One or our recent last minute excursions to explore more local places was an afternoon dash down the A77 to Whitelee Windfarm. It’s maybe half an hour from the door but I’d never even been beyond the gate of the place. Did I have it right or wrong all this time?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, we didn’t exactly research it other than to see what the parking was like and that “Oh look, there’s a cafe…” so we dressed on the casual side so as not to look like we were tackling the ascent of Compston Road in Ambleside. It was after all a well signposted and maintained visitor attraction, it would be like visiting the Botanic Gardens in town.
It wasn’t too busy and we got the motor right in at the visitor centre. Despite subconsciously probably trying to play it cool, we were already oohing and aahing at the view. The “farm” part of the name is suddenly obvious when you’re at the very edge of it. As far as the eye can see, shining in the sun or dark grey in the shade, blades as high as the sky spinning hypnotically in unison. Wow.
We went inside, grabbed a map and went to the cafe. The folks were very nice indeed as was our lunch and I’m glad we didn’t miss it, leaving late does have it’s potential drawbacks.
We sat on the breezy verandah and gazed over at it all, trying to pick the routes out from the map. Jeezo, there’s more than we thought.
Itchy feet and eager eyes had us down the path to the first whispering giant. A whisper which is almost a roar when you stand right under the blades.
The grins were wide as we wandering the tracks which still had a good scattering of folks of all shapes, sizes and ages in the late afternoon. You can explore or follow designated routes and you really can spend a day here if you wanted with miles to to walk or ride. We had just started and we were talking about coming back better prepared.
We drifted off to the side to Dunwan Hill past an alarmingly rattle Turbine 55. There’s a bit of a path up the hill but you can tell most folk like the wide gravel of the main drag. The view from this wee hump is fantastic and it stretches from the Kilpatricks to the Campsies with Ben Lomond sitting distant but obvious inbetween.
The moor is never much higher than 300m but it makes the most its altitude today with low well broken cloud flowing past for our whole visit. This brought scale and texture to the wide landscape with bright patched of light being chases eastwards by grey patched of cloud shadow. Weather is glorious, nothing is quite so dull to look at then nothing much happening, be it clear blue or thick grey.
The next viewpoint is bit more official feeling with the brass viewfinder thing as seen at the start of this post and a wee round walled enclosure to sit on or shelter behind depending on the conditions on day you visit.
None of this is hard to get to either, but the payback for the effort, the feeling of being out and even up is quite remarkable.
I’ve always been suspicious of wind turbines. I don’t like that their installation remodels the landscape so extensively and the talk of their effect on wildlife has always really worried me. It’s probably why I never thought of coming here before, it was off the list by default in the same way that Weatherspoons is.
However. Having spent a few hours here we’ve seen some stuff that’s changed that. Flocks of birds weaving in and out of the spinning blades and raptors hovering close to the turbines looking for something furry for dinner.
The birds seem to have adapted and there’s obviously food for them meaning there’s a viable eco system here after the upheaval of the invasive installation.
I think I expected a barren industrial landscape and what there seems to be is a blend of human necessity and nature doing what it does best, evolving to make the most it.
It’s really made me think.
Bottom line though, this is a great place to visit. I think it’ll be a perfect place to visit as the seasons change and the colours of the landscape with it. Imagine it under snow cover?
I wonder of the cafe is open all year…