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"World tour of Scotland" at www.nigelandkathyinscotland.blogspot.com

Thursday, 27 October 2011

A Walk over the Saddle, Glen Sannox to Glen Rosa - October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Wild and Wet

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

From Inversnaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I’ve always liked this poem (this is just the last verse) and it came into my head with the wild, wet weather we’ve had. Outside, the burn is a foamy torrent. If you pay attention you can hear all sorts of strange sounds in it: conversations, church bells, disco music, a woman singing….


It’s got to that time of year at Lochranza when I see more wild creatures than people in the course of a day: a late basking shark, a badger, 12 seals following my canoe, several red squirrels and countless red deer in one day last week, to be more precise. Every morning I open the curtains to see which of the golf course stags has won the hinds in the night. There’s ongoing tension between two stags who keep charging towards each other from different sides of the burn, but they stop short of a fight. The hinds meanwhile keep making a run for it. I watched one sitting down firmly some way from the herd and, of course, the stag soon arrived to get her back. When she didn’t move, he stuck out his foreleg and, Punch-and-Judy-like, struck her sharply on the head!

Deer Bath

You’d pay a lot in a 5* hotel to have a muddy wallow like this

As well as red deer, Lochranza has a significant badger population. I see their tracks in the morning raking of the bunkers; a tell-tale sign of their overnight raids to Mrs. McAllister’s garden. By the way, a comfortable place to see the local red squirrels close-up is in Val and Rino’s garden at the Stags Pavilion; you can watch squirrel acrobatics on the bird feeders over a coffee.

We’ve finished clearing the ditches and hopefully it’s helped to channel the plentiful rain out of the glen and into the sea. Rain and the Gulf Stream make Arran a lush island where all kinds of tropical plants can flourish. In fact, in the past, Lochranza’s hillsides were bare due to being churned up by cattle. Without these beasts, invaders like gorse, the ponticum rhododendron, ragwort and bracken are spreading fast- all beautiful but destructive…… a bit like the deer.

Our second season is nearly over- we close on Oct 31st. Looking back over the year we’ve been wet a lot, we’ve been blown around a lot, done smelly tasks a lot, and back breaking tasks a lot. We rarely get out of our fleeces and wellies! But……we’ve had a wonderful time. How could it be anything else when we live so close to nature?

It’s also been a joy to meet so many of you and hear your tales and enjoy sharing your experiences, if only briefly.

When the season ends we’re going motor-homing and are looking forward to being world-wanderers ourselves for a little while. I’ll keep you posted how we get on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Monday, 3 October 2011

Nigel and Will- probably the last dip of the year

It’s not just the south of England that can enjoy playing in the sea in Autumn (admittedly it was ten degrees cooler here).

Autumn Diary

Just now nature is busy ensuring its survival into next year. I came across a red squirrel the other day, so totally absorbed in hiding its horde in a tree root it didn’t notice me behind it. But it’s the clamour of the rut that dominates Lochranza life in early October. The stags are in such a frenzied state guarding their herds that they don’t eat. These red deer are wild and roam the northern hills of Arran, but belong to the Laird, and are managed, that is to say some are culled each year to maintain healthy stock and sustainable numbers. One year when culling did not take place, many deer starved to death. It’s the stags that are being culled at the present time; later in October it will be selected hinds. Out on the golf course you can regularly hear the creaking, clacking and clattering of entangled antlers as young stags practise battle. They have also gouged out new hazards for golfers in the form of round wallows: muddy pools they like to bathe in, in order to rise out of them looking dripping black and scary.

There is a dramatic shift of focus in our lives at this time too. As only the hardiest visitors come to the campsite and golf course in October, it is time to get on with hefty outdoor maintenance tasks: clearing the ditches to drain winter floods, cutting back hedges and mending fences. Like the animals, as one year comes to fruition for us, it’s time to start working towards the next.

The Mountains of Arran in September