glen etive

the whole route

Added a couple more to my measly total of Munros last weekend , with a walk with my new office’s climbing club. After a grey start it turned into a glorious day – making hillwalking seem almost fun.

ben starav ridge

We climbed Ben Starav via the spectacular ridge path (above), with a bit of a scramble up to great views at the summit over Loch Etive and the surrounding glen. After a brief rest we follwed the ridges across to the more gentle (but still over 3,000 ft) but much more difficult to pronounce Glas Bheinn Mor.

The decent was fairly jarring with the occasional stop to refill water bottles from mountain springs (below) decent from Glas Bheinn Mor (2)

We were rewarded at the end by dipping our toes & washing our faces in a delightful crystal clear rock pool, with a cloudless roof of sky.(below) In case you think Scotland is always like this it returned to grey & miserable today just in case anyone got too cocky and planned a bbq or something!
Glas Bheinn Mor

iron & wine at the abc

iron & wine my shephards dog

We caught the very hirstute Iron & Wine at the ABC last night. It had been a good 4 years since we last saw him supporting Cat Power and while his beard may not have got any bigger his band definitely had with at least 7 members – including an intriguing percussionist who played at least twenty different instruments over the course of the evening – including something that closely resembled a sports trophy, as well as what looked suspisciously like christmas decorations!

Unfortunately all this extra texture detracted from the simplicity that attracted us to him in the first place and the highlights were when he played by himself with only vocal accompaniment.

costa del solway and the garden of cosmic speculation

sandyhill bay

The lack of recent posts has been down to some decidedly summerlike weather (5 days without rain!) which has seen us in the garden and out at the allotment. Our seedlings are getting rather huge in the conservatory, although many of the ones that we planted out have been decimated by slugs! I finally added the roof to the greenhouse this weekend so with the addition of a door and an industrial load of gap filler we’ll be at lock up stage.

last weekend for the first of 2 may long weekends we headed south into the Dumfries region. We camped on the Solway Coast in one of those decidedly Brittish holiday parks, complete with green caravans, kids with buckets & spades and a decidedly underwhelming beach, although this one was much less garish than most and beautifully sited overlooking a little bay (above).

smugglers cove

We walked from our campsite along the coast to the delightful Rocklciffe & Kipford (more boats – you have to feel for poor Chhay, having to put up with me) , past little settlements and ultimate natural smugglers hideouts (above) carved into the cliffs. We also found time to explore the atmospheric ruined Sweetheart Abbey and the attendant cute little town of New Abbey (below).

sweetheart abbey from new abbey

On the Sunday we headed back past Dumfries (itself an interesting if a little sketchy regional centre with great winding lanes and beautiful red sandstone housing stock) to the reason for our trip – Charles Jencks own Garden of Cosmic Speculation. Open to the public on only one day a year it is an esoteric, sometimes humorous sculptural post modern landscape treat. Curving grass helixes (below), mirrored ponds, obscure sculptures tucked into hidden groves (bottom) as well as complex hydrological features make for a fascinating place for exploring and it was incredibly popular – packed with the funkier edge of the blue rinse set.

from the snail tower

While some of it was a little too post modern for my black skivvied taste, it is an amazing place, showing that there is more to the old critic than a few architecture tomes. As always more at our flickr

ardnamurchan peninsula

sound of mull
As Chhay & and I have somehow managed to keep each other entertained, annoyed or otherwise occupied for approximately the last eight years, we dumped our surrogate child Claire for a weekend on the Ardnamurchan peninsula.

We had a pleasant drive up on the Friday night stopping at the very elegant Kilcamb Lodge for a somewhat surprisingly fancy supper.

We were based in Acharacle which was an unpreposessing town at the edge of the peninsula. The surrounding countryside however was absolutely magnificent. Quite depopulated with hidden coves and bays and the odd sandy beach to surprise.

There was even the wildlife promised by the tourist people – chhay spotted badgers, hawks and multitude of deer.

We trekked out to the very end of the peninsula – which also happens to be the westernmost mainland point on Great Britain, alsthough the islands sitting just offshore don’t give you a great sense of achievement. Having satifies our extremism we hopped on a ferry for an afternoon in the very picturesque Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.(below)

tobermory harbourOn our last day we did a big loop up to the gritty ‘gateway to the isles’, Mallaig – a proper fishing town, with a proper somewhat stinky harbour. The road up however was breathtaking – starting with beautiful harbours complete with ruined castles, and hidden yachts, follwed by clear aqua water backed by snow topped mountains, more beaches and views out to the small isles of Eigg, Rum and Rhu with the brooding presence of the Isle of Skye in the background.

the small isles

I spent most of my time over the whole weekend wildly speculating on boat purchases, as every turn revealed yet another brilliant opportuinity for sailing. I think a six month trip up the west coast of Scotland may be the fitting way to finish our time here so if anyone want to join in a couple of years just let me know!