I have no real excuse for my lack of posts the last month or so! There have, however, been some impediments of varying magnitude which have hindered my posting capacity.
Firstly we have been very fortunate to be distracted by a large influx of personal visitors, both good friends and close family. In total, so far, we have had over 22 different visitors with more planning to arrive soon! Altogether they have stayed here for over 40 days and nights. More than Jesus spent wandering
in the wilderness!
Thalia and Adam came from the furthest away, New Zealand. Here they are enjoying an evening around the campfire.
What with providing food, accommodation, acting as island tour guides as well as working on the campsite little time has been left for blogging. But what fun we all have had and some very memorable days.
Elsa and Steve enjoyed Arran so much that they came twice! Here they are with their lovely doggies as well at the Blackwaterfoot Beer festival.
Said doggies, travel in style when they are out cycling….
Secondly, the internet / wifi connection at the campsite is variable and at times it is so saturated with people trying to use it that I cannot upload posts or pictures.
Thirdly and by no means least, we have experienced 2 floods on the campsite during August. With the first being of such a cataclysmic/ apocalyptic nature that it caused a great deal of damage and upheaval which in turn meant a huge clean up and reparation of the site was needed. Leaving very little time to even consider posting blogs about it !!!
But more about the floods later…..
In the meantime here is the headline about it from the local paper, the Arran Banner.
Since we arrived back on Arran on the first of July we have been very busy with campsite duties, enjoying the beautiful countryside around us and playing host to wonderful friends and family who have been kind enough to visit. Combine that with virtually non existent wifi and the result is that I haven’t been able to write any posts for weeks!
As ever our return trip from Leeds was great. We stopped off for an overnight at The Hopetoun Arms Hotel at Leadhills which is reported to be the highest hotel in Scotland, although nearby Wanlockhead is acknowledged as the highest village at 1,295 feet These villages are only about 5 or 6 miles from the A74 motorway in South Lanarkshire and so are ideal for breaking a journey further north.There is also another pub at Wanlockhead , the Wanlockhead Inn, which also welcomes motorhomers ….and which we also intend to try at some point.
Both villages are very interesting and well worth a visit. Leadhills, as its name suggests, originally developed to accommodate miners who came for the deposits of silver and lead which could be found there. Gold was also found and the area around became known as “God’s Treasure House in Scotland”. In fact gold is still panned in the area, although you need a licence.
The Museum of Lead Mining looked fascinating and includes a real 18th century lead mine and 2 reconstructed miners cottages. But we didn’t have time to visit the museum or the Leadhills Miners library which is the oldest subscription library in the British Isles. Another attraction we didn’t have time for was the Leadhills and Wanlockhead narrow gauge railway which closed in 1939 but has been reopened by volunteers and railway enthusiasts.
So we will definitely be back for a longer visit!
This was the second time we had stopped over at The Hopetoun Arms and wont be the last.
The friendly landlord welcomes motorhomers and has 4 or 5 hard standing plots with hook up at the back of the hotel. Hook up costs £10 a night. He insisted that he recognised us, well… Gary at least, from our previous stopover a few years ago.
We have had lovely meals both times ……standard pub grub but well and freshly cooked with portions suited to hungry appetites. Several of the other couples/ people who were eating there that evening were also returnees …..another good sign with regard to the quality of the food and the warmth of the hospitality on offer.
The village shop is next door to the pub and has a good selection of groceries and the very helpful shopkeeper even offered to order newspapers for you if you ring him up in advance as they only have a couple of copies of each one.
The next day we drove along the winding B797 over Mennock Pass and through a beautiful, steep sided valley beside Mennock Water. There were lots of people wild camping along the way and some of them even seemed to be panning for gold. It seemed a beautiful, if a little desolate and wild, spot and it also all seemed a little vaguely reminiscent. I felt as if I had been through that valley before.
Yesterday it stopped raining and there was definitely sunshine! However, by the time we had got our shoes and coats on for a walk on the ridge it had started raining again. Undeterred we set off for a little potter in the rain.
As long as I can get dry at the end I don’t mind walking in the rain and even enjoy it. This was certainly the case a few weeks ago when we walked up Glen Sannox following several days of rain to see the waterfalls there.
This short, easy walk starts at the car park off the A841 by North Sannox Bridge. It is a very straightforward walk on well made paths and even in the rain and mist had dramatic views of the waterfall series and of North Glen Sannox itself.
At the very start of the walk, by a footbridge, the path split into two. We took the left hand track which headed off into the forest. The other track, which intuitively and wrongly so, seemed a more obvious choice for a river walk, simply leads to a bench with a great view of the burn.
The walk through the forest was truly lovely, all the lush vegetation was displayed in various shades of vivid green and the smell of pine was heavenly. In addition the trees gave good cover against the incessant rain.
As we climbed higher up the glen….again a fairly easy ascent…we had wonderful views of the narrowing gorge and a series of dashing , foam filled waterfalls.
As you come out of the forest there should be a fabulous view of the jagged ridge of Glen Sannox. Sadly, all we could see was mist and low cloud.
We will have to return on another day for a better view and at least a glimpse of the Witches Step (Ceum na Caillich) and the rocky outline provided by Caisteal Abhail.
Hardier souls would probably have continued on once the path ended at a fence and might even have attempted to reach the summit of Caisteal Abhail via Carn Mor ridge but we opted to return to the car . After all we had to seek out the ending to a good walk in the rain….a cosy pub.
We knew exactly where we were headed…..Crofters at Brodick for some live music!
Yes, I know the gardens and farms needed rain after a near drought earlier in the year….but after days and days of the stuff and flood warnings in abundance it is good to remember drier days!
One of those days involved a beautiful circular walk on Arran from Lamlash, around Clauchlands Point and up to the prehistoric fort of Dun Fionn and then a return to Lamlash.
Throughout this walk there were great views of Holy Isle and of Lamlash Bay which was Scotlands first No Take Zone.
The walk hugs the coast before rising steeply uphill to a narrow path along the cliffs to the ancient hilltop fort of Dun Fionn. Not one to be attempted in high winds but on a warm Spring day it made for a lovely little toddle for two aging, occasional walkers.
The views from Dun Fionn were stunning all ways and provided a good view of Goatfell in the distance beyond Brodick as well as the distant Ayrshire coastline.
With its fantastic rocky ramparts Dunn Fionn was a brilliant and inevitable, choice position for a hill fort as can be seen in the pictures below.
This was a lovely, fresh Spring day and the bluebells that clothe the areas around the base of the hill were in full bloom.
Then it was back to Lamlash to the Pier Head Tavern, for as we all know, it isn’t a proper walk without a pub at the end.
As well as great beer the Pier Head Tavern has a fabulous balcony patio that overlooks Lamlash bay.
It also has a tiny but beautifully presented terraced garden……..
During our stay on Arran I planned to make a Temperature Blanket based upon the C2C Temperature Blanket MAL pattern by Esther Dijkstra from itsallinanutshell.com .
To that end I carefully selected 30 shades of mostly acrylic DK yarn that would provide a graduated selection of colours to correspond to temperatures that ranged from -3 to 26 degrees.
I also decided to use both the minimum and maximum temperatures reached each day to create the blanket so that each day would have 2 rows.
However, in practice I soon discovered this meant that there would not be a gradual colour change across the blanket, as there is usually about between 4 and 6 degrees difference between the minimum and maximum temperatures. Meaning that in reality there is a wide colour change between each row.
Here is my Arran blanket for our first month on Arran, of May.
After the first few days of making I began to feel uneasy about the constantly stripey pattern I was creating but ploughed on as I thought I just needed to get used to it. I did enjoy the fact that the blanket was recording the variable weather we were experiencing and the randomness of the colours it threw up.
Then a couple of days ago I thought I would try a test sample for the month of May just using the minimum temperatures. I did consider making it into a cushion using the maximum temperatures for the other half of the rectangle.
This is how it has worked out so far.
The camera has bleached out the pale lilac on both photos so that it looks like a pale grey. So the colours are not as vivid as in reality. But you can see that the colours have a slightly more gradual change and in some cases where the minimum remained the same for several days there is accordingly a block of the same shade.
Which version do you prefer, please ?
And do you have any other thoughts about how I could develop this project using both sets of temperature records.
I am struggling to write posts as regularly as usual as the strength of the campsite Wi-Fi signal is variable.
When the site is busy, which it has been for most of May it is impossible to connect.
In fact I am writing this on my phone in the lovely Ormidale hotel at Brodick .
Here are a few pictures of wildlife and views round and about the Lochranza campsite and golf course.
A pair of Golden Eagles nest on the hill at the back of the campsite. We have seen them fly over but we haven’t been able to get a photo of them yet. So you will have to make do with pictures of sheep,deer and rabbits which pose quite happily for everyone.
Although Gary did spot this rare beast in the campsite office the other day…..
…this is especially for Mick and Angie who wanted to see me in my warden’s uniform.
Life as an assistant camp site warden is quite varied. Apart from booking campers in, processing bookings and enquiries there are all the other jobs that need completing to successfully keep the campsite show on the road!
We have a great shift pattern here at Lochranza where the work load is shared between 3 couples as well as the campsite owners. We work one afternoon / evening shift from midday through to 9:00 in the evening followed by a morning shift from 8:00 till 1 pm We then have that afternoon, followed by a full day and then a further morning free to enjoy all the glories that this beautiful island offers.
Amazingly, one of my favourite jobs has been the 8:00 deer poo run!
To the delight of the campers wild deer roam the campsite and golf course and can be seen at very close quarters.
They do help to keep the grass down and tenters are frequently awaken in the deepest dark of night by strange chomping and munching noises immediately outside their fragile canvas home.
Now we all know that where there is an input there eventually has to be an output and these majestic beasts are no different from the rest of us.
So, early every morning one of the wardens is wandering the campsite collecting the mounds of deer poo before the campers step in it and walk it into their temporary dwellings.
The equipment is basic but very effective. A huge handled “dust-pan” and an accompanying rake to scoop or flick the droppings into the pan.
Perhaps it is due to their diet…..but deer poo seems to be odour free…..unlike the slurry you can get from cowpats.
I really enjoy these early mornings rambles. The light at that time of day is delightful and without the demands of a specific task I would probably otherwise remain snuggled up in bed and so miss one of the best parts of the day!
Naturally there is a close correlation between how many deer have been on site and the number of pan loads of dung collected.
My personal best has been 2 and a half pans but there has been as many as 5!
Sticking with the clean-up theme, one of our other duties includes cleaning the Ladies and Gents washrooms.When I do this I like to imagine that some Very Important People are due on site…..due to my egalitarian nature not royalty ….perhaps the Obamas…..but not some of my other heroes like Billy Bragg or The Mekons as I am sure they wouldn’t care! Whatever…. we aim to clean so that everything gleams!
We also ensure that there is a constant supply of toilet paper! The poor quality availability of toilet paper in campsite toilets is one of my pet hates as are those ruddy contraptions that only allow one measly sheet at a time. So I am so pleased that at Lonchranza soft paper runs freely from its dispenser!
Nor do mouldy shower curtains cling limply to your body when showering as the pretty curtains are changed monthly…..another warden duty.
Regular readers may be aware of a lavatorial theme running through this blog…..particularly regarding characterful loos. Like my good friend Maggie, the owners of the campsite have had their Ladies and Gents toilets twinned with toilets elsewhere . The aim of this admirable twinning is to provide sanitation in places where there is a significant lack.
Must rush off now…..need to help Gary book some campers in!