Cycling Capers!

Posted in Bute, Cumbrae, Cycling with tags , , , , on April 24, 2011 by ayrshiretiger

Over the last few weeks due to Elaina’s ongoing knee problems we’ve not been up any hills. Instead we’ve been out and about on our bikes. The first adventure was a short one to Stevenston Beach, somewhere I’d never actually been to despite living here for 15 years! It really is quite surprising what little gems you can find when you look!

Stevenston Beach with Ardrossan and Arran beyond

Stevenston Beach with Ardrossan and Arran beyond

Our next trip to us to the Isle of Cumbrae and a fantastic circular route. It was so good that we decided to go again the following week this time with Craig who had created his very own map!

X marks the spot!

X marks the spot!

Of course no visit to Cumbrae would be complete without a photo of the Crocodile Rock!

Craig on Crocodile Rock

Craig on Crocodile Rock

We then decided to venture further afield to the Isle of Bute. We drove up to Wemyss Bay to catch the ferry across to Rothesay. Fron there we headed south towards Kingarth and Kilchatten Bay. On the way we got a good, and different, view of Arran.

Looking over to Arran from Bute

Looking over to Arran from Bute

After a quick rest at Kilchattan Bay we headed for a the Kingarth Inn for some lovely Scallops and chips and a pint (or was it two?!).

Elaina relaxing at Kilchattan Bay

Elaina relaxing at Kilchattan Bay

The Kingarth Inn

The Kingarth Inn

Really good day and one we will need to return to with Craig!

So this weekend Craig was desperate to go for another bike ride especially as Elaina’s Dad had given him one of his bikes! Saturday morning wasn’t great but it cleared up in the afternoon so we decided to head to Eglinton Park which is about 4 miles away.

Craig looking very pleased with his "new" second hand bike!

Craig looking very pleased with his "new" second hand bike!

A new adventure park has recently been added to the park including an interesting climbing frame which Craig enjoyed doing a bit of bouldering on!

Craig bouldering!

Craig bouldering!

"Dad, you're upside down!"

"Dad, you're upside down!"

I must admit a was a bit doubtful when I started this cycling lark but have to say I’m quite enjoying it!

Portencross Wander

Posted in Ayrshire with tags , on March 31, 2011 by ayrshiretiger

Just a quick post about a wander we had at the weekend to Portencross, a hidden corner of North Ayrshire.

Portencross Castle has now been fully restored but unfortunately I didn’t take any photos! It wasn’t open but I’m sure we’ll be back in the summer for a proper look round.

We had a good scramble around the rocks and got great views across to Little Cumbrae.

Craig enjoying the view to Little Cumbrae

Craig enjoying the view to Little Cumbrae

Craig enjoying the rocks!

Craig enjoying the rocks!

We then followed the good path north towards Hunterston Power Station. Further on we deviated from the path to have a wander through a lovely wood which had lots of wild garlic – much to Craig’s amusement we persuaded him to eat some! There were also plenty of opportunities for tree climbing…

Craig in his natural habitat!

Craig in his natural habitat!

It's hard work climbing trees!

It's hard work climbing trees!

Above the wood is an interesting rock formation known as the Three Sisters above which we kept seeing a Buzzard being hounded by the local seagulls! Unfortunately it was too far away to get a decent photo.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

We must have spent about four hours wandering covering all of two miles, but I think that shows just how interesting this wee corner of Ayrshire is. We will definitely be back now the nights are getting lighter!

Still searching…

Posted in Family History, Holderness, Hornsea with tags , , , on March 13, 2011 by ayrshiretiger

Last weekend we headed down to the East Riding to visit family and had a very enjoyable time. We’d travelled down on Thursday evening which turned out be a good idea as it allowed us to have a bit of a lie in on Friday morning!

We headed through to Hull on Friday to visit my Dad and on the way back we made a detour via Spurn Head, somewhere I’d never actually been to despite living in Holderness until I was 19. We didn’t really have enough time to fully explore it as we had arranged to go for a bar meal that night with my brother Andrew, his wife Janet and my nephew Jamie and his partner Graeme. However we will return in the summer to have a good look around. It was also interesting to drive back to Hornsea past the industrial landscape around Easington Gas Terminal which is in complete contrast to the rest of rural East Riding as depicted in the recent adaptation of “South Riding” although not all was filmed in Holderness!

On Saturday we popped over to see my aunt Mary in Foston-on-the-Wolds to let her know how my Dad was and also to pick her brains on the family history front. It was a really useful chat as I discovered a few things about my grandparents that I didn’t know about. I knew my grandfather had not been brought up by his own parents but it was useful to find out that the people who did bring him up were called Mr and Mrs Williamson and that they also had at last one daughter.

I knew he was born in Leicester in 1905 and a search of GenesReunited led me to a 1911 Census record showing a Thomas Morley aged 5 living in a family of 7 children aged between 7 months and 15 years. Whether this is my grandfather I’m not yet sure as if it is it would suggest that something happened subsequently that led to him being put in a children’s home for some reason. Anyway I’ve contacted Barnardo’s Family History Service just on the off chance that they have a record of a Thomas Morley being looked after by them in the early twentieth century. I’ve also contacted Leicester Council to get a copy of his birth certificate which will hopefully confirm whether or not he is in fact the same Thomas Morley as the one in the Census record. Only down side if it is is the fact that his parents were from Leicester and London which rather screws up my Yorkshire bloodline!

I also discovered that my grandmother had two sisters one of whom was born in 1913 and died in 1930 aged just 17. Again not much information, just a photo a a gravestone possibly in York, so will need to do a bit of research on that.

So the search goes on…

Knoydart Revisited

Posted in Knoydart, Munros with tags , , , , on February 13, 2011 by ayrshiretiger

Well what a week that was!

We booked a week on Knoydart to coincide with Elaina’s birthday on the 8th. Unfortunately Elaina has had a knee operation and wasn’t going to be able much in the way of hillwaking but we still had a fantastic time as we were staying at the fabulous Knoydart House.

Knoydart House

Knoydart House

It really is a superb house that sleeps ten and includes the best view you could possibly want from a hot tub! And it’s also only a two minute walk from the Old Forge pub, the remotest on mainland Britain.

The Old Forge, Inverie

The Old Forge, Inverie

We arrived on Friday 4th after meeting our friends Jamie & Nicky, Maria, Kirstin and Zoe in Mallaig, some of whom were staying for the whole week and some for a long weekend.

After a lovely Toad in the Hole made by Elaina we headed for a quick pint at the pub. But of course there’s no such thing as a quick pint at the Old Forge! Several pints later, a game of Killer Pool involving everyone in the pub and an incident involving a paddle (!) we finally headed back to the house…and despite the very short distance some of us still managed to take the wrong path!

On Saturday most of the gang decided to do the Corbett behind the village, Sgurr Coire Choinnichean, a hill Elaina and I had done the last time we were on Knoydart. We had an easy day with a walk to the beach and then on to Kilchoan followed by an excellent meal in the pub.

On Sunday we had a short bike ride to Gaschoille House a couple of miles to the west of Inverie. Monday saw Jamie, Nicky and Zoe depart and in the afternoon I went for a wander along the beach in between the showers, the hut at the campsite came in very useful for shelter after one particularly heavy shower!

Campsite Shelter

Campsite Shelter

View from campsite

View from campsite

On Tuesday afternoon we headed out to Inverguseran Farm in the northwest, a lovely relatively flat walk made more interesting by the Golden Eagles soaring above us.

Walking back from Inverguseran Farm

Walking back from Inverguseran Farm

A wet day on Wednesday gave us a chance of a rest which is just as well as Thursday saw us wake to glorious sunshine. Maria had set off early to do Ladhar Bheinn, the highest Munro on Knoydart via Sgorr Coire Choinnichean – an impressively long route! I knew that a) I wouldn’t be able to get up early enough and b) my hill fitness was not what it was having not been out on a proper hill since October so I decided that I would do the same mountain but in a clockwise direction giving me the option to either do a simple “up and down” or if time/fitness permitted go for some sort of circuit.

I left the house at just after nine and made good progress to reach the ruin at Folach at about 10.30am. From there I plodded up the slopes to the beallach between An Diolaid and Ladhar Bheinn. This was the point Elaina and I had got to a few years ago in very deep snow before turning back. This time however the snowline was much higher up but very impressive, no words needed I think the photos say it all…

Heading up the north west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn

Heading up the north west ridge of Ladhar Bheinn

View from 1010m trig point towards Ladhar Bheinn

View from 1010m trig point towards Ladhar Bheinn

Having got to the summit and with no sign of Maria I sent a text letting her know where I was and decided to carry on with the intention of going along the ridge then along Aonach Sgoilte before dropping down to Gleann an Dubh Lochain. Again some fantastic views looking back…

Looking back to the two summits of Ladhar Bheinn

Looking back to the two summits of Ladhar Bheinn

Looking back at Ladhar Bheinn from the south east ridge

Looking back at Ladhar Bheinn from the south east ridge

I met Maria on the south east ridge and after a quick chat we set off in opposite directions. It was clear by now that my plan, whilst doable, was clearly going to see me finish in the dark. Not really a problem as the last few miles are along a good track but we had booked a table at the pub for a last night meal and I really did not want to miss that! The easiest route out was to head south west into the Coire Torr an Asgaill, a glorious coire of grassy slopes that were easy to descend. I eventually picked up a path alongside the stream and enjoyed the walk out with a couple of deer for company making it back to the house at about 5.30pm.

Looking back into Coire Torr an Asgaill

Looking back into Coire Torr an Asgaill

And so on Friday we headed home, sad that we had to leave but happy that we had enjoyed a week of great company with friends and locals alike and knowing that we will be back!

Family History – some things you like, some you don’t!

Posted in Family History with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Apologies for not posting for a while but sadly my Mum passed away last month after a short illness. Had a sad few days back in Hornsea but there were also some good memories as we looked through old photos including one of myself, my two brothers and sister in the seventies. Here we are holding it for comparison purposes!

Andrew, me, Julie & Nigel with 70s photo

Andrew, me, Julie & Nigel with 70s photo

I’ve also finally got round to researching my family tree and joined Genes Reunited. Within days I had received four contacts with an unbelievable amount of information. It would seem that most of my ancestors are of good East Riding stock although sadly most seem to be farm labourers and servants. Definitely more Baldrick than Blackadder!

Most perturbing was the discovery that my Great Great Great Grandfather on my mum’s dad’s side had a brother (my Great Great Great Uncle) who subsequently married and whose Great Grandaughter was the mother of my mum’s mum. I’ll leave you to work that out!

On a more positive note it would seem that I am distantly related (Fifth Cousin once removed) to John Hillaby, a relatively well known travel writer and explorer. He was also the first president of the Backpackers Club. Some history here. It would however seem from Paddy Dillon’s comments in this OutdoorsMagic thread that we both shared a gene for wandering off path! Anyway I’ve ordered a couple of his books which I’m looking forward to reading.

I’ve actually been able to trace my mum’s side of the family back to the early 18th Century – quite amazing considering all I had to go on was my Grandparent’s birth, marriage and death certificates. The only real problem I came up against was not having a record of my Gran’s father as there was nothing recorded on her birth certificate. Now I’m sure there’s a story there somewhere…maybe Lord Blackadder is involved after all…!

What really happened to Madeleine McCann?

Posted in Madeleine, McCann with tags , on November 3, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

As a change from the usual hillwalking and football related posts I thought I’d write a little piece about the mystery of Madeleine McCann. It’s now three and a half years since Madeleine disappeared from the small resort of Praia Da Luz in Portugal and much has been written since then. I suppose it fascinated me as I do like reading crime novels and this story as it has evolved has had more twists and turns than your average Taggart case!

The McCanns today appealed to people to donate more money to their fund (which incidentally is not a charity but a private limited company) which is apparently down to its last £300k out of over £2m they’ve raised over the last three years. This Daily Mail report and blog gives more details. Some interesting comments!

Being a cynical person I can’t help but think that this new appeal has been a response to the news last week that the book “Truth of the Lie” by former Portuguese detective Goncalo Amaral that the McCann’s had temporarily got banned was allowed to be sold again after a Portuguese court overturned the previous ban. Hopefully this will lead to questions being asked again about what really happened to Madeleine.

Now I’m not going to go over all the ins and outs of the case as for one thing I’d need a totally separate blog! However having followed the case on and off over the years I have come to the conclusion that all is not how it seems.

From the changing stories and deleted text messages of the so called Tapas 9 to the dismissing of the best sniffer dogs in the world (yes the ones that get paid more than their Chief Constable!) that detected the odour of a dead body in both the flat and car that the McCann’s had used to the continuing suing of anyone who challenges the abduction story and the refusal to go back to Portugal for a reconstruction there is more than an element of doubt over the case.

There is also the body language of the McCann’s in various interviews as well as their behaviour in the immediate aftermath of the disappearance – many photos taken in those days and weeks do not match those of people who fear their three year old daughter has supposedly been abducted by a paedophile, many photos which have not appeared in the British press like this one taken a few days after Madeleine disappeared on what would have been her 4th birthday:

The following links give a lot of excellent information much of which again has not been reported in the British press:

Johanna Morais Blog

Sky Crime Blog
McCannFiles.com

I have to say I think there’s very little chance of Madeleine being found alive and my personal view is that the parents and/or their friends were involved in some way. Hopefully there will eventually be a breakthrough when someone, and there must be someone who knows what happened, tells the truth.

Edit: Sky News are now allowing comments on this issue after a long period where they steadfastly refused to do so, things are changing at long last!

The Wee Buachaille

Posted in Glencoe, Munros with tags , on October 10, 2010 by ayrshiretiger

Craig was desperate to do another mountain and the forecast looked promising. The only possible problem was persuading Jennifer and boyfriend Gavin that a hill walk was a good idea! However the mention of the Real Food Cafe did the trick and so the only thing to decide was which mountain to do?

A check of the forecast on Friday night suggested that the further north and west would be the best. I had considered the Luss hills but decided that to be sure of at least a bit of sunshine we should head further north.

I was a bit unsure whether the kids would fancy the long drive to Glencoe but I assured them that there was a good path up Buachaille Etive Beag and it wasn’t actually that big a hill! Despite planning to leave at 9am we didn’t get away until 10.30am. However we made good progress and arrived at the very full car park at about 12.30pm.

We made our way up the Lairig Eilde beofre heading south east up to the beallach below Stob Coire Raineach with the sound of stags rutting echoing across the glen. Much to the kids delight we saw seven deer above us but they quickly ran off (the deer not the kids!).

Craig waiting for Jennifer and Craig!

Craig waiting for Jennifer and Craig!

Craig looking over to Buachaille Etive Mor

Craig looking over to Buachaille Etive Mor

It really was very windy but quite sunny until we reached the summit when the cloud came in. A pity as we had been getting fantastic views. However Craig was actually delighted as he had never been in a cloud before. I think he was expecting fluffy cotton wool and was probably disappointed to be walking in mist!

Craig with a moody Stob Dubh and Glen Etive behind

Craig with a moody Stob Dubh and Glen Etive behind

The wind did drop on the way down and it was a very pleasant walk back to the car at about 4.30pm and on to Tyndrum for Gavin’s first experience of the Real Food Cafe. Was good to catch up with Sarah and hear that quite a few folk had been mentioning the write ups in Trail magazine.

Jennifer and Gavin smiling on the way down!

Jennifer and Gavin smiling on the way down!

Cracking day out for Jennifer and Gavin’s first Munro and Craig’s second. Lots more to come hopefully!