Day 124 The Ayrshire Coast

Friday 7 August

Balloch to The Rhins of Galloway

Driving tour

North Rhins campsite

Isabel fed me up and I particularly enjoyed her homemade muesli. I could have easily settled down for another few hours of chatting but she rightly set me on my way to find the next adventure. It was a fine day as I drove across the Erskine Bridge and along the River Clyde front to Port Glasgow and then Greenock.  

Port Glasgow
 It was lovely to stand in Greenock and look across to Dunoon – I got a better view of the place than when I’d been there thanks to the change in weather.  

Looking across the Mouth of the Clyde to Dunoon
 From Greenock/Gourock, right on the bend of the Clyde, there are ferries going across the Clyde to Helensburgh, or to Dunoon, or to Kilcreggan on the Rosneath Peninsula. I had other ideas however so I left the Clyde behind and turned South towards Largs.  

The Vikings have invaded Largs
 I passed through West Wemyss (there was one of these in Fife!) and got to admire the view across to the Isle of Bute. It wasn’t the most scintillating of drives but the sun was out so it was pleasant. 

I stopped in Largs to stretch my legs and look across to the 2 islands of Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae, and then carried on to Ardrossan.  

The Cumbraes; Goatfell on Arran in the background and in the middleground (just visible) is the tip of Bute
 After chatting to Isabel I had decided I would like to get the ferry to Bute and, ideally, to climb Goatfell as I expected some wonderful views that would take in  the Kintyre peninsula, the beautiful lochs and mountains of Argyll and Bute and Ayrshire. Unfortunately, I hadn’t banked on huge queues for the ferry, well it is holiday season I suppose.  

Prestwick beach (not an air traffic controller in sight!)
 I changed my plans and carried on South through Ayrshire, around the big sweep of Irvine Bay to Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. By now the sun was warm and the sky a deep blue, perfect weather for leaving the car behind. However, the road was next to the sea and the further I drove the better views I got so I carried on, and on, and on.  

Looking back up the Ayrshire coast
 At Girvan I stopped to stare at Ailsa Craig, the remains of a volcanic plug 10 miles out in the Irish Sea. It’s the place where the blue granite that is used to make all the world’s curling stones is quarried.  

Ailsa Craig
 I decided I might as well carry on to Stranraer and onto the “hammerhead” peninsula that juts out into the Irish Sea and faces Belfast. Here I was sure I’d find a nice campsite.  

A roadside memorial to the Russian cruiser Varyag
 There was a big ferry in Loch Ryan, at Stranraer terminal, but the town seemed rather deserted. I carried on, straight across The Rhins Peninsula, to Portpatrick. It had clearly been a busy day by the seaside for lots of people and so unfortunately I was greeted by lots of detritus around the harbour and the town. It’s a quaint town and obviously a popular holiday destination. It was once the main port for ferried to Northern Ireland, until it was decided the shelter of Stranraer was preferable. I didn’t want to stay in Portpatrick so I decided to head back to Stranraer, get an early dinner, and hunt on the Internet for campsites. I stopped at Henry’s Bay House overlooking Loch Ryan for an early bird special. 

I found a nice little campsite in the middle of The Rhins. It was very sheltered (not that I required that tonight) with fire pits and looked lovely for families.  

Pitched at last
 Once I’d got my tent pitched I walked up the short hill to the Agnew Monument, from where I could admire the views in the setting sunshine.   

The Agnew Monument…
…built in 1850, paid for by locals, to commemorate the service of their politician, Sir Andrew Agnew. How times have changed!
A commanding view of Loch Ryan and Stranraer
 A lovely end to a very long day in the car.  

Sunset over the Irish Sea

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