With much of the country crippled by snow and ice Douglas had spotted an area that was clear, and it wasn’t even far from home!
I met Phil and Douglas first thing in the morning at Maidens where we left Phil’s and my cars and loaded up Douglas’ car for the short drive up to Seafield (Ayr). Before we had even got the boats off the roof, passers-by started stopping to chat to us. Two of them had an interesting question – did why know in the cold weather recently the sea had seemed to be steaming just a short distance off from the beach. Douglas was happy to explain that it was the warm water (filtered) from the sewage outflow mixing with the cold sea/air – I think secretly both inquisitors suspected this but they were disappointed to have it confirmed.
We set off from the beach with Arran in the distance nicely dusted in snow (there had been some Ice at Maidens, and on the road over but generally Ayrshire was pretty clear) and headed along to the Doon estuary.
On reaching the estuary we decided to paddle up the Doon to the weir, which was nicely iced , for a short play and a chat with cyclist who is also a paddler.
From the mouth of the Doon shallows extend a fair way out to sea and Phil was taking no chances so followed the deep channel out, after taking some photos Douglas and I cut accross the shallows (choppy) for a bit of fun, before re-joining Phil and heading along to Castle No.1 – Greenan.
Greenan Castle is an iconic square keep type affair, and coastal erosion (sandstone cliffs) has left it teetering on the brink in a most impressive way.
Just off Greenan we stopped for a chat with a local paddler that Phil had been trying to hook with, he had a nice new shiny Rockpool GT but was short of time so we parted fairly quickly.
Next up we passed the Heads of Ayr, a decent bit of escarpment that would not look out of place on the North of Skye, before stopping at Bracken bay for a pee and the first brew of the day. The colours on the hillside and on the boats were fantastic.
All along this stretch of coast are sub-sea rock shelves extending 100′s of metres out to sea (not visible on maps, only charts) which can throw up some serious chop in windy conditions, especially around low water when they are at their shallowest, fortunately there was barely a breath of wind and we soon pootled into Dunure harbour. A lovely scenic harbour in it’s own right, but also home to castle No. 2 and a pub. We landed for refreshment!
Once we were refreshed we made our way over some more shelves for a couple of km until the price of refreshment made itself known and we were forced to land at Croy for relief!
As we crossed Culzean bay to our third an final castle (Culzean castle) the light was starting to fade and we had some great views towards Ailsa Craig and the setting sun.
Tony was supposed to be at a cheese and wine do in the castle so we paddled past scanning the crenellations for any sign of him. I didn’t do very well with the light at the castle.
As we rounded the next headland the price of refreshment made itself known again, so I was introduced to one of Phil’s favourite little beaches, although it is a favourite for him due to it’s seclusion and remoteness rather than anything to do with distance from the pub.
Leaving here for the last few km to Maidens the sun set spectacularly, but I wasn’t as well positioned as Douglas to properly capture the moment when the string of cloud took on almost the same shape as the string of rocks in the foreground. It was getting pretty difficult to scan the shoreline as we paddled into Maidens, and there was some discussion as to whether or not the cars could be seen – they could and we landed right in front of them, albeit 200m away across the sand. I decided to deploy my trolley to make the trip a bit easier.
A lovely little day out, not too far from home, maybe 1.5 hours drive in the icy conditions.