Moine Mhor

We headed south down to Kilmartin today, not to visit the museum for once, but instead to look at Moine Mhor. This is one of Europe’s largest peat bogs and is managed by SNH. The best way to visit it is from a small car park just south of Kilmartin where you can walk out on a short boardwalk to get a feel for it.


Ardmaddy Money Tree

To the south of Oban lies Ardmaddy Castle and Gardens. As the weather was beautiful we decided to head to the money tree, a gentle walk on tracks that gives you amazing views to the west over the Slate Island towards Mull.

The money tree is an old hawthorn that has become studded with coins after visitors pushed them in to bring themselves luck. The remains of the tree are now protected by a fence (presumably from the cows!) and can be seen to the side of the path. This is a good walk with children as it isn’t too far, and there is something bizarre to see at the end.

From the gatehouse at Ardmaddy, head left down the track that is signposted. It is possible to park here if you are careful not to block the gateway.



We have just had a long but amazing day out on the Treshnish Isles and Staffa, on board wildlife tour boat Turus Mara. The weather was dry and calm, but with a lot of low cloud which did spoil the views slightly, but otherwise it was perfect. The islands are on the far side of Mull and can be done as a day trip if booked in advance. You take the ferry from Oban to Craignure on the Isle of Mull in the morning and are picked up by mini-bus to be whisked off to Ulva Ferry on the far side of the island. Here you board the boat and set out at a more leisurely pace to Staffa first of all.

Landing on the island can be a little difficult, and we were lucky that there was little swell and that the crew are very experienced. The obvious thing to do is follow the path along the rocks to Fingals’ Cave which many of us did. It is an amazing site, and hard to believe that these basalt columns are natural, as they are so perfectly formed and, well, un-natural looking!

The route round is a little slippery but helped hugely by a hand rail and some non-slip surfacing on the rocks. It might not be advisable with very small children, and you were given the option to stay on the boat if you preferred and view the cave from the sea.

After a reasonable time ashore we then headed back to the boat and on to the Treshnish Isles. These are home during the summer months to more than 6,000 guillemot, razorbill, puffin, kittiwake, fulmar, shag, skua and more. Again, getting ashore involves care but it is well worth it. As you make your way up the path onto the low cliffs you are walking between burrows with puffins popping up, unperturbed by your presence. It is a very surreal experience and one that I would love to repeat. The puffins are very willing models for photos so don’t forget your camera. Also, don’t forget to have a look at the other species that nest on the cliffs as they are just as fascinating.

The puffins tend to come ashore for breeding in April and will remain until their chicks are fledged, leaving again early in August to spend the rest of the year at sea. It is important to time your visit in this period as otherwise you will miss the action.

Glasdrum NNR

A few miles north of here is Loch Creran, and on the northern side the wooded slopes are home to one of Britain’s rarest butterflies, the chequered skipper. It is only found in a few locations in the UK, around the Fort William area. The woodland is managed to encourage this species, and this also benefits other species such as fritillaries.

The best time to see the skippers and other butterflies is in May and June when they are on the wing. They are not too hard to spot, but it takes a little bit more patience to get a photo. Fortunately the skippers are more obliging than the fritillaries which never seem to stop for long!

The photos below were taken of the skippers at Glasdrum ….. the composite photos of them on a fern frond is very much faked by me, but done to show the range of colours that can be found.

SNH leaflet on Glasdrum


Loch Visions photography courses

I’m just back from a fantastic day out at Kilchrennan alongside Loch Awe. Philip Price runs day photography courses from here … perfect if you are used to using a camera but want to get more out of it. The day includes lunch, equipment hire and editing time afterwards. The site is perfect with a hide overlooking bird feeders and an old dry stone wall that is frequented by voles and shrews.

I learnt a lot, mostly that patience is required but can be well rewarded! An excellent day out, and a good idea as a birthday present for a keen photographer. Would be suitable for teenagers upwards.


Mull Wildlife Week

The isle of Mull is renowned for it’s fabulous wildlife, and has featured on Springwatch in the last few years for it’s white tailed eagles, as well as the local otters, cetaceans and many other species. During May local businesses run a wildlife week that is great for tourists as well as residents. I went over for the day to join a photography course, hoping that it could improve my composition … miracles may happen!

We headed to Langamull, on the north side of Mull, where there is a forestry walk leading on to a beautiful sandy beach. From there you look out towards the Small Isles and Skye. It was a lovely day, and I did work on my skills ….. but not sure I improved that much! As usual I stand and look at a stunning view and know that there is an amazing shot to be taken of it, but can’t get the right angle, or position!


Spring flowers

Spring really has sprung here, and the wild flowers are stunning. I decided to see how many I could find in a 100 metre stretch of the track up alongside Loch Etive, and the results are shown below. Not bad!

… silver lining

It had been a very slow process but we are now getting to grips with the damage done. We have made the decision to close for this season as the work to repair the house will be slow and we cannot at this stage guarantee when we will be available to take guests again. The good news is that this is also an opportunity for us to upgrade, redecorate and insulate the house better ….. so not all bad news!

And this will not be time wasted, as we are working on a new website, and getting out and about in the area to try out lots of the activities on offer to guests when they come and stay. You can read all about our exploits here in our blog. So roll on 2012 and a revamped Ben Duirinnis House!


It’s  a lovely day, so time to escape the damp house and head up the hill behind us called, not surprisingly, Ben Duirinnis! The clouds rolled in half way up, but couldn’t spoil the stunning views looking up Loch Etive. And on the way back down I was surprised to find a fox moth caterpillar having a quick munch on the heather.

Work is underway

The builders have been here stripping away all the wet wallpaper and fittings. It is still pretty heartbreaking, but also interesting to see beneath the layers to see the choices of wallpaper and paint used in the past!