Sunday, 28 June 2015

.....Let's see if it's true"

The shitstorm of indifference which greeted my previous post notwithstanding, I feel honour bound (“Not too tight there, Honour”)  to complete the account of my little holiday in Morvern. It will, however, be a truncated account – a trilogyof two parts, or an example of what could be called Austerity Blogging.



Day2 and it’s up the “old road” beside the loch to Ardtornish estate and gardens.


Just past the ferry terminal is the Lochaline sand mine where high quality silica sand is tunnelled out from beneath the overlying basalt.


Supposedly the highest quality in the world, the sand is shipped out to Pilkingtons at St.Helens to make precision optical equipment



Ardtornish House is a typical Victorian pile at the head of the sea loch. The gardens are well established and typical of the classic Argyll form, with lots of rhodos and azaleas. Not, however, in the top league in my humble opinion

Kinlochaline Castle. Restored mediaeval tower house.


Another smashing day. Easy terrain, perfect midgieless walking weather and about 8 miles, including walking round the garden, according to the Viewranger thingy on my portable telephone.


Day the Third and it was time to head West.

Firstly to visit Keil Church. This was one of the first mainland outposts of the Columban monks.


Ruins of the pre-reformation church

 The famous 14th century disc-headed cross carved in the style of the Iona school.


The little shed on the right is the session house which contains several 14-15 century carved tombstones brought in from the churchyard for safe keeping.


One day I may claim my inheritance.

I continued westward along the coast road to Drimmin, and here is where I had a Road to Drimmin moment.At this point, about 20 metres in front of me, a full on Scottish wildcat walked calmly across the road and into the trees. Even with my impaired eyesight it was unmistakable, although, over the years, I had previously only had “possible” sightings in the headlights at night. I subsequently discovered that the Wildcat Protection Zone, where quite calm and only slightly annoyed pussies are being ethnically cleansed to preserve the purity of their really wild cousins, has been extended from Ardnamurchan into Morvern.

 I ended up at the Community Woodland where lunch was taken. As I sat looking down this ride, with no sight or sound of human activity, I got the notion that, if I sat quietly for long enough,  something magical would happen. A deer might emerge cautiously from the trees. Or a platoon of the Japanese army. Or Alan Whicker. As darkness fell on the third night, I had to abandon this notion.

So that’s about it really.


There’s a wee Davie Broon for Alan R. Clean up the terminals and flush the fuel system and it might even start.

A good time was had by all. Ibiza next year , I think

Thanks to Hank for this


Monday, 15 June 2015

"We're going where the sun shines brightly. We're going where the sea is blue. "


So there I was on a warm sunny afternoon in Lochaline, after an eight hour, 5 bus, one ferry journey. Why ? Ah well…

Some time ago I was contacted by an organisation about doing some training in the Morvern area. I had dealt with these people before, without having been greatly impressed, but went along with it to see how it would pan out. Sure enough, a couple of weeks before the planned date, it all fell apart, and I was left with a paid-for reservation for four nights in a rather attractive sounding B&B and a renewed determination never to do business with dickheads again. I had recently spent three weeks looking after the fish while Mrs. OM roamed the world, so I was due a wee break. And here I was.


Ssshh. Can you hear it ? Yes, it’s the Sound of Mull from my bedroom window.


I started Tuesday with smoked haddock and poached egg, what I think of as the “full Scottish” breakfast, and then embarked for Mull on the ferry.I had allowed time for a wander round the Fishnish peninsula from the ferry terminal, a walk I had found on the Walkhighlands  website. Although mainly on forestry rides with occasional views across the sound to Morvern, this proved a joy and a treasure as the weather was perfect for walking – warm but with a mere zephyr (or was it a zodiac ?) to keep the midgies away. The smells were enticing and the wee burdies were gaun their dingers.


I was back at the terminal (ok – shed) in time for a bacon butty and coffee before the bus for Tobermory arrived. I was a tad surprised when this turned out to be The Tobermory Topper, an open top charabanc such as one sees conveying tourists around our ancient cities. I was about to seek  a seat on the covered lower deck when I was overcome by one of these “You only live once” moments and diverted up the stairs to join the poor huddled masses on the upper storey.


Now, as bad decisions go, this ranks up there with Hitler’s to invade Russia and Decca’s to not sign the Beatles.The bus set off at 50mph on the 40minute journey along the coast road and up over some high moorland. Glasses and hat were quickly removed and stashed and there followed a Casting of the Colours re-enactment as I managed to unpack then put on my Montane wind shirt ( £6 pre-loved on E bay). Softies started retreating below deck, and by the time we reached the suburbs of Tobermory, only myself and some Japanese tourists, who were obviously in training for one of their game shows, had manned it out.


Tobermory was refreshingly static. Among the usual tourist tat there were some interesting shops and a museum. I pondered the choice between handmade soap and handmade chocolate for Mrs. OM – a no-win situation so I bought both. I also found an interesting shop called Books and Tackle, but, as I am well provided with both, I did not make a purchase.

The return journey to the ferry was by conventional  type bus, and I fear my next encounter with an open top version will be as one edges its way down Easter Road through a sea of green and white.

All in all, one of the good days


Don’t go away – we’ll be right back with Wednesday’s adventure after this  word from our sponsor.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Doggone that darn road.

I hadn’t walked the Darn Road for some time. If truth be told (and this is a blog after all), I haven’t walked anywhere for a while. But that’s another story.

Anyway, would I find that this ancient thoroughfare had changed since the last time ? Had it been “designated”, surfaced with crushed whinstone and waymarked with colour-coded posts and information boards ? Had it been diverted via Northampton ? Surely there would be a wind farm ? But no, I needn’t have worried (wot me ..?).


 It is stil it’s old haun’ knittet self.

Still enchanting


This wall was built about 200 years ago, at a time when it was fashionable for lairds to wall off their estates, move the villages and churches outside the wall, and divert traditional routes around their properties. The story goes that a team of workmen laboured each day to build a section of the new wall – and a team of locals came out every night and knocked down the days’s work. Until the laird got huffy and called in the polis.


So, up to this point, everything seems much as I remember it. But whoa. What’s this ? This is new.


Well, it’s a bench. Obviously. But what are all the carvings ? Skull and crossbones, parrot, map, treasure chest and spade.

Aaaaaargh me hearties, the clue is in the location. Right next to Ben Gunn’s cave. Local legend (aka the Tourist Board) has it that RLS played here as a boy, and that this was the inspiration for Ben Gunn’s cave in Treasure Island. Of course he got the inspiration for the Black Spot and a parrot that said “Pieces of Eight” much later when he was doing mushrooms.


All in all a pleasant walk of about 4 miles down amnesia lane.

Must do more of this