Thursday, October 08, 2009

Postcard from Strontian: Ardtornish Castle

With the agreement of the blogmaster here is a guest blog from the sloppy porridge maker on holiday with his wife, Karen, and Labrador, Meg. As regular readers will know in April 2008 the boys spent a very enjoyable weekend in the West Highlands courtesy of Peter and Elspeth Webb. This was the opportunity to revisit the Ardnamurchan peninsular and having successfully accomplished the scaling of Ben Nevis, complete with the first snow fall from about 4,000 ft, to put in a days cycling and gently exercise those leg muscles.

This wasn’t to be along the lines of a hard core TCA event or a mad dash in fading light. The plan was to put two bikes in the Petersfield tractor and drive to the Ardtornish estate at the head of Loch Aline. This was accomplished and the intrepid party of three set off along the eastern shore of the loch for Ardtornish Point and the ruined 14th century castle. The estate road stretched out in front promising a pleasant and untaxing pedal framed by the autumn colours of the loch side trees ensued with the opportunity of some bird watching along the way (herons, wading birds and buzzards). It was a fine autumnal day.

As was usual, be it a walk or cycle ride, Meg was on point duty, no matter how fast you pedalled she always kept in front, and there was no sign of fatigue after her adventures elsewhere that week.

Meg at the trig point on Ben Nevis

The three of us settled into an even pace along the estate road out to the ruined castle but on a couple of occasions the dog lead was brought into use to ensure that Meg didn’t embark on some impromptu sheep chasing and rounding up. As we came level with the settlement of Loch Aline so the Mull ferry arrived to disembark its cars and passengers and embark a new set. A short and gentle climb and 200m further on and the Sound of Mull was reached complete with a view of the eastern shore of the Isle of Mull with the looming presence of Ben More in the distance. The first glimpse of Ardtornish Castle could now be had – this had been one of the principal seats of the high chiefs of Clan Donald from the early 14th to late 15th century but was abandoned in the 17th century.

Ardtornish Castle and
Isle of Mull in the background

The estate roads are ideal for the leisure mountain biker primarily because there are no mountains – shame did some of you say? The ruin has no road access and the bikes were left at the nearby farm buildings and approached on foot for a picnic lunch in the shelter of the north wall so that coastal shipping in the Sound can be admired. Para Handy and the Vital Spark were absent but this would have been one of the routes the Vital Spark would have plied.

After a clamber over the castle it was time to collect the bikes and with Meg again in front we three retraced our steps back to the loch and then onwards towards the graceful presence of Ardtornish House and the nearby Kinlochaline castle.

Ardtornish House

Later your correspondent made inroads into local Scottish beverages in the time honoured TCA fashion. To absent friends – roll on Clun Mill next March

To absent friends – apologies but I drank the lot!

(Posted by: Ian)

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At 8:36 am, October 29, 2009, Blogger TCA said...


Wonderful part of the world - thanks for your contribution.


At 2:59 am, October 30, 2009, Blogger simon said...

I have a Fullers London Pride sitting at room temperature ready to be drank with reverence tonight... :o)

At 10:12 pm, November 01, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice work and good write up Ian. Like you say roll on Clun Mill. B.B


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