THE FIRTH OF CLYDE
Ayrshire’s coast wouldn’t be the richest seam for non-golf activity. The inland east is dominated by farmland and forest, with a poor road infrastructure limiting your radius. The southern option is remote and limited, whereas heading north inevitably runs into Glasgow. This leaves the west, the waves, and the Firth of Clyde, and it’s in this direction which we look, towards the volcanic plug of Ailsa Craig.
Ailsa Craig is reasonably famous to golfers given the number of times it is used as a backdrop by the BBC for showing a leader-board at Turnberry. It’s peaks out at 1,114 feet high with a distinctive domed cap falling away on two sides to sheer cliffs. It is about nine miles off-shore and about 2.5 miles around the base. The rock resembles a giant cup cake rearing up out the sea, and is made of unique, very hard granite.
Ailsa Craig; where curling stones come from
Regular trips leave Girvan (a 10 minute drive from Turnberry) to complete a circumnavigation of the rock, or, if sea conditions permit, a landing. The island is a designated SSSI ( Site of Special Scientific Interest) and Ailsa Craig supports a variety of sea birds whose numbers in the summer months can rise to 70,000 plus. Composed from very dense volcanic rock Ailsa Craig is also world famous supplying the rock for Curling stones, a Winter Olympic sport practiced in high latitude countries, and one where Scots momentarily become ‘British’ when they enjoy some success. Now unoccupied the island used to be home to up to 30 people chiefly employed in hewing the granite rock and manning the lighthouse. On the island today you can still see the remains of the cottages and lighthouse from days of occupation
I suppose on a lighter note we ought to acknowledge that despite being stuck out in the Firth of Clyde, the supposedly inarticulate lump of volcanic rock that is Ailsa Craig has its own Twitter account now. It follows the Faraway Fairways account and has even re-tweeted us!