Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sisters Trip - Ariundle Wood NNR to Fort William, Nevis and Glencoe

Already the holiday was nearing an end, time had flown by but there was still a few wee things to see and do.  First a drive from Morar down to Ariundle NNR, again taking in the scenery on the way:


This particularly pleasant spot is Acharacle, can you see the Red-breasted Merganser on the river?


Ariundle was an absolute delight we saw Chequered Skipper (a 100% hit rate of target species for Jenny), and loads of dragonflies including this Four-spotted Darter:


It's a lovely setting:


And with lots of interesting wildlife to catch the eye of the passer-by:


 From Ariundle we drove North to Fort William, stopping to catch the car ferry that is part of the A861, and then to our hotel overlooking Neptune's Staircase.

The following morning it was Ben Nevis o'clock for the three nutters, sorry i mean willing volunteers.  The visitor centre was closed til 9am though so Helen and I had to surrender our only water to make sure the three climbing Sisters had sufficient supplies, we dropped them and then headed to the Glen Nevis gorge car park for our own walk, into woodland at first:


This soon becomes a narrow gorge which unexpectedly then suddenly opens out into a huge glacial valley, worn down now by the Water of Nevis:



We stopped under Steall falls to admire the view, though i suspect in snow-melt it will be an even more spectacular sight: 


We waded the stream, carefully, as the water was freezing and the rocks slippery:














And got about as far as we felt we could safely go without water, roughly 2.5 to 3 miles in, before turning around:


From the car park we drove up to Spean Bridge as i've wanted to see the Commando Memorial there for some time:


And then had a well deserved cuppa.  Meanwhile....


When we got the call to collect the walkers we did so, dropping them off at the hotel before Helen dragged us back out for another walk.  This time along the Great Glen Way down to Corpach and the lock that accesses the two sea lochs, all the while with a clear Ben Nevis in sight:



We all achieved something that day, some more than others, but smiles all round at dinner and the odd sore foot no doubt too.

Our last day together involved mostly driving home,


However we did build in a short walk, a 'leg loosener' at the entrance to Glencoe, Ballachulish to be precise and the Brecklet path above the former quarry with views of Loch Leven:


The path winds on through plantation forest:


Growing up, around and through abandoned homes and farms from a long abandoned settlement:


From there it was time for the jaw-dropping drive through Glencoe and home for a last dinner together before people started heading off to their various homes.

Scotland had delivered, despite Mull, it's beautiful, vast and poetic a landscape and country and we've barely scratched the surface of it... 

Sisters Trip - Plan B

Rather shell-shocked from our retreat from Mull we had a slower start to the day than anticipated but still made it up to Glenfinglas to walk around the woodland and enjoy 'peak bluebell':


We also made a reservation for Monday night in Pitlochry and had a plan to catch-up with the original tour thereafter.

We've hesitated to visit Pitlochry before, now we know we'll go again.   On arrival we headed for the car park for Ben-y-Vrackie, which we proceeded to ascend together.   There's a lochlan around halfway up distance wise, and it was reflecting one of the few clouds on another cracking day:


The same lochlan from nearer the summit:


We all reached the top of this hill, albeit Helen and i last to do so.  It was worth it, only from the top can you see the Cairngorms to the North:


That night we dined in town and i was chuffed to bits to hear the approach and then passage of a drum and pipe band and even happier they were playing my favourite, The Green Hills of Tyrol:


Things were back on track.  Tuesday morning we drove to Arisaig, just short of our stop in Morar, taking in some of the landscape on the way:


Arisaig is the home of the so called 'silver sands' and another scorcher of a day proved the name to be spot on:


Eigg and Rhum can be seen from the beaches:


We dropped Alison, Jenny and Kate off for a four-mile walk to our hotel while we explored Arisaig proper, Loch Morar and the coastline further North.

This house has a good view:


And this is Morar beach at low tide:


This is the same beach at high tide with a setting sun:


Stunning.   Though by now midge season was well and truly getting under way.   Time to beat a hasty retreat to the bar!

Sisters Trip - to Oban and then to Mull


Another glorious bright morning saw us drive to Taynish NNR in search of Marsh Fritillary butterflies.  A very helpful lady, we think the Doctor overseeing the reserve, helped us park as she organised a visiting school group.  She advised however the colony was lost as it had been predated by a parasitic wasp during the caterpillar stage, and she was right we didn't find a single one.

We did enjoy the morning sunshine filtering through the trees as we explored the reserve:


Having gone a different route to most we watched a couple of deer who nervously headed away when they'd in turn spotted us:














There were butterflies about, mostly Orange-tip and like this Green-veined White:


As well as a few freshly emerged Speckled Wood:



Having explored the end of the reserve we then took in the short sharp hill ascent for magnificent views of bluebells, lochs and hills:


I was photographing them being photographed in such a magnificent landscape:


This was the view North from the highest point:


From Taynish we headed up the windy coastal road to Oban, enjoying dinner in town and then the sun setting over Mull our next destination:


Yet another bright morning dawned, Scotland was really putting it's best sunshine hat on.   After breakfast a brief wait in the queue for the ferry:


And then we sailed across to Mull:


Mull looked beautiful as we drove from the ferry terminal at Craignure on to our planned walk at Carsaig.  Beautiful but isloated:



Carsaig is a pretty bay with a very tricky walk to some arches on the coast, beyond the point you can see in the distance:


We set off as a group around the bay:


And reached a spectacular waterfall:


The going was proving tough however and we all turned round at various points and completed the walk ahead of schedule.

Helen and I meandered along the coast enjoying the various oddities along the way:




















As well as basalt columns high on the cliff:


We did also spot some very interesting butterflies, both Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries:


And Marsh Fritillaries:


Then it was time to head for accommodation for a much needed shower before dinner.

However we didn't see much of the island in the end as on arrival at our accommodation, the Craignure Inn, they denied having received the booking (confirmed in the previous November).  As we'd done it all by phone i couldn't produce a confirmation and that was that, it was late afternoon, various websites showed no availability and we had to get off the island pronto, which we managed by getting the very last spot on the penultimate boat to the mainland.  I noted reading the reservation book that the rooms we'd agreed £80 B&B for were now going for £95, hence no doubt the owner's motivation to dump us and re-sell them.   We also lost £130 on a booking for two of us to visit Treshnish and Staffa by boat the next morning as we were in the 24 hour cancellation window by the time we knew we had a problem.   We'll never forget the impact they had on our holiday and plans.  Luckily it was less then 3 hours from dinner in Oban again to bed at home.  Bastards.