West Kilbride to Troon. 18 Miles.

September 27, 2008

Sunlight on the Ayrshire Coast

 

Today’s walk was a long one – much longer than I had planned however. I parked the van on the beach at Troon making sure it wasnt going to sink into the sand and I would be able to drive away again. That happened to me on a beach on an earlier walk and I didnt want to repeat the experience.  I caught the first train back up the line to West Kilbride Station and headed down through the lovely park that led down to the main coastal road. The walk along the road that ran along past Seamill towards Ardrossan reminded me of when I was a young lad and came down here for my holidays. Everything had shrunk in size. When I was a young lad Seamill was a magical place seemingly filled with exquisit rock pools and what I remembered to be a beautiful sandy beach. It wasnt any of those things now – just a sad scrap of sand next to a car park.  The world is certainly more magical when your too young to know any better.

Ayrshire Coastal Path guide book.

Ayrshire Coastal Path guide book.

I headed in Ardrossan and on towards Saltcoats. I was sure when I was a lad there was sand on the beach but there disnt seem to be any here now. Something to do with the Council’s health and safety policy perhaps? Perhaps sand was deemed to get into people’s eyes and it had been removed for our own good.

I had intended to walk towards Irvine and cross the footbridge that went over the mouth of the river Garnock. I had read in David Cotton’s blog that the footbridge had been built to connect the new museum called the Big Idea. However on double checking I found that the museum was closed due to funding issues and the bridge was kept open permanently to allow shipping to travel up the river Garnock. I was extremely pissed off with that news as not only would I have to detour inland towards Stevenson adding about 5 miles or so to my journey, it would also mean missing out on a great beach walk along the coast. I couldnt do anything about it and therfore followed the Sustrans cycle signs inland. The journey was not a memorable one – as  the route ran behind old industrial estates where I had to navigate an underpass where three of four Yoofs were quaffing Scotland’s other National drink. No – not Irn Bru but Buckfast. That had me slightly on my guard as I passed them, but they were fine and said hello as I passed.

Eventually the route turns back towards Irvine and eventually I reached the harbour area which had been given a make over. It did look quaint with its street lamps – it reminded me of Sheidaig for some reason but obviously a modern attempt at making a place look older. When I enquired about the bridge being closed they said that it might open again as there were moves afoot to create a golf course complex on the other side of the bridge. Now where have I heard that before?

I had a coffee in a little coffee shop then headed out into heavy rain for the final walk along Barrassie beach towards Troon. I caught absolutely soaked through – my jeans and feet were sodden and I collapsed into the campervan and was really exhausted at the end of this walk.

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Greenock to Wemyss Bay Station. 12 Miles.

September 22, 2008

The Rothesay Ferry

Today was a great day for a walk – lovely warm late September sunshine only served to remind me how much I love the autumn in Scotland. We havent had a summer this year so it was lovely to actually walk along the sun warming my shoulders. Over the months my fleece has developed a musky odour which isnt unpleasant but always will remind me of all the walks I have done. Once the sun shines and I up the pace a little I detect the scent of long arduous miles that have come and gone. I am finding it more difficult to look forward rather than back now; probably because the bulk of my walk is completed now and there is only a couple of hundred miles to go till the end. I get flashbacks in my mind of places I have visited – that I cant place in my mind where they are exactly. Similar curves of a road – a certain way the light falls on a hill or on the sea. I am also if truth be told getting a bit melancholy about the whole thing – I think partly its because I know winter is just around the corner. The cooler days are ahead – and with it comes the associated smells of decaying leaves and woodsmoke. The colours on the trees are turning and I think we will have a spectacular display this year.

I walked around the “bend” at Gourock after passing through the shipyards of Greenock and started heading south. I could see over the Clyde towards Dunoon and felt I had come a long way since Inverary. I passed the Cloch lighthouse and moved along south. There was a path off the main road which led on past the forest of masts from the yachts at Inverkip marina.  Eventually the looming chimney from the Huntertson power station got closer and closer and it was strange to think I had gazed on that from across the water and wondered then how long it would take me to reach the point where I was now.

As I approached my final destination, which was the railway station at Wemyss Bay, (which surely has to be one of the most photogenic railway stations in Scotland), I caught sight of the ferry steaming from the pier towards Rothesay on the island of Bute. A lovely end to a lovely day’s walk.

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Invergordon to Nigg Ferry. 13 Miles.

July 5, 2006
Walk No. 46 When: 05 Jul 2006 From: Invergordon To: Nigg Ferry

 

NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here

This walk follows a B Road all the way around Nigg Bay till you get to Nigg Ferry. I wouldnt be tempted to walk across Nigg Bay when the tide is out as it is a large bay and it is very muddy. Follow the B road through Saltburn until you reach Milton then join the A9 for a couple of hundred yards and cross the road to get to the B road that leads to Arabella. Follow the road to Araballa till it meets the B9175 which you walk along all the way to Nigg Ferry.

Inverness to John O' Groats - Scottish Coast Guide for walkers

Inverness to John O' Groats - Scottish Coast Guide for walkers

A fairly long and pretty monotonous road along the northern end of Nigg Bay. Eventually you reach Nigg Ferry and look across at Cromarty which at most is about half a mile away as the crow swims. Thats when I needed all my resolve not to think that this was a stupid way to pass the time, (which of course it is). Walking around 36 miles of Estuary to get to a point half a mile away by ferry. Still, its exercise and although I will probably neverbe back here, it was good to visit a part of Scotland I have never been to before.

Map of this section and more Photos


Ardesier to North Kessock. 13 Miles

June 19, 2006

kessock-bridge.jpg

NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here

 

 

Inverness to John O' Groats - Scottish Coast Guide for walkers

Inverness to John O' Groats - Scottish Coast Guide for walkers

Unfortunately a lot of the travelling along this walk is on busy B roads and also the main A96 into Inverness. From Ardesier village head south and pick up the B9039 heading south. Continue along this road until it passes Castle Stewart and joins the main A96. (I tried to skirt around the castle and head down to the beach behind the old churchyard at the end of the road, but couldnt get down onto the beach so missed out on Alturlie Point) Follow the main road until you reach the turn off for Milton on the right. Then carry on this old road until it peters out at the railway bridge /main road junction. Scramble up the bank and pick up the main road again. Cross under the flyover and walk up the on ramp towards Kessock Bridge. Cross the bridge and head for the information point just over the other side.

BLOG:

Not such a good day; in fact the day’s walking is probably one of the most unrewarding. However it did give me a chance to test my renowned serenity, and practice muttering under my breathe. The road was busy and for most of the day I played a game called “let’s not end up as road kill” as I avoided the lorries on the main road. Then once I skirted Inverness the heavens opened up and I played the game called, “Lets see how wet I can get my pants from the water trickling down the back of my neck”. Needless to say I was NOT ammoozed.


Nairn to Ardesier. 12 Miles

June 7, 2006

blister1.jpg

NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here

Aberdeen to Inverness Coastal Walk Guide

Aberdeen to Inverness Coastal Walk Guide

This was a bit of a detour day today because of one or two factors that I thought may cause a bit of navigational problems during the day. The first hurdle was wondering if the ground at the Carse of Delnies was as marshy as it looked on the map. The map had lots of small marshy plants planted on it and wellingtons with text that said “On no account cross this marshy landy because of its tendency towards marshiness” So you can understand my reticence.

The second hurdle was firing range just to the east of Fort George which could be in action which would mean a huge detour if it was.

Follow the wibbly wobbly path past the Golf Course to the west of Nairn and wander aimlessly along the beach making sure you are heading for the huge Ardesier construction yard. This can be recognised by the fact that it is a construction yard and can be seen from the moon. Be careful not to wander along the spit of land towards Whiteness Head, because its a dead end and you will either have to turn around and come back or wade into the sea and drown.

Once you think you have walked to the end of the golf course clamber up over the shale on the beach and follow the path past Hilton of Delnies. In theory you could cut out a big chunk of road walking by heading west across the swampyness of Delnies but I was a fearty cat so didnt. Go south young man until you reach the B9092 and turn right and follow this road until it reaches the access road for the Ardesier construction yard. Look at the vanishing point and say to yourself, “there is no way Im walking down there – that looks boring”. (See Photo for boringness of the road). Instead walk a hundred yards along and take the road that leads to Sunnyhillock and the Carse Wood which is much more fun. Pass the Pictish Kebbuck Stone which lies behind the cottage and follow the path around keeping the forest to your left.

Stay on this path in the Carse Wood as it loops around and ends at the minor B road at Baddock. Turn right and walk along this road which may or not be festooned with red flags indicating that “wur sojers are shooting things to bits” Stay on the road and do not be tempted to bob up and down in the field. Eventually you pass the firing range and if you are lucky you will get the chance to spot a sojer in his smart uniform. The road then ends at a T junction to the right of which is Fort George. After visiting the splendidness of Fort George, double back and follow the line of beach to Ardesier. It is possible to make it more difficult by hopping at this point.

I started the day having a coffee at a Nairn cafe located at the harbour. After I sent back the first coffee which had obviously being stewing in it’s own fetid juices overnight, I set off. It was another hot day with a mixture of road walking, beach, forest track and unicycling. I took some lovely photos of bluebells including white bluebells which stood out a bit from the rest. There must have been a bank of at least a million bluebells and then there were these three white ones. Stranger than fiction. Near the end of the walk Aud and I were gasping for a cup of tea and we went into Fort George which is run by Historic Scotland, although the site is a “working military barracks”. We didnt want to pay £5 each for the entry as it was already 4 O’clock so we tried to blad our way in. We got past the main door, over two fortified moats, a sentry post, and were busy sauntering over the parade square when we got lumbered by a tartan clad official who informed us that “wur tea was oot”. I told her that could she make an exception as we had just walked non stop from Hindustan, but she looked at me as if she gets that story every day. So nae refreshment was had and we had to limp another mile to the caravan where a hot refreshing cup of tea wasnt waiting cos we had no water (again). Ho Hum.


Lunan Bay to St Cyrus

September 12, 2005

NEW : See my campaign to establish a National Coastal Path here

Lunan Bay and the beach at St Cyrus are two of the best beaches on the east coast of Scotland. At least from what I have seen so far. Lunan Bay has lovely sand and dunes set back from the sea, and is shaped like a big horse-shoe with clifffs at the north and south. In the middle is Red castle. St Cyrus has an equally lovely beach but the village itself lies at the top of the cliffs.

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Map

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Kingsbarns to St Andrews. 9 Miles

August 9, 2005
The Fife Coastal Path Guide

The Fife Coastal Path Guide

From the car park at Kingsbarns Beach follow the coastal path alongside Kingsbarns golf club. At the end of the golf club the track gets rougher and you have to walk along the beach on occasions. The stream at Boarhills is eventually reached and the Coastal Path heads inland at this point following the stream up a wooded glade until the path crosses a metal footbridge to the other side. From here there is a short stretch of farm track and then the track follows a field back down to the shore.

The next section can be a bit tricky as it climbs the cliffs a little and the path can be overgrown with wet ferns which makes the walk across stones on the path slippy. There are also on or two places where it is dangerous to attempt to cross at high tide. There are signs erected in those areas which advise you to wait until the tide recedes. Once you reach the Buddo Rock and Rock and Spindle the path improves and it looks like it has been recently worked on.

Finally the path will lead down next to the caravan park at Kinkell Braes and down onto the East Sands Beach of St. Andrews.

BLOG:

This walk wasn’t a long one but was along a fairly rough section of the Fife Coastal Path and so I had to concentrate on where I was placing my feet as I knew how easy it would be to slip on a wet rock and twist my ankle or worse. At the back of my mind the thought of the recent death of Robin Cook, the politician at the young age of 59 must have been lurking. He had a heart attack on a mountain in the north west of Scotland, and his untimely demise reinforced my knowledge that the end can come at anytime. Far from that being a morbid thought, it is a positive one for me as it makes me a realise that it doesn’t make sense putting the things that you want to do off. Carpe Diem or grab the fish as the translation says 😉

When I was walking I met a guy from Wishaw in Lanarkshire with whom I chatted for about 20 mins. He was about 55 and his great loves were fishing and bird watching. He told an amusing story about how he was trying to get his son to take an interest in the great outdoors and wildlife generally. He had taken his son and his friend to a bird hide near the Eden Estuary to see what birds they could see. While he was pointing out the oyster catchers and coots etc. ,an old man was carefully counting the no. of plovers on the estuary. After they had seen the birds and were driving home, he heard his son and his friend talking in the back of the car about how ‘sad’ it would be to end up like the old duffer counting birds all day.

I could sympathise entirely with him as I struggle to get Jamie interested in some of things I find interesting. I can only hope that some of it rubs off eventually through some osmotic process!


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