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Thursday, 29 September 2016

2016 World Stone Skimming Championships

Las Ramblas Ramblers Stone Skimming Division head to Easdale for the
Championships. Chris Difford took a wrong turning and ended up in Camber Sands and in the wrong season but he sent a fun little ditty to entertain us in the Rain.

The World Stone Skimming Championships were started in 1983 by Albert Baker, and then lay fallow until they were resurrected in 1997 by the Easdale Island Community Group
                                  as a fund raising event.                                       
Contestants hail from around the world and the championships now attract over 300 participants and many spectators. Anyone of any age and any level of skill can enter the championships.
The competition is split into Ladies, Men, Junior Boys and Girls and Under 10s Boys and Girls categories. There is also the Ladies and Men Old Tosser categories for those entrants who have reached the experienced and veteran heights of no longer being in their 50's.
The Field of Dreams
Marion & Kay have the misfortune of throwing after Ladies Champion Lucy Wood
Marion celebrates getting a stone in the water
Jill Prepares for her 14m Puffin winning throw
Sally & Daisy show more interest in the wine than the competition
Budgie winner Alfie at the presentation ceremony in the Oyster Bar


Men's Budgie
Alfie 45 meters
Andy 37 meters
Bruce 34 meters
Kevin 22 Meters
Neil 17 meters
Sam 14 meters

Woman's Puffin
Jill 14 meters
Kay 9 meters
Marion 0 meters

6th Las Ramblas 210 meters

Our usual thanks to everyone who organised the event,
the staff at the Oyster Bar
and at the Puffer
And Steve, Trish & Gillian for putting up with us for another Year

Monday, 26 September 2016

Pre Skim Stroll in Ardmaddy Gardens

Las Ramblas (Stone Skimming Division) take a leisurely saunter round the Ardmaddy Castle Estate
Marion, Bruce, Linda, Neil, Alfie, Jill, Andy, Kay, Kevin, Sally & Daisy Struggle through the Rain Barry Manilow despite his claims did not.

Ardmaddy Castle gardens, in a most spectacular setting, are shielded to the north by mature woodlands, carpeted with bluebells and daffodils and protected from the Atlantic winds by the elevated Castle. The Walled Garden is full of magnificent rhododendrons, some huge, an increasing collection of rare and unusual shrubs and plants, the 'Clock Garden' with its cutting flowers, fruit and vegetables grown with labour saving formality, all within dwarf box hedging. Beyond, a woodland walk, with its amazing hydrangea climbing to 60 feet, leads to the water gardens - in early summer a riot of candelabra primulas, irises, rodgersias and other damp loving plants and grasses. Lovely autumn colour. A garden for all seasons.
Ardmaddy Tower
Crossing in light drizzle
Taking shelter in the Potting Shed
Slight respite from the downpour

Oh well time to head to the House Of Trousers for a quick refreshment before getting some last minute training in the Oyster Bar
Tigh an Truish
A good sign for tomorrows Competition ?
Let the training commence

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Lews Castle Stroll in Stonroway

Bruce takes a pre-work Stroll in Stornoway, Jimi Hendrix missed out as he was
to busy with a full Scottish Breakfast in a local hostelry he did however suggest this song for the walk

King James VI granted ownership of Lewis to the Mackenzies of Kintail in 1610. By about 1680, Lord Seaforth had established his estate house, Seaforth Lodge, on the Gearraidh Chruaidh, an area of rough ground on the west side of the harbour. Parts of this original building can still be seen within the stripped out walls of the mezzanine at the rear of the present Castle.
In 1844 the Lewis Estate was sold to James Matheson.
Sir James Matheson was born in Lairg, Sutherland and co-founded the Jardine Matheson company in Canton in 1832. Having made his fortune from the Chinese Opium trade, he returned to Scotland and purchased the Island of Lewis from the Mackenzie Trustees for £190,000.
Matheson commissioned the renowned architect Charles Wilson to design his new island residence on the site of the Mackenzies' Seaforth Lodge. Building work started in 1847 and the £60,000 project took seven years to complete. A further £49,000 was spent on transforming the rough grazing land around the new Castle into extensive woodlands and private gardens. The temperate climate and shelter from the initial planting of hardy species, created ideal growing conditions for a wide range of native and imported species. A large conservatory complex, added in 1875 by Alex Sutherland, housed a host of more exotic and delicate species.
The creation of the Castle Grounds involved the clearance of tenants and the re-routing of public roads, which did not endear the new proprietor to the local population. To balance this, during his period of ownership, Sir James Matheson provided employment, funded famine relief and many other social and economic projects for the benefit of the island community.
On his death in 1878 the estate fell to his widow Lady Mary Jane Matheson and subsequently to his nephew Donald and grand-nephew Colonel Duncan Matheson. For financial reasons the Lewis estate and the Castle were put on the market in 1917.
William Hesketh Leve (Lord Leverhulme) was born in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1851 and built up the Lever Bros/Unilever conglomerate. Having first seen the Hebrides on a vacation cruise in 1884, he bought the Isle of Lewis in 1918 for £143,000 and a year later acquired the Isle of Harris. In little over three years, Leverhulme spent some £2million on industrialisation schemes, largely based on fishing, which he believed would transform the economic and social conditions in the islands.
Leverhulme had ambitious plans for Stornoway and commissioned the artist Raffles Davison to draw up his future vision of the town. This, incidentally, included a bridge linking the harbour at Bayhead to the Castle Grounds.
Leverhulme gave the Castle electric lighting, central heating, numerous bathrooms and intercom telephones. An enthusiastic dancer, he extended the ballroom by combining it with an adjacent drawing room. He hosted many famous visitors and invitations to balls at the Castle were eagerly sought.
In 1923 Lord Leverhulme gifted Lews Castle and 64,000 acres of land to the people of Stornoway parish and the Stornoway Trust was established to manage this substantial estate on behalf of the community.
Harbour Fisherwoman

3d Wall Mural
And another
Lews Castle from the harbour
Boatman's House
Looking back to Stornoway
Lewis Chessman
And another
Lews Castle
Overgrown Bridge
Oh well time to go and earn some money

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Corrieshalloch Gorge

Bruce takes time out from work up North for a short walk in Corrieshalloch Gorge, Louis Philippe wasn't keen on crossing the Bridge so waited in the Car Park and sung this little tune.

Corrieshalloch Gorge can be found 12 miles south east of Ullapool. It is a spectacularly deep, mile long box canyon through which the River Droma descends towards Loch Broom, en route forming the 150ft high Falls of Measach. There are few outdoor attractions in the Highlands best seen after heavy rain, but Corrieshalloch Gorge is certainly one of them, and when the river is in spate the falls produce a mist which drifts along the gorge.
The gorge is accessed from the south, from a car park a short distance west along the Dundonnell and Gairloch road. The path brings you to the south end of the Corrieshalloch Suspension Bridge. This was built to allow tourists a better view of the gorge in 1874 and designed by the eminent engineer Sir John Fowler. Sir John is perhaps better known for his role in helping design the Forth Bridge, on which construction began nine years later in 1883. His bridge over the Corrieshalloch Gorge is more modest in scale, with a span of 82ft, but it has nonetheless stood the test of time.
The bridge gives you your first real sense of what you have come to see, and if you have any sort of fear of heights, crossing it is a challenge. A few feet out onto the bridge you suddenly become aware of the drop of some 200ft into the gorge below, and the bridge itself has an interesting tendency to sway as you walk along it. This is one reason why the number of visitors allowed on the bridge is limited to six at any one time.
From the bridge you follow a path west among trees parallel to the north side of the gorge. This brings you to a viewing platform cantilevered out half way over the gorge from the north side. This is a more recent addition than the bridge. It offers stupendous views of the Falls of Measach to the east: and provides another stern test for those with vertigo. On the way back to the car park you can choose to return the way you came or, after recrossing the bridge, you can follow a path which takes a circular route, leading first along the south side of the gorge to another fine viewpoint.
The Corrieshalloch Gorge was not carved out by the river that flows through it today. Instead it was probably formed towards the end of the last ice age when the glacier that formed Loch Broom started to melt and large volumes of water flowed beneath the base of the glacier, carving out the rock below.
Looking down from the Bridge

Waterfall from the Bridge

River Droma heading to Loch Broom

Falls of Measach
Falls of Measach from the viewing platform

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Early Morning Saunter in Cullen

Bruce takes an early morning Stroll round the delightful village of Cullen, Shane Macgowan got waylaid on his way and passed out in a bar in Buckie but not before he sent this little ditty.

Cullen is an extremely attractive town originally built around the mouth of the Burn of Deskford. When seen from the sea it is framed from behind by higher ground carrying a disused railway line over a series of spectacular viaducts.
The town is in two parts. Sandwiched between the sea wall on one side, and the curve of the main road on the other, is the fishing village, Seatown of Cullen. This is a unique collection of a couple of a hundred small stone fishermen's cottages. At the seaward side they turn their ends to the sea, which on this north-facing coast can be a bit lumpy.
At the eastern end of Seatown, just below where the main road emerges from its viaduct, is Cullen's harbour. Again, this is a relatively quiet place that marks the junction between the Seatown's sandy beach and the rockier seascape to the east.
Cullen has a long history. It was established by 1189 on a location about half a mile inland from where you find it today, marked on maps as "Old Cullen" and close to Cullen House. A church was built in 1236, and its successor, Cullen Old Kirk, can still be visited today. Cullen's wealth in the 1700s was built on textiles, and threadmaking in particular. However the main period of growth came with the herring boom in the 1800s. New Cullen and Seatown of Cullen were built in the 1820s, the latter close to the pier built by Thomas Telford in 1819.
This fishing heritage lies behind Cullen's main claim to fame: a form of smoked haddock, potato and onion soup named after the town: Cullen Skink. The slightly odd name comes from the Gaelic word for "essence".

Looking down to the sea from New Cullen
Seatown of Cullen
Looking East from the Harbour
Thomas Telford's Harbour

Oh well better head west and do some work then retrieve Magowan from the Bar.

Return to the Whangie

In a desperate desire to get out of the City for a few hours and introduce a new member to the joys of walking Linda, Neil, Sam, Alfie, Gillian, Alison and Rueben retrace  their steps in the Kilpatrick Hills. Gerry Garcia had planned to join us but was somewhat perturbed that he may loose some cash to Satan.

Queen Victoria stood near the start of this walk for her first view of Loch Lomond. She never ventured further up the hill and so missed the opportunity to explore the Whangie, a strange cleft in the rock that has fascinated generations of rock climbers.
Geologists would have us believe that this gash in the rocks, 50ft deep and 300ft long, was caused by a landslide, when the surface layer of black basalt moved slowly over the underlying sandstone. This created stresses within the basalt, which eventually fractured, producing thin slices of slab. However, ask any local about the Whangie and you will be told the truth. It was created by the Devil himself on his way to a witches' coven near Stockie Muir. He got so excited that he gave one flick of his mighty tail and carved a slice out of the hillside creating the Whangie. Whang is a common Lowland Scots dialect word meaning a slice.
Whatever its origin, the Whangie is still a valued training ground for Glasgow rock climbers, successors to the mountaineering pioneers of the 1920s and 30s. These working class men from Glasgow started walking out of the city to explore the surrounding countryside. Clad only in their ordinary clothes and with little in the way of equipment, save perhaps some army surplus kit or an old clothes line, they went looking for adventure.
After a hard week of work they would leave Glasgow late at night, take the last bus to the outskirts and walk into the countryside. Some of the great names in Scottish climbing were amongst these early pioneers, including W H Murray, the celebrated Himalayan climber and environmentalist, and Tom Weir, who climbed with Murray and went on to make a series of television programmes called Weir's Way.
Gillian, Linda & Alfie head out
Sam & Alfie
Taking in the View down Loch Lomond
Entering the Whangie
Rueben makes his Debut
Time to head home
See our previous trip to the Whangie here