3rd September – Glen Coe, Glen Etive and Port Appin

Glen Etive (3)A week or so ago we took off westwards again, over through Crianlarich and Tyndrum and up through Glen Coe, driving part of the way down Glen Etive and then coming back to venture as far as Port Appin on the coast.    Before heading back we took a detour around Loch Leven, a lovely loop which I remember doing many years ago.

Very mixed weather – low cloud and drizzle giving way suddenly to brilliant sunshine, which was a challenge for photo exposures.   And the midges were rather hungry.  But it was still good for the soul!

Glen Etive

Glen Etive

Glen Coe, Glen Etive (Colin) 13Glen EtiveGlen Coe, Glen Etive (Colin) 48Glen Coe, Glen Etive 52

Young birch trees

Glen Coe, Glen Etive 70

Rowan berries in Glen Etive

Scots pine

Scabious buds and Self-heal

Scabious buds and Self-heal

Heather and eye-bright

Heather and eye-bright

Harebells

Harebells

Beach just north of Appin

Beach just north of Appin

Appin beach (2)Glen Coe, Glen Etive 100

Port Appin

Port Appin

Glen Coe, Glen Etive 81

Port Appin gift shop

Port Appin gift shop

Loch Leven

Loch Leven

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

Photos copyright © Colin & Jo Woolf

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9th August – a walk around South Queensferry

Queensferry (13)A couple of weeks ago we spent a morning in South Queensferry, an old town on the Firth of Forth.   Colin is working on a painting that has the Forth Rail Bridge in the background, and he wanted a few reference photos.

We wandered up and down the cobbled High Street, which at the time was pretty quiet, and enjoyed looking at the old townhouses overlooking the harbour.

Queensferry has a long history.  Its name comes from Queen Margaret (later St Margaret), the wife of Malcolm III of Scotland.   Margaret is remembered for her generous and caring nature, and she established a ferry crossing here in the 11th century for pilgrims on their way to St Andrews.

Queensferry (18)

Today South Queensferry is dwarfed by the two great bridges over the Forth (soon to be three, with the building of the new crossing).   The rail bridge is seen below.  It was opened in 1890, and has just been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Queensferry (17)Forth Rail Bridge

A glimpse of the bridge between the houses (below).

Queensferry (12)Queensferry (14)

The house on the right (above) is called the Black Castle, and was built by a wealthy seaman in 1626.   In the 18th century, boats would smuggle in kegs of brandy which were rolled up to the house along secret tunnels.

Queensferry (7)Queensferry (10)

I liked the double rows of buildings along the main street, with town houses above and shops below.

Queensferry (8)Queensferry (6)Queensferry (15)

The oldest building in South Queensferry is the Priory Church of St Mary, which is all that remains of a Carmelite monastery founded in 1440 by James Dundas.   You can walk around the outside and make out the possible foundations of old buildings that were attached to the church.   Sadly, I couldn’t get inside because it was locked.

Queensferry (5)Queensferry (26)Queensferry (22)Queensferry (25)Queensferry (4)A quiet little place, well worth poking around on a rainy day (and there have been plenty of those this summer!)

Queensferry (16)

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13th June – Dunadd and Taynish woods

On Thursday the cold and windy weather was predicted, in Scotland at least, to blossom out into a hot summer.   We pondered this unusual phenomenon for about five seconds before packing the cameras, a picnic lunch and some sun lotion and heading over into Argyll.

Lix Toll - mountainsThere was still quite a bit of snow on the hills.  Our route took us up to Crianlarich and Dalmally, then down towards Inveraray.   There was a slight hold-up caused by roadworks, and then the traffic lights were overruled by a herd of Highland cattle making leisurely progress towards new pastures, babies and all.

Highland cows on road

No one really minds about having to wait for Highland cows, and the scent of bluebells wafting in through the car windows was pure heaven.

Bluebells by roadsideOnce at Inveraray we made a quick stop and I wandered around taking photos of the cross, the bridge and the two ships that are permanently docked there.  One of them is for sale.    It was built in Dublin in 1911.   Anyone fancy an adventure?

Inveraray Bridge (2)Inveraray CrossInveraray shipsInveraray Ships (3)Our first destination was Dunadd, an ancient hill fort in the south of Kilmartin Glen.   I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve driven past Dunadd, casting longing glances at it through the side window, so the chance to climb up there at last was just so exciting.

Dunadd (1)Between about 500 and 900 AD, Dunadd was the place where the kings of Dalriada were inaugurated.  It overlooks the Moine Mhor or ‘great moss’, through which the River Add winds its way slowly towards the sea.   On the summit of the hill is a stone carved with a footprint, where a new ruler would stand for the ceremony.

River Add, DunaddDunadd (48)Dunadd (46) Dunadd (47)

The footprint rock

The footprint rock (just above centre) with a basin carved into another rock, in the foreground

The Crinan Canal made a lovely place to have lunch, and then we wended our way down towards Taynish woods, just south of Tayvallich.

Dating back at least 7,000 years, Taynish is one of Britain’s oldest surviving oak woods.  The wildlife here is astounding – hundreds of dragonflies and damselflies were darting around over the loch, and the birdsong was never-ending.  We identified wood warblers, garden warblers, robins, blackcap, thrushes, blackbirds… and the oak leaves were just coming out, providing a gold backdrop to the deep blue sky.

Crinan Canal June 2015Taynish woods (1)Taynish lochanTaynish woods (3)Oak leaves, Taynish

Bluebells, campion and stitchwort

Bluebells, campion and stitchwort

Taynish 18

Loch Sween

Loch Sween

Taynish and Loch Sween

Gean or wild cherry

Gean or wild cherry

A fantastic day out, and the sunshine was good for the soul.  I’ll tell you more about Dunadd and Taynish woods on The Hazel Tree very soon!

Photos copyright © Jo Woolf

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