Friday, 27 June 2014

Scottish Wildlife

(Late breaking news: see bottom of entry!)...

The Corran ferry (it wasn't busy!)

We got here slightly later than planned due to Mothers train being delayed so her missing her connection, not a problem, gave us more time to buy food and wine! Not sure she was very amused though. We managed to get to Corran about 5 mins before a ferry which was great as we’d have had to decide whether to do many more miles to probably not get there any quicker or to wait half an hour! 

Hooting Lodge, our home for the week
On arrival at the cabin we were warmly greeted by Jayne who is very friendly and told us all about the cabin, the facilities, the hundreds of local walks….. sadly we all glazed over and just wanted her to go away so we could eat! One thing we did listen to though was put out a spoon of jam and some peanuts and the pine martens will come and eat them! 

She’s right, we’ve been visited every day, apparently there is a mummy and two kits, I think we may have seen them all, but not at the same time. They love the jam and appear not to worry about cavities in the very sharp pointy teeth. They also seem to like cooked chicken, cheese and chicken fricassee and rice too – in fact everything we’ve put out!

The following morning after we’d finally made it down the stairs past the bird feeders with siskins, tits and chaffinch to breakfast porridge was quickly ignored as the first red squirrel sighting was made in a feeding box! B decided to stay in and relax after his exertions of Saturday while Mum and I went for a little potter, found the local shop (stocking the Daily Telegraph), said hello to big ginger cat, walked down to a very rickety jetty all in Acharacle (pronounced: A-haracle) before driving off to walk on the beach. We deviated off at Salen to see the button shop and Thor and Freya the two horned owls, having stopped to stare in amazement at some more ‘wildlife’ in a eucalyptus tree!

One of the 'grumpy old' owls!
The other 'wildlife' - Koalas in a eucalyptus tree. The tree is real, the Koalas, well, they're stuffed and nailed to the tree!
Tuesday dawned a bit damp so we decide to drive down the Ardnamurchan peninsula to the UK’s westernmost point, thinking that even in the rain a drive would still be atmospheric and beautiful. It wasn’t very far but after we’d stopped at every layby and ambled about at every opportunity we arrived at the lighthouse in brilliant sunshine. 

Then the sun came out!

Ardnamurchan lighthouse, 23 miles further west than Lands End
Just in time for the 2 o clock tour B and I made post haste up the 150 steps (quicker and more consistently than the average we were pleased to be informed by the girl at the top!) The views were amazing, islands and seals but sadly no basking sharks. Got down to be approached by Collie Dog with a stone that he dropped at my feet waiting patiently for it to be thrown. 

Thats the foghorn down there
It felt wrong throwing stones for dogs, but he seemed to enjoy it and I was told by a shout from the top of the lighthouse by the girl that I had a job for life! We even managed to fit in a clotted cream tea on our way back, just as well as we’d eaten the ‘welcome tray cake’ and B hadn’t got round to baking one yet!

View from the lighthouse, right is Egg, left in distance is Rum, middle left in front is Muck and, in the distance, between Rum and Egg you can just see Skye
The turquoise sea at Sanna Bay
A family of sheep cross the river

Castle Tioram (burnt down in 1715)
Wednesday was taken up with two gentle ambles one around Castle Tioram, accessible at low tide, as were the mussels we collected for a starter for dinner. The second to the oakwoods to a hide looking for otters, saw no otters but lots of herons and two very noisy seals cavorting about having a wonderful time. Two small walks on Thursday in very different countryside showed the real diversity of the landscape. 
A piper appeared in the castle grounds to accompany our visit

The mussels we collected off the beach
Also proved that it was a good year for ticks which I’d already been told, having spotted one between the shoulder blades of one of the pine martens, and felt two on ginger cat, I brushed a number off my legs (perhaps shorts weren’t such a great idea!) and had to remove 5 from Mothers legs and neck. (Good buy the tick lasso then!) The walk from the ‘Seven men of Moidart’ monument was shorter than expected as the man mowing the lawn told us we couldn’t do half the walk due to storm damage, “just walk along the front of the house…” Gladly, it was beautiful, as were the twin black cats, the black lab and the pocket sized Jack Russell that all came to see us.

Just a 'nice' view, even though it was raining
Even the pigs came running up to say hello
Today Mother felt more like chilling so we took her to collect the paper before throwing her out of the car to walk home while we returned to the castle to do a circular walk (in short supply round here, they all seem to be linear, not so helpful really!) along the coast returning over the hillside. Very pretty and a good little stomp.

The 'hide'

Jackie and Pauline in the remains of an ancient oakwood temperate rainforest
This is a tick crawling up Jackies leg, looking for a place to 'dig in'

This one's in Pauline's neck, Jackie just removing it with our 'tick lassoo'
Jackie has just spotted it in her neck

A tiny little frog, there were dozens running around by a small lochan we visited
A small Jackie or a very big plant?

Not forgetting her favourite!
More 'art'!
The impressive Kinlochmoidart house. It was on this location, in the original Kinlochmoidart house that, in 1745 'Bonnie Price Charlie' rested after landing at the nearby Loch Moidart with six others, awaiting support from the Jacobites. The Jacobite Rebellion got as far South as Derby before being repelled by the English, forcing Charles II 'across the sea to Skye' and then escaping into exile on a passing French ship. The original house was razed to the ground in 1746 and this house built in the 1820's
We were invited by the gardener (possibly the owner, who knows), to walk through the grounds, rather than follow the public footpath up into the surrounding hills, following storm damage. I remarked on the house, hoping he would invite us in to look round, but he didn't!
Today's walk on the 'silver trail'

Fabulous views!
Four deer look on as we walk past. Can you see them all?
These aren't high mountains, but still fabulous

This dragonfly was something like 80mm long. We saw one earlier eating a bee!
A small dammed lochan with views of the sea and the Isle of Mull beyond

Our hosts pointed out this slow worm hiding under a rock on our return home. It was about 150mm long

A Goldfinch and yellow Siskin on the birdfeeder outside our window

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Idris the pigeon is home!


  1. thank goodness! we were getting worried about Pigey!

  2. Great news about Pidgey, we were worried too! Great blog, fab pictures. We think we have been round that area too and loved it all. Agree that the travel is a pain but so worth it. See you soon. X

  3. Now look here, this is getting a bit much. So you went down the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Been there too! But not as far as the lighthouse. Steven and Damion were chefs at Glenborrodale Castle along that road. As parents we were allowed a free overnight stop, so we drove up from Wales to experience it. We stayed in a turret room in the Castle, complete with resident ghost, which our little Scottie dog must have seen as she remained rooted to her bed all night. Never forget that visit! That single track peninsula road is quite interesting too! It seemed never ending.