Monday, May 20, 2019

Staying local

Ahead of the big trip we start in early summer we've been staying closer to home and revisiting some of our favourite places as well as new ones too.

Our first trip was to the Stranraer area, we set off via the Ayrshire coastline stopping to photograph Ailsa Craig.   This turned out to be the last picture i took with my stock lens that came with my first ever SLR, as it broke apart in my hands while i was trying to focus.   Hey ho.   As i write this i am sat at home waiting for the delivery of a (reconditioned) new one which has been a lot of hassle, but that's another story...

We got down to the peninsular and arrived at our principle location for the trip, the Logan Botanic Gardens, the last of the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens dotted over Southern Scotland.   Whilst one of the smaller gardens we enjoyed it more than Dawyck, though Benmore for us is the outstanding property.

Spring flowers were everywhere in blown.   This Mecanopsis is the national flower of Bhutan apparently:

I loved the detail on the stem hence the unusual angle in the photograph.

Out and about we found pink Bluebells:

Before finding carpets of the more common Bluebells just behind Aldouran Wetland Gardens in Aldouran Glen (Woodland Trust):

Back in the gardens, a community project, a Sedge Warbler was displaying in the reeds:

We counted six migrant warbler species in the vicinity which shows what a little bit of elbow grease and some planning can achieve, it's a lovely peaceful spot to visit in what is otherwise a land very much under the gun, hence we decided quite quickly we'll not be going back to this area.

The following day we drove to Portpatrick:

We'd planned a walk out from the town along the cost but those cliffs were too much for me so we jumped back in the car and drove North to Corsewall Lighthouse, which is in fact a hotel, remarkably isolated but a very different place to stay i imagine:

From there we drove to Castle Kennedy to explore the castle grounds and gardens, another lovely spot, though it's still the family seat and the Earl was wandering around with his wife and daughter which was a little odd but still very pleasant.

One of the feral Greylag geese was 'avin a gander from the top of the former tower: 

On the day we headed back home we decided to go via Loch Trool in the Cree Valley of Galloway Forest Park, and to do the circuit around the Loch.   It was a beautiful day:

This is the Cree waterfall that we saw in the Autumn, still going strong:

After a brief stay at home and then a Whisky blending experience in Aberfeldy we drove via the Highlands, pausing for this snap over Loch Laggan on the way:

Our destination was Arisaig and Morar on the West coast, a stunning spot and one we didn't feel we'd done justice to on our visit 12 months previously.

The weather remained outstanding and the views lived up to our expectations as we caught the train to Morar and then walked back along the coast to Arisaig:

The next day was just as stunning:

On the last day we decided to catch the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye.  We departed under cloud on a cool morning as the local fishing fleet was getting ready to head out:

Passed the lighthouse with Skye in the distance:

And thence to Armadale Castle, which unbeknown to us was hosting a festival and shut, so we walked around the grounds and up the hill, which was covered in bluebells:

Lots of disused buildings lie above the castle:

Having enjoyed the walk we caught the ferry back across to the mainland:

And then headed home.   Another short pause and this time we headed to catch a train.   Not just any train but the Flying Scotsman:

The journey took four hours including a near hour long stop to take on water for the engine and a half-hour stop at Stirling for photography:

I think she made 3 loops that day, the volunteers must have put in up to 17 hour shifts, but they were all smiles as this was probably the dream job if you like that kind of thing.   We really enjoyed the trip, i reckon we saw upwards of 1,000 people out taking film and pictures of the famous train as it wound it's way around.   Smashing.   Time then to get tot the serious business of packing...


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