Around The Clyde Coast with bike
1. June 2008
This was a tour I have always have had high on my must-do list. The complete Clyde Peninsula tour. With the discovery of the cycle-paths between Paisley and Kilbirnie on the outwards leg and the Greenock to Paisley on the inwards leg, the tour seemed like a pretty easy 75 km miles long tour (the 10 km/5 miles of Great Cumbrae was added later). I packed the rucksack the night before and cracked on at dawn.
The fifteen minutes of the tour took me past Paisley Abbey and up to the beginning of the cycle path to Kilbirnie. When reaching the cycle path in Paisley, I settled into a nice rhythm. This cycle track was a bit hilly in the beginning with twists and turns over some roads. It then settled down as a flat disused railway track past Castle Semple and Lochwinnoch to Kilbirnie. I tried to maintain a flowing and effortless tempo past other cyclists and walkers. This is a popular cycle path because it is easy and pretty scenic.
I got a puncture in Kilbirnie and had to change tube for the first time that day. I changed to a pretty rotten tube, which led to another puncture later on. More about that later.
The road now took me up a small mountain towards Largs. The climb was only 3 km long and not particular hard. It was starting to get pretty sunny and I therefore decided to take it easy up the hill. Which turned out to be a wise choice. The views south towards Johnstone, Beith and Irvine was very good. On the top of this small mountain, there is two nice water reservoirs. The road along it was pretty hilly. The end of the hills is at the end of the reservoir.
The road then went down towards Largs and became a vertical drop at the end. I stopped halfway down to take the picture below which shows the whole of the Great Cumbrae island. I there and then decided to go over there by the ferry, this originally not being in my plans for this tour.
(Great Cumbrae with Millport hidden to the left and the ferry to the right)
Due to good brakes, I survived the vertical drop to the beautiful Largs
and made it straight for the ferry. It is said that this ferry is more expensive than the now sadly retired Concorde jet pr. meter.
Yes, £ 6.60 t/r for one passanger + pushbike on a ten minutes long crossing is a bit excessive. They are earning good money on this very busy ferry. But Great Cumbrae is a very popular destination and I guess they can get away with whatever they charge. I also have to admit that it was well spent money too. Anyway, I rolled aboard the small 12 cars capasity ferry Loch Riddon and climbed up to the sun-deck for some good views. The ferry soon passed Loch Shira on it's way to Largs. The following three pictures tells this story.
I rolled off the ferry at Cumbrae Slip and continued down south along the east shore of Great Cumbrae. The picture below is looking back towards Largs from this coast.
After two km of easy and enjoyable cycling, I reached Millport. This is a very beautiful village and one of the finest places on the Clyde coast. This small village is very “british” and has an excellent location with superb views towards the very alpine mountains at Isle Of Arran.
The mountains at Arran from Millport
I stopped for five minutes and then continued up the very beautiful westcoast of the island. The complete round of Great Cumbrae is no more than seven km/five miles long and I almost regretted that I used a bike. Walking it is a far better option due to the beautiful scenery in all direction. In particular on the stunning west coast. This was a truly amazing experience along a flat road. I managed to get a new puncture before I arrived at Cumbrae Slip and the ferry back to Largs.
The sailings was frequent (every ten minutes) and the thirty-six cars big Loch Shira was a joy to follow. It even had a small cafeteria.
I rolled off the ferry again and visited a cycle shop to buy new tubes. Then I changed tube at the ferry quay. This time to a brand new tube which saved my day.
After an hour long break and some valuable lost time, I started the cycling up the coast towards Wemyss Bay. The views was superb and the road was flat, but very busy. I soon arrived at Wemyss Bay where there was some traffic congestion at the busy
Bute ferry crossing.
The traffic congestion was by the ferries, not cars.
This is also a very popular sailing and I have taken it many times. But I turned my back to the ferries and continued up the coast and over a small hill to Inverkip. The sun was becoming a problem and I was becoming quite dehydrated. The cycling was not particular interesting so I stopped at a shop to buy more water. I continued along the coast again, past the WesternFerries terminal at McInroy's Point three km before Gourock. Those ferries to Dunoon was very busy too. It seemed like "everyone" was on the coast that day and I do not blame them. A perfect day and a perfect coastline = a lot of people 'doon the water (Glaswegian expression for "the Clyde coast").
The two Western Ferries ferries with the old CalMac black and white ferry in the background.
I continued towards and through Gourock in some heavy traffic. The cycling was not much fun in the tropical heat and heavy traffic. I soon came to Greenock. I left the Clyde coast here and headed straight up a hill towards the cycle path on a disused railway, taking me back to Paisley. The hill was vertical and the start of the cycle path was not signposted at all. It also took me through some very gritty council estates. I had been here before and I found the cycle path. The cycle path took me high above Port Glasgow and the Clyde River. The punctures had made the backwheel a bit wobbly though. The heat too was a problem so when I arrived at a housing estate above Port Glasgow and then spotted the train station below, I decided to call it a day. I made my way down to the train station and caught a train to Paisley again. A good decission. The 85 km was a good tour and I was very pleased with myself.
The complete Clyde Peninsula, a 120 km long bikeride was done on the 25. March 2012, at the same day as this tour was corrected.
In my view; the Clyde Coast is absolute superb and deserve it's popularity. The scenery is fantastic and the small villages/towns are really good. The ferries over to Great Cumbrae, Rothesay and Dunoon are also very good. I really like this area and that is one of the reasons I am living here. But due to traffic and the heat, I would advice against doing this ride during the summer months. March-April is the perfect months for this tour.