Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Calm Before The Storm...

I woke up on Sunday morning and upon peering-out of my bedroom window was delighted to see it was a beautiful, crisp and clear Scottish Winter's day. Perfect weather for a cycle and a bit of hillclimbing and since I was starting my new job the next day it would also help my jangling nerves!

I was ready to go by mid-day and headed off down the cycle track towards Lochwinnoch. I hadn't been out on my bike for a few months and she showed obvious signs off neglect as she rattled and groaned her way down the cycle track. A bit of TLC and WD40 would be required in the coming weeks.

Fifteen minutes into my journey and I was passing the ruins of the temple on Kenemuir Hill. The temple was used as a look out tower for wild deer when it was built in the 17th Century and is worth the climb to have a look round. However, there was no time today as I had bigger fish to fry!

Posted by Picasa The temple on Kenemuir Hill

After another fifteen minutes easy cycling, I arrived in Lochwinnoch. I stopped for a quick break to enjoy the scenery at Castle Semple Loch. It was bustling with people today with the weather being so nice. Lots of families were here for a walk in the country, feed the birds with scraps of bread or just sit in their cars to enjoy the view.

Posted by Picasa Castle Semple Loch

Posted by Picasa The loch, looking towards the East

I set off again, through the village and began the steep climb up towards Murshiel Park which sits about five miles away in the hills above Lochwinnoch. I stopped to catch my breath at a nice spot where a waterfall deposits the water from streams surrounding the village. The noise was deafening and I struggled to hear the songs on my mp3 player above the roar. Tiny drops of water rose up and caught the sunlight making mini rainbows in the air.

Posted by Picasa The Waterfall

Posted by Picasa The view of Castle Semple as you approach the park

I carried on towards the Park and with the hills getting gradually steeper, but the fine selection of tunes blasting into my eardrums helped spur me on. Today's destenation was getting closer, Misty Law, which stands at 510 metres. Not the highest peak I have climbed, but a good enough challenge for today.

Posted by Picasa Misty Law

I arrived at the visitors centre an hour and a half after setting off with plenty of time for a good walk before the light faded. The Car Park at the visitors centre was busy with plenty of walkers out today, I hoped it wouldn't be too busy as I enjoy the solitude. It gives me time to think.

It took me about an hour and a quarter to get to the summit and as usual the view didn't dissapoint. Strangely, as I scrambled the last fifty metres, the theme from Star Wars started playing through my headphones. Not sure how I managed to get that onto my mp3 player, but I'm sure Darth Vader would have approved!

Posted by Picasa The view back down to the Visitor's Centre

Posted by Picasa I was so high up at the summit, I had to shut my eyes!

Posted by Picasa Looking towards Paisley

Posted by Picasa Towards The Trossachs, which unfortunately are obscured by cloud

Posted by Picasa The view towards Largs. On a really clear day you can see the Wind Farm at Ardrossan

I took a few pictures but the bitter cold hastened my descent. I spotted a path that led towards the neighbouring hill, so I decided to follow it to see where it led. Half an hour later, I turned a corner and found the ruins of a building...and the end of the path!

Posted by PicasaThe "mysterious" path!

I had to descend the old fashioned way, over the boggy marshland and across the river at the bottom of the hill. I retrieved my bike and ate my Star Bar to give me an energy boost before zooming down the hill for home.

When my speedometre clocked 38mph, I decided it was perhaps time to slow down as I didn't really fancy ending up at the hospital as a patient rather than a nurse.

By 4.30 I was back home with a cup of hot coffee relaxing in a nice bath. My aching legs telling me that my winter hibernation was doing nothing for my overall fitness. Never mind, the camping trip to Glencoe at the end of this month should blow away any remaining cobwebs!