Travelling back to the Stage coach Inn, we notice a sign to Fyne Ales Brewery. The rain is slowing. A left turn onto a farm road, and we pass slopes with grazing Highland Cattle and then Black Angus then some large farm sheds then a large”Titan”, some barrels and finally the visitors centre for Fyne Ales Brewery. Its exterior is deceiving. Inside is a warm bar and show room of all their ales and beers and they serve some interesting food made on site. Lunch, a warm lounge room and a pint of ale – what more could a soul want?
The Tallest Tree in Britain
Whilst the temptation was to stay at Fyne Ales, we finally moved on. The rain clouds were breaking up and the rain had ceased but the wind had lifted and the temperature had dropped. Still there was the gardens at Ardkinglas and Britain’s tallest tree to visit.
Our hotel is on a side road and we find that it is on the road to Ardkinglas estate the seat of the Laird of Clan Campbell. We learn this by visiting a small kirk on the way to the gardens. The church is in the Scottish church style of a circular nave and a steeple at the entrance. We stepped inside to be greeted by Mr Callander – a member of the Campbell/Erskine/Callander clan. He is decorating a small Christmas tree and stops to chat with us about the clan and the church. On the wall is a plaque giving some of the clan history and then there is the gravestones in the church yard. The church has been recently renovated and they have an Australian benefactor who has donated money over the years to maintain the church.
We left Mr Callander to finish the tree and went to find our own tree – Britain’s tallest tree.
Within 100 metres of the church we enter the Arkinglas estate and are greeted or should I say not greeted by an empty reception box. There is an antibacterial wash for your shoes and literature for the taking but no sign of our quarry. The wind is now cold and chilling, the gardens are dark as the sun struggles weakly to warm the world, and we feel more like a hot chocolate and a fireside seat to tramping through a colourless forest looking for the tallest tree. So we call it quits for the day and 200 metres back down the road pull into the hotel.
Although it is only 4.00pm it is now dark the rain has returned and soon it will be pitch black. The days can be very short. In the lounge the Inn Keeper has started the fire and the room is aglow with its warmth. The girls settle in with their knitting and a Khalua whilst I have a wee dram of Glengoyne single malt and pull out the IPad for some more blogging. Before settling in a browse the various paintings and bric a brac on the walls. Lo and behold, Queen Victoria has visited Cairnow and saw the Campbell children playing, John Keats got lost somewhere near here and Dorothy Wordsworth visited twice. Who cares! It is beautifully isolated and that is its charm.
We leave for Islay tomorrow. This will be an early start so we arrange a picnic basket and settle our bill for a running start tomorrow.