A walk from Bellanoch

With Daisy and my grandson visiting, I finally managed to grab a day off work today. With the afternoon not quite threatening rain, we went to the Crinan Canal at Bellanoch for a walk along the towpath to Crinan Bridge and back.

Not much good stuff from playing with the camera, but here’s my favourite of the day:

Cogs getting it together

Cogs getting it together

A trip to Scarba

The Isle of Scarba is an uninhabited island off the west coast of Argyll. It lies to the north of the Isle of Jura and is separated from it by the notorious Gulf of Corryvreckan. North of Scarba lies the island of Lunga, which is separated from Scarba by the Bealach a’ Choin Ghlais, or the “Grey Dogs” as it is locally known.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The opportunity to visit the island came about when I came across a message on a ramblers’ bulletin board (I hasten to add that I am not a rambler) advertising the trip and offering spaces to any comers with some walking experience. I contacted AndrĂ©, who was the mover and shaker behind the expedition, and managed to snaffle a place. We also managed to snaffle places for The Bikers, our illustrious neighbours, at the last minute. The last member of the party that assembled to board the Farsain, the charter boat from Craobh Haven, was a chap called Peter.

The forecast for the day was, frankly, crummy, and I’d prepared for a long day out in the wet with no shelter. There were showers as we crossed to Scarba, but it wasn’t raining when we landed. One delight on the crossing was my first ever sighting of puffins, two of whom were fishing on the water off the Scarba coast.
The intention was that we would make our way to the summit of the island, Cruach Scarba, and the route selected was following the pony track that ran southward through the centre of the island.

The next landmark we came across was Loch Airigh a’Chruidh. Unfortunately, where the map indicated a footbridge to cross the burn that fed the loch, this had completely disappeared into a deep gully in the peat; this was just about jumpable.

This picture shows the pony track itself as it skirts around some of the crags on the southern side of the island:

The views south over the Gulf of Corryvreckan and to the Isle of Jura were spectacular as the path itself was about 800′ in altitude at this point.

The climb to the summit involved an easy ascent for about one kilometre up grassy slopes. Towards the top, there was much gnashing of maps by the ramblers who set off in an oblique direction, while I used the basic Argyll technique of looking at the land and heading off towards the summit. This method secured me a quiet ten minutes at least at the summit before everyone else arrived.

The trig pillar at the top of Cruach Scarba is one of the “Vanessa” types, a concrete cylinder instead of the tapering square pillar more commonly found.
Lunch over, the party divided, with the rambling portion returning the way they came. The Bikers and I decided that it would be a shame not to try to attempt a different route back and we crossed north-east until we came to a burn that ran northwards, intending to follow it down until we came to the pony track that ran around the north side of the island.

The walking down this valley was fantastic; good going underfoot and primroses, violets and daisies in profusion. Deer watched us from the heights of the crags. The views forward over the islands to the north of Scarba were superb, for by this time the sun had come out and we were able to shed all the wet-weather gear.
We came down quite quickly to the pony track and, with plenty of time in hand, followed it around to the north-west corner of the island and drank in the views. We could see as far as Ardnave Point on Islay, the Isle of Colonsay, the Gavallechs, Ben More on Mull as the cloud finally began to lift from its summit and all the small islands to the north, including the closest, Lunga.

We made a leisurely trek back to the quay to await the Farsain, which arrived punctually to take us off the island. An excellent day out, and there are more photos on Flickr for those who’ve managed to read this far.

Beelzebub and the Token of Love

Her Maj has finished term and buzzed off to Somerset for a few weeks, leaving the old boy to his own devices. It being a lovely sunny, warm evening, the decision was taken to go off square-bagging and fill in a corner somewhat to the south of The Grannary. The initial project was to grab four elusive squares accessible through forest tracks, and then to see whether a route was available on the ground (although not shown on the map) to get into some craggy hills further over that would complete a pleasant and rewarding round trip.
The initial walk through the forest was good and the tracks were all marked on the map. At the end of the forest roads, I was getting up towards the moorland and looking for a way into the ground to my east. I found a small track heading off in the right general direction and, after a mile or so of meandering through the forest, came out in more open ground and made my way to the rather gorgeous Lochan Anama.
Lochan Anama This view looks over Lochan Anama towards Sidh Mor.
The light was wonderful and the views out across the islands towards Mull were fantastic. The only serious snag were the flies, which decided that I represented some sort of holiday camp for their kind and swarmed all around my head, all of the time. It wasn’t so bad when walking reasonably quickly, but whenever I stopped to check the map, take a picture or make a note in my notebook, they descended in a ravenous fury.
The Token of LoveTowards the end of the walk, I climbed a fun little rock outcrop just for the sheer hell of the exercise and found this wonderful little love token at the top. This was sat on a little ledge facing the west and getting the benefit of the setting sun and was a simply lovely little thing to find. On the back it was enscribed “To Ev from Alan”. I put it back exactly as I found it and I hope Ev treasures the knowledge of it, if she evens knows it’s up there.

Trig-hunting at Drimvore

A slightly-retro-blog by Pat the Chooks
Sunday, 11th June 2006
Domestic activities this morning, so not until later in the afternoon was I able to get out for a walk and go square-bagging. I’d identified an area of six squares near Dunadd which needed to be dealt with, so parked up the car and walked up through the woods to get onto the hills. The map showed a trig point at this location but omitted to show the conifer plantation which now surrounded it; fortunately, I was able to find a route in which involved only about thirty metres of crawling under trees. Another trig point for the bag.
The rest of the walk took me over the hills and past a couple of lochs before descending down the next glen and walking back along the road to the car. A pleasant, if hot, walk, but not ground that would entice me back again.
There is a tragic tale associated with one of these lochans. In 1901, Lochan Curaich was the scene of the drowning of five local boys aged between eight and eleven years old. They had taken a boat which capsized and all of them were lost. Two of the boys were brothers. There is a memorial over their common grave in Kilmartin churchyard. This is the scene of the accident:
Lochan Curaich

Out and about in Inverliever Forest

A retro-post by Pat the Chooks
Saturday, 3rd June 2006
Allowed out to do some square-bagging as a reward for my hard work all the previous week. Not too much detail to report, but bagged twenty squares, all on foot, all on my own, in about 17 miles of walking. Oh, and I saw my first black grouse, hurtling off through the trees at my approach. The route took me along Loch Avich on the final leg back to the car, so here’s a picture of the loch for your pleasure.
Loch Avich
Saturday, 22nd September 2006
This post originally referred to the sighting of a capercaille, but retrospective assessment makes it clear that it was a black grouse.