Category Archives: Walks

Neptune Crowned on Ganavan Sands

Ganavan Sands by Oban – so beautiful on any day but particularly on a sunlit – early February day —


I first came here as Boy Scout sixty five years ago to camp on the nearby Island of Kerrera. That was probably in the month of June and I don’t remember seeing much sunshine. Rain – rain – midgies and more rain are my abiding memories.


We had travelled by steam train from Kelso in the Scottish Borders – my first big adventure away from my family.


It was an adventure alright and as children did in those days – we pulled the leather strap that lowered the window in the carriage door and stuck our heads out into the smoke and soot from the hard working engine during our long journey. The good townspeople of Oban could have been forgiven for thinking they were getting a visit from the Black & White Minstrels when we got off the train.


C’mon mate – you have no time to smell the flowers on the gorse. It was 1952-53 you were here as a Boy Scout – Coronation Year – when our current Queen Elizabeth was crowned. It’s your turn this year — a stone from the beach with the beginnings of growth will do – looks like a galleon sailing down the Sound of Mull.

Behold – King Neptune —


Mmmm – time for another haircut. Isn’t nature wonderful. To think these plants can grow from the back of a stone up near the tide-line where they are briefly covered with seawater but twice a day.


Time to put it back where Helen found it —


and thank her for the use of her photos —


with a couple of my own —

Tonight’s sunset on Bardrishaig 🙂

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Posted by on February 11, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


The Toberonochy Two-step

One of those days to wrap up warm and get out while the sun is shining —


There’s always a steady dribble of traffic from the Cuan Ferry no matter what day of the week – and –

with the Tall Ten at the gallop it was off down the island to Toberonochy where we parked on the empty quayside —


What’s he fiddling with?


Oh yes – it’s the newly fitted Givi Tailpack that came in the morning post —


Just the thing for binoculars – spare gloves and an apple or two — but it’s too cold to hang about. Looks like ‘porky boy’ has had too many pies anyway – time for action.


Past the big tree – worth a mention as there aren’t too many ‘big trees’ on the island —


and down by the last house in the village to the open fields running down to the shore where our man limbers up for the Toberonochy Two-step with a twist of the hips —


while his partner answers with the tiniest of bum flicks as she points with the – left foot?


She blames the restrictive protective padding in her bike suit for the lack of movement but I reckon she was more interested in eating her apple.

Now she’s getting her shadow in the pic but I will try to ignore the salute – she is too polite to use two fingers anyway —


It was so much easier putting a blog together when I had endless open roads to ride —


Could be worse – the main aim is to show the Isle of Luing as we had it on a beautiful – early February day ___


We made the most of it and were home in time to wash the mud and cowshit off the bike and enjoy this setting sun 🙂



Misty Morning

One of those misty mornings —


but eagle-eyed Seamus has spotted the cackling geese on the frosted grass of the lower field.


Nothing else to be seen beyond that until Scarba peeps out of the mist —


but it doesn’t last and by the time Helen and I had the boots on it had cleared over the Pond.


We take the clifftop grass route around the western perimeter fence —


with views to the snow-capped mountains of Mull —


to name but one of the many islands dotted off our beautiful coast.


Well worth getting out of bed for 🙂

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Posted by on February 8, 2017 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


Five Fools in a Fountain

It’s great what we do to work up an appetite for a Boxing Day curried chook lunch. H n I braved the storm and walked over to Port Mary corner with views across Cuan Sound to the Isle of Seil.

I stood there by my Hobbit Hoos wondering where the roof had gone.


While the distaff side tested her new waterproof eye-shadow —


while getting on with the ‘day job’ of photographing the waves and currents.


Aah – very pretty Master’ said my Nigerian driver – nickname ‘Jaguar’ – when he drove me and family through a busy red traffic light on the outskirts of Kaduna in reply to my question – ‘What colour were those lights Jaguar?’


Very Pretty indeed – but what’s happening across the Sound?


There were five people on that headland last time I looked —


Yup – five people I tell you! No doubt youngsters full of Christmas spirit —


That must have sobered them up —


There’s still three at least —


Three – or is it four – could be one on his knees hanging on – or praying. That isn’t bad out of five mad fools.


Chunter – chunter — bloody daft kids — wonder if it was them wot nicked my roof.



Don 🙂



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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


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If Boats Could Talk

First published on here in April 2012 – I stumbled across it again while looking for the Red Roofed Cottage near Shieldaig. I enjoyed writing – ‘if Boats Could Talk’ so much I’ve brought it forward to December 2016.

If boats could talk perhaps this old clinker built twenty four footer would tell us why she ended her days abandoned on the banks of the River Dee —

She could tell us about the chap who sat down with a piece of paper and designed her curves —

She could tell us of how they steamed the wood and put the bend into her ribs – of the people who sailed her and the goods she carried.

She might even have something to say about the guy who made the temporary repair in her latter years by hammering a multitude of galvanised roofing nails into the rotten timbers that held her together at the bows.

But it wasn’t enough in the end and with daylight showing through – to be beached on the dry riverbank was the best thing for her —

At least she has found a pleasant place to end her days with brambles growing over her

and surrounded by daffodils in season —

I’ve been meaning to take a photo of that old boat for some time and today was the day. I nipped over the new fence and did just that while on my way to the Ross for a walk in a mixture of sunshine and hailstones. A fresh day to be out and I loved it —

With this view from the cattle pens across the Solway Firth and the Robin Wind Turbines to the snow capped Lakeland Hills even the most miserable amongst us would smile —

Although I did provoke a mini-stampede on the way there —

but they settled down before long —

If boats could talk

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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in out and about, Walks



Their Christmas Goose is Cooked

One of the problems when living close to nature is that you can get rather fond of the characters involved. 20161205_125207

Our roe deer became part of the family but we haven’t seen them for about a week and they might even be in someone’s freezer by now.

Soft as it may seem for someone like myself –  born and bred in the country – it would be re-assuring to look out the bedroom window one morning soon and see them in the garden again.

Likewise the flock of wild geese that live throughout the year on Luing. Their friendly cackle as they fly in to the rich grazing around us in the morning and off again as darkness falls becomes part of our life here at Bardrishaig and on our walks to various parts of the island it’s not unusual to come across them sheltering from strong winds in some hidden valley.

Today they were obviously sheltering from the ‘guns’ engaged in the pre-Christmas shoot we had encountered on our way to the ferry.

Helen and I took a detour by Ardmaddy House on the mainland on our way home and were tickled to see our Luing geese having an ‘away day’ over there too. Virtually all were looking south to Luing and wondering if it was safe to fly home.


Ardmaddy House was well worth a photo – even if it was from a distance. Standing in it’s well kept grounds at the head of Ardmaddy Bay – we have seen it across the water on many occasions when walking or visiting the north-east section of Luing where my son lives. The gardens on Ardmaddy Estate are open to the public throughout the year but we will leave that visit till well into Spring when there’s more to see – and photograph.



Talking of photos – we passed a photogenic horse on the way down the single track road to Ardmaddy and I’m sure he will be thrilled to pad out this Post. Reminds me of ‘Scout’ – the Lone Ranger’s sidekick Tonto’s piebald horse – but he can’t be – trusty Scout will have joined the ‘Rider’s in the Sky’ long ago.


The swans by the roadside on Loch Seil aren’t too bothered when cartridges start exploding and pellets fly for by all accounts the only person officially licensed to kill and eat the Mute swan since Tudor times is the Queen.


As far as the Bewick and other types of swan are concerned it’s a grey area and hardly worth the bother as – except in certain secretive quarters – eating swan meat has been out of fashion for many many years.


There is some nice walking country over by Ardmaddy but now is not the time to do it as it is obviously a ‘Shooting’ Estate and might even employ something as old-fashioned as a grumpy gamekeeper.

The walk by the Wishing Tree and over the tops to Kilmelford will be worth doing in the summer when the days are longer and the views fantastic – with luck – health and gamekeeper permitting we will do it then.


H took this one on her way home tonight – nice sky – and thank’s for the use of t’others – my camera was able to gather fluff in my pocket all day.


Don 🙂




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Posted by on December 5, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


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Walking on Seil Island

Unless you have a car stationed on both sides of Cuan Ferry – as many Luing islanders do – you haven’t much option on a Sunday – because – we have no vehicular ferry on a Sunday. What we have is a little passengers only ferry with an outboard motor.


It’s quite cosy sitting bunched up for all of five minutes as we scud across the fast flowing tidal Cuan Sound.



This was our first crossing on the wee ferry and it didn’t hurt at all. The view – courtesy of Steve Jaikens and his Olympic Digital Camera – is the one I usually have when I drive through here on my way to wherever as it’s the only road out of Luing.

Today we are on foot and are due to take a sharp left by the church to follow an ancient footpath over to Ellanabeich where there is a Craft Fair taking place in the village hall.


Kilbrandon Church – with it’s five stained glass windows is one of five local churches all in the parish of Cuan which are said to form the ‘cradle of Christianity’ in Scotland. Each start with ‘Kil’ in their names and are named after companions or followers of Saint Columbus of Iona who is credited with bringing the religion to Scotland.

We didn’t disturb the minister as we had already met him waiting to board our ferry earlier. He is a busy chap on a Sunday – having to preach in three of the five churches in his parish. What we did disturb was a young doe roe deer which had been lying in the bracken till we came along.

She was gone in a twinkling and it wasn’t until we were higher up on the hill that we found a few beasts willing to pose for us. There was this mean looking bunch —


followed by this equally mean looking hombre —


Even her ladyship got in on the act and gazed pensively into the distance for my camera.


Oi reckon it were the sheep wot dunnit ma’am —


come from the croft they do.


No worries —-


with the ol’ boy setting the pace we were soon over the hill —


and heading down past a quarry in the direction of Easdale —-


at least that’s what it said on this ancient sign further up the hill.


Out of sequence I know – but this view from up on the hill is a must —


On second thoughts it wasn’t that great so I gave you a windblown birch tree instead.

The Craft Fair was going well in the new village hall when we arrived there. Soup and a roll for a couple of quid went down a treat and all too soon we were heading back over the hill for the late afternoon ferry.


Maybe the pensive look in the earlier photo was well founded – that is quite a mudhole our Helen is heading for.

Don 🙂

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Posted by on December 4, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


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A House made of Butter

A house made of butter? I’m taking a chance with that title as everyone knows Bardrishaig shown here is brilliant white inside and out.

moss-2But – just have patience and we will find out if this colour-blind ijit is right.

Twas one of those days – H woke up with a migraine so we had a slo-ow start. No worries – things did improve and she didn’t need much persuading to come out for some fresh air early afternoon.

First we visited my son’s ‘new-build’ – his beautifully individual self-designed house just a few yards from a sheltered bay here on the Isle of Luing. Progress was being made and we quickly got out of his hair.

Toberonochy was our next port of call where we watched grebe’s and cormorants till they became fed up of performing for an audience of two and went elsewhere. The cue for us to get the camera’s out. Being a dull sort of day overhead and the first sunshine appearing way south around Islay Helen was always going to take the honours where pics are concerned.


Well – what do you expect when her camera is twice the size of mine.

Flotsam n jetsum – need you guess. H was always going to win that one – how do you think she found me for a start —


I crept into this one though – even if it was just to use my hand as an extra holding a rock — and if anyone thinks my ‘lifeline’ is on the short side – keep it to yourself please.


Next stop was Blackmill Bay where there wasn’t much going on but we did come across a few starlings up by the ruined Kilchattan church wondering if they had gathered enough to constitute a murmuration and head home to bed.


We left ’em counting and headed north to a sheltered anchorage where we photographed sheep – of all things. Oh – oh – too slow H – the sheep have disappeared over the hill – have a shot of the bay instead.


Night comes quick here in the Tropics of Lorn and by the time we had completed our five and a bit point turn on the single track road the sun had followed the sheep over the horizon.20161201_152748

But it did let H snatch an artistic shot of the field gate as we bumped up our hill.


Where I won the honours for a shot at the setting sun through the rowans on our hillock —


With a black Scarba getting into the act over a red sky running it a close second.


The Daleks! Musn’t forget our Daleks who guard our fruit trees from a marauding roe buck. To think when she was a kid – H watched ’em from the back of the sofa – now she has her own at the bottom of the garden.

They have proven an effective deterrent so far and I quite like ’em really.


So — what about the creamy ‘House made of Butter’ —


So nice to come home to – she wins hand’s down any day 🙂

Don 🙂

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Posted by on December 1, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


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Visit Venice with Commissario Guido Brunnetti

A few years ago when living off and on near Frankfurt I was introduced to Commissario Guido Brunnetti and his struggles against crime in Venice. venice-24It’s difficult to miss a meeting or two with Guido over there as German TV has at last count – filmed twenty two episodes of American Author Donna Leon’s popular novels.

The German public libraries stock many of her books – both in their original English and – thankfully – in German language too. Enough to kindle my interest and make me want to visit this sinking and crumbling city on the lagoon.

So – I’ve been digging through my archives where I came across my store of images from my visit to Venice around 2008. I will post a few on here without any pretence that I know which part of Venice a particular photo was taken in. It’s still too early for Guido to be up and about but no doubt he will stroll along later in the day and help me identify my poor pics.

The magic ‘Edit’ button will be my saviour – as always 🙂

First you have to get there. Being not long retired in 2008 I had all the time in the world and stopped off for a few days of R&R laced with Italian culture on one of my numerous road trips to Croatia around that time.

The Italian Dolomites are always worth a photo on the way through —


Or two. This is one of my favourite roadside stops – their tagliatelle is to die for and really sets you up for what is to come.


The sheep and cowbells ringing in the woods and fields around provide a welcome respite from the roar of bikes and cars heading north to the high passes and Austria.


Yup! The ijit says ‘that’s Austria over there’ 🙂

The best way to approach Venice is dodge around the Cruise Ships and come in by water. Easily done when you grab a cheap (by Venetian prices) hotel along the Adriatic coast at Lido de Jeselo holiday resort. If you can tear yourself away from it’s lovely sandy beaches for a day a short bus ride will have you at the pier in jigtime for the ferry to Venice.

Out comes the camera at this point —


and excitement rises as we get closer to docking —


So grab yourself a gondolier and come let’s float —


along the Grand Canal if my guess is right —


which eventually will take you to the railway station – the second best way to enter Venice.


My photos are all out of sequence —


all over the place really —


and so was I —


for with all that water —


all I could think of was that I needed to pee —


and the only public toilet I could find was in the corner of St Mark’s square —


with queues of legs crossed Orientals in front of me stretching halfway around the square desperately waiting to spend a Euro — yep – a whole Euro to pee!


Being a tight Aberdonian I had other ideas and smiled my way past the nice receptionist at the nearby Metropole Hotel where she showed me to their palatial loo – for free —


which accounts for the smile on the face of this much relieved visitor – and – what better way to finish than with my favourite ‘Venice pic’ of all – a black and white shot taken by Helen in 2001 down that self-same canal past the Metropol Hotel landing.


and I’ve just realised how apt it is that I had it framed and now have it hanging on the wall of our downstairs bathroom here at our new home together on the Isle of Luing.

Thank you Commissario Guido Brunnetti — it seems like it was written in the stars..



Thanks for your patience folks – I’m sure the Commissario will be along to sort my mess out soon.


Don 🙂







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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks


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Mull Eagle has Herc for Lunch

We thought snow on the Isle of Luing might be a once in ten years affair. How wrong we were when we woke to a snow-capped Scarba outside our window.


After our usual early morning fight with the oil burner to get some heat in the place we boiled the kettle – filled our flasks and knocked together some sandwiches before heading out to enjoy the weather.


We found ourselves a green hilltop with an all-round view – the best one was over Fladda Lighthouse and Belnahua to a snow-capped Isle of Mull —


That’s when we heard the throaty roar of what I thought was an old multi-engined flying boat. I searched at sea level while Helen searched the skies.

She got lucky when a four-engined Hercules hove into view coming down the Firth of Lorn —


before banking into the Sound of Luing on a route that would take it down past Jura and Islay to Makrihanish Airfield on the Mull of Kintyre —


But the Mull eagles are hungry in this weather. The Herc must have looked like a decent lunch and was lucky to escape becoming Bold Eddy fodder and continue his way unscathed —


That was lunchtime — this was an hour or so later down at sea level in the village of Cullipool —

where Chef Archie was cookin-up-a-storm at the Atlantic Centre —


and adding a touch more hot spice to his vindaloo.

As for the pic – the opening ‘moody’ shot of Scarba is by yours truly as m’lady doesn’t have her eyes open by that time – but – once they open she can take some good photos and generously supplied the others as my battery was on the blink by the time of the fly-past. .


Don 🙂

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Posted by on November 18, 2016 in Isle of Luing, out and about, Walks