Sunday, February 08, 2009

Ardardan and Balloch

It was a cold and potentially snowy Sunday and we'd wanted to go for a walk up Ben Lomond as it looked spectacular on the Saturday, all cloaked in white. Unfortunately, it was completely hidden from view by low and freezing clouds and snow was forecast so, being sensible folks, we opted to stay closer to the ground and go for a wander along the shore at Ardmore Point, a privately owned peninsula with a nature trail laid by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, near Cardross on the Firth of Clyde.

Toffee CooNosey Toffee Coo

Unfortunately, my navigational skills were lacking on the day and I took the earlier turn off, missing Ardmore and ending up at Ardardan Estate instead. Ardardan is set in a little walled garden between Cardross and Ardmore and comprises a farm shop, garden nursery and tearoom. Not quite what we were looking for but we had a nose around anyway to pass the time. The farm shop was a bit upmarket for us, selling atrociously priced grocery items more frequently seen in the likes of Harrods or Fortnum and Mason's. The only positive thing was the fact that they sold Stornoway Black Pudding.

Of more interest to us at the time was a short woodland walk around, well a small wood. The path basically led off from one end of Ardardan, circled a small wood and came back round to the farm again. It was probably no more than quarter of a mile round but it had started snowing and seemed interesting enough at the time. On the way round we got to say hello to some inquistive Highland Cows and their calves. It's not a bad place to take kids for a few hours as they can see some farmyard animals like chickens, pigs and the "Toffee Coos" while mum and dad can edge them towards the tearoom. It also has a spectacular fountain with leaping dolphins, which looks a bit out of place among the farmyard clutter.

Drumkinnon BayDrumkinnon Bay

Deciding the weather wasn't even up to a shoreline walk at Ardmore, we drove on to Helensburgh and then up and over the hill to Loch Lomond to see what was going on at Drumkinnon Bay at the Balloch end of the loch. Loch Lomond Shores is yet another pretentious, upmarket tourist trap but it does have a coffee shop and some potentially spectacular views of Ben Lomond. Not today though as it was snowing and the Ben was completely obscured from view.

Gulls On IceGulls On Ice

With an almost grey backdrop to the loch, there wasn't much to see except some stark contrast images of snow, ice and frost and a tied-up Maid of the Loch. Oh and some gulls wandering around on an ice-floe on the water. After a suitably hot coffee and a bun, we headed home for the warmth of the fireside and the telly - brrrrr!

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