Monday, 15 August 2016

Fiunary, Morvern, Scotland.

To get to ‘the most westerly point of mainland Britain’ you have to follow the A82 heading for Fort William but cross Loch Linnhe by a vehicle ferry from Corran to the Ardgour peninsula and then navigate 30 miles of narrow track road to the main village in the Morvern area Loch Alainn from where you can get a ferry to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull and were Silica is mined locally. The village has a snack bar, post office and a small shop. Fiunary is a further 5 miles to its east on an even narrower road. Although other vehicles are scarce care must be taken because sheep freely roam the area. 

Corran/Ardgour Ferry. 

Loch Alliann.
When you finally reach the end of your journey you will find the small Fiunary Camping Site beautifully situated on the edge of the Sound of Mull an 18 mile long channel which is 3 miles at its widest point and separates the Island of Mull from the Morvern mainland peninsula and on a good day offers great view’s of island.

The view across the Sound of Mull.

Our four nights at Fiunary Caravan and Camping Park were some what spoilt by the constant rain night and day, in fact the wind and rain lasted for over 60 hours non stop! Still the rest and relaxation were most welcome.
The result of rain non stop for over sixty hours. 
The site is advertised as a ‘Hideaway’, which means it’s small, remote and secluded and that it certainly was. Run by the very helpful Mr and Mrs Henderson the site, although very basic, has all the normal facilities.

The Fiunary Camping Site - remote and secluded. 
On the final full day of our stay the rain finally stopped - well almost! So a walk was in order. Leaving the camp site and turning left along the very narrow B849 we came across Clach na Criche or The Wishing Stone which is a rock wall with a large 'hole'. Local people believed that the volcanic rock granted wishes to anyone able to pass through its hole without touching the sides, not an easy task. Clach na Criche means boundary stone in Gaelic and was created about 60 million years ago when molten magna was pumped from the heart of the Mull super volcano through cracks in the Earths crust. Legend suggests it once marked the border between Pictish and Gaelic lands and later between medieval church parishes.

Clach na Criche (Wishing Stone) 
Also to be seen along with the Ferry's, sailing boats and various other craft was a fully functioning fish farm.

Various craft use the Sound of Mull as does the Fish Farm.
Further along the road is Killundine Castle a strange picturesque historic ruin that was built in the second half of the 17th century and can be described as being a mixture of a tower house and an unfortified residence. The building was originally three storeys high and was constructed out of locally quarried materials.  It is thought that the castle was built on the instructions of Allan MacLean who is on record as being the tacks man of Killundine in the 1670’s. Apparently it was seized from the MacLean’s by a party of militant Camerons during the first Jacobite Rising of 1719 but was surrendered soon after on being attacked from the sea by a government gunboat. The castle is known locally as The Castle of the Dogs, some say because the MacLean’s used it as a hunting lodge others say it was derogatory term used by the enemies of the Clan MacLean. Unfortunately access to the castle itself was impossible.

The Castle of the Dogs.
A visit to this area is a perfect antidote to the rush of modern life. You can feel the tensions ebb away. A place of peace and tranquillity and no Internet – well nowhere’s perfect, or is it? 

The last easily accessible wilderness left in the UK.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Berwick upon Tweed Northumberland.

The most northernly town in England is the historic town of Berwick upon Tweed which is just 2.5 miles south of the Scottish border, something that's quite noticeable because you can ask for a fish supper and people know what you mean, and with out question you can purchase a can of Irn Bru to have with your supper and believe it or not you can get a copy of The National as well!

An interesting city with lots of history....

.... and a very small coffee shop!
During years of border wars between the two countries Berwick changed hands 13 times from 1296. Eventually from 1482 it stayed in English hands, maybe the town and its residents will defect when Scotland finally gets its long sort after independence?

Although the town has been fortified since Tudor times, to cope with the 16th century advances in gunpowder artillery the Italian designed ramparts, we still see today, were commissioned. These walls took 12 years to build and cost £40 million in today’s money. The single biggest expenditure of Elizabeth 1st reign – yea ancient Trident maybe?

'Walking the Walls' are a great way to see the Berwick. 

These ramparts are a great tourist attraction and form a wonderful way to walk around the city and take-in its many historical attractions.

Quay Walls .

The Old Berwick Bridge.

The Railway Bridge.

The Barracks.

The Main Guardhouse.

During the nineteenth century Berwick-upon-Tweed became an important trading town and it grew in size considerably with the addition of its new harbours and quays. The town's main breakwater was extended between 1810 and 1811 to protect the harbours and the mouth of the River Tweed and so required a lighthouse. John Rennie finally built the one you see today in 1826. The tower is 13 metres high and is built almost completely out of locally sourced stone - it was repainted in 2011 the first time in sixteen years.

The Breakwater.

Rennie's Lighthouse. 

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Holy Island of Lindisfarne Northumberland.

My main reason for wanting to visit this magical place was to see first hand the location of Roman Polanski’s 1966 movie Cul-de-Sac. It was originally planned to make the film in Eastern Europe but because of contractual details the location was changed to Northumberland in the North East of England. Lindisfarne Castle was an ideal location for this story with its coastal road that gets flooded twice a day - despite warnings about one vehicle each month is stranded on the causeway and have to be rescued by either lifeboat or helicopter! The script was adjusted to fit the setting and not staged as originally intended in a standard domestic house; furniture used in film was actually part of the Castle and can still be seen in the Castle’s rooms.
The Lower Battery.

The view inland from The Upper Battery.
The Entrance Hall.

The Kitchen.

The Ships Room.

The Main Bedroom.

The Castle was originally an old fort built in 1550 but fell into disrepair until Edward Hudson (the founder of Country Life magazine in 1901) rediscovered the deserted building while on holiday in Northumberland and fell in love with it. Purchasing it from the Crown he hired Edwin Lutyens, a English country house designer best known for adapting traditional architectural styles and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to turn the castle into a private holiday home where Hudson could bring guests for summer breaks and house parties. Lutyens rose to the challenge creating some austere but beautifully designed interiors, linked by corridors, galleries and stairways. You can still see much of the decoration as it was in the early part of the twentieth century including much of contents that were originally the property of Hudson. The building is now part of the National Trust who, as you can witness from some of the rooms, are renovating parts of the building trying improve the buildings fabric and make it weather proof.  Also worth seeing in the grounds of the Castle is the tiny walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll between 1906 and 1912.

Summer Flowers.

Although it’s the Castle that mainly draws the visitors the Islands Christian heritage is also worth a look. This includes the old Priory and The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin that offers not only the community but also visitors and pilgrims three acts of worship each day of the year.  This present building is built over and around an earlier Saxon church that is likely to be the site of the first wooden church built by St. Aidan.
Part of the old Priory. 

St Mary the Virgin.

Inside St Mary's. 
St Aidan of Lindisfarne.

Holy Island is a very popular and busy tourist destination and has a thriving but small population with some great coffee shops and restaurants along side a new looking visitors centre and a Post Office. A special Perrymans bus, Route 477, runs at low tide to take visitors from the surrounding areas onto the Island via the causeway. The bus allows an approximate four-hour visit.  
A busy tourist destination.

A thriving but small village.

Waiting for the return bus.

Views of the causeway as you depart the Island.

The bus back.