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A Cowal interlude

I returned yesterday from a magical few days in Cowal, the peninsula that reaches down like a crab claw around the Island of Bute in the Firth of Clyde. Having published books on long-distance walks in both Kintyre to its south-west and the Arran to its south, I'd been thinking it would be logical to publish a Rucksack Reader to the Cowal Way, a long walk devised by Jim McLuckie of the Colintraive and Glendaruel Community Council. I was encouraged in this idea when one of its Committee members approached me in Campbeltown over a year ago, saying that stocks of their own guidebook had run out. Published in 2001 with Lottery funding, that book was written by John Fisher, and always seemed readily available in Cowal but almost unobtainable outside. That isn't my view of how to bring in visting walkers, with their sterling, dollars and euros, to an area rich in scenery and wildlife.

The 2-hour drive to Ormidale (where we met in Jim McLuckie's lovely house) was extremely scenic, passing three large lochs (Lomond, Long and Fyne). The meeting was most enjoyable: longer, and with more laughter, than I could have hoped for: thanks, Jim, Michael and Annie. It would be lovely to think it might lead to a guidebook.

Anyway it made a good excuse to stay with my dear friends Bob and Di Tennent in Blairmore, from Ormidale only half an hour's drive easterly. And despite a fairly dire forecast on Wednesday, we had an amazing sail in a Freedom 21 around the Holy Loch and down the Clyde to Kip next day. The breeze was at least Force 4/5 and although the photo below is of the right boat, it's one that Bob took earlier this year. I should explain that we weren't actually flying the spinnaker for the good reason that there was too much wind: we were surfing at up to 7.3 knots even with the mainsail reefed! It's a long time since I've felt such sheer exhilaration and it was deeply refreshing.

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On Thursday I headed for Glasgow, mainly to meet John Johnston for lunch at the Ubiquitous Chip. John has become my SuperCard guru and was kind enough to fix a few problems on my laptop after lunch. It's wonderful watching a skilled programmer at work, even better when he is solving problems for you, and SuperCard's trace facility is very slick. John teaches at Sandaig Primary when he isn't writing creative SuperCard software such as Rommy Robot (see his blog) and rescuing folk like me who are out of their depths. After our email exchanges in July, it was great to meet this amazing former zoo keeper and enjoy a civilised lunch. Endearingly, it turns out he's a little absent-minded, to the extent that he told me if you withdraw cash from an ATM machine but walk away instead of collecting your cash, the machine takes it back and credits your account! (This presupposes that somebody else doesn't lift it meantime, so is not recommended.) This was just one of many things I learned today:)

And, returning to Dunblane yesterday afternoon, I couldn't believe I'd been away for only two nights. It always seems as if you've been away for longer when a ferry is involved.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 1, 2008 5:06 PM.

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