Thursday, 28 June 2012

Murrays on Tour - Laudale Estate

Monday 18th June,
Beinn Resipol from the lounge 07.00 – this must be typical morning on the West Coast.
Having walked Friday and Saturday and travelled all day on Sunday, the plan, if there was such a thing, was to have a rest on the Monday. It was supposed to be a case of having a long lie, getting to know the cottage, maybe taking a run over to Strontian, it being the nearest thing to civilisation, then back to a lazy day of reading and drafting up a bit of the blog. Well that plan lasted all of an hour and, even after a leisurely breakfast, we were still packed up and out of the door before ten o’clock. We had no particular route in mind so set off on foot from the cottage, heading west to an even more minor road a couple of hundred yards away signposted as a public right of way to Kinlochteagus, which would take us towards Laudale house. 
After we left the surprisingly busy “main road” the views began to open up and the woodland of Ash, Birch, Rowan and all the others I don’t know the name of was alive with birdsong. And we were still only half a mile from the cottage!

Looking east over natural woodlands to Loch Sunart
Looking west towards Laudale House
The woods eventually gave way to scrubland with a few sheep dotted about as the road dropped down the loch side. There were the usual noisy Oystercatchers and lots of other ubiquitous waders whose names I should learn. The weather by now was getting surprisingly hot and we were shedding layers and regretting that among all the paraphernalia we take with us as standard when we walk, sun tan lotion isn’t seen as necessary. The views, wherever we looked, continued to be outstanding.

Looking north to Beinn Resipol
We stopped off at what looked like an old dock and did our usual speculation, based on no facts whatsoever, on what it might have been used for in the past and what stories it had to tell. Not all of the old dock was still intact though as we could see the timbers in the crystal clear water of the loch.
Old dock of some sort, answers on a postcard!
With the loch on our right we had been walking under the steep cliffs of Creag Dhubh on our left and as these slowly gave way to more fertile farm and pasture land with Laudale House in the distance. We carried on until we came to the gates with a sign that suggested that if you were driving then you better have a good reason for going beyond this point! There wasn’t however anything to say that a couple of middle aged walkers would inconvenience the owners too much so we wandered on.
Laudale House entrance –motorists beware!
The house itself is a large whitewashed building that looks well maintained and much less castle like than we would have expected to see over in our Deeside stomping grounds. This building looks much more like a“normal” family home than a defensive fortification. Although I did think that having a herd of deer on the front lawn was just a tad ostentatious!
Laudale House – complete with deer on the lawn
Although walkers, (and cyclists), were discouraged from going in around the house there was a waymarked route around the lochside and it was this path we took towards a boathouse. We had already walked further than we had intended so decided that we’d stop here for a while and have our hastily made up packed lunch while we discussed what to do next.
Lunchtime in the sun
We spent a quiet hour sun worshipping and wondering how long this weather could last. It was obviously being overly optimistic to think that it could last all week, but if it would only last for a few days it would certainly be a pleasant surprise. We took some photographs of the boats and a strange little statue of a stag that probably meant something to somebody but there was no explanation for the casual visitor. We also had a look into a fenced off wood that, according to the plaque, had been planted in memory of Diane Elizabeth Brazendale. Who was she? I’m afraid I can’t cast any light on that but having a wood planted as a memorial seems quite classy, so hats off to her.
Stag standing guard over the boats
Memorial woods
We decided to carry on for a while at least as far as the Laudale River before turning back. There was no real reason for this other than the fact that it was too nice a day not to be walking! As it turned out the river was almost dry although we did watch the minnows in the pools for a while again wondering at how clear the water was. We eventually stopped at a bridge being guarded by some Highland cattle, not because of any fear of the docile beasts but simply because we decided that it was time to be heading back. We took some photos from the bridge and of a cottage that seemed to be getting refurbished before retracing our steps back to the boathouse.
Laudale River
Cottage refurbishment
The walk back was pretty uneventful apart from trying to get a photograph of what was probably a cuckoo but may have been a sparrow hawk. I’m afraid I don’t have either the knowledge of camera equipment, (or skill perhaps), to be sure. We also cut across the bay in front of the house rather than around the banks and tried to guess the names and types of shellfish we came across, but again it only goes to reinforce our ignorance! The sky by now had lost its pristine blue but it was turning into a beautiful evening and the views that had been behind us now opened up as we made our way back.
Looking east
The only other thing of note was that we met Clifford the handyman for the house and had a laugh at my expense while he explained how to get the heating to work. In my defence it’s not as straightforward as it might seem so I’m not going to mention how it all works and if you find yourself in the same predicament, spare a thought for me.

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