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.
There 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.
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.
Once 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?
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.
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.
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.
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