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Northbound, A Ferry And Big Trees

Ride Date 2 June 2024

By Ren Withnell

Oh heck, something's not right. I've slept in a tent. I do seem to recall a few fights with the blow up pillow and sliding off the mattress but I've definitely slept and slept well. I must be getting old. Or fat. Maybe that's the key, I need more fat on my bones to keep me both warm and padded? 

There's no sign of life from Her Ladyship and it's 0600 so I'd best leave her be. I get up and take a walk around the site, watch the bunny rabbits hopping around and eating grass and pooping with each hop, I make use of the gentleman's boudoir and muster up some porridge on my stove. I'm sure to make enough stirring noises and rattle the pans sufficiently to wake sleeping beauty. 

From over the tents and campers we see the church and town of Kirkcudbright as the sun rises
Kirkcudbright is looking delightful at this early hour.
Looking out from the tent there's a rabbit on the grass just a couple of meters away
Awww the little flopsy bunny wabbit.

Sharon's changing too. Her awakenings are far less terrifying than they used to be. She's not exactly springing out of bed with a big smile, there is however notably less foul language and the death threats have subsided to mere suggestions of violence. Menopause has been a blessing, for me at least. I proffer a cup of tea through the inner tent door, I'm met with what could be misinterpreted as a smile. 

Norman is as bright and breezy as this morning's bunnies, although he doesn't appear to be pooping with each step. He's one of them types that folds the tent up neatly such that it slips effortlessly into it's tiny bag. Everything is in it's place, it all fits neatly and easily and he's soon ready to depart. We bid our farewells and he rides off for home and the return to regular life. I know that'll be me next week, I'm very thankful it's not me this week.

Inspired by Norman I try packing my tent neatly. Not a chance. You could scrub me, polish me, lather me in cologne and put me in a tuxedo - and I'd still look, smell, and be scruffy. I'm never gonna make it as James Bond. Admittedly though even my feeble attempt at "neat" has gotten the tent into the bag with less fighting, but it all still resembles a toddler's playpen in there. Sod it, it all gets lobbed into the bags and onto the bike. 

Dare I say it? The sun is making intermittent appearances. Shhhhh.

I'm almost sad to be leaving Kirkcudbright so soon, but fear not there's roads to be ridden and a ferry to catch. I've ridden the A712 that that leads north from the A75 several times now and it's a cracking road. Being further west sat-nav is taking us via the A762. This road has the same feel, the same kind of bends, the same sort of scenery, and like the A712 there's the same low level of traffic. Like it's cousin further east it's also a delight to ride as the sun shines bright then vanishes behind heavy clouds.

The A762 joins the A713 then leads to the A77 around the populous Ayr, Troon, Irvine, and Ardrossan towns. This is not city riding but here you're aware you're back in civilisation with traffic lights, roundabouts, traffic and retail parks. It's rather familiar now, we've been using this route to get to The Highlands rather than the more obvious Glaswegian motorway network for a few years. Ah, here's the bit where we crest the hill and see the islands, we parked there for piccies once, we've stopped at that cafe... and so on.

Wemyss Bay ferry terminal and train station offers a place to park (for a fee) and a cafe. We're not worn out but a brew is definitely in order before we get to the ferry. Sharon had told me the train station is rather splendid last time we were here and this time I get to see it for myself. It's not vast but it is excessively curvaceously engineered and impressive. 

The white painted victorian steel roof frame curves away into the distance at the train station
Impressive and curvy, and probably a lot of work to create.

I ponder why what is seemingly a small end-of-the-line train station had considerable efforts put into it to make it nice. Google later reveals Wemyss Bay's ferry terminal was once a major departing point for steamers heading to The Americas. As such one must assume it was once a busy bustling place filled with people and luggage and tearful farewells as travellers left loved ones to venture to the other side of the world. How things have changed.

The ferry terminal at McInroy's Point is also familiar. As I look across the Clyde estuary to the mountains that feeling is here in full force, once upon the ferry I soak in the view and the sea breeze and the emotions of memories and anticipation. Hello there Highlands, I've missed you. 

Sharon's on her bike with her helmet on smiling at the camera at the ferry terminal with dramatic scenery behind her
Sharon seems happy to be here too.

Fabulous, we're into the good stuff now.

There are 3 ferries operating today as far as I can tell. We're stuck in open water for a while as another ferry finishes loading, but we're docked and disembarking soon enough.

Our first stop is just 2 miles from the terminal at Holy Loch Marina. I'm checking to see if the cafe here is open tomorrow because we're meeting the rest of the crew here. It is, and there's a couple of motorcycles outside so I'm glad it's motorcycle friendly. It's only another 2 miles to this evening's accommodation.

£75, or something like that, for a 2 bed bungalow for the night. £75 is a lot of money, alas in this day and age £75 for brick and mortar self catering accommodation is good value. As such we're not expecting concierge service, gold taps and satin sheets. Yes, some of the furniture is dated. Yes, the storage radiators are completely ineffective. The shower room is new and fresh though and there's an electric heater in a cupboard to take off the chill. The sheets are clean and fresh. It's fine, for the price we are satisfied, almost pleased.

A regular if a tad dated bungalow at Invereck House
The accommodation for the night.

The bungalow is in an unusual location. There's 6 bungalows of which 2 seem ready for holidaymakers, the other 4 are in various states of repair and a friendly young chap from eastern Europe appears to be both living in and working on the accommodation. There's a large dishevelled country home that we learn from Google was a successful and pleasant retirement home until recently. We conclude, rightly or wrongly, something went awry with the retirement home, the lot's been sold off and someone somewhere is starting the process of creating a holiday destination. 

We take a walk. Save for the slightest noise of music from the bungalow where I figure the foreign chap is presently working, it's incredibly peaceful. A soon as we're 10 meters away there's only the noise of sheep, courting avians, a breeze in the trees, and not much else. It feels incredibly remote right now.

That is until we reach the petrol station a half mile along the main road. Give me a moment. We are actually on the mainland here but it's 60 miles to Dumbarton, the nearest major town without a ferry crossing. Admittedly the ferry isn't far away and Dunoon is a proper town, albeit a small one of 7,000ish people. The petrol station is on a quiet A-road and out-of-town. And it's selling fuel at £1.39.9? Even back home, not too far from The Stanlow Refinery, we're paying 1.40.9 at the cheapest places. 

Is there a subsidy? As we ponder the various possibilities it becomes obvious the shop attached to the petrol station is also popular. There's a caravan and motorhome park behind it, looking in need of some TLC, but everyone there is shopping at the station and there's couple of local farmer types loading up too. We are remote and yet we're in a busy shop with cheap petrol. Curiously odd.

Back at the bungalow Sharon cooks up a simple yet splendidly tasty pasta dish from our supplies and a few extras from the shop. 

With stuffed bellies we take a short stroll around the big old mansion house and a little of the grounds. There's work afoot here - but - it feels more like the work of a couple of people tinkering. Hand tools, drills and trestles, no signs of JCBs, no major works underway. If this is the work of a handful of people then they're going to be at it for years. The place needs reworking from top to bottom.

A large stone country house that needs repair and work is under way
There's a fair amount of work to be done at the main house.

There are some mahoosive trees here! I'd like to say they're Redwoods but to be honest I know nothing of trees and don't they only grow in America. My friend Ian would have known. Aaah, Ian, I and we had a few great trips to Scotland with Ian, I miss him when I think of him. 

Tall trees and a tiny Sharon circled in red so we can see her
That pixie circled in red is in fact an almost full sized Sharon.

Back at the bungalow we settle in for the night. A little TV, some YouTube and FaceAche, and a bit of adult entertainment sees us tucked up in the old yet thankfully comfortable bed. 

It's been another good day. I am completely certain that coming through Ayrshire and crossing The Clyde on a ferry at Dunoon is a far better option that taking the motorways through Glasgow. The only "but" is that having used this route several times now it's getting rather familiar. It's not a problem, just an observation. I'm looking forward to 2 things. Firstly catching up with the rest of the crew, we're meeting them tomorrow just down the road. Secondly from here on in we're into The Highlands. Yesssss!! 


Advertise here - contact ren@bikesandtravels.com

Prologue - Scotland, And A Little Rain In the lead up to this year's trip with friends it's all sorted and settled very swiftly. With that done all Ren has to do is contain his antici...pation and try to be a growed up and not a child. No hope.
A Lovely Start Good weather, good roads and a good campsite next to a pleasant town. There must be something wrong with the universe if Ren isn't grumbling and griping, this can't last.
Northbound, A Ferry And Big Trees The Dynamic Muppets are continuing their ride north and so far there's no major disasters. There's roads to be ridden, a favourite ferry and a strange new place to explore.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North ¹ said :-
With the obvious exception of waking in a plastic bag with poles I'd have enjoyed that day too.
Weather OK, check.
Big trees, check.
Hermit, check.
Ferry, check.
Old fancy railway station, check ✔️.
Ta me duck, gotta love Wemyss Bay.
Upt.
Plus....why didn't you have wabbit for breakfast?
10/07/2024 17:55:32 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Talking of fancy ex Scottish Railway Stations.
Next time you're passing Ballater it's a must see. Nice tea too.
Upt.
10/07/2024 17:57:30 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
What's not to like about camping Upt'? Sleepless nights on an uncomfortable mattress, freezing cold and soaking wet surroundings, scrabbling around on the muddy floor looking for cooking utensils, smelly toilets shared with the scum of the earth, and all this fun in half the space of a king size bed!

Prey tell. While I'm clearly a self appointed expert on all things Highland, I know little of the eastern side. Any further recommendations?
11/07/2024 21:36:15 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
Well the scenery isn't too shabby.

Posted Image
12/07/2024 01:12:19 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
But the bridges can be a challenge.

Posted Image
12/07/2024 01:13:15 UTC
Upt'North ¹ said :-
The A93 from Perth to Ballater is a route to put on your to do list.
No wooden bridges will be involved, unless you want to of course.
Once at Ballater drink tea in the ghostly presence of Queen Victoria. She won't be amused.
Upt.
12/07/2024 01:18:02 UTC
nab301 said :-
Ren , you're spoiling us , good mood , photos and even videos, great to hear you're enjoying yourselves!
Redwoods do grow in the UK ( see link) , I may be wrong, they generally have gnarly bark and sometimes just a canopy at the top , photo is one in Ireland , Woodstock , Kilkenny
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-68518623...
Posted Image
12/07/2024 12:56:41 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
You've sent me down an internet rabbit hole all about Redwoods nab301... thanks. As for enjoying myself? I'll accept that I might have been less than my usual miserable self, but having fun?
14/07/2024 21:27:41 UTC

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