Glen Trool to Luss, Loch Lomond: Friday 25 September

img_1677Awoke to an empty car-park, blue skies and a soon-brewed cup of tea before dressing for the day and setting off for Girvan on the coast where we decided we’d breakfast. Light commercial traffic was all we encountered and scenery that could only be Scottish – rolling hills clad with pine and moors purple-sheened with heather, reaching Girvan to find that it overlooked the curiously muffin-topped shape of Ailsa Craig lying off the coast.

Parked up on the seafront just out of town and rustled up a leisurely porridge breakfast overlooking a sunny prospect of beach, seaweed, dogs and their walkers – a view backed by the island purported to be the source of the granite used to make curling stones.

A quick breath of fresh air and then a birthday phone call to Mum (Rene) at home, and then subsequently off again to Ayr, which we hoped would provide more interest and diversion. We were also able to phone ahead to Judith Corcoran who lives in Ardrossan “a wee bit further” along the coast and booked in for afternoon tea at her home.

So, another promenade parking spot on the edge of Ayr and a good sunshiny walk into the town passing all the usual seaside-town attributes of children’s playgrounds, ice cream huts and pavilions to find a pleasant mix of traditional high-street shops and enough surviving independent stores to make it interesting. To add to our excitement we also discovered a Marks & Spencer, where we both restocked on underwear supplies. After a little more unproductive ambling across bridges and side streets we lunched on 99s from the seaside pavilion and walked back to the van for the onward trip to Ardrossan, leaving behind perplexed and disappointed Mormons and a Talk Talk Internet salesman, each of whom accosted us on the street and probably got more than they were expecting in return.

A short journey on to Ardrossan, where we found Judith at home in a modern residential square where we were plied with tea, Tunnock’s Tea Cakes (special order) and shortbread, served with much gossip – along with a brief shock of 240 v mains power to the recalcitrant van TV – which thankfully woke it up and returned it to operating status. A show-round of Judith’s home was reciprocated with a brief internal review of the van, as we learnt of Judith’s plans to rent out her entire house for a forthcoming international Golf tournament taking place at nearby Troon Golf Course.

Further news and gossip were exchanged and we then took our leave, heading onwards up the coast through Largs onto the Firth of Clyde through Greenock and thence onto the Erskine Bridge – following the wheel-tracks of our previous visit with Eric Hope when we formed the tail-markers of a two-boat convoy en route to Loch Awe.

Heading north towards the tail-end of Loch Lomond we found ourselves at Balloch and a campsite which, as it turned out, was thankfully full so we continued on up the west coast of the Loch, turning our backs on the delights of a chain pub and Chinese restaurant/takeaway and headed for Luss where to our great delight and excitement we stumbled upon a Club campsite on the shores of Loch Lomond, with a warm welcome, space for two nights and Pitch No. 13 within casting distance of the shore.

Two venues for dinner were recommend in the village of Luss – a bare 10 minute walk – so we first visited The Bistro’s outdoor menu board to find it a little uninspiring and then moved on 100 yards to the Loch Lomond Arms, from where we didn’t look back. A really warm and genuine welcome at the bar had us tasting all their beers before being found a  table, menus and attentive service.

Our shared starter is worth noting:  black pudding on Guinness bread with poached egg and apple matchsticks lightly dressed, which was wonderful, then followed by delicious mains of salmon and linguine – although tomato ragout was clearly open to interpretation.

Finally as a piéce de resistance, we ordered a hugely self-indulgent and recommended dessert: a half of stout each, accompanied by a sherry-casked Ardbeg Uigeadail malt whisky (better than any pudding on the menu and twice as expensive) but the smell of the whisky alone would have been enough, and once tasted, well, brandy can take a hike!

A brisk walk home to cosy van (plug-in electrics had allowed us to leave the heating on) and so to bed, replete and well satisfied with the day.

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