Day 27 Friday 25 March: A glorious start to the day. Crisp, clear views from the harbour at Maidens, looking north towards the first ascent. 20 minutes later, nicely warmed up and breathing heavily, clearer, crisper views from the top of the first ascent, looking south back down towards the harbour at Maidens. Back down to sea level, straight through Ayre and Prestwick, a linked stretch of very neat & tidy coastal towns. A sweet scent of something expensive in the air as I waited at traffic lights alongside an open-topped Aston Martin. Mustn’t stare. For a moment, it was a fine May morning. I was a million miles away from any thoughts of a Lifeboat on a mission. Strange how the mind wanders when cycling long distances. Why are golf courses called ‘links’? Here on the west coast of Scotland, I might have the answer. For the last ten miles, I’ve barely seen any space between courses. They’re all linked! Unless of course, Ayreshire is one long coastal fairway. National Cycle Route 7 actually weaves it’s way through golf links on the approach to Troon. Locating this town’s Lifeboat Station was a real challenge, made none the easier by well meaning, contradicting, confused locals. I was sent on a tour of most of Troon toon before the obvious location was realised. What a welcome. Thanks to Carolyn (crew/2nd mech) for the tea & hot cross buns (or just “cross buns” as my 3yr old grandson calls them when served cold, as he prefers), Brian (LPO), Walter (dep. 2nd Cox), Joe Miller (Cox’n) and another visitor, Ped (retired Cox’n from Oban – see you there soon, I hope!). Another genuine, warm family atmosphere an the Troon ALB Station. Well done Joe and the other crew members from Troon and Girvan for the well deserved citations/awards for the recent joint rescue of a very heavy fishing boat which had lost power in horrendous conditions. I had the privilege of talking to some of these local heroes at both stations within 24hrs. Back on the road, taking with me Carolyn’s printed route maps to Largs along with lashings of helpful advice and genuine, encouraging sentiments from the crew. My arrival at today’s final destination, the ILB Station a few yards down from the famous Nardini’s Ice Cream Parlour in Largs, heralds a new phase on this journey.
I now have a support team! Waiting for me on the palm tree lined but now very cold, windswept Largs promenade was my cheery brother Neil and sister-in-law Kate with brother Phil’s campervan. I will now have company for a while. It was also a great surprise to see my nephew Paul & good friend Sam there to greet me. Thanks to Ron Copeland (Largs DLA), Calum and Cameron (crew) for giving up your free time and aiding & abetting the surprise family welcome party!