South West Scotland 2021: Part Thirteen
16 September 2021
I woke up early after what ended up as a poor night of sleep. There was no particular reason for it but it meant I was easily awake for a possible dawn shot. Sadly, although I got out to photograph it, the sky remained cloudy and nothing exciting happened to take a photograph OF. Instead, I decided to attempt a little more sleep and tried to get another hour. That didn’t work either, so feeling a little grotty and grumpy, I just had breakfast and took my time this morning. As the early hours progressed, the sky cleared a fair bit, and the view over Gourock looked really pretty, with broken sun patches drifting across the scene. Watching this from the van window, I decided to take another shot before I left, while it looked this nice. I jumped out and as I stood taking my photos I couldn’t miss the number of other people also here with cameras out. (OK, this sight is pretty, but I didnt think it was that pretty!) It turned out that while a couple were here just for the view – they simply snapped with their phones and left really quickly, quite a few were here just watching and waiting. One guy had a scope type camera… was it a rare bird they were watching out for? A short while passed and I finally saw what these guys were waiting for – a large cruise ship came into view and gently sailed down the firth. All of a sudden they bustled into life and started snapping like mad. It seems that much like train spotters, there are also ship spotters. (who knew?!) As I spoke to one man, he explained that this particular one was not often here, and quite anticipated. This was quite clear by the number of people that gathered to watch. Once the ship had gone, all the photographers vanished along with it, and I had the location all to myself.
Once I had taken my shot, I had a think on what else I could do here in Inverclyde. Yesterday had taken it out of me a little, and the poor night didn’t help, so I thought I would take things fairly easy today, and maybe just have a little explore of the Clyde Muirshiel park area. Yesterday, I had spotted a possible abandoned house near my ancestors one, so on a whim, I decided to start there and have a little explore. The pressure was off finishing Inverclyde, as I had effectively visited 3 different locations yesterday, and already had two in the bag from a few days earlier (Cloch Lighthouse and the James Watt marina), so this was a bonus trip. I got to the spot fairly quickly, and went for an initial look before I decided to come back for my camera. The weather was holding up for me perfectly for a little project idea that I’d had in mind since the highlands. When I was there, I had spotted a number of abandoned buildings. These were always interesting to visit, especially those that still had a variety of belongings scattered everywhere, despite being abandoned for quite some years.
My idea was to try getting a photo from one of the windows… basically ‘a room with a view’, but from a now unloved, ex home. I’d already picked up an old bottle from jaw reservoir, so I thought I might put it to a bit of use and collected that up from the van with my camera. On the walk back to the house (see header) I picked a few wild flowers from the area that were in bloom today -garlic, buttercup, hebe, dandilion(?) and mint, along with a few early autumn leaves, and a handful of wild mushrooms. Once inside, the idea was to arrange these in or with the old bottle and take a shot from my chosen window. It worked out OK, except that I forgot to take multiple shots to focus stack correctly. (GAGH!! * Slaps forehead in frustration) Ahh, lesson learned. For a first try though, I wasn’t too disappointed, and totally in awe of the stunning view from this one. I wonder if the previous owners and workers from this small holding ever really appreciated it as much as I did today. After taking my photos, I had a little explore. It was a single story house with what appeared to be two animal barns/holding areas to either side. I don’t know much about farming, so I couldn’t be exactly sure what use they might have been put to. What I could tell was that there was a LOT of animal poop in one of them though, so it was clearly still somewhat in use!
After this gentle and slow explore, I thought I might head back to Cloch Lighthouse. I was disappointed with the water levels on my last visit, so rather than aim for sunset, I decided to get there for high tide. The water lapping in might make a nice shot I mused. High tide wasn’t for a while however, so instead I thought I would take a very slow drive over and through the park area and just enjoy the views. It was a beautiful drive, sun shining intermittently as the cloud slowly started building. This, I felt, might be perfect for my lighthouse shot later, so I was content to take my time, stopping at a number of spots to have a gentle walk or explore. Part of my drive took me through North Ayrshire, and although I was, in my head still ‘doing’ Inverclyde, I couldn’t resist taking the odd photo from up here.
I slowly carried on to Cloch Lighthouse and on arriving just after half past 3, I could see that the conditions were going to be perfect. The cloud had chased the blue away, and the shot was going to look a fair bit moodier than last time. I found the only parking spot I knew of quickly, and didn’t faff about this time trying to find anything better. Once on the stoney beach, I saw the tide was much higher than last time, and that it was still ebbing in, so I had plenty of time to experiment with a few varying spots along the short beach here. This session felt much calmer this time, and I enjoyed myself much more. Without any added stress, I found myself taking a number of shots that worked for me as I hoped, and I was done well within time.
Once the tide turned and started to make its way back out, I decided to simply drive up to Greenock, fill up with fuel, and do a quick shop, before heading down to an overnight spot in North Ayrshire. I would then be ready for my next county to start in the morning. There were three other vans here tonight, and although by the road, it was quiet enough for me to sleep pretty well.