Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Thursday, 30 March 2017

25 to 27 March 2017 – A Flying Visit to Kilmartin

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Saturday morning saw us zooming up the M6 to Penrith, where – as it was approaching 9 am – the local parkrun beckoned. It’s the third time I’ve done this run and today’s excellent conditions saw me gain an unexpected PB (personal best) for this course. I nearly got a notably symmetric result with position 23 in 23 minutes and 25 seconds – just 2 seconds out! Both Helen and Sue managed PBs, largely because this was their first visit to this parkrun, and in Helen’s case her first parkrun ever. They haven’t reached Ottawa yet. The Penrith results are here.

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By about 4 pm we had reached Kilmartin despite some traffic delays. Tea and cake in Janet and David’s garden in warm sunshine brought back memories of the first day of my TGO Challenge with Sue some five years ago.

Leaving Helen to stay with D and J, Sue and I continued to Ali’s house at Ford, where we were installed for the weekend and were soon tucking into some of Ali’s excellent catering together with the Kilmartin trio. Before that we had savoured the warm evening with a stroll beside Loch Ederline, enabling Ali to reach her 10,000 step target whilst raising funds for cancer research.

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A gorgeous Sunday morning soon dispelled any fuzziness and the six of us reassembled at Carnassarie Castle.

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The site was explored thoroughly whilst David clocked the first of the 50+ species of birds he saw or heard today. I won’t list them all, but the Stock Dove he heard was a ‘good spot’, and I was pleased to see Chiffchaffs, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Stonechats and Siskins. Unfortunately the Ospreys had not yet arrived.

We strolled past some of the ancient burial chambers that litter this area, gaining this view to Kilmartin from the Neolithic chamber tomb of Nether Largie South.

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The trees are starting to produce blossom, if not leaves.

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We continued past a selection of the countless antiquities, including this impressive site at Temple Wood. It will be lovely in a few weeks when the bluebells appear.

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Lunch was on the steps outside the once magnificent Poltalloch House. Built in the 1853 from the profits of sugar and slavery, this edifice was abandoned in 1954 after taxation forced ‘hardship’ upon the owners. It must have been a splendid place to visit in its heyday. Just around the corner a small church is kept in good order and is used as a wedding venue.

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I think this edifice dates from later than 1954, but who am I to pass such judgement?

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Nearby Duntrune Castle, built in the 12th Century, has for many years been owned by the same family that owns Poltalloch. The castle was last renovated in 1954, when the Malcolm family moved back there from Poltalloch. It commands a lovely position.

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Making our way slowly towards a small hill called Dunadd, we followed the switchback course of the River Add for a while. David and Janet have enjoyed canoeing down here. There were some curious plants emerging from the sandbanks, which I was told are called Skunks Cabbage.

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We eventually reached our destination of Dunadd, the site of an ancient fort, and a selection of cup marks and other antiquities.

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There were fine views from the summit, encompassing the Paps of Jura on one hand and the snowy summits of Ben Cruachan in the other direction (visible in the picture above).

It was t-shirt and shorts weather, a lovely warm summery day.

Here’s our route – 15 km with about 100 metres ascent, taking us many hours.

There was no rush.

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After a bit of car juggling we all then paid a visit to VIC 32, a ‘Puffer’ steamboat built in 1943, currently based at Crinan, and used for steamboat holidays.

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Ali acts as chef on some of their trips, and was keen to show us around the boat, which is currently full of volunteers painting and engineering its preparation for the coming tourist season. A labour of love from a dedicated team. There was lots of wet paint to avoid.

Later, the Kilmartin Hotel provided a fine meal, for which we also thank David and Janet.

Monday saw us returning to Timperley via the Kelpies at Falkirk.

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Sue and I visited them in 2015. Today they seemed to be undergoing some form of dental treatment. They looked a bit aggressive, so we moved on to enjoy the company of our Bacup grandchildren – thanks go to Kate and Simon for providing dinner…

Phew, that was a brisk 750 mile round trip.

1 comment:

Sir Hugh said...

Duntrune Castle is impressive. The whole area looks like a gift for endless exploration.