Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ridlington - Dumbarton - Dervaig

Thursday April 28
Left home at 6.15 a.m. and had a leisurely, trouble-free journey under a cloudless blue sky, to Dumbarton TraveLodge. We followed a different route through Glasgow (AA, keeping on the bypass motorway until Junction 30 which took us off in Dumbarton, missing all of Glasgow’s streets and fast food joints (I usually read out all the names to Pam - she was relieved).
The Lodge is not one of the newer ones but clean and well kept. Our room was upstairs at the back, looking out over a field and trees to the river Clyde beyond. In between was the railway line ! With the windows shut, the noise was minimal. We slept well.
Friday April 29
For the first time ever , I’d ordered a breakfast when I booked, not exactly Slimming World food. We decided to lump it, eating the cornflakes, croissant, muffin and orange juice looking over Loch Lomond. Beautiful, as was the pair of Red-breasted Mergansers fishing for breakfast.
Another lovely morning to enjoy the loch side road to Crianlarich and then through the moors, enveloping mountains, stony streams and scrub down to the more wooded areas approaching Oban. We always stop at Strone parking spot, the usual Willow Warblers and Siskins to-day, we once saw a Tree Pipit here. 
The previous walkers’ parking area produced a Golden Eagle for us. It appeared over the mountain top, gliding down to perch on a rocky outcrop.
Another usual stop is at a pull off near the Loch Awe dam wall, occupied by a salmon fisherman packing up after a catching a 14 pound salmon. He always puts them back.....This one was newly returned from the sea, either last night or this morning, still covered in sea lice which are killed off by freshwater. Amazing what you learn from random strangers. He showed us a photo on his camera.
We lunched at our favourite bay, taking the sea-side road north of Oban. Much building has gone on since last year, very tasteful apartments and houses looking out over the bay.
After shopping in Tesco, we took the 20 minutes late CalMac ferry to Craignure. Flat calm sea, warm enough on the top deck for bare arms, very few birds.

En route
A few of the expected and delightful Tysties outside Oban.
Enough time to make a 12 mile round trip to Grass Point before taking the Tobermory road to Dervaig, turning off at Aros Bridge.

Grass Point Highlands
Dervaig is further from Tobermory than I’d expected, ten miles across moorland, coniferous forest, much of the latter had been logged, and sheep pasture to a small village. A few houses, a shop, a pub and a church with a hideous tall and column like white cement steeple.

Our B and B
Tigh na Mara, our B and B, is delightful. A very substantial building on a hill overlooking the river and loch, lovely views from the well kept grounds. Catherine was ironing when we arrived, showing us to our well appointed and very attractive double room. 
We ate our evening meal at a picnic table outside looking over the water, seeing our first House Martin of the year. We’ve also added Hooded Crow, Shag, Common Sandpiper and Cuckoo.
We then caught up with the Royal Wedding, watching on the big TV in the lounge/breakfast room. Sara phoned when we were parked this morning to ask if we’d seen VB’s hat. she was watching in Australia.
The biggest disppointment to-day was the whale trip company phoning to say they’d cancelled to-morrow’s trip as there were not enough people. News that they’d only seen one whale so far was comforting. We’re going on a two hour late afternoon trip instead.
Saturday April 30
Woke to another beautiful morning, unfortunately the wind becaming increasingly stronger and very blustery.
After a leisurely and very good breakfast and a chat with Catherine - she too goes to Slimming World - we drove to Treloisk and on to Calgary. Pausing for a scan down the loch from a layby, adding a Whimbrel, we continued on the single track road with parking places through wild moorland down to the sea - where the track is even narrower with fewer passing places, on the way to Calgary. Calgary is a stunning white shell-sand bay, the sea patches of indigo, Caribbean blue with paler blue streaks. Photos not possible and couldn’t possibly do it justice. The sand marred by only three humans strolling along. The only area of machair on Mull backs the campsite here and is not protected at all.
 A visit to the Old Byre Heritage Centre outside Dervaig to buy some postcards and a pair of earrings (!) before taking the road toTobermory . There we found a full car park, what looked like a motorhome rally, and a large crowd drinking outside the pub. Owing to the gale force wind, Pam cancelled our planned boat trip and claimed my money back.
We then left the holiday mob behind and drove to the Glengorm Castle Estate. At the top of the hill north of Tobermory, we came upon an appalling stench - and a field containing at least 15 Ravens amongst the gulls. A nearby sewage farm gave the clue to the source of the smell, a farmer had sprayed the field with noxious fluid earlier. As soon as we stopped, all the Ravens flew off so no photo opportunity.
Glengorm was a dead end away from the sea, the road private from the gateway onwards. Returning to a gateway with a view,we had a cup of coffee and enjoyed the scenery. Here we were approached by an American woman asking for a lift to Tobermory. Pam said we weren’t going there - true - we were turning off to Dervaig earlier. I felt sorry for her.....Ten minutes later we picked her up en route. She’s from Houston Texas via Tennessee and rather deaf which didn’t stop her talking non stop. She’d walked miles and hadn’t been able to get  a taxi to drive back to her B and B., all too busy. 
After dropping a grateful oldie with bad feet, we drove back to the layby at Dervaig to eat our supper. The tide was now in, the loch and river gleaming gold and silver in the dropping sun. Lovely. Common Sandpiper, the ubiquitous highland wader, and a Greenshank and Redshank to add to the list.
Catherine had offered to get the papers for us, she’s a sweetie, they were waiting in the bedroom.
We again retired to the lounge to check our end of the month lists and Scotland list in comfort. Another fine day forecast for our day out with Arthur Brown to-morrow.

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