Last week The Road North led to Argyll. It was part family holiday as well, and there were six of us in total. Fewer stations than Perthshire, and no two-in-one-day, so we should get the blogs up sooner than last time. There’s a new web address, which takes you to a map of Scotland with all the stations marked; the darker ones are those we’ve blogged to date, the lighter ones those to come.
Other than Dunstaffnage Castle which I visited in 1998, when I was visiting primary schools in the area with the Scottish Poetry Library van, last week’s destinations were new to me – Achnabreck, Kilmartin, Dunadd, Kilmichael Galssary, Luing, Crinan. The cup-and-ring marked rocks at Achnabreck are astonishing beautiful, a density of perfect circles rippling through milennia… and despite the rain, the walk cairn-to-cairn along the ‘linear cemetery’ in Kilmartin Glen was one of the highlights of the week for the girls.
The black slate beach at Luing was a revalation to me, and my thanks go to Norrie Bissell for showing us round there; that was our Matsushima, Basho’s ‘magnificent vista’ where ‘all sorts of islands gather’ – fourteen in our case, compared to his 263, but magnificent it certainly was that bright afternoon, as we looked from Jura across the Garvellachs to the south coast of Mull. I missed the beach at Carsaid, as I was walking to (and nearly missing) Castle Dounie above Crinan; again the view was spectacular, and now I had a much better idea of what I was looking at.
Alec led us to Loch Na Torrnalaich, between Kilmartin and Kilmichael… or, as it turned out, the unnamed lochan just to the south (he said it was smaller than he remembered). But there were waterlilies there too, and we swam, and it was beautiful, other than the bites I took away with me.
We ended the week with Pat Law, her husband Andy and daughter Kirsty, who’d sailed over from Lochmaddy, having dropped a dozen messages-in-bottles into the Minch, to await their fate. Over the table in the Crafty Kitchen at Ardfern, we toasted ‘journeys’. Long may they continue.