Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kelburn and the Largs Pencil

Old dog on a 'walk' at Largs Pencil

View slideshow

The weather forcast wasn't too good today, I opted for a brolly walk (didn't need it) through Kelburn meeting Anne near the Pencil at Largs to walk into town for lunch at Craigmiles Cafe.
Apart from being a bit sweaty walking up into Kelburn it was lovely, took more photos than I thought I would, mainly macro stuff... which I love.
Lots of young pheasants have been released in upper Kelburn woods, gun fodder for the shooting brigade in a few days time.
I don't like the whole shooting thing but if it wasn't for this 'sport' a lot of what we call Scotland woudn't be much like it is today.
I suppose there are a lot of unresolvable 'what if's' in history not just in Scotland but around the world...pointess really.
I've resolved the shooting thing in my head to....'as long as they breed them they can stand in the rain and midges to shoot them'

Oops...may just have diverged into ranting for a bit there, it must have been Annes lovely mix of Almond and Plum homemade wine I've been sampling since 4pm (its now 8pm and I'm still at it), its tasty and oh..oh.. so strong.
I put wine strength down to my standard wine brewing advice......'just add some more sugar'! Not too clever but seems to work...just another glass perhaps.

more slide show stuff

Garden bugs macro

Retried Pictobrowser for a Flickr slide show, its very nice I'd prefer just to have forward and back arrows but it'll do for now. First time I tried it seemed to affect the page layout but its OK this time. I like the zoom and drag element, works well with macro images.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flickr slideshow maker

Ardrossan marina

Lots of Flickr slideshow makers out there this one is quick and easy, at first try at least.... time will tell. I was always going to continue with Flickr but wanted a link from the blog to a nice slide show with no frills and without the type delay on loading the blog.

View slideshow

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Knapdale fox
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When viewed on a map I've always thought the Mull of Kintyre together with Arran form a strong resemblance to a part of the male anatomy, just north in the groin area is a landmass with the lovely name of Knapdale.
Tom and I had plans to visit its west coast a 32 mile loop of single track road but first we had to get through Arran and over the hill to Tarbert before we could even start the loop.
It was going to be an overnight stay and if the weather held we intended to venture further north.

What a lovely bit of road it turned out to be, sort of three sections to it split up by the scenery.
The first bit from the south is in beautiful deciduous woodland with occasional glimpses of Loch Tarbert on the left. The road dips and rises nicely giving plenty of opportunity to get the bum out of the saddle.
The middle section is high and open with a great view over to Islay and Jura.
Half way round is the little village of Kilberry with a pub, we were out of luck, it only opens 12 to 2 so we were stuck with energy bars and plain old water to keep us going.
The last section descends to a set of beautiful beaches beside Loch Caolisport ending in a big climb back over to Ardrishaig.

The good weather didn't hold for the second day so we headed back on the Portavadie ferry and Bute, getting wet on the way, although the views over the Kyles of Bute were quite atmospheric with the low cloud rising off the hills.

Lovely cycle outing I'd recommend it get some idea of what it like from the SB video.

Route description here.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008


Scarecrows at the vet

The Scarecrow festival started yesterday with a parade through the town to the Glen. There were lots of fun things set up for the crowd.
Last year I missed it so decided to hang about to see it this time, letting the night before's wine fade away before getting out on the bike for a bit.
The village was full of sightseers, I used the bike to scoot about the village as the parade was going on shooting a bit of video along the way and the goings on down the glen. All good community fun.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Lochgilphead and Arrochar

Lock on the Crinan Canal

Went up to Lochgilphead area Thursday/Friday I fancied doing a trail from Loch Fyne to Loch Awe. It starts at Auchindrain to Carron where there is a very rough trail over the hill to Loch Awe but I got lost.
There are new forest tracks and I missed the turn off which is only marked by a small post (I discovered later) and ended up on a forest drive not exactly knowing where it would take me.
Everything turned out OK just ended up sort of doing the route backwards only to discover how good it would have been doing it the right way round....oh well guess I'll just have to go back and do it properly sometime before I forget how to find the route.
Today, after staying the night at Lochgilphead, I went over to the Fire Tower Trail. Its nice but it takes less than 2 hours to get round, hardly a day filler, so on the way back home I stopped of at Arrochar and did the Glen Loin track, now that is a descent trail, big mountain scenery and a great singletrack down Glen Loin. Much more rewarding than the Fire Tower Trail in my opinion.

Short Boring video here.

Arrochar trail description here.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Clyde coast harbours

Ardrossan Harbour

Warm and still this morning so it was going to be a cycling day, generate our own cooling breeze while keeping ahead of biting bugs and flies.
I put the bikes on the car and we drove down to Fularton Woods.
From there we did an easy road loop of about 30km with a lunch stop at Langholm farm tearoom on the way back.
The route is similar to this one but without the eastern loop to Craigie.
Got back to the car about 2pm and decided I'd cycle home along the National Cycleway, I don't tend to use it much but from Fularton its direct and hasn't much climb.
Along the way it got nice and sunny so I stopped of for photos at Troon marina, Irvine Harbourside and Ardrossan Marina, view them here.
In all I was 6hours on the bike reinforcing the need for me to get a new (more comfy) seat.

Not keen on the loading delay with the humyo flash player but I quite like the idea of an integrated slide show. Shouldn't be too difficult to put one together but maybe linking to photos could get tedious. I'll give it a little time and effort......maybe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Irvine to Troon walk

Anne and I were looking for a walk away from the hill mist out our back door and decided to do a shore walk Irvine to Troon. Never done it before although we have both run along the beach in the days when we were members of Irvine Athletic Club. Today though we were sticking to walking and anticipating lunch in Troon. Not exactly an exciting walk but nice enough and lunch in 'Lido' was rather nice.

Humyo Video test

Just a test of embedded video from Humyo, the first time I tried it didn't seem to work but OK now. Don't think I'll be using it much though as it means extra uploads but I like the nice plain presentation, except for the final advert. It costs money to get rid of that so I guess it will be staying.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Clyde views and Kilmacolm cycle

Tom and I put the bikes on the back of the car today and went up to Lochwinnoch to cycle the little lanes over to Formakin, along the B789 on the south side of the Clyde then up and over the hill to Kilmacolm. This quiet little stretch of road gives great views across to Ben Lomond and the highlands and is a favourite with cyclists from Glasgow.
We weren't disappointed it was a fabulous cycle outing, sunny, warm, and the views were great. The climb over to Kilmacolm was a bit difficult but we got our coffee and cake reward for the effort at Java Minute cafe in the centre of the town.
Then it was back to Lochwinnoch on what can only be called a very undulating set of minor roads happily avoiding the easy but boring cycleway.
Great day.. view the embedded slide show above and get a (similar) route description here.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mugdock and Lennox forest

Nice bike at Clachan of Campsie

Graham and I were cycling from Mugdock park today. Some nice singletrack in the park but really the route is onto the West Highland Way, along to Clachan of Campsie and up the hill to the top of Lennox Forest, great views up there and a nice descent too and to round it off we did the Mugdock singletrack again, four hours of lovely fun.

SB video can be viewed here.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Parkhill Wood

Lads enjoying the trails in Parkhill Wood
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Anne and I went up to Parkhill Wood for a walk today, it was a good choice, lots going on at Castle Semple and on the trails in Parkhill, little boats on the loch with groups of youngsters being shown the ropes of sailing and canoeing. Other groups were out around the short trails in the wood all having plenty of outdoor fun.

A SB video here.

PM got out on the MTB for a couple of hours over to my favourite local downhill at Kaim Hill, wonderful views, great fun, view the route here.

I've been putting some GPX files on my web site, not sure how much use they are but it certainly passes the time of day when the wet stuff is falling and its got me thinking about other trails across the water like the epic I did on Sunday. Using I've figured out a similar route from Claonaig through to Dunoon so that may well be my next epic MTB outing. It means cycling through Arran, over the Skipness-Tarbert off road and lots of forest trails to Glen Branter, should

PS Some photos from this weeks galivanting here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cowal MTB Epic

Argyll Ferry

I've been checking Cowel peninsula maps and satellite images recently and there's a long forest track and a wind farm on the satellite image which almost bridges a gap in the off road trails.
When I put it all together there is 80km of trail with only about 10km on road. I'm just putting it into my map software to check distance and climb.......82km, 2819m climb...a bit of a beast!...but luckily with a chicken out half way.

Yesterday I decided to give it a go but if I'd known how long it would take me I'd have set of a bit earlier.
A MTB chap I met on the ferry was off to do Bishops Seat, a hill behind Dunoon, we picked each others brains about routes all the way across on the ferry. I quite fancied Bishops Seat and thought it'd be a possibility on the way back if my legs held out.
With the 80km and Bishops Seat in mind I knew I'd have to pace myself, eat and keep hydrated, good excuse for a coffee and cake stop at Benmore cafe.
Only 10k into the ride but the only cafe on route, nice bit of apple tart and cream to keep me going till lunch.

Highlights of the route were Loch Eck west side with its lovely views, Glen Daruel Forest track nice and open above the Glen, the wind farm views, and strangely although the going was difficult, the early singletrack beside Loch Striven was good fun (after the quad track mud).
The worst bit was carrying the bike uphill through shoulder high bracken near the end of the Loch Striven footpath also pedalling pushing and carrying to Bishops Seat, the forestry are in there messing up the road, the moor is tussocky, after 70km of cycling all I wanted was an easy downhill run to the ferry. I got it eventually but the best stuff was fast forestry tracks, the singletrack in the forest off Bishop Seat was a boggy mess.
I was out for over nine hours and didn't get home till 10pm, quite a day out!

I'll be putting the route into my web site soon but I think I'll include some different finishing options away from the forestry operations.

Short video here but don't expect too much, I was too busy biking to shoot much.

PS view the route description here but don't go unless your a tough old twit like me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Jumps at Fairlie

Fairlie glen jump

Tom and I had a couple of hours out on ther road bikes this morning, Dalry out toward Beith, down to Eglinton for a cafe stop then back along the cycle route and very pleasant it was.
PM I went out over Glentane hill to check out some trail grooming I've been doing on a slippy drop. I've put a couple of rocks in place to stop erosion and to reduce the ARGH! factor, I'm pleased to say it now runs very nicely.
After checking the drop I decided to take the lovely hillside track to Fairlie, its nice and dry at the moment so the trail's really nice.
Three young lads were playing on the jumps at Fairlie glen and I got a few clips to stick together with some other stuff to produce a video.
Hope the youngsters find it!
After leaving them to their fun I climbed all the way up onto the moor above Kelburn to do 'Kelburn top to bottom' the best (non jump) MTB fun to be had at Fairlie all the way down through Kelburn and Fairlie Glen, a great little downhill.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Two new routes

The tough Loch Goil loop.

Anne and I made the best of the weather this morning by taking a walk to fairlie along the edge of the moor. Visibilty was quite good and because of the lack of wind the reflection on the sea were lovely. It just kept getting better and better as we walked. By the time we got to Fairlie we had missed the train but because it was shaping up so nicely we decided to continue on to Largs thinking thoughts of Craigmiles cafe for lunch.
PM the showers set in a bit and I got 'plugged' into the computer to generated two new routes for my web site using dreamweaver, it allows me to make minimum use of yahoo page builder which tends to freeze up.
Anyway the result is two new route descriptions one for Arran Black and one for Carrick Castle (a bit of a beautiful monster).

Videos of both can be seen from blog entries below.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Carrick Castle

Stuck in the mud Bealach an Lochain

I was desperately trawling maps early this morning trying to find a nearby MTB loop that I hadn't investigated already.
There seems to be a part of my personality(?) that demands something new now and again (and again) with a bit of a challenge.
Well certainly I found it today on the MTB loop to Carrick Castle coming back via a bit of the Cowel Way over Bealach an Lochain.
The challenge was the uphill bike carry on wet boggy ground over the Bealach (Scottish pass).
On the way over the bealach I discovered a new form of mountain biking only it would have to be called Loch Biking because I found it easier to cycle along the loch shallows than on the so called footpath.
I also got a little lost even carrying a GPS and map, the secret is to use them at the right time, like when I went through a track junction without checking and ended up carrying the bike over a felled area rather than go back.
I also thought I'd found a new custom built MTB trail and followed it way way up the hillside only to discover it dead ended, got some steep downhill as a reward, but it wasn't enough to make up for the extra bike pushing!
I may generate a web page for the route but it will have a health warning attached to it....may cause extremely wrinkled feet due to excessive wet and blisters to the shoulder from carrying the bike!

Shot a bit of video on route, its of the boring variety due to bike carrying.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Arran black route

I was planning to go to Arran today (yesterday by the time I've finished this blog entry) got up at 6am but it was raining so back to bed I went.
Got up again at 8am still raining so thought I'd have another half hour in bed and leave Arran for another day but, by 10am it was looking distinctly bright causing me to flip back to 'Going to Arran mode' finally getting along the road for the 12:30 ferry.
It was definately worth the effort, the air was crystal clear, the clouds slid away over the horizon and the ferry arrived in Arran to glorious sunshine.

I've been checking out Arran cycle club and had a map for the black off road route loaded into my new GPS toy to assist with navigation. I'm pleased I did there are two places on the route that are tricky to find and the GPS was very handy at both of them (I'm oh so pleased it wasn't a complete waste of money).
As for mountain biking the black route its a bit mixed, the off road down to Lamlash is an overgrown muddy mess I got two punctures, one to my knee and one to my back tyre both caused by briers. The forest track from Lamlash to Whiting Bay is just another forest track but the descent down Glenashdale was great fun, so too was the 'hidden singletrack' at Lag an Daer.
Of course what makes these track special is not what they are but where they are, glorious Arran, there's nowhere quite like it!

Video here.
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