A picnic at Ardmore Point, Helensburgh

This might be the closest to insta-blogging I’ve ever come (can we make this a thing?). Returning to the west coast last night in a blur of service stations and neighbouring vehicles, the sun rose again on another beautiful May day this morning. We’d left Edinburgh behind and the constant pollution — both noise and traffic — had dissolved into quiet village life.

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I love coming home, and to be honest, it’s one of my favourite places to be when the weather’s like this. The sun beats down on the deserted roads local kids play on; a light breeze shuffles the meticulously placed garden plants; the clouds make faint shadows on the faraway fields. As a child, my home town was just that: home. Familiar, but nothing particularly special (or so I thought). Now I’m older, I look back with such nostalgia at the protected and privileged childhood I had in this beautiful spot on the west coast.

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So Mum — I said at half eight this morning — shall we do a picnic, for old times’ sake? So we snatched a few supplies from the shop, packed a cool bag and headed along the A814 to Ardmore Point.

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You might not think much of this peninsula if you passed it on the road towards Helensburgh. It’s low-lying, a bubble melting into the River Clyde with a few pretty houses dotted within the trees. But it’s really worth a pilgrimage. Ardmore lies right on the Highland Boundary Fault and — as well as spotting its red sandstone foundations — you’ll also get the chance to watch birds and seals along the shore.

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We rolled onto the dusty carpark, parched thanks to all the incredible sunshine of late, and just wandered. There is a good gravel path around the point (and as a bonus, you won’t get lost… it’s circular). We went left and followed the trail through wild flowers and gorse which — as the temperature rises — clouds the peninsula in the sweetest coconut aroma. We couldn’t get enough of sticking our noses in the delicate petals! (And avoiding what B called the ‘hypodermic needles’ a.k.a. the gorse’s thorns).

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The trail soon curves to give panoramic views from Greenock to Helensburgh, taking in the whole north shore of the Firth of Clyde (plus that iconic ‘sugar ship’ that sank on its side in 1974 just off Ardmore Point). We stumbled upon picnic buried treasure, quite literally, in the form of a massive beached pontoon that made an excellent seating area. Dad put his old German Army poncho on the cracking wood to protect our bums, and we sat in the sun eating tuna and sweetcorn sandwiches and drinking cool water from my bright new flask. Bliss!

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The return leg of the route — the north-facing side — is a leafy contrast to the gorse and hardy wildflowers on the opposite beach. We followed the dense gravel path past the trig point and under the fresh sycamore leaves, sunlight highlighting little clumps of bluebells that we might not have noticed otherwise. How lovely are these wee guys? It actually makes me happy to see all the tiny spots of colour from spring flowers. I might need to ditch autumn as my favourite season…

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When the trees thin out, there’s a pretty stretch of path back to the car park. Fences and fields line either side, and one is full of horses tearing at the grass. We fed a few — or rather B did, as I’m explosively allergic! — before wandering lazily back to the car. The only thing left to do was stop off at Ardardan Estate for an ice cream and enjoy the rest of the rays while they lasted.

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Tell me — how is the weekend treating you so far?

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