Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Girl from Milngavie

I made my way to Motherwell yesterday, to enjoy at first hand Round 7 of the Tour Series.

Colourful Motherwell.

The women's race had a 5.30 pm start. The sponsors of Team WNT make quality tools for metal cutting, see here. My father, Peter Cowan, was a machine tools representative, so this team had my support on the night. All the teams were presented before the start.

Here was another reason to support Team WNT! I first saw Katie Archibald in Edinburgh in 2014, see here, and have followed the girl from Milngavie's successes since then. Here she is warming up in the Team WNT pits before the race.

This young lady had designed the flag used to start the race!

I cannot find words to say how I felt yesterday morning as I learned about the events that had occurred in Manchester the night before. Life has to go on of course, but it was appropriate that there was a minute's silence observed before the race started. Moving.

We're off!

Eileen Roe, another brilliant Scottish rider, and also a member of Team WNT, on the right.

I walked round the course, and who should I pass but Dame Sarah Storey, observing the progress of Team Storey, but especially cheering on her sprinter EJay Harris.

A four-rider breakaway gets established, Eileen Roe in second place in this pic.

The main chasing group was more than a minute behind with just a few laps to go. But then Katie, and Rebecca Durrell of Team Drops, powered on to bridge to the leaders.

Eileen Roe pulled away on the last lap and took the victory and had time to celebrate. I (almost) got the shot in focus!

Katie was just pipped on the line by Rebecca for second place.

Team WNT were top team on the night. Nothing to do with my support, of course. But well done girls!

And Katie received the prize for the fastest lap of the evening. All the Matrix Fitness Tour Series women's results are here.

Did I mention there was a men's race too?

Exciting to watch too. The results are all here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Just a trickle

In my time in Wamphray, I cannot remember seeing the River Annan quite as low as it is today.

Usually, I'm taking photos at the Jocksthorn Bridge when the river is high, for example, here!

This is the Wamphray Water today, looking somewhat different than it did back in 2014, here.

The Wamphray Water goes under the West Coast Main Line. There has been a lot of work carried out to ensure that the blockage that caused the bad floods in the village back in 2005 won't happen again. The photo shows that today there was no water under the old bridge, which now acts as an overflow.

The new bridge is unlikely to become blocked!

This diversion allows the river to join its previous course!

Now that I've mentioned how dry it has been, I'm sure it will all change soon. But hopefully things will not be as bad as Storm Frank brought in 2015, here.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Trains and boats ... and the garden

Carlisle Station last Saturday. When this image appeared in my camera viewfinder, it so reminded me of myself as a little boy, fascinated by steam locomotives. I don't know who the young man is, but I hope he was enjoying his 'trainspotting', as I was too that day.

He was at Carlisle's Citadel Station, as was I, to see Tornado pulling the UK Railtour's 'The North Briton' excursion. The locomotive is definitely one of my favourites, and it is always great to get up close to it.

Trainspotting aside, I took the chance of a dry day recently to explore the Trossachs again. I have fond memories of this area from when I lived and worked in Glasgow, back in the day. I had almost forgotten just how beautiful it is.

Last time I saw the SS Sir Walter Scott she had a coal-fired boiler. She has since had a major rebuild but retains her original Matthew Paul and Company triple expansion steam engine, but now has two Cochran Wee Chieftain boilers running on bio-fuel. She looks good for being more than 100 years old! Built by Denny Bros Ltd at Dumbarton, she was dismantled before being transported by barge to Inversnaid on Loch Lomond. From there, she was taken in pieces to Stronachlachar by horse-drawn cart, where she was reassembled and made her maiden voyage on Loch Katrine in 1900.

I look forward to a wee sail on Loch Katrine during the summer.

Skip garden is reflecting the changing seasons, and Rhododendron 'Elizabeth' has burst into bloom the past few days.

And the beech trees on the road near Skip are just beginning to get their 2017 leaves.

As a break from the gardening today, I walked over the field to catch the Duchess of Sutherland storming through Wamphray on the West Coast Main Line, at the head of today's leg 6 of the Great Britain X railtour, see here. And an impressive sight it was!

Pics © Skip Cottage 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Glengonnar Camp

I came across some old postcards at an antiques fair recently. These triggered some memories!

The images were of the Glengonnar Camp, near Abington. This was one of five such camps built in 1939-40 in Scotland as a Department of Health initiative aimed at improving young people's health by giving them an opportunity to live for some months in a healthier environment than in the city. Because of the war, it was not until 1947 that the Scottish National Camps Association was established. The history of the Scottish Outdoor Education Centres can be found here. Still in existence now as a charity, the website is here.

Through the years, the camps have been used by a variety of organisations. My memories of Glengonnar are of a Scripture Union Inter-School camp one Easter holiday. Previously I had attended a similar camp at Dounans, Aberfoyle - my first ever 'adventure' away from home.

The West Coast Main Line passes Glengonnar, and when I first moved down here to Skip I would look out of the train window when travelling from Lockerbie to Glasgow, across the river, and see if I could pick out the wooden huts through the trees. Then one day, I realised they were no longer there, and I learned that the camp had been demolished.

Passing Abington in my car recently I stopped off with my camera.

There is little trace now of Glengonnar camp.

The oil tanks give a clue to what was here before.

If you listen closely, walking around the site today you can still hear the sound of hundreds of children enjoying the outdoors!

The base of one of the huts.

One of the postcards had been sent to an address in England in 1955. It says, "Dear Aunty Ruth. Having a great time here. Weather is very changeable. The food is not very good."

My own memories are of having lots of fun in a variety of outdoor activites, an abortive attempt to walk to the source of the River Clyde, and taking part in the camp concert in some discomfort, having staved my thumb taking part in a 'wide game'. On arriving home, my parents took one look at my hand, and a short time later I was waiting in Accident and Emergency at the Southern General Hospital. Yes, my thumb turned out to be cracked. My first broken bone!

The whole Glengonnar site is currently for sale, in five lots, see here.

Original photos are © Skip Cottage

Sunday, April 02, 2017

At the re-opening party

Friday lunchtime. The barriers were up, the cameras were in position. Something was about to happen at Carlisle's Citadel Station.

The hard-working media were on hand. BBC Radio Cumbria's reporter was finding out how far people had come to join the party!

I have my hands full with one camera. Here was someone proving that men can multitask!

"The train now arriving at Platform 1 ..." was a steam hauled special to celebrate the re-opening of the Carlisle-Settle line which had been closed for more than a year following a landslip at Eden Brows, the traction provided by No 60103 Flying Scotsman.

It was an important occasion.

 Music was provided!

It is difficult to convey the excitement which Flying Scotsman generates!

Those who had been on the train itself had begun to party early!

Cumbria's finest were on hand to ensure suitable behaviour.

Having parked the rake of coaches, the locomotive and the support coach reversed through the station, on its way to turn using the Upperby triangle.

An hour or so later, Flying Scotsman was back to collect the coaches.

I always have a special thought for the member of the support staff whose job it is to couple up the coaches.

With the masses corralled behind barriers by the 'event staff', the 'Reopening Special' sets off south.

Waves from those lucky enough to be on board.

Lots of enthusiasts were out in the countryside to see Flying Scotsman traverse the line. Examples are here and here. See it passing Eden Brows, the site of the landslip, here, and going over the Ribblehead viaduct, here. And here's a taster of what it was all like from the train!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Monday, March 27, 2017

Morton Castle

This is a beautiful spot - Morton Loch, a little ways off the A702 between Carronbridge and Durisdeer.

And it's made even more picturesque with the ruins of Morton Castle.

I had the place to myself when I stopped off here on Saturday, returning cross-country from Ayr. There could have been no better picnic spot on a perfect spring day.

There's probably been a fortification on this spot since the 12th century, with the earliest features of what is standing today dating to c1300. The round gatehouse tower (above) is impressive. The matching tower was apparently destroyed in the 14th century. According to the Historic Scotland information board on site, "... a treaty with England in 1357 to release David II from captivity took its toll on Morton. Part of this treaty called for the destruction of several castles in the SW of Scotland, and Morton was one. The demolition was not total but it may explain the loss of one half of the gatehouse."

More on the history of the castle can be found here.

Inside what would have been the Great Hall.

From the loch side.

My lunchtime companions were these Greylag geese. There were several 'courting couples'. It was interesting to observe all the interactions! I rather liked the reflections made by these two as they swam close by.

Pix © Skip Cottage