Bizarre ice formations

While walking along the new sustrans cycle path near Barcaldine, we spotted some strange white objects growing on branches. These were on beech trees along the track, and on branches that had fallen to the ground beneath them. On closer inspection they turned out to be ice that was growing out from the branches in long, thin strands.

Fortunately I was with our local botanical recorder, Carl, and he was able to identify it as Hair Ice. This is formed when a particular fungus in the wood forces the water out of the pores of the wood, and on a cold morning like today it will form these hair-like strands.

It was an amazing sight, and it was interesting to hear at the weekend a mention of it on BBC Radio Scotland, and their plea for someone to identify it for them. I emailed in, and a week later my answer (thanks to Carl’s knowledge!) was read out on the radio!

Shhh …. spring is coming!

After a long winter is feels as if spring might just be round the corner … heralded by plenty of snowdrops, and a bit of blue sky. But don’t say it too loudly, or it might not come!



Craignish Peninsular

There are some spots that I keep going back to time and time again. One of these is Craignish Peninsular, south of Oban, because the views are always stunning, it is a good place to stop and walk the dog, plus there is always interesting wildlife to be seen! Passing through the village of Ardfern on the shores of Loch Craignish takes you on to the point, with views west to the islands of Jura, Scarba, Luing and Shuna. There were a large group of overwintering wigeon on the shore by the road to add to the views.


Oban fireworks display

Just back from the fabulous Oban fireworks display, which took place over Oban Bay. I’m sure you will all have heard of the infamous ‘Obang’ display a few weeks ago where all the fireworks went off at once. Todays display was the replacement display, and it was well worth the wait!


Bheinn Mhor walk

As you head south of Oban towards the Isle of Seil, there is a hill on the right hand side called Bheinn Mhor. This is an easy walk form the road that gives stunning views over the surrounding area.


Exploring Loch Etive

Today we walked further up the side of Loch Etive from the house than we had before, reaching Rubha na h-Oisinne. The recent rain meant the burns were full, and we were rewarded with the sight of fish leaping upstream in a couple of the burns. The low cloud cleared to give tantalising glimpses of the head of the loch … but still a few miles away so we never made it that far but will try again another day!

Autumn sunshine

It’s been one of those beautiful autumn days with real warmth to the sun, so the perfect excuse for a walk up the Glen Salach road. Spotted yet more fox moth caterpillars and a handsome small copper butterfly. The heather is in full bloom still and it still feels like summer.


Arduaine Garden

Our visit to Ardmaddy and the good weather has encouraged to head down to Arduaine Gardens, further south of Oban. They are owned by the National Trust for Scotland, so National Trust membership will give you free entry here! These gardens are larger, and like many west coast gardens make use of a shelter belt of unusual as well as the more usual trees. Nestled within this shelter are ponds and streams, borders, a glass house, countless paths to follow and a wealth of beautiful plants.

To finish your perfect day out here, pop in to the Loch Melfort Hotel nest door for a coffee or something a little stronger.


Glen Creran

Ten miles north of Bonawe lies Loch Creran, a small sea loch that you barely notice as you whizz up the road to Fort William. However, it is worth taking a detour round the loch and maybe up the glen beyond. Glen Creran is wooded on the north side, and there are a number of short paths in this area. While we were sussing out whether the waterfall there would be any good for   canyoning we came across a beautiful bridge, that would be perfectly in place in middle earth.


Ardmaddy Gardens

We made the most of  a glorious July day to visit Ardmaddy Castle and Gardens, half an hour south of Oban. The castle is still a family home and not open to the public, but the gardens and grounds are open and well worth a visit. You start in the walled garden which has a fine display of vegetable beds, herbaceous borders and rhododendrons. Leaving the walled garden takes you into the wilder water garden and woods. There are plenty of nooks and crannies for children to explore and the plants are a wonderful mix that are well looked after. While here you can also follow the walk to the Money Tree .