South West Scotland 2021: Part Six
8 & 9 September 2021
As I planned, I scouted the area the other side of Dumbarton Rock, driving over the river and parking up near a small park area, and some smallish industrial looking buildings. The view was really nice, but the low tide definately didn’t do any favours here. I was right in thinking it was a high tide spot. Everything was how I wanted it on my return and I was pleased to see the weather was actually playing ball too – although all the local birdlife definately wasn’t. Every time the reflection looked clear, I opened the shutter for a long exposure shot to smooth the ripples that were blowing, and it seemed that this was the cue for every bird to do a sudden swim across the scene. I won’t lie, it actually got very frustrating to see shot after shot marred by happy white streaks as they sauntered right through the otherwise perfect reflection. The tide turned and I started getting convinced that I simply wouldn’t get this shot in time before the water was too shallow again, but finally they left me alone for a few minutes and I was able to get the shot I hoped for. Actually the sight of the rocks just under the water is quite pleasant, so maybe fate was guiding me to a slightly lower than high tide shot after all….
Then I finished Dumbartonshire.
Next up was… Well I was terribly indecisive. In the end I settled on East Renfrew, since it was just below Glasgow. I could head westward after, through the top counties, then head south along the coast to capture the Ayrshire ones. On the way through, I passed a spot I had marked as a lovely waterfall, so pulled off very excited to see it. Rouken Glen is a park just on the bottom part of Glasgow, and the photos I had seen of the falls here looked awesome. Not for me today however, for me, the falls were pathetic, and to my eye, literally not worth photographing. I couldn’t even get into a good position to capture the little dribble presented to me, so less than half an hour later I was walking back to the van wondering what to do next.
One of the spots I had marked on my map, was little more than a vague hope that the location was correct. I had seen a snap someone had posted from (I think) a fishing trip, labelled simply ‘White Cart Water, East Renfrew’ but the view behind him was something I thought I would love to see for myself. Trying to find the exact location however proved to be very tricky. Following the map closely for ages, up and down this very long river, I finally found some falls near a building that looked like they might be the right place. I’d marked this spot on my My Maps route planner, and today I drove on over, really hopeful for this one instead, as it was likely to be very picturesque. I got to the spot I thought it was at, only to discover, it wasn’t. There was nothing there. A small weir, with a ton of teenagers on it, and the building was non existent – just a seperate cottage not linked to the water at all.
I felt very frustrated. Maybe Fate was telling me I shouldn’t be here…
So I gave up on East Renfrew for now, and headed for a sure fire spot I was really excited to photograph, and plotted Inverclyde as my next county instead. There are several locations here I wanted to photograph, so I felt that it was going to be one of the easier counties on this trip. There was one lighthouse that I was particularly looking forward to photographing, and my greatly dampened mood was picked up as I drove on over there first. When I eventually got to it however, I was devestated to realise that there was literally nowhere to park. For such a highly photographed lighthouse, this was totally surprising to me. Where on earth do people park?!! Outside the lighthouse were a few parking spots very clearly labelled as residents only, but after a few drives up and down the road again, I felt I had absolutely no choice but to stop here for a few minutes to gather myself, and to work out what, if anything, I could do about this. I eventually had to get out to try to work out how to get down to the beach, since everything was so unclear. In the end I still couldn’t work it out, since there was no obvious tourist path down there – it seemed you had to climb down? I was so confused!! It began to feel so ridiculously impossible. With my stress levels rising, I walked up a bit instead, and found an easier climb down (still a climb though), and a possible parking spot to use… but I wasn’t overly thrilled at it. I would have to park right up on the pavement, and to the edge of the drop to allow enough clearance for walkers to get by safely without forcing them onto the road. Not that many people walked by here I mused, there seemed to be little else around. I drove back there anyway, carefully parking up, and I went down to the very rocky beach for a quick recce. It was a very uncomfortable walk, and even River seemed reluctant to walk across the oversized stones for too far. I stomached the pain of the twisting ankles for now, as I caught sight of my quarry, Clough Lighthouse. It was just as lovely as I hoped, however, I’d forgotten to check tide times, and the water was nowhere near as close to the building as I had hoped, leaving a pretty unslightly forground for my shots. Sunset was in about 30 minutes, so I took a picture of the glow on the lighthouse with my phone, quite hopeful that the colour might pick up and really kick off over the next half hour.
With plenty of time, I started back to pick up my main camera before I thought to check the app again for the sunset time. I felt a little suspicious that it might be sooner than 30 minutes, but the app said not… Not totally convinced, I double checked a secondary source though, and to my deepest disheartenment, saw the sun was setting NOW. I was really frustrated that the app had been wrong and hadn’t updated to match my location as it should, but more than this, that it was yet another thing going wrong today. With the roller coaster of high hopes and dashed plans on top of everything else over this week, I was at the end of my tether. Everything had been gradually chipping away at my morale and I suddenly began to feel chronically despirited and defeated. I miserably got back to the camper, kicking myself for not bringing the camera straight out first time, and I struggled to put on my sturdier boots. It all felt totally pointless. River angrily barked at anything that moved past us. It grated where it became such a repetitive and loud noise, and she just wouldn’t stop. The traffic passed by loudly as well, shaking the van with every big vehicle that went past, and as is want by some drivers, honking horns to disturb a camper sitting quietly, happened here too. My negativity finally spiralled completely out of control and I went into a mini meltdown, struggling not to cry. Did I want to move the van? Try this tomorrow? But move to where??!! It’s getting dark, and I don’t know this area enough to know where I might stay! But I dont want to be here! But where else would you go?!!
As I just sat for the next 40 minutes, totally unable to function, it started raining outside, and I just gave up. I hadn’t even seen the cloud roll in, I was so locked in my dark place. Sod it. Stay here, I am probably unsafe to try and move Fred anyway right now, and who knows… maybe tomorrow morning all this will all look better. I curled up into bed and gave in to the tears. It was the only thing I was physically able to do right now.
It rained all night.
Today started where yesterday left off. It was rainy, grim, and visibility was poor. I made breakfast, a cup of tea and just sat there totally unable to focus or think. I had no idea what to do. It just felt like this whole week had been a battle.
Then Emily text me asking if I could transport a large item for her today or tomorrow. I quickly checked the lighthouse, and seeing that there was definitely no shot there, I told her I would be over in an hour. I tidied everything away, making it safe for driving (nothing worse than things flying around the van when you are concentrating on the road!), and started the drive back to Glasgow. To my horror I instantly realised I had no wipers working. I really couldn’t believe this on top of everything else!! Thankfully the rain was minimal, so I drove gingerly to Greenock where I spotted a kwikfit and pulled in. I almost couldn’t believe the bad news that they didn’t do any electrical work on vehicles. Seeing my distress however, the guy at the desk very kindly directed me to a road which was full of garages that would probably be able to help. I thanked him very gratefully, wiped my screen dry and followed his directions. My luck continued as it started… The first garage there, had no electrician, and he directed me to a second – the second was too busy and directed me to a third – the third – well the third completely ignored me standing in reception. They saw me there, stood around chatting among themselves, but no-one had the common decency to speak to me or even acknowledge me. I didn’t dare open my mouth for fear of what might come out by now. I had been working myself into an ever downward spiral, so eventually just left, fuming, desperately low and close to tears yet again. The rain had temporarily stopped, so I thoroughly wiped the windows again and headed to Glasgow instead. If I could get there, maybe the AA could help!
When I got there, Emily gave me a big hug and made a warming cuppa while I called the AA. They arrived in quick time, and the chap did a really thorough check of everything. He eventually had to look at every single fuse individually when he found the wiper one to be fine. It took him a while, standing out in the drizzle, but he was good natured and very calm as he methodically worked his way through the problem, eventually finding the dead one. He changed it, and everything worked again, including a bunch of other things that I had noted wern’t working, but hadn’t really thought too much about – Wipers, blowers, cigarette lighter sockets and the reversing camera. He suggested that whoever had put the reversing camera in, had connected it to this circuit, and that perhaps it was a bit too heavy a load for the fuse. He gave me two spare 10 amp fuses so that if it went again, I would be able to drive safely home, and then I could take Fred to a garage. What a relief… I suddenly felt such a weight lifted. Had all these little things also being weighing me down as well?
I took Emily’s thing to her studio, then we went back to her flat where we had a quick bit of tea. She had to go back out again, so I sat quietly, safely, and warmly, while I backed up all my photos, charged the laptop and my phone, had a shower and just watched a bit of TV. Tonight everything felt so much better!!!