To Irvine at the Ayrshire coast and back
2011 is a year where I have started from zero health due to obesity and a serious illness. My finances has also taken a big hit due to these circumstances and the general recession where the food and heating prices has eaten up my holiday budget. I have had no choice than to explore the local area for interesting routes. Thankfully, I live in an excellent touring area.
So far, the area immediate south of Paisley has more or less been a white dot on my map. Only the Gleniffer Braes area and the road between Kilmarnock and Paisley has been explored. The Uplawmoor area has not been even considered as an interesting area. An email from a local man Michael Crossan on the eve of me going off for the annual Arrochar ride, which I found both boring and tedious this year, changed all that. Google Maps was given a thorough lookover and the Google Earth part revealed a lot of goodies awaiting my visit. My first tour was the Neilston tour (see the tour) and that was an exploration of the area. I did not wait many hours after I had returned to check out other options too. It took me three days before I had a suitable day I could use again. My plans though was to go north over Campsie Fells that day. But some tinkering with Google Maps and MapMyRide revealed the Irvine return tour. When I then spotted a road from Barrhead to the another promising road, all plans of going north was promptly dropped. It had to be Irvine return that day.
It was a nice, but still cold morning at 0600 when I started the tour by going past my local golf course and up Hawkhead Road to the normally busy Hurlet Road. Due to starting that early, I avoided the rush traffic. That was the whole point of starting at 0600 in the morning. I followed this road for a mile to a pub where I crossed the road over to Glasgow Road taking me up to Barrhead. Almost up to Barrhead, that is. I had a look at Google Earth and found what I believed was a small road over some water reservoirs. The socalled small road turned out to be a pretty big road (Aurs Road). The road was very steep in the beginning past a roundabout and a church. It was very steep when crossing under the railroad to Neilston. But I was soon at Belgray Reservoir which the road crossed on a bridge. A very pretty area. The road went vertical again up to a crossroad taking me to Stewarton. 10 miles, it said. I was also just a mile away from Newton Mearns at this point.
Belgray Reservoir with parts of Glasgow and Clydebank in the distance
I was expecting a quite steep climb up to the top at Windy-Yett so I had plenty of time and patience. The first part of this road, Dodside Road, was a bit up and down with mostly up and vertical. The road really became brutal when turning a corner and heading straight into a ravine in the pretty vertical hillside. I soon stared up this ravine in both disbelief and sheer joy.
Looking up the ravine in the direction of Windy-Yett. The road is visible in the middle of the ravine.
The climb up this ravine was pretty vertical with a ten percentages climb throughout. Good fun and alone worthy the whole tour. Why this road is not on the tourist maps, I do not know. But this is most definate one of the more spectacular roads in the Glasgow area and is rivalling those in the Campsie Fells area.
Looking down the ravine with Glasgow hidden in the fog below
The road became a bit flat on the top of the ravine before falling down to a small loch (lake) and climbing up from it on the southern shores. The landscape was typical moorland. I loved it. I believe the name of the loch is White Loch and it is stocked by big brown trout and is a fishery run by the Stewarton Anglers. I would not have minded doing some angling up at that scenic loch !
The loch on the top of Windy-Yett.
I topped out on Windy-Yett at around 250 meters above sea level and the road was pretty eager to head down to Stewarton again. The descent was pretty gentle though and I soon got a sight of the coast where I was heading. I took a picture towards Irvine and the coast.
Looking down towards the Ayrshire coastline
The weather was OK, I thought. But I still ran into a solid rainshower and I was thinking about adding some clothes to my lycras. The descent towards Stewarton was also almost vertical through a residental road with speed bumps and other traffic calming stuff. Not popular with a frozen stiff cyclist like myself. But I was soon in Stewarton. There was as usual some traffic chaos here, but I soon got through this village and went for the B 769 road down to Irvine. I found it a couple of hundred meters outside Stewarton and went for it. Thankfully, there was some gentle hills on this road and those hills got the warmth into my body again. I felt fine again on the pretty flat road towards the coast and Irvine. I had to negotiate the pretty busy and cyclist unfriendly Stanecastle Roundabout just before Irvine before I reached this town. I have yet to find out where the harbour is and I gave out after getting lost in a residential area. This photo was taken fifty meters from the seafront in Irvine.
Looking towards the mountains of Isle Of Arran from a point close to the Irvine seafront (yes, I was lost by now)
I ate a couple of chocolate bars and then find my way back into Irvine again by passing a river through a shopping mall straddling this river. I was back again in the main street and turned my bike towards the Stanecastle roundabout again. I went straight north for another roundabout leading me to the, for me, hallowed A 736 towards Lugton. This roundabout was not cyclist friendly either so I took a shortcut through a petrol station and some grass verges until I reached this road. The 15 km up to Lugton from was pretty interesting with a more or less constant climb all the way. The hardest climb was in the beginning of the road just before Torranyard. I took a picture from here.
Looking back towards the coastline and Irvine with the Ailsa Craig seacliff in the background
The road continued towards Lugton and I soon got a glimpse of the valley where Lugton lays. I was heading to Lugton and then to the extreme left again.
Towards Lugton hidden in the middle of the picture. The hill above it in the middle is towards Gleniffer Braes.
After some more hill climbs past some really great houses and farms, I reached Lugton. This road is an absolute superb cycling road. The climbing is not heavy, with the exception of some hundred meters before Torranyard in the beginning, and it is easy to get a good rhythm here. Fill up the water bottle and go for these 15 km in one go. There are also good views along the road. I loved this climb.
I took the road towards Beith and then the Gleniffer Road towards Paisley. After a couple of hundred meters, I took a small road towards my now beloved B776 which was taking me past Barcraigs reservoir to Howwood. I reached the B776 and the twists and turns on that road past this reservoir.
Towards Ben Lomond (extreme right) and the hills above Houston on the way down to Howwood
I reached Howwood after being held up by roadworks and other traffic in the residental street down to this small village. I took the Beith Road past Johnstone and Elderslie back to Paisley again after a great tour of Ayrshire.
Another brilliant tour through the hills above Glasgow and the rolling Ayrshire. Irvine was a bit letdown, but the rest of this tour was excellent. It is a superb Glasgow to the coast and back again tour and Windy-Yett should be on everyone's must-do list. An excellent tour, it is and recommended.