Friday, 10 April 2015

Kelburn Castle and Country Estate, Largs, North Ayrshire.

Processed Kelburn Castle   GJC_016691_edited-2

It's been a difficult time and busy few weeks for me this last month so I've had to miss a week or two on blogger by taking an enforced short break, maybe more on that another time but similarly I return here with a post on what I see as a difficult location and less than inspiring photographically. Although this is the next post in the series, it's probably the first one in many a year that I lack the passion in wanting to display. More of that later in the post.

(The blog highlight of the last month was an unusual first for me with the reality of meeting two fellow bloggers in Durham Cathedral at the suggestion of Cranberry Morning on vacation. Mike @ A bit about Britain was also invited and enjoyed his day out. It was additionally good to meet Mr C and Mrs B !! )

After arriving back on the mainland from my afternoon visit to Millport and The island of Great Cumbrae, I wanted to catch a little bit closer the strange sight of Kelburn Castle on the southern outskirts of Largs. The colourful sight was just visible on the hillside and also in the distance from a variety of points during the afternoon.

Kelburn Castle  GJC_016694_edited-1

Kelburn Castle is thought to be arguably the oldest castle in Scotland built around 1200 AD with additional structural work of fusing an old and new castle together in The Middle Ages. Adjacent rooms were added later in 1700 followed by a Victorian Wing in 1880.

I had originally considered posting the first two images of The Earl of Glasgow's home with the Largs set recently, but it didn't seem to sit well and it's a little out of town anyway.

I remember visiting Kelburn back in 1992 when it was just a drab brown spectacle although I saw so many Castles and Country Parks that week that they all seemed to merge in my brain. It's position overlooking a gorge is quite dramatic and I had forgotten that although visitors are allowed to roam the estate, they are not entitled to go through the gate that I was resting on to photograph the above image. Pre booked castle tours are relatively new and are available during summer afternoons.

Kelburn Graffiti GJC_016693

Essentially the  Castle needed temporary rendering and the idea was inspired by one of his children to  display some graffiti for extra interest and no doubt potential revenue. The style chosen was urban Brazilian art from artists who were given the chance to stay here whilst working on the project for a month during 2007. As you can imagine, the result created huge media attention contrasting urban style with conservative architecture.

Kelburn Rendering  GJC_016704_edited-1

The conservation organisation, Historic Scotland, initially agreed to the graffiti on the basis that it would be removed at the the next natural external rendered painting. However the Earl seems to be in dispute with them in more recent years, as he wanted the artwork kept permanent. ... Kelburn Castle's Graffiti to be removed

Kelburn Window  GJC_016698

Work to remove the graffiti is expected to start sometime soon although the argument of how soon will no doubt run and run.

House in the Woods  GJC_016739

A large wooden fort and a secret forest were added later to provide all round family entertainment and much needed additional revenue for the cash strapped venue. The Secret Forest was a mix of wooden buildings that were inspired by both nursery rhymes and foreign architecture. Personally as I was entering the site late in the day, midweek and out of season, I found the forest eerily quiet with sinister graphics that seemed to reflect either Middle Earth or Pagan elements. On talking to a Scottish relative last month, their grandchildren of a certain age were frightened by the experience and were more comfortable playing in the large full size wooden fort.

Art House  GJC_016680

Kelburn Reception GJC_016764_edited-1

The other buildings on the site were originally built in 1700 as a farm and accommodation for estate workers.

Courtyard   GJC_016749

In 1977 when the grounds were first opened to the public, these were converted to more contemporary productive use, such as a cafe, information office, shop and exhibition display.

Stables Cafe   GJC_016755

The stables doubling as a cafe.. A new meaning to diners eating at the trough !

Kelburn Story   GJC_016756_edited-1

The nearby exhibition room depicts a series of cartoon paintings that depicts the history of the estate.

De Boyvilles   GJC_016757_edited-1

Here are a few examples. Some parts of the exhibition room were badly lit so apologies for the subsequent badly focused examples or incomplete set.

Grander Boyles  GJC_016758_edited-1

Essentially it is the story of so many Castles and Historic houses down through centuries.

3rd Earl   GJC_016759_edited-1

6th Earl   GJC_016760_edited-1

7th Earl   GJC_016761_edited-1

9th & 10th Earl   GJC_016762_edited-1

Lastly with the eerie and disturbing late afternoon coming to an end, I thought it wise to make my escape quickly as I would be unsure of my fate if I hung around too long.

Shed  GJC_016723

Monday, 9 March 2015

Millport, Island of Great Cumbrae, North Ayrshire.

The Island of Great Cumbrae in the middle of The Firth of Clyde near Largs is about 4 - 5 miles long. Historically and Geographically, it's prominence in this important navigable waterway made it a hub for Customs and Excise checking on Smuggling and contraband.
The only town on the island is Millport located in a large sweeping bay at the south end which has served Glasgow holiday makers in the past and day-trippers in more recent times.

Garrison   GJC_016589_edited-1

One of the oldest buildings in Millport is the 1745 Garrison House used as barracks for the army.

Garrison, Millport  GJC_016590_edited-1

The building has seen a busy life during the early 21st century as it was damaged by arson, achieved funding from the National Lottery and now houses essential services and community projects.

MV Shira ready to leave   GJC_016543

Picking up from where I left off in the last post of Largs and MV Loch Shira, I arrived by ferry on the north east side of Great Cumbrae. There was a frequent bus service that linked the ferry terminal with Millport in the south.

As a result of this outing today, I realised that the town was more accessible that I first thought. The bus service was difficult to find at first on the internet and seemed complex with the winter / summer / off peak services. However my experiences today were if there's a boat, there's a bus. It was a bit weird at the end of the day travelling north, with traffic light controlled roadworks on the way, seeing the ferry crossing the Firth of Clyde nearing towards the island. I needn't have worried because they both arrive and depart at about the same time.

On Your Bike Millport   GJC_016520

Cycling is the main activity of Millport where most people want to cycle around the island on the perimeter road. Bike hire is available at a reasonable cost from a few shops for the 10.25 mile circuit. Many novice cyclists would claim the rounded up distance of 11 miles depending on which guide, book or site they have read !!

I chose the shop with a snappy title of "On your Bike".

Bike Hire, On your Bike  GJC_016593

After a small exchange of money and a quick chat with the staff, I took a hurried photograph which they wanted to know what it was going to be used for. They were keen for me to advertise their shop and mentioned that not only do they do bike hire but also kayaks as well.
I promised them an advert here ...

Biking on Great Cumbrae   GJC_016532

I remember visiting lots of places in the UK as a child with my parents and somehow for either nostalgia purposes, photography or otherwise, I seem to return to them all. Millport and The Isle Of Cumbrae however had to wait until today from as long ago as 1975. As I was going to be sampling the outdoors, I had to choose the best weather day in the week.

Bute from Cumbrae  GJC_016534

Back in 1975, the island or rather the cycle ride seemed a lot longer but this was pleasure and something I had been looking forward to since I planned the trip.

Great Cumbrae sands   GJC_016529

I wasn't in a "race" this time so it was nice to enjoy the beaches on the west side as I headed north from Millport.

Tolment End Monument  GJC_016538

All too soon I reached the northerly side of the island at the figurative half way point. Tolmont End Monument commemorates two seaman who lost their lives from HMS Shearwater back in 1844. With a view across the Firth of Clyde to Largs including the frequent ferry sailings, it seems to be the place chosen by many amateur and rookie cyclists as a half way point for a break.

Bike and Boat   GJC_016547

I had a better plan up my sleeve for a more photographic location a little further on, not so much entitled "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" but more the ones they left out ... "Boats and Bikes" !!

MV Loch Shira   GJC_016550

I had plenty of time over lunch to be distracted watching the frequent ferry arriving and departing. Too many photographs, I had to give myself a quick self indulgent photo processing moment !!

Millport Bay  GJC_016564

After lunch and a few more southerly miles into the sun, I turned the corner into the sweeping concave bay of the more residential eastern end of Millport....

Arran View   GJC_016571
The Isle of Arran from Millport
... and my progress along the seafront at the resort was a lot slower as I took in scenes and seascapes to the south ...

Seat to the south  GJC_016573

Tropical view   GJC_016574

The tropical feel of the gulf stream and the reason why Millport has been popular for many a year.

Croc Rock   GJC_016579

The Crocodile rock is a natural rock feature that was painted over a century ago and is the great seafront attraction of Millport. It is unknown when artist Robert Brown painted the rock, but we do know that he was thanked for his efforts in the summer of 1913. You may think that it looks like something from the circus here at low tide, but images at high tide give the croc rock a bit more realism even if captured on a still photograph. The Local Burns club opted to look after it in more recent years and use the skills of a local painter every few years to keep the croc smiling :-)


 The beaches are prepared nicely and await the day tripper and holidaymaker for the forthcoming summer season.

The Ritz Cafe   GJC_016603

Usually in most Cities and towns, renovations and building makeovers are relentlessly keeping up to date with the times. As a child I remember vividly the sea front and one of the things I noticed arriving in Millport 40 years later was that nothing had changed much at all.

MV Shira on Great Cumbrae   GJC_016608

Finally, as with all islands, it's nice for the locals to welcome and enjoy the trade of the traveller but there a comes a time to leave and return to the mainland. Not all of the visitors seem to be welcome and they don't take the ferry back either ...

Don'f feed the Seagulls   GJC_016599

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