Autumn, changing colours and the hint of oncoming winter.... what do you do? Sounds like a good time to take a break, relax and go on holiday, which is what Mum and I did in October. Some years ago we went to a Forestry Commission site at Loch Awe, which got sold off - this year we found that some of the cabins were again for rent - (have a look here) - so we decided to go back, and so glad we did!
This is the cabin, overlooking the loch....
It's compact, cosy, very reasonably priced, and fully heated!
We didn't expect the weather to be good - and were not disappointed - it chucked it down on a regular basis - when we woke up, the loch was usually calm and still, the wind picked up during the day becoming quite fierce by nightfall. Nevertheless, one morning I woke to the sound of thunder so loud that I thought it was blasting at a nearby quarry - the blast reverberated through me as I lay in my bunk, and the sound of the rain on the roof was deafening! But the cabin was snug, and we had a great deal of pleasure just watching the rain, and the loch rising...at least a foot during the week...
We put out bird-feeders, as we'd done in the past, (and had on one visit attracted a pine marten)and were soon discovered by the locals - I don't think I've ever seen so many coal tits, chaffinches, great tits, and blue tits - who soon proceeded to eat us out of house and home....
There were also siskins, a wren, and a robin who appeared to be the only vegetarian robin I've ever encountered - we got in some mealworms for him which were studiously ignored in favour of breadcrumbs..
The most striking visitor to the feeders was a red squirrel, who appeared on the second day, and then came back every day - several times a day on occasion. The peanuts were the main focus of his attention, but he paid visits to the sunflower seeds, and checked out the whole deck in case he'd missed something.
The weather meant we stayed in the cabin quite a lot - which was excellent, as it meant we got to see all the visitors - but we still managed to get out and about on a few occasions - through Kilmartin Glen with its standing stones and burial mounds (the ancient heart of the kingdom of Dalriada) down to Crinan - across the Moine Mhor (Great Bog) Nature Reserve
...and the Canal itself, with the huge locks that connect the inner loch to the sea and formed the basis for much of the trade in the early part of the 20th century - the heart of 'Para Handy' country.
We went down through the islands to Seil and Easdale (and managed to flatten the car battery by leaving the lights on whilst having lunch!)where the wind was whipping the sea up.
We stayed at the cabin for a week - utterly relaxing, quite enchanting, and rather soggy! Wet, mossy forests, sudden storms, and the glorious reds, golds and bronzes of autumn bracken and leaves. We came home through some of the wettest weather - floods in Oban and the higher end of Speyside round Laggan, where the autumn colours were still developing.
The trees were thick with lichen - a good indicator of clean air, and strange in its own right...
We side-tracked towards the headwaters of the Spey (defeated by floods) but paused at this old house, before finally heading for home, and fish and chips.
Loch Awe....Wet it may have been, but I'd utterly recommend it as an out-of-the way spot for relaxation!