Days 24-25: Crinan to Ayr

The overriding association of these few days is frustration. I was up against the clock because we had booked the van into a KwikFit Plus in Glasgow to have the brakes done. I checked with them that they could handle a vehicle the size of Wolfie and gave our registration number so they could check it themselves. They assured me they could so we were duly checked in for the Saturday morning. A friend, Joan, volunteered to come and collect me and the dogs and take me for coffee while they did the work so all was arranged. But the down side was that I had a time pressure to get down to Glasgow.

My aim on the Friday was to get near Loch Lomond so that I only had a short drive into Glasgow on the Saturday morning. But this meant a lot of driving from Crinan if I was to take in any of the coast – and a disappointing but unavoidable decision to miss out the Cowal peninsula and Dunoon – at least for now.

We set off early from Crinan determined to make it around Knapdale and Kintyre at least. It was a dull and windy day and, being up against the clock, we missed stopping in a lot of places that we would otherwise have explored. But we had great views across to Islay and Jura on the west coast.

Our visit to Kintyre was worth it for Westport beach alone – a stunning, sandy beach with crazily wild waves.

We reached Tarbet just in time to get excellent fish and chips from the shop on the harbour and then continued round to Inveraray and on over Rest and Be Thankful to finally reach our park up at Balloch on the edge of Lomond. It was a gruelling day of driving – over 200 miles – not something I would want to repeat. But through some amazing countryside.

On the Saturday morning we headed down to Glasgow to drop off the van and meet Joan, only to be told by the mechanic at Kwikfit “We don’t do those” as he nodded towards Wolfie. When I protested that I had explained what she was and given them the registration so they could check, he just shrugged and repeated “We don’t do those”, as if if he said it often enough it would be less annoying!

So frustrating! I had raced down here for this – missing out a chunk of coastline in the process – only to be turned away. But there was little to be done. At that moment I decided that the brakes would have to wait. I was going home in mid-October for some blood tests so I could have them done at our local garage. At least they could be trusted to do the job!

Joan and I headed off to a local Starbucks for a welcome coffee and catch up before we said our goodbyes and I set off to the coast once more, rejoining the coast at the Erskine Bridge. This part of the coast is industrial, with a rich ship building heritage and commercial and naval docks, as well as the more genteel marinas with their yachts and small craft. Port Glasgow. Greenock. Gounock.

It was very wet but we stopped at Inverkip for a brief walk on the shore then headed on. This part of the coast has a road right along it – fairly rare I have found. And sadly for us, we got so far and found this one was closed between Skelmorie and Largs!

The diversion was ridiculous taking us all the way back to Port Glasgow, then across country. We attempted to find our own way via Garvock but found that road closed as well. So we had no choice but to go all the way back then via Lochwinnoch to Largs. From there we had no more problems – apart from the terrible weather making any chance of seeing anything slim!

We finally reached Ayr and the campsite we had booked after another long and frustrating day. But we had arranged to meet Janet and the Maremmas the next day at Culzean so hopefully things would look up.

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