Sunday, 31 July 2016

Camping holiday 2016 - Part Two: Forestry Walk

One of the best things about a camping holiday is getting to explore the area. Not too far away from the Achindarroch Touring Site we found a really nice forestry walk.  Firstly we headed along the cycle path past the burn that we could hear at night (the best sound to send you to sleep). It was one of those sunny days that had intermittent showers, so not too hot and not too cold.  A pretty refreshing day. 

Along the path were some inquisitive sheep and also some strange sculptures... As you can see below they seem to be pretty jolly tree people with the addition of some cuddly toys. 

The cycle path continued but we turned off onto the forestry path.  By this time the mist was beginning to settle in over the mountains and there was a light drizzle of rain. The air smelt amazing. The rain also brought out all the colours in the trees, moss and lichen. I spotted some more mushrooms too.  I got quite attached to the forms of the mushrooms.  I think I may do some drawings of them soon. 

I also fell in love with all the colours of the woodland. The greens were so vibrant and then there was  moss that was a rich burgundy in colour, others that were every shade of green you could think of. I took so many photos because I kept imagining mixing these colours with paint. I also loved the detail of it all, the tiny leaves, twigs, fragments. As well as a refreshing walk I couldn't help collecting drawing ideas and I now have lots to think about for future work.

We found lots of little caves where animals could live.  When I was wee, this would be the sort of place I would have thought small mystical creatures would live in.  No wonder though as places like this do feel quite magical.

Heading on along the track which was uphill all the way, we continued through the forest, past trickling burns coming down through the trees, creating small pools of peaty water. 

This then opened out to some stunning views of the misty mountains. The drizzle continued but it just added to the atmosphere and it wasn't cold at all. 

We then spotted some interesting footprints in the mud down one of the ditches.  They were really large and long toed.  After some research later, we think that they are beaver footprints. It's pretty exciting to think that beavers past by this way at some point.  The tracks looked quite fresh as well. 

We also spotted the footprints below but were unsure of what these ones were. There are so many different types of wildlife that live in these sorts of areas including Scottish wildcats, pine martens, foxes and deer to name a few. We could smell that a fox had been close by so it could have been fox footprints although from what I've researched, they don't look quite right to belong to a fox. 

After investigating the footprints we carried on up the hill to take in the views. We also heard what sounded like a buzzard and we could see something flying about through the trees so we stopped for a while to see if we could spot it. 

It was in this area that we could smell the fox and strangely we didn't smell it on the way up but we did on the way down.  Perhaps it had passed right by us! As you can see this whole area is perfect for wildlife and apart from the footprints there were lots of signs that animals had been close by from unusual droppings to paths trodden through the foliage.

The mountain across the way looked incredible and was lit up with the sun one moment and then shrouded in mist the next as the weather changed back and forth.

The trees were mesmerising and they gave me more ideas for drawing too.

We spent some time looking around this spot before heading back down.  My knees had done pretty well even though it was an uphill walk.  The track continued on and once my knees have been fixed, I'd love to return and continue on.

There are so many beautiful hidden spots like this all over Scotland, teeming with wildlife, and it was a pleasure to explore it that day.

I'll be posting the continuation of my holiday stories tomorrow so keep a wee eye out.  If you missed part one you can find it here.


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Camping holiday 2016 - Part One: Achindarroch Touring Park

As some of you may or may not know, I love my summer camping holidays to the West Coast of Scotland which I've been having since I was born. I'm lucky to have been brought up in a family with a strong passion for the scenery of Scotland, the history and a love of the outdoors.  It's also the reason for my name!

This year we headed to Achindarroch Touring Park with the tent on an incredibly warm July day. Achindarroch comes from the Gaelic, 'Achadh nan Darrach', which means 'Field of Oaks'. It is a small village in Duror, not far from Ballachulish and Glencoe Village. From here you can easily visit wonderful sights, such as the aforementioned Glencoe, or you could head along to Fort William to see Ben Nevis.  You could also travel to Oban from here as we did and work your way along the coast.  It's an excellent location to be based at for travelling and also has a cycle path running alongside it which is not only great for cyclists but also for dog walking and exploring the area on foot.

The touring park itself was excellent. We got a very friendly welcome to the site which has spacious open grounds for camping as well as areas for caravans and motorhomes, all with the wonderful view of the mountains and forests surrounding you. The facilities were always clean and tidy and there was also a kitchen area for washing dishes which included a washing machine, tumble dryer and microwave too. The site has a peacefulness about it and we all enjoyed sitting taking in the scenery. We got the tent up in good weather which is always a bonus and I watched the dog as she always gets a bit bored while all that is happening. To be honest she was mainly trying to find someplace sheltered to lie down since it was so hot. I managed to get sunburnt on the very first day!

The campsite welcomes dogs which of course was good news for our dog Keira.  She may not be a fan of travelling in the car, but she loves being in the tent. The cycle path and local walks were perfect for her and getting to sit at the tent door and watch the world go by seemed to be her idea of heaven.

 Along the cycle path there were lots of signs of wildlife.  We noticed marks at the side of the ditch which we thought may have been left by otters which have been seen in the area. There were lots of wild flowers and the air gently buzzed with bees and hoverflies. It was nice to get some fresh air and my knees hardly complained at all.  I think they enjoyed a bit of proper walking.

We were really lucky with the weather, but even on the rainy days it was nice to sit huddled up in the tent with a book listening to the rain hit the tent. We were also out and about during the rain too, as the weather no matter rain or shine, never fails to add an atmosphere to the landscape.

I loved spotting the different mushrooms around the campsite. I've no clue about mushrooms but I love their shapes and colours. Some were spread out in what looked like 'fairy rings', dotted about under bushes here and there.

We were only a short walk away from some fields of sheep and it was nice hearing them bleating away in the background as we relaxed in the tent. At night you could also hear owls hooting and I'm sure I heard foxes barking too. 

I found this wee moth who had drowned in a splash of water at the toilet sinks and tried to save him but alas he looked too soaked. A friend of mine who is doing the Angus Moth Project said that it may well be an Antler Moth. I popped him in the grass, hoping that he'd maybe come round at some point.  To my surprise he vanished so hopefully he felt a bit better and wandered off.

There were two beautiful ponies belonging to the campsite owners who were just a short walk away to say hello to. It was quite fun to watch them galloping around the field together and when they'd finished having a run about, they'd come to the fence to say hello. They had the best hairdos! 

Here's Keira's face again, just because she's great.

Here's a photo below of our Outwell tent in the sun. As you can see we had a perfect view of the mountains. We kept staring at them, trying to spot any caves. This area is home to the 'Cave of the Skulls' as well as many others.

Camping is pretty good for relaxing and apart from going walks and drives, I really just enjoyed having the time to sit and read, have cups of tea and draw. We had wifi at the campsite but I just used that for uploading some of the photos I'd been taking during the day. Other than that it was nice being cut off from regular responsibilities for a while and having time to just enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

 On heading back to the campsite on our last night I was overjoyed to see this stunning stag standing staring at us from the field next door. I didn't manage to get a good picture as it was getting dark and my camera zoom isn't too good but you can still see him a bit in this photo.  It was a lovely send off for the end of the holiday.

So that's a wee post about the campsite and I want to say a big thank you to Achindarroch Touring Site for our lovely stay.  It really was one of the best holidays we've had in a long time. If you want to find out more about the campsite, head over to their website which is  I highly recommend staying here if you're looking for a campsite to stay at in Scotland. It's in an excellent location and is a welcoming and peaceful spot to stay. 

As you can see from the title of this post this is part one of my holiday posts and I'll continue popping them up during the coming week. Do stay tuned to find out more about the rest of my holiday.