Apr 26

So far we’ve had icy cold, bogs, naughty room training and a tick, but no fire; that came our visit to Castle Stalker in Appin, the final adventure of our Highland trip. This short and flat walk starts out in a layby, and takes you across a long, low and very narrow wooden bridge. During particularly high tides even the bridge can be submerged beneath the surface of Loch Laich, but on this occasion it was thoroughly dry. It was however still a challenge to get to the other side, because the planks going across it are widely spaced, and Biggles does not like that one little bit.

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He seemed OK for the first few yards, but then he dug his front paws in and froze. Rather than simply picking him up and carrying him, Susan just gently coaxed him along. It took a while. A long, long while.

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But eventually he made it, and immediately returned to his normal cocky self as we walked along the shore by the castle. Other dog walkers and photographers all received a stern woofing! I love the way my boy can instantly put bad experiences behind him; it’s a good way to be.

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The area around the castle is renowned for spectacular sunsets, but this evening was colorless and grey. I took a few long exposure shots, the sunset came and went behind the clouds, and I was all ready to pack up when some of the clouds started to pink up. I kept taking shots and a few minutes later it looked like the sky behind the castle was on fire.

Castle Stalker Long Exp [IMG_5693]

From grey…

Castle Stalker Fiery Sunset Pano

To spectacularly colorful, and all this well after the official sunset time. Click the above pano to see a larger image.

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The colorful show continued long after sunset, with the sky turning a deep red as we retraced our steps to the wooden bridge. Biggles trotted onto it quite happily, and this time made it to the half-way point before a steady supply of biscuits was needed to coax him to the other side. The last night of our holiday we all slept soundly in our caravan, and in the morning we packed up and drove home. But not before Beanie had one last stint in the naughty room.

Part 1: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/23/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part1/
Part 2: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/24/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part2/
Part 3: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/25/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part3/
Part 4: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part4/

Apr 26
A tale of ice and fire. And bogs. Part#4
icon1 Paul | icon4 04 26th, 2015| icon3Comments Off on A tale of ice and fire. And bogs. Part#4

The next day we were back on the ferry – this time as foot passengers. This was a much more satisfactory arrangement for the furry types.  Finally they were able to sniff the air and poke their noses under, over and through everything in reach.

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Beanie samples the air like a true connoisseur

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Spying on the vehicles as they park up on the lower deck

Corran Ferry [IMG_6887]

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Why do Beagles so love to stick their heads through things? Probably just because they can..

Still fatigued from the previous day’s exertions, we just had a gentle stroll around Ardgour – the little village by the ferry port. It has its own miniature lighthouse, a pub, an abandoned rowing boat, and a short stretch of two-lane road – both lanes of which are for use by the local sheep. Biggles stayed surprisingly calm as the sheep passed us; perhaps he was afraid that if he badmouthed them, they’d all come over and beat him up.

Ardgour Mini-Lighthouse [IMG_6905]

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Then it was back to the caravan to rest in preparation for another night-time climb: a section of The Devil’s Staircase just outside of Glencoe. Or at least that was the plan, but Beanie had other ideas. Time and again she leaped up onto the worktop to investigate the cooking equipment, and time and again I grabbed her in mid-leap, locked her in the naughty room, and asked for a paw on her release. She was really trying my patience. Why wasn’t she learning this simple lesson? Regardless, eventually she just gave up and settled down for a nap, allowing me to do the same.

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When we eventually got up to pack for the walk, Beanie was instantly back up on the worktop. As I moved to grab her she nabbed a quick lick of the grill, jumped back to the floor and ran into the naughty room, where she sat neatly ready to give me her paw. So there you go – it seemed she had learned the lesson after all!

The walk itself was a pleasant departure from our other adventures; it was a short and easy drive away, with no hassle from monstrous cows or stroppy sheep, and minimal bog. It was admittedly still a bit chilly, but not overly so, and we had plenty of time to enjoy the pre-sunrise colors on the way up to the final cairn.

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The colorful glow before sunrise can often be prettier than the sunrise itself..

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Beautiful scenery or not, when there’s a big pile of stones to clamber over you can always count on Biggles to do his duty!

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Sunrise!

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One of the great things about this short section of The Devil’s Staircase is that after all the colors have faded, you still have the majesty of Glencoe ahead of you as you retrace your steps back to the car. Even Beanie and Biggles seemed happy to hang out for a while and soak in the views.

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Morning Wrinkles [IMG_5680]

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While getting some of those shots I had to crouch and even lie down in the heather. I didn’t give this a thought, until later that day when I went for a shower. As I soaped myself up, I spotted what looked like a tiny piece of gravel in the skin of right hip, and went to brush it off, but it seemed really stuck in there. I aimed a bit of water at it, and to my horror, saw tiny little legs unfold from it and wriggle. Then I remembered the heather, and everything clicked: I’d picked up a tick! Obviously I’m no stranger to removing ticks from Beanie and Biggles, but I never expected I’d be rushing out of the shower only half-dried to use the doggy tick extractor tool on myself. I must confess to being a bit squeamish about this kind of thing; I can never watch those “monsters inside me” programs on the telly. Nevertheless, I took a deep breath, grabbed the little bugger in the tool’s plastic jaws, twisted and pulled. It took a surprising amount of force to pull it free, and I had a little involuntary shiver as I consigned it to a slow death in the toxic fluids of our chemical toilet. I had hopes that Biggles might show some sympathy toward me after my distressing experience; after all he’s had loads of ticks on previous highland trips and I’ve always been there to get them off him and give him a biccie for being such a brave boy. But no.. all I got was this:

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So you had a tick Dad? Too bad. Gimme a tummy tickle!

Part 1: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/23/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part1/
Part 2: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/24/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part2/
Part 3: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/25/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part3/
Part 5: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part5/

 

Apr 24

The next day on the campsite got off to a leisurely start. I let the hooligans out of their travel crates and while Beanie went for a snuggle with Susan, I got a head-end cuddle with The Bigglet. Then came breakfast, a jump onto the worktop, a stay in the naughty room, and a short local walk to see Inchree Falls. Whenever a campsite boasts about local attractions such as a waterfall I always expect it to be a bit of a let-down, but that wasn’t the case here. The light wasn’t quite right to let me do it justice, but trust me: Inchree Falls is well worth seeing.

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Inchree Falls [IMG_5503]

If you’re prepared to do a bit of scrambling you can get to the bottom without breaking anything!

Soon it was time for lunch, another visit to la chambre de naughtie for Beanie, and whole lot of preparation for our first proper adventure of the holiday: a ride on the ferry and an overnight stay at Ardnamurchan!

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Although Ardnamurchan is very much part of the mainland, it’s so remote that little inland Corran ferry is by far the quickest and cheapest way to get there.

The Corran ferry is quite unlike any other I’ve encountered. Once it’s in motion, it crosses from one side to the other in about two minutes. There’s no time to get out of your car and stroll about the deck, let alone pay a visit to the galley for an exorbitantly priced coffee. Nope, you queue a bit, you drive or walk on and a few minutes later you’re on the other side, having saved more than an hour on the road. Despite this huge saving there’s still a lot of driving ahead to reach Ardnamurchan. There’s pretty much just one road along this remote piece of western Scotland, and it’s mostly a winding narrow single track with a nominal speed limit of 60mph. Piloting the car through all the twists, turns and blind summits is like playing a really intense video game, except that you don’t get any spare lives if you mess up. It’s made even worse by the locals who (presumably) know the road so well that they can go barreling along at 60 leaving the tourists to stop appropriately at passing places in the hope of avoiding a head-on collision.

It took about 90 minutes of sweating, breath-holding and underwear soiling to reach Ardnamurchan point, but somehow we made it. Following the signs to the lighthouse, we turned up an even narrower road and encountered the largest Highland cow I’ve ever seen. Another driver who was coming down the road in the opposite direction reached it first. He was in a fairly tall vehicle and I’m not exaggerating (much) when I say that the cow’s spine was nearly level with the roof. Sensibly avoiding using his horn, the driver steered around the mutant at slower-than-parking speed. Just as the passenger side window drew alongside the back of the creature’s head it turned to have a really good look at the puny human inside. From the look on the driver’s face, I’d say his underpants were now in a worse state than mine. But he’d made it past the monster and now it was our turn, but unlike him we had a pair of Beagles in the back.

If there’s one thing you can count on with Beanie and Biggles (especially Biggles), it’s that they’ll always open their gobs at the worst possible moment. If I nip behind a bush during a run to discretely answer nature’s call, there’ll be a baying frenzy. If we’re leaving a campsite in the dead of night for a sunrise hillwalk – desperately trying not to wake anybody – they’ll kick off for sure. This time however, the two of them both kept very, very quiet. Perhaps they realised that even the car wouldn’t give them enough protection if this ginger behemoth decided to “have a go”. People say Beagles are stupid dogs, but they’re not that stupid.

Safely past the walking roadblock, we got to enjoy the lighthouse in all its glory, and for the time we were there Beanie and Biggles could legitimately claim to be the two most westerly doggies on the entire British mainland.

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Ardnamurchan Lighthouse - Golden Hour [IMG_5278]

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Part 1: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/23/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part1/
Part 3: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/25/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part3/
Part 4: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part4/
Part 5: http://www.fourleggedpal.com/2015/04/26/a-tale-of-ice-and-fire-and-bogs-part5/

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