It was a bright Saturday morning of Autumn against all odds as we had expected rain to lash out on the land. Patches of fog that had been hanging 0ver the moor around the Old Largs road and at the top of Dunrod hill, had eventually vanished, scattered by the soft wind. Large clouds still remained in the vivid blue sky and, they retained, somehow, a tinge of golden hue from the long gone glow of dawn.
When john and I arrived at the Greenock cut visitor center, Harry and rangers John MacLean and Allan Russell were already there, soon to be joined by Johnny and Alan.
The sun was low in the sky and was casting strong shadows on the ground. The air was warm and dry. Were it not for the decaying smell of fallen leaves starting to litter the ground and the fiery colors that the foliage of the trees had taken on, it might have been a crisp summer day. In fact, as it turned out, it was a perfect time for cleaning the pond.
No sooner had we finished our first cup of tea that we started to suit up, putting on waterproof pants, Wellington boots and appropriate gloves, gathering up nets, rakes and forks in a wheelbarrow. Harry had volunteered to wear the waders and get into the water.
The pond is located at the north edge of the visitor center, amidsts straggled trees, rushes, sedges and reeds. Beyond lies a grazing field where sheeps roam silently and aimlessly, white spots amidst the waves of grass at the base of Dunrod hill.
We spent the next few hours dredging its water which had filled up with silt, loose branches, twigs and the rampant growth of curled watercress. The disturbance of our exertions had turned the water into a brownish mixture while a putrid odor began to fill the air.
Now and then, small creatures from the depth of the pond were caught in our nets and, as the day grew on, we had collected great diving beetle, mayflies, common hawkers, dragonfly and damselfly larvae and newts.
In the pleasant heat of the afternoon, after we had consumed our lunch, and while the others were away to the opposite shore of loch Thom, near Garvock farm, to collect heaps of branches from fallen sitka spruces and larches, I found myself idly sitting outside the visitor center, basking in the warmth of the sun. I had the renewed sense of being suddenly transported back in time, back into one of the glorious summer days that were partly real and partly a fixture of my imagination.
In that half dreamy daze, I felt my eyes drawn again to Dunrod hill, an impressive mass of land and rock etched against the azure sky. A sudden impulse to ascend the hill overtook me, perhaps driven by a fancy to behold the clear vista which would, without a doubt, reward me once I reached its height, perhaps driven by a silent challenge to hastily climb the steep slope to the top and redeem myself from the lamentable feat of my last attempt which had left me breathless and almost knocked out. A feat hardly worth relating here.
I reached the summit of the hill once again although, this time, not as much out of breath as I would have expected. The vista was certainly arresting, the elevated spot to which I had ascended afforded a unusual clear view, unobstructed mist or dimmed by drizzle or rain. Loch Thom spread amidst the moor in all its splendor, its sheets of water reflecting the dark blue of the sky ; and beyond it, I could discern the shape of the Gryffe reservoir, just below a streak of fluffy clouds of all size and shapes stretching into the horizon.
I then proceed to walk towards the other side of the summit, through the uneven terrain of grassy slopes, tricky paths and boggy patches until I reached the flank of the hill that afforded a view towards Daff reservoir, Inverkip and the Clyde. Leapmoor forest extended its reach to the outskirts of inverkip, effectively forming a natural barrier between the moor and the village only broken, here and there, by strips of farmlands.