Sunday 26 May 2013

Family Gathering

It was lovely having the family all together last weekend at the Muckle Toon Adventure Festival but even better this weekend when the family was complete with Fraser arriving from California to stay for a week with Fiona and Mario in Newcastle and then back in Langholm next weekend. The weather was glorious for a walk on the Quayside and the Sunday Market. The following are a few family photographs from this special day.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Ellie and Thomas at Drumlanrig Castle

We took the kids for a day at Drumlanrig Castle and they had a great time. The excellent Adventure Playground was a great hit and the both showed no fear on any of the arial slides. Ellie in particular could not get enough of them and kept going back for more.
Thomas made friends with this Collie dog and it kept bringing a stick back for him to throw again.
The maze was also good fun and Ellie kept us going in a game of hide and seek

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Leslie and Seven Old Men

My birthday walk took us to Lancaster on the 9.10am train this morning with Martin and Ken joining us at Carlisle station from Edinburgh just 5 minutes before our train arrived from Glasgow. I do love when a good plan comes together but this was the only bit of my plan that was accurate as the walk was shown on the Internet when I researched it as about 9 miles but in actual fact we walked 13 miles. We made the return train back from Lancaster with only about 15 minutes to spare and that was down to us only taking half an hour for lunch as the pub I was planning on taking everybody to on Glasson Marina was not serving lunch on a Wednesday so we ate at the nearby Caravan and had a nice lunch served very quickly.
This photo is at Carlisle Station with Leslie surrounded by her band of old men.

The birthday boy and his Daughter in Law at Glasson Marina.

This is on the spur from Glasson to the Lancaster Canal at one of the 5 Locks on the 2.5 mile canal. Niall is trying to stop us from opening the Lock
One of the many Swans nests on the opposite bank of the towpath. Not so stupid these birds.

Leslie at lunch with Peter, Tom, and Martin.

John and Martin thinking of purchasing a Narrow Boat.

Monday 20 May 2013

A Visit to Winterhope

No visit to Scotland by my American family would ever be complete without a visit to Winterhope the home of our very good friends Jean & Wattie Rutherford. At this time of the year there is loads to see and today was very special. Eleanor and Thomas saw the Hens, Ducks, Chickens, Lambs, Birds nests, Newts and Tadpoles. In the photograph above Eleanor is using a net to find Newts and Tadpoles.

Eleanor pats a very special Hen called Limpy. She is a real pet and follows their Grandaughter Freya about wherever she goes and often sits on the handlebars of her bike.

The Kids are fascinated by the Newts and Tadpoles which Wattie had caught earlier.

Thomas gets a chance to handle a Newt but he was a bit wary of it.
Leslie and Gaye view the Wagtails nest on top of the Gas Propane Tank. It has six eggs which are due to hatch any day now. This is the third year a Wagtain has nested there and she will probably raise another clutch later in the year. It makes it very difficult for Jean and Wattie if their gas runs low and they need a top up.

Thomas loved chasing the Ducks and they were very glad to see the back of him

The 3 chickens were very popular and chased everywhere by Thomas

Saturday 18 May 2013


For the first time we have all four of our Grandchildren staying with us this weekend. It's a bit chaotic but great fun and a fantastic experience. What's even better is that they get on so well together. If only California and Newcastle were a bit closer together life would be much better.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Peter's Birthday Walk

For Peter's Birthday Walk we headed to Melrose to do the Rhymer's Route which is a 9 mile circuit of the Eildon Hills. Compared with the previous day the weather was much cooler and the forecast was for rain from 1.00pm. It did in fact rain about then but only for a short time so we managed to complete the walk with very little rain. This photo was taken from the top of Little Hill which is the 3rd Eildon Hill. This was the first time that partners had accompanied us on a Birthday Walk and it was great to have Elizabeth and Sandria with us.

This is Bowdenmoor Reservoir from the top of Little Hill. It was a bit hazy so photos are not as good as they could be.

At our lunch stop next to the Reservoir we spotted this nest. I am not sure what bird it is but Dr. Cat Barlow will let me know in due course and I will post the name on the blog. According to Cat it is either a Coot or a Moorhen.

The walk crossed Bowdenmoor with the outline of the Eildons in the background.

On the last section of the walk we overlooked Cauldshiels Loch but this was the section when it started to rain so we did not drop down to the Loch but took a slight detour to walk down through Rhymers Glen and were well sheltered from the rain, which by the time we were out of the forest Glen had stopped. At the end of the walk we had soup and sandwhiches in Burts Hotel in Melrose which was most enjoyable but a bit expensive for what we were given. Our next Birthday walk is my own on 22nd May when we are walking part of the Lancaster Coastal Path combined with a section of the Lancaster Canal.

Saturday 4 May 2013

A Walk on Ulva and Gometra

The ferry journey from Mull to Ulva only takes a few minutes and the ferry operates on demand by sliding a coloured board on the wall overlooking the Boathouse on Ulva. The Boathouse has a superb Tea Room and the food is excellent and well prepared and served by the two very attractive ladies working there. We were lucky with the weather for this 11 mile walk from here to the next island of Gometra which is separated by a few yards of the Atlantic and a short swing bridge.

About 20 minutes walk from the Boathouse is this church build by our own Thomas Telford. He was commissioned by the Church of Scotland to build 32 churches and 40 manses at a cost of no more than £1500 for both church and manse. There are still 16 of these churches in use throughout the Highlands and Islands. This one is still in use but is sadly in need of some improvements and I doubt if it will be open for much longer if it is not repaired.

This must be one of the remotest occupied cottages in Scotland. It is about 4 miles from the Ulva Boathouse on the remote road to Gometra but has some spectacular views accross to Mull.

The small bridge over the Atlantic between Ulva and Gometra. In the 2001 census there were 16 people lived on Ulva and 5 on Gometra but I am sure there will be a few less when the 2011 census for Scotland is published. The present absentee landlord is not keen to allow vehicular access to Gometra so this bridge replaces the more substantial one that used to be there and it is too narrow and not strong enough for most vehicles and can be raised and lowered at his convenience. In 1845-1851 Ulva and Gometra suffered at the hands of the owner Mr. Francis William Clark who because of overpopulation (604) cleared the land of over three-quarters of the total poulation. His factor and men turned some of the families out of their cottages without warning by setting fire to the thatch. They were not even given time to collect their few possessions and their livestock was forfeited to pay their fares to America or Canada.
Some of the many destroyed cottages on the Island of Ulva

The narrow strip of sea between Ulva & Gometra shown at low tide.

A Week on Mull

I had long planned to bag a few more Scottish inhabited Islands so a week on Mull was booked for John and I to do Ulva, Gometra, and Erraid. As it turned out things like the weather conspired against us and we only managed to do two of them with Erraid being delayed due to John's late ferry arrival on the Tuesday and then tides and weather on the Thursday causing a cancellation. This is our cottage near Craignure overlooking the Sound of Mull. It had a stream in the garden, a pond and marsh area also and the sea at the bottom of the garden so there was plenty to see especially regarding wildlife. It was however the coldest cottage we have ever been in and with unusually cold weather and high winds blowing in from the sea we never seemed to get warm. The main problem was no double glazing, poor insulation, and terrible heating. Even the coal fire did not warm up the sitting room.

The sunniest day was on Saturday when we visited Calgary Bay on the west side of Mull. This is one of the best beaches on Mull and the drive there and back by a different route was spectacular. Gaye with Jean & Wattie well wrapped up against the prevailing biting cold wind.

Calgary Bay has its own Sailing Club and as you can see they have a very posh clubhouse.

To my grandchhildren this is Balamory but of course to us it is the lovely town of Tobermory. We had a nice walk along the coastal path towards the lighthouse while the girls shopped followed by a visit to the Distillery where a small sample of two different malts was tested. I purchased a 10 year old Tobermory Malt so special guests will be well catered for at Ardlui.

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