Friday, 27 May 2011

Loch Melfort & Arduaine

Hi all, having had a relatively quiet day on Sunday, when we attacked the Cragnish Peninsular, today we thought we'd head north towards Oban. We like flowers and solitude, so lunch in a pub and a walk around Arduaine Gardens seemed like a good idea.

We travelled slowly along the A816 taking in the splendour of the scenary as we went along. Every few miles we would have to stop the car to take another photo or try to immerse ourselves deeper into the scenery by walking the dog.
Have you ever looked at something that is so incredibly beautiful that you don't know what to to about it. An emotion builds up inside that makes you want to eat it. Well in this part of Scotland it is like that all the time; if I could eat the views I'd be obese in week.

Talking of food, by the time we got to Loch Melford it was lunchtime so we called in at the Melfort Hotel. If ever there was a hotel in a beautiful setting this was it. (Photo above). Positioned in a lofty position at the corner of a bay it had magnificent views across the sea to several islands. The large dining room took in this view and they could also be enjoyed from the terrace outside.

Having enjoyed our meal we carried onto Arduaine gardens which were now within yodeling distance. The gardens at Arduaine cover twenty acres and go right down to the sea. Usually when one visits a garden that is so close to the ocean, the plants are a bit grim because they have taken a battering from the sea air.
Not so here, the lavish planting of trees and shrubs has provided the plants with such shelter that all the plants were in good order. Spring was a good time to visit because the show of azealeas was fantastic. The weather was kind while we walked around Arduaine and we sat for a while enjoying a seat that was bathed in warm sunshine and looked over a calm bay. Oh how I wish I was there now.

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Friday, 20 May 2011

Keilmore and Danna Island

Hi all,
having sampled a very civilised breakfast in Tayvallich, we carried on with our journey down the lonely Craignish pennisular. We were following the only road (it would be called a lane where we live) along the southern banks of Lock Sween. The terrain was very changeable; heathland, moor and mountains passed us by while searing beautiful images into our souls at every turn.
We travelled for mile after mile through this remote land and didn't pass a single car. Eventually we reached the tip of the penninsular and came to the village of Keilmore. I say village, there was, as far as I could see, only one building and that looked like a semi-detached. However, what it lacked in size was more than made up for by the scenery. Across the sea, the people who lived in the house would have a perfect view of the Paps of Jura. Very nice on a summer's day I thought, but I can't imagine what it must be like in winter when a roaring gale is threatening to rattle the putty out of their windows.
According to the map, Kielmore is also the home to Keil's Chapel, which is a short walk away around the headland. It's a 12th century building, that houses some grave slabs of a similar vintage. We are not religious and looking at old grave stones seems an odd thing to do when surrounded by such beauty, so we didn't bother. Instead we wandered around the foreshore of Loch na Cille, took a few photos then returned up the single track road towards Tayvallich. At the tip of Loch na Cille we noticed a little track going off to the right and being in a cavalier mood we decided to see where it led to.
It followed the loch around opposite to where we'd just been at Keilmore and with the exception of one ruined building the place was completely deserted. The photo above shows the building in its splendid setting. If it ever came up on Homes Under The Hammer, I might be tempted to put a bid in myself. While we were stopped at this building I checked the map and found that we were heading for Danna Island, so we carried on until we could go no further then we turned around and headed back to the lodge. The weather might not have been great, but we'd had a perfect day. We'd seen very few people and hardly any cars, yet we had spent the whole day in the most glorious scenery one can imagine. It was just me, my wife and Buzby and in our world, days don't come any better than this. I will leave you with another picture of Loch Sween.
If you want to see some more of my photos, our paintings or the images I have created with my newly acquired pyrography iron Please click here If you want to know more about my books, including The Fishing Detective: Carp Rustlers, which has just been published on Kindle Click here

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Loch Sween & Tayvallich

Hi all,
after our long journey up to our rented lodge, (Photo on the right) situated on the bank of Loch Sween we were dissapointed to find that the weather wasn't as good as we'd hoped for. However, it wasn't raining cats and dogs so perhaps it would get better. We decided that we'd have a quiet day out on our first treck around the area and have a run (in the car)down the narrow Craignish penisular. A nice trip along the other side of Loch Sween, opposite our cottage, looked like a good plan. Hopefully we'd find somewhere to eat and a relaxing day would be on the cards. We started off by retracing our journey back to the top of Loch Sween, taking our time to admire the scenary and take in views with pretty, but deserted boats bobbing about on the water. I alway think it is strange that whenever I go where boats are mooored, they are always deserted. Why did their owners buy them?
Going down the other side of Loch Sween we found the scenary much to our liking. There were views of the water and lots of trees underneath which grew carpets of bluebells. Bluebells are my favourite flower and there isn't a better view anywhere in the world than a British bluebell wood in spring. There are times when we moan about this country, but the fact that we have most of the world's population of bluebells counts for something. This year, the warm spring has been very nice, but the bluebells came and went too quickly, and the may flowers on the hawthorn bushes have also gone when they should just be coming out.Anyway, we carried on with our drive down the peninsular and we were pleased that although it was still cloudy the rain seemed to have stopped. I guess we must've travelled about twenty miles when we found civilisation, as we rounded a sharp corner on the side of the Loch, the harour of Tayvallich came into view. This is the only settlement on the Craignish peninsular with around 142 dwellings in which live a population of just over 200 people.

Tayvallich, is in fact a fishing village with a well situated and sheltered harbour. On Sundays, it is supposed to be very busy when the bay is full of week-end sailors. However, we arrived on a Sunday and there was hardly a soul to be seen. Perhaps the dull weather had put them off. The one thing we did see when we were walking through the village was a harbour-side cafe. This meant it was decision time, did we eat here or look for something else? Actually, and I hate using the term, but it was a no brainer. I'd looked at the map a couple of times that morning and knew this was the only community on the penisular, so if we didn't eat here we'd probably have to go hungry.
Anyway, we were very glad we gave it a try and ate one of the most memorable breakfasts we've ever had. A delicious full Scottish is what we devoured, while sitting at a table by a big window overlooking the gorgeous loch. Our holiday had started very well, and we both hoped it would carry on in the same way because if it did, it would be just grand.
In my next post we will carry on down the penisular to the tip at Keillmore.
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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Crinan Continued

Hi All, in my last post about Scotland, I left you in Lochgilphead, so today we will continue on the journey along the beautiful Crinan Canal to equally beautiful Loch Sween.
The photo above shows where the Crinan Canal meets the sea
However, before we embark on that journey, a few facts about the Crinan Canal might be of interest.
The Crinan Canal is only nine miles long and was built to save ships from Loch Fyne, (which included those leaving the Clyde) from having to make a long and sometimes hazardous journey around the Mull of Kintyre.
Although the Canal is pretty short, by canal standards, it took about seven years to complete. Work started in 1794 and, due to one difficulty after another, it wasn't opened until 1801. The Canal begins on Loch Fyne in a little town called Ardrishaig and carries on to the small port of Crinan, which is wonderfully situated on the Atlantic coast.
Anyway, having filled our car with groceries we left lochgilphead and turned onto the A83 going North. However, we wouldn't be on it for long because a couple of miles later we turned left at Cainbaan and picked up the Crinan Canal. There are a couple of lovely locks to explore here and it is interesting to watch ocean going yatches going through them instead of barges.
We followed the canal for a few miles until we reached our turning for Loch Sween. Just before Bellanoch basin, we took a small road to the left and proceeded towards Achnamara. This part of Scotland is rugged and remote, but hell, it's beautiful(Sorry about the oxymoron). For several miles we followed the single track road which clung to the banks of Loch Sween and then swooped through valleys of trees by turn. Eventually we found the cabin we had rented for the week and we were pleased to find that the view over the Loch from it was just as described in the brochure. Every evening of that holiday we spent looking through the window and watching otters playing in the water
Talk about heaven; I think this was it. If you would like to see more photos of Scotland or even some of Staffordshire Please click here. You will also be able to see my efforts regarding my new hobby of Pyrography
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PS Peter Silvester suggested adding more photos to my blog. Thanks Pete, I hope you enjoy this week's batch.