Sunday, 23 August 2009

Knapdale Knotes

Tarbert is overlooked by a Robert the Bruce ruined castle, (he didn't half get about round here) which gives fine views over the harbour and town. I hope it's not TOO cruel to say that Tarbert is possibly slightly better viewed from that sort of distance?

It has one of the highest rainfall averages in the UK (Missing it Already: DOOGS).

One result of this is a HUGE area of native 'rain forest' - an SSSI which boasts over 600 species of plants, animals and invertebrates.
Much in the way of moss, ferns and lichens, as you would expect, in thousands of acres of ancient woodland. Even in the rain it is stunningly lovely.

We stayed with the hospitable Duncans in Knapdale (the next 'lump' round from Kintyre). While the boys had a day's rest I was shown round part of the estate, including the deer farm.

The size and quality of the stags was impressive: well over 20 stone (in the wild they're more usually about 13.) After Ileene's cooking I was heading the same way - time to move on perhaps!

We rode on round the Knapdale peninsula: even the usual soaking couldn't detract from how utterly delightful this corner of Argyll is: lots more woodland, opening on to well-tended grassy farms - stock rearing mainly.

We holed up with David, the local animal welfare officer. He didn't impound Doogs and Yeoman- in fact he thought they were in great order! He told me of the problems faced by farmers this year: with silage rotting on the ground unbaled they are having to buy it in for the winter. Added to already high prices this year is the cost of delivery to this remote corner, which raises prices by about a third.

It's hard, although not entirely bad news with lamb trade fairly brisk right now. Here as elsewhere a problem is few young people coming forward to farm, most preferring a more lucrative career in computers or some such.

We didn't manage any hill riding in Knapdale: one look at the swollen rivers (see pic) showed the stupidity of THAT idea! So we just dottled round the (charming) coast road - very little traffic and gave us the chance to watch dozens of seals - much to Yeoman's utter astonishment who thought the rocks had come alive! Poor Yeoman!

I promise not to go on any more about the weather (that WILL make a nice change- Doogs) but with yet another thorough soaking today and an inch of rain forecast for tomorrow please note I am now signing myself - Kate Moss.

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