as we cycled along through the trees then onto the moor.
The views were limited but very pretty, eventually though we descended into the mist as we flew downhill to the Kilmacolm lunch stop, a nice bit of apple and toffee tart with coffee.
Unfortunately on the way back the mist had taken hold across the moor and we missed out on the pretty outlook, not only that the frost had lost its crunch and was a lot slippier it needed a lot more concentration to keep the tyres from sliding away, still a lovely outing though!

SB video here.

Katy and Craig are going over to Glentress today, hope the weathers better over there, its cold wet and windy here today. A brolly and wellies day I think.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Rainbows over Goldenberry

Rainbow from Goldenberry Hill

The picture above was taken Sunday past (6thJan08) during a delightful MTB outing along what I'd call a classic trail (classic to me that is) West Kilbride to Fairlie over (scary) Glentane hill.
If you get it wrong its a long tumble down the hill, just catch a pedal on the uphill side and off you go, bike as well!
Lovely views over the Clyde Coast, lots of surface water and mud but it was great to up there, something about punishing pleasure comes to mind, or perhaps endorphins and adrenaline, whatever it is it works for me!

It was quite a surprise after slogging up Goldenberry hill stopping at the top for a look at the great view and there it was, a stunning complete rainbow, and it didn't even rain on me, all the pleasure and none of the pain. I love it when that happens!

Got out today on the bike but only for just over an hour before the forecast PM rain, just made it home dry.

SB video here but with some odd viewpoints.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Diamond Hill Burn

Diamond Hill waterfall

Overnight all the local snow has melted but its still disrupting travel on inland high routes, here though its mild and showery.
I'm not very good at staying indoors, I just get bored so even though it was pelting down with rain I got out for a few hours up behind Fairlie clearing mud from MTB trails and laying a few stones to firm them up a bit.
On route I visited all my favourite waterfalls then went exploring the north side of Diamond hill burn on the way back down.
Its a lovely little gorge with quite a substantial waterslide about 100ft long and a few wonderfull little waterfalls, all going quite nicely after the thaw and rain.
Neadless to say I took a lot of photos and video but in the end there were only half a dozen worth keeping.
I was out for three and a half hours pottering was rather pleasant, view pictures here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Kelburn in Snow

Fairlieward cottage upper Kelburn

I've been on the Drambuie since coming back from our walk up though snow covered Kelburn so if some of what I 'write' isn't quite right that's the reason.

Going against the weather forecast we DID have snow but down in West Kilbride it was just a hint of the white stuff, not enough to keep us in and not enough to make a snowman, so Anne and I went along to Kelburn hoping to keep out of the cold wind (2degc) but still enjoy a bit of snow underfoot and the nice views out west over the Clyde.
From the north end of Fairlie we climbed up the Kelburn track and gradually the snow got deeper, at our highest point near Fairlieburn cottage it was about 3cm just nice for walking through.
We had the option of several return routes down through Kelburn Estate or going on to Largs, but favourable conditions (sheltered from the wind, nice views) and the lure of Craigmiles cafe was too great and we ended up in Largs for lunch.
We caught the train back, that was a bit of a mistake, it meant a walk back to the car along Miller Walk, it could have been very nice except it started to rain half way along but still not enough to spoil a nice (short) days walk.
View pictures here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

1st MTB 2008

Above Lanfine in the Irvine River valley

BRRR! It was cold today, it may just have got above freezing but not by much. The weather was OK (ish) so there was every reason to get out for the first MTB fun of the year.
Criag, Graham and I met up at the Galston CO-OP (Katy was down with a cold again)with the intention of doing some of the Irvine valley trails.
There's quite a bit of single track along the valley but also quite a bit of (quiet) road between them.
The cold never really lifted all day, we even had a few flakes of snow blown in from the east but by then we were toasty warm, climbing out of Newmilns over to Cessnock Castle single track, pretty well the highlight of the day.
Three hours doing a short figure of eight along the valley, coffee and cake in the Co-op cafe then off home, lovely stuff!

3pm when I got back so before daylight finally gave out I took a short walk up the side Goldenberry hill to view the sunset it was certainly worth the small effort.
The picture below is a bit of a cheat, I mixed todays sky over Arran with todays clyde view and a bit of digital wizardry, quite nice but more a bit of fun than the real thing.

Sun setting to the..??..north

According to the evening news there's been quite a bit of snow over to the east of us and more for tomorrow, fortunately none forecast for us.
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