Following the recent closure of Largs swimming pool for refurbishments, many local swimmers ventured to Gourock to use their outdoor pool, writes Calum Corral.

Since returning to the Largs Pool after it re-opened earlier this month, it is good to see the changes with improved shower facilities, but last Tuesday the extreme heat made me consider a visit out of doors.

In the archives of the Largs and Millport Weekly News, there was a lengthy discourse, ongoing for many years, about the introduction of a swimming pool in Largs. Various suggestions including Anderson Park were mooted, but eventually in 1971, after a long ranging battle, the pool opened at Barrfields and is now 45 years old.

I wonder if the possibility of an outdoor pool in Largs had ever seriously been suggested. Perhaps we don't have the weather for it, but having visited the pool in Gourock, it is difficult to see any particular drawbacks. It was my first ever visit, and an interesting experience, and a throwback to the 1940s and 50s when the likes of Saltcoats and Troon had outdoor pools in Ayrshire. The Gourock pool has been open since 1909, and is now one of only two outdoor pools left in Scotland - the other is in Stonehaven.

Apparently when it first opened in Edwardian times, it was cold and had a sandy floor, but not anymore, as heating was added in 1969 and it's thoroughly modern.

In 2010, the outdoor amenity incorporated a more modern leisure centre, with an enlarged gymnasium and lift access from the street level down to the new changing accommodation and the upgraded pool, improving the disability access. During a few select days over the summer, it even offers midnight swims.

Using salt water mixed with chlorine, the water is heated to 29 ºC, and it was certainly busy on one of the hottest days of summer, and having been in a sticky office all day, the rush was on to get there for a decent time, as it closed at 8pm.

However, I managed to arrive just on 7pm, and enjoy a refreshing swim, in beautifully scenic surroundings, with plenty of deckchair seating areas in the sun terrace, and good quality changing facilities. Caledonian MacBryane were sea trialling one of their new ferries in the Clyde as I took my dip.

All in all, it was very relaxing. Could an outdoor pool ever work in Largs? While we have an extensive seafront car park, it made me wonder, if an outdoor pool would more of a leisure asset, rather than spoiling out seafront with a car park?

Recently I visited Cambrils in Catalonia, an hour's car journey away from Barcelona. They have a beautiful promenade and seafront, and an underground car park. Looking at serious investment to solve our own parking palava seems to me to be the only answer, and would be a further boom to our tourism industry.

On returning to Largs seafront last Tuesday after my swim, the Waverley was tied up at Largs Pier, and the seafront was mobbed.

Billy Irvine of the Beachcombers Kiosk remarked to me how busy the day had actually been, and that Largs rivalled many of the top resorts around the UK in terms of numbers. Largs is about to host a Classic Car Festival on Largs Promenade on Sunday 31 July which should be another great attraction, but last Tuesday, it was like a motorbike festival as dozen of bikes including spectacular Harley Davidsons roared into town. It was definitely the case of 'Vroom with a view'.

The wildflowers are blooming, the butterflies are fluttering on the breeze, and the air is thick with birdsong – our fantastic RSPB Lochwinnoch wildlife reserve is full of the joys of summer!

One reason RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve is excited about summer is that many migratory birds have arrived – birds that have come here from far-flung places such as Africa. Birds like the swallow - small, fast-moving and agile, they can be seen darting around the reserve picking off insects - and the osprey, a large bird of prey that uses its strong talons to catch fish. They’ll be here until the early autumn, when they will return to Africa to spend the winter in sunnier climes – come and see them while you can. Of course, it’s not just these migrants you can spot – a wide range of birds are visible from the visitor centre’s viewing windows, including a family of baby ducklings!

Photographer Lesley Roberts visited the centre recently and provided us with some photos as she got up close to some of the bird-life at Lochwinnoch, as you can see.

Aside from the birds, many smaller animals can be seen up close – pond dipping kits are available from our visitor centre enabling a variety of beasties to be examined at close quarters. The water boatman, for example, has long back legs covered in tiny hairs, which allow it to swim over the surface of the water, making it look like a person rowing a boat! Lucky pond dippers may even find a newt or two!

They have a range of activities for children scheduled over the summer, including a different self-led Wild Challenge each week – families are given an explorer’s pack and set off to discover the different stations along the trail, learning along the way in order to complete the challenge. Our ranger-led Make Your Own Mondays events take children out on a guided tour to explore and learn about nature. Upcoming sessions include a nature art master class, the chance to go on a minibeast safari, and a bushcraft session where you can learn to build a fire & toast marshmallows.

The following events are taking place: Wild Challenges coming up include: Tree-mendous: 22-28 July; Minibeast safari: 25 July; Be a Bug: 29 July – 4 Aug; Bushcraft: 1 Aug; Be a Hedgehog: 5-11 August; Nature Detectives: 8 August; Get Up Close to Nature: 12-18 August; Hobbits and Hairy Feet: 19 Aug – 4 Sept.

For more information about the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve and for details of future events, check out