Friday, 9 March 2012

Spring at the Greenock Cut

Spring is sprung the grass has ris
I wonder where the AA is?
The AA sent a garage bloke
Who said the spring and Rex were broke.
Auld Davie said it was a pity
We're no payin that from oot the kitty!
Another momentous tale for the annals of the Early Ooters today.
Nine Ooters (Alan, Johnny, Andy, Davie C.,Ian, Malcolm, Rex,Robert and Ronnie) gathered at 10.00am at the Cornalees Visitor Centre to walk the Greenock Cut, a walk which most of us had done before. Allan in particular was looking forward to the walk as the sun was shining and the route was relatively flat. As we donned our multilayers of warm clothing as the wind was chill, there was an almighty crashing sound of metal on metal. This was very strange as there were no other cars in the car park. On further investigation Rex's car was looking decidedly droopy at the front. The consensus of opinion was that a spring on the front suspension had gone(a reflection on the state of some of the roads in Ayrshire). Obviously Rex's car was now gubbed for the day.
Checking mobile phones within the group, we found one with a signal and Rex contacted the breakdown services who said they would be out within the hour. A serious decision now had to be made and we Ooters are renowned for our decisiveness. The Kilmarnock chapter would continue with the planned walk while the Irvine chapter who had travelled with Rex would stay with Rex to comfort him and hold his hand while he contemplated the cost of a new spring for his Merc.The alternative was to do the walk and then walk the 8 miles back to Largs and use their bus passes. And so five of us set off to complete the planned walk.
We walked swiftly up the hill track up past Loch Thom, so swiftly in fact that we had to stop and remove several layers of clothing to cool down. No sooner had we started again when along came a big black squall which required the reverse procedure. Ian got a few pelters for keeping his shades on but as he explained for the slow of thought, this kept the now driving sleet and hail out of his eyes while the rest suffered.
After 5 mins the squall passed as we descended towards Overton cottage where the road meets the actual cut or canal. The sky cleared and we had fine views across the mouth of the Clyde towards Helensburgh and Kilcreggan with Greenock and its Ocean Terminal below. There were no cruise ships in today as it was probably too early in the season or they were being rescued elsewhere. On a wall opposite the cottage there was a small cast iron well with the stamp of Glenfield and Kennedy, Kilmarnock. Apparently such wells can be found in towns and villages all over the world. We turned left and started on the walk along the cut back eventually to Loch Thom.
This impressive piece of engineering was created by Robert Thom in 1825 to channel fresh water from the Great Resevoir, now called Loch Thom, to provide drinking water for the people of Greenock and hydro-power for its factories which included a paper mill and sugar refining. There was a fair amount of water in the cut compared to earlier visits but this may have been due to some remedial work which had taken place in the form of new V-shaped weirs in the cut under the numerous stone arched bridges across the cut at regular intervals. There were many gates across the path presumably to keep the local sheep in their respective fields and each had a small kissing gate at the end to allow walkers through although these gates proved to be a problem for people like our Robert whose stomach protrudes at the front as much as his rucksack does at the back. However Davie C came to the rescue by explaining to Robert the function of a cunning device fitted to the end of each main gate. This allowed a latch to be released that opened a section of the gate to allow more portly members to pass with ease. With this new knowledge Robert was able to storm ahead (why the rush?) and open all the gates to let us through. Alas in his haste, he managed to get caught by a sharp edge of a gate post which tore a mighty hole in his good goretex skiing jacket. Oh dear, his wee lower lip started to tremble when he wondered what Kate would say when he got home. We suggested that it was a good excuse to treat himself to a new jacket for his imminent trip to the ski slopes of France. But no, his mate Rex knew how to repair such damage with a piece of Gaffer tape and he would disguise it by covering it with some kind of badge. A suggestion that Rainbow Inks of Kilmarnock could make him a badge with the logo "Kilmarnock's Shanker" was not appreciated despite being an accurate reflection of his golfing skills at present. Other suggestions were put forward but they cannot be printed here lest South Lanarkshire Council ban our blogg again for use of inappropriate language.
With the weather now brightening we continued our way along the cut with changing views of Loch Long, Strone Point, the Holy Loch and Dunoon. Although neither of our resident ornithologists were with us today, we can confirm with certainty that we spotted 4 dippers, a male and female mallard duck, and two fields of about 50 Canada geese resting en route to their Arctic breeding grounds.
Just after lunch, we arrived back at the car park passing lovely views of water in spate tumbling down from the reservoir and a magnificent waterfall with swirling mist and rainbows dancing in the afternoon sun. We were pleased to see that Rex's car and occupants were no longer there and must have been rescued.
There was no FRT today as we were saving our drouth for the curry night to celebrate Alan's Old Age Pension.

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

Super report, Ian.
I am sorry that I missed the walk but your description makes up for this.