Sunday, June 29, 2008

Barskimming Caves

The stone stairs of Pedens Pulpit

A little while back Graham and I were above the river Ayr at Barskimming and I noticed caves cut into the sandstone cliffs on the far bank.
Today I decided to cycle along the river and go take a look, the riverside track would keep me out of the breeze and sheltered if the threatened showers came by and Auchincruive is a good starting point, quiet, good parking, and straight onto a rough track beside the river.
The River Ayr Way gives some good cycling, but has too many stiles, landslips, and now summer undergrowth is drooping across the track. Some parts have been cut back, some woodland tracks don't have much growth but other bits are getting very narrow.

East of Failford I went down the nice fishermans track by the river but made the mistake of pushing on beyond the end of it, ending up in head high bracken, I knew it was a sprachell but thought it was shorter. Maybe next time I'll remember!

The Barskimming caves are man made and have been cut into the sandstone gorge to allow a track to loop along beside the river. There are two tunnels about 50m long each with a window overlooking the river. They made an interesting turning loop before retracing the trail back. Cave map reference is landranger sheet 70 GR470252.

Took some SB video along the way and into the caves.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A short trip to the Highlands

Young mouse on todays trail

I took the Argyll ferry crossing this morning but was a bit late on the go so decided to part with cash and go in the car, £25 return - ouch!
I intended playing about in Glen Branter, sampling the downhill and then the other routes.
I did the downhill and was disappointed partly with myself, partly with the trail.
It had the usual forestry climb in tree cover, oh so boring then the trail was broken up by fire roads, one of them quite a bit downhill, what a waste!
When I got to the bottom the words that came out were "That was crap"!
I couldn't get the hang of the berms, I realise now that if I'd put my seat down a bit I'd have got on better, but didn't seem to have the confidence to lean the bike and keep the speed up.
I couldn't face more fire road trail in the forest and didn't understand what the new signs were saying. One junction had blue route indicators both sides, so decided to do the Loch Eck circuit, at least I'd have some nice views for my efforts.
Glad I did it was fabulous (after the monster climb up to the east side of the glen). The sun shone, it was cool and clear, and the views were great!
Stopped off at the cafe in Ben More gardens for a bit of strawberry cream tart and coffee...yummy! before sauntering back along the west side of Loch Eck back to the car.

Great day out, see SB video here and route details here.

I think I've settled on for free file storage (GPX navigation files) esnips is just so full of rubbish it puts me right off using them, humyo just does what I ask no fuss and no adverts (almost).
I've put about 40 GPX file on there so far but still got to link to most of them from the key map page of my web site, all seems to be working out though.

OOPS! I take that back, its all a bit of a guddle so I've taken out the GPS links until I've sorted it...what a faff!

Monday, June 23, 2008

esnips slide show.

I was playing in esnips and sort of stumbled across this slide show thing so stuffed a few photos in then noticed I could blog it from esnips, gave it a go and here it is. Not that bad really.
The reason I was in esnips was that I was looking for somewhere (free) to stick GPS routes (GPX files) and esnips has lots of free storage unfortunately in amongst lots of adverts (hence the free status) and is easy to use.

Also uploaded a video (my first ever) which I think can be seen here.

Fife yacht regatta

Fife yacht 'painting'

Saturday morning Anne and I went up the road to Largs to watch the start of the start of the round Cumbrae Fife yacht race.
What a buzz there was at the marina and even more so out on the water as the yachts made ready for the start. I took a bit of video through my spotting scope at the marina then went up the Hailie Brae to get a bit more high on the hillside.
They are magnificent classic yachts with an average age of over 90, all wood of course and all built on the shorefront at Fairlie by the Fife family of boat builders learn more on the history bit of the regatta web site.
The web site has some great photos of the events so far and is being updated daily as events unfold. Not quite LIVE but as close as you will find.
The photographer is using Jalbum 8.0 to get the photos onto the web site, its a great way of uploading albums to any web site try it out, its free!

My little SB video offering can be viewed here.

As for mountain biking, PM after watching the start of the yacht race and in view of the weather forecast saying the good weather is about to break, I decided to go get a Kaim downhill fix before the trails turn to mush during the coming week of rain.
A SB winter video of Kaim can be seen here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Downhill at Dundonald

Dundonald DH trail

Anne and I had a walk at Dundonald hill during the week and found there were a few trees blocking the trails and it was a bit overgrown in places. So yesterday I put the MTB on the car and my trusty little saw in my bag and went over there to 'do' the trails.
When its dry like it has been Dundonald hill trails are marvelous, lovely bits of singletrack now linked together by the new and firm smugglers trail pathway.
On the way around to start trail clearing I noticed a little trail I hadn't seen before and set off down it.
What a surprise! somebody has been busy carving out what seems like three graded downhill tracks sort of blue, red and black all short but very sweet especially iftaken from the top of the hill on the original trail.
The nice bit about these tracks is that its all hidden from view and hasn't affected any of the other trails on the hill, almost like its planned, doubt it though.
They are 95% complete but still a work in progress, great fun to be had now but come a bit of wet weather and I think parts of the black run will turn into a mud slide.

Took a bit of video but it doesn't do them justice cause I'm a wimp and don't jump.

Route description with DH location here. go and have some of the best fun to be found here abouts.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clyde coast delights

Red damsel beside a Fairlie moor pond

The picture above was taken when Ann and I were up Fairlie moor on Monday past we sat down in the sun beside a pond on Fairlie moor in the hope that I might get a snap of a dragonfly but they were zipping about too fast for me, but as I sat there the damselflys were settling next to me so I got a snap or two of them instead.
I am quite pleased with the results although it as a combination of two, one for the head and body and another for the wings and tail, still OK though.

Today was bright and breezy (and showery) so I decided to take a walk along the hillside to Largs, Anne was going to join me at Fairlie glen, she wanted to keep some energy for tennis in the evening.
The air was beautifully clear until a shower came my way and wrecked my brolly, it was on the way out anyway. I kept dry by crouching down below what was left of the brolly and luckily the shower only lasted a few minutes, didn't half sling it down though.
There is to be a Fife yacht regatta from Largs this week end 22 of these magnificent old yachts (some more than 100 years) will be racing around the Clyde for the next week so if I've got nothing better to do this Saturday I may go along and try to get some nice photos.

Photos from the walks here.

Info on the regatta here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

GPS - GPX saga

Splash on Irvine valley trails

About a years ago I bought Scotland digital mapping by Anquet thinking about investigating possibilities for Scottish multi day through routes. The Anquet mapping is great and with web resources and various books I generated info on multi day possibilities but since getting my birthday GPS (eTrex Vista HCx) I've been searching the web for an integrated package allowing route making on a detailed map, conversion to GPX for sharing and sharing options, Anquet doesn't generate GPX (as far as I can tell anyway) but does accept and display GPX routes.
Its taken some time but I discovered I was already a member of a site that does it all, well all I've thought about so far. The only limitation is on map detail, some areas it just isn't there.
My favourite cycle shop Walkers Cycles has a resource there, members can upload and download rides in lots of formats GPS ready. I've uploaded a few and all seems far anyway.

Irvine valley trails (one of many options) can be viewed here.

Short video part Irvine valley trails and part Seamill.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Irvine valley trails

Carriage by the river at Lanfine

Graham requested a MTB trail outing yesterday with as little climbing as possible. He'd been ripping out a bathroom and was feeling a bit stiff, so we went across to do some trails in the Irvine valley thinking they would fit the bill.
Can't say it worked out that way though we were out for 5hours and my new birthday GPS shows we did 48km and 816m of climbing. What it doesn't show is the bramble scratches we got on the old railway at Newmilns and beside the river at Galston.
To be fair though these were little investigations of trails we hadn't been before and aren't likely to go again considering the results.

The GPS thing I'm playing with but I think I'll buy the micro SD card giving the GB topographical map then I'll never be lost again...ahem. I did a couple of tracklog things for routes on my website, uploaded them and checked they download into map and GPS, all seems to work. Check it out here.

Similar Irvine valley route here except we started at Kilmarnock and missed the eastern loop out.

SB Video can be viewed here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Backbone of Ayrshire

Wedding at Dundonald Castle 11Aug2006

Was looking for a nice photo of the views Tom and I saw today (I forgot my camera)
and I came across the one above of a bride and maids going into Dundonald Castle for her wedding service. I thought I'd drop it into this entry for no other reason that its a nice happy shot.
Tom and I had a nice happy day too meandering along what I like to call the backbone of Ayrshire, its a route that climbs the hilly ridges of mid Ayrshire and gives great views all round. Today was crystal clear, we could see south to the Merrick, north to Arrochar west to Arran and east to Cairn Table just wonderful.
Of course we couldn't do a loop without a coffee and cake stop and we squeezed one in at Hays Garden World just south of Kilmarnock, great home baking!

My other little task today was sorting out the back freewheel on the mountain bike, I changed it a couple of days ago but it wasn't right, a problem inherent in using old bits, so I had to nip across to Walkers Cycles to buy a new freewheel. What a fiddle it was fitting it! had in bits five times trying to get everything right but got there in the end and having just had the drive train sorted it should be a while before it needs anything else done, fingers crossed.

Also had a half hour jog down the beach but I wish I hadn't bothered I had too much in my stomach and struggled all the way home, another lesson relearned.

Some Ayrshire photos here.

Route description here. and a bit of 'old' video around Irvine and Dundonald.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inverkip and Leapmoor forest walk

Anne and I decided to go up to have a walk near Inverkip today, we had a go at it a few months back but the rain and wind got the better of us and we abandoned.
Wasn't like that today though, lots of blue sky about and a nice breeze to keep the bugs down and us cool.
Nice views from the track in Leapmoor now the forest has been harvested, maybe not as nice as above Fairlie but a bit different from our usual.
I estimated (without really checking too much) that it'd take a couple of hours, how wrong I was, it took us four! Not complaining cause it was lovely.
May add it to my web site as a walk although I think one of my MTB routes is very similar, oh yes here it is except we came down past Everton scout lodge.

Flickr photos here.

A couple of videos - Searching for Trail behind Dunoon and one of the seasons here on the West Coast of Scotland (Ayrshire).

Muirshiel Ladymuir and Parkhill

Splash on Muirshiel

After a bit of map perusal yesterday I eventually settled on a mountain bike route up at Muirshiel way above Lochwinnoch. There is a great hard trail across the moor toward Kilmacolm but instead of returning the same way I wanted to have another look at the Ladymuir trail for a way back.
I did it a couple of years back and wondered if it might have been improved, well it hasn't, its still a slog on soft ground for about a kilometer so it won't be finding its way into my web site as a route.
I enjoyed the rest of it though, there are some great splashes on the moor and the run off Windy Hill is great.
The loop only took a couple of hours so I decided to pay a visit to Parkhill wood on the way home. There's a rhododendron maze high up on the east side of Parkhill and I went up to see if I could get the bike through some of it. It was good fun looping through the 'tunnels' of flowering rhododendron, so inspite of the bogs of Ladymuir I still had a very enjoyable mountain bike outing.

View SB video here.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Drumlanrig castle and trails

Drumlanrig Castle

Picked up Katy and craig yesterday, loaded the bikes into the car and went off down the road to sample the delights of mountain biking in Drumlanrig Estate.
The trails and setting are a bit different from some of the forestry commission stuff, mainly in deciduous woodland, rooty, narrow and with less artificial surfaces. Although some of the corners seem a bit sharp to me, but maybe thats just my skill level or perhaps a ploy to keep the speed down.

After the mountain biking its possible to have a shower in the centre next to Riks bike shop but we just had a quick rub down before taking a stroll around the garden, the bike museum, blacksmiths, kids play area and a late lunch snack in the centre.

Its a great place to take the family and still get some biking done provided of course there's someone willing to do the baby sitting.
This is the third time I've been and it won't be the last!

SB video here.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Peprieve for the old bike.

Video of Glenburn

I was thinking the old road bike was about to bite the dust, the bottom bracket is stuck. I decided to try and work round it so as not to disturb it to death. The problem was in the front changing caused by a new chainset being much closer to the frame, the old changer just didn't work that far in. I got around the problem by 'borrowing' a changer from my wifes unused, rusting road bike in the back of the bike shed and managed to get the old Flying Scott back on the road.
Anne and I went out on the bikes for a couple of hours over to Lochwinnoch just to make sure all was OK, sure enough its working fine, well its fine until its time to change the bottom bracket, who knows though that may be 10 years from now.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Old bike seriously ill

Barcraigs Reservior

Tom and I were discussing a trip to the Western Isles which got me thiking I need to do something with my ancient road bike's drive train, its worn out.
Today I bought the bits I thought I'd need and set to work.
I replaced the cassette, the chain and finaly started on the front chainset only to discover that the chainset puller just pulled out the threads of the cranks leaving the cranks in place.
I resorted to brute force and got the cranks off but discoverd the new crank spacing was wrong and I couldn't get the front gear down to the granny ring.
Because I'd done some damage I thought I'd replace the bottom bracket but guess what it is completely stuck in place.
I think this may be the end of a very long partnership, I've had this old Flying Scott since I was eighteen years old, its only two years younger than me and we have been many many places together.
I've still got a couple of things to try to save it but I'm not hopefull, it will be a sad day if it has to go to the bike graveyard.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

3 go round Bradan

Speedy MTB'er

Graham was otherwise engaged this week end but Craig, Katy and I went down to Loch Bradan near Straiton to do a mountain bike loop around the loch.
The trail is good and rough. The north west side is pretty flat but the other side is undulating so has some little speedy downhill thrills with lots of concentration needed to avoid the worst of the rocks, great fun.
We put a little extra loop in across to Stinchar Falls before tackling the main circuit around the loch side.
Craig was even energetic enough to do the little leg over Cornish hill, a gem of a trail.

SB video here

Route details here
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