Posts Tagged ‘Malcolm Wade – Mountain Leader Lakeland Mountain Experience Ltd’

Kilmartin Glen, Dunadd Fort, Crinan and Islay all in one day,


Kilmartin Glen is an area in Argyll not far from Kintyre with the most important concentration of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains in Scotland. There are more than 800 ancient monuments within a six mile radius of the village with 150 of them being prehistoric. Monuments include standing stones, a henge monument, numerous casts, and a linear cemetery with five huge burial cairns.

Temple Wood standing stones

Globe Cairn at Kilmartin Village

The Canadians show the carvings on the standing stone

Temple Wood standing stones and cairn

The remains of the fortress of the Scots at Dunadd, a royal centre of Dal Riata, are located to the south of the Glen. The anointing stone, carvings of a boar and a carved bowl all point towards a fortress of ‘king making’ significance. It’s believed that the new king placed his foot into the footprint at his anointing ceremony.

Beth receives adulation from her subjects on the anointing stone

Debs tries the footprint for fit

Peggy waves to her subjects!

A really interesting weathervane on top of Kilmartin Church shows the importance of the sea to this area

Following our own king making ceremonies, we travelled down the Crinan Canal to Crinan for lunch before heading to Tarbert enroute to the Islay ferry.

We arrived in Islay around 2000 and made our way north to our accommodation for the next two days.

Sue’s sprained ankle is making good progress and is certainly not stopping her from enjoying the walking – lots of ice is necessitating the requirement for the ladies to find a local hostelry (purely for medical recuperation) to ensure adequate supply!

No doubt there’ll be much debate about how much (if any) ice will be required to aid the libation of the amber peaty liquid over the next two days!

For details on how you can enjoy guided walks in Scotland, see About Argyll for some excellent options to suit you.


Glen Nant, Bonawe Furnace, and Inverawe Smokery, Argyll


Today we took a step back into the 18th century within this amazing landscape to see one of the most remarkable monuments of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. A company in the Lake District who already owned Duddon Estuary Furnace decided in 1753 to exploit the plentiful source of woodland in Glen Nant to provide charcoal before coke became the ‘new technology’.

Bonawe Furnace remained in blast for an astonishing 120 years producing good quality iron at competitive prices thanks to the readily available charcoal from the wooded hills of Argyll and Glen Nant in particular. Once pig iron was produced, there was ready access to transport from Lorn Quay onto Loch Etive and past the Falls of Lora at the mouth of the Loch.

For those of us from the Lake District, it is easy to recognise the red sandstone slabs from West Cumbria, and the grey-green slate covering the storage sheds – despite the slate islands just off the coast at Oban – but then I’m biased when I say that Westmorland green slate is the best in the world which is why it covers the Houses of Parliament in Westminster!

Bridge over a burn in Glen Nant nature reserve

Coppiced trees adorned with lichen and moss add to the verdant colours all around

Bonawe would have required at least 10,000 acres (5,000 football pitches) for sustained operation and ‘coaling’ which burned the wood to create charcoal took place in the woods before being carted by packhorse or clog cart in 12 sacks from one clamp kiln. There is an example of a clamp kiln in Glen Nant.

More details on Bonawe and the history can be found on the website at

The sun shone again on us as we launched at the Inverawe Smokery just a short walk from the Bonawe Furnace and gave some of us a chance to sample smoked trout pate with our packed lunches.

Panoramic view from McCaig’s Tower above Oban looking out over Kerrera, Mull, Morvern, and Lismore

McCaig’s Tower on Battery Hill built in 1897 at a cost of £5000 GBP

The Tower was built of Bonawe granite taken from quarries on Loch Etive – it has a circumference of 200 metres with two tiers of 94 lancet arches. John McCaig was a philanthropist banker to provide work for local stonemasons during the winter months. He was an admirer of Roman and Greek architecture hence the design based on the Colosseum in Rome. The planned art gallery and museum inside never got completed due to his death in 1902.

In early May, the warm Gulf Stream favours the gardens in Oban and the multitudinous colours of rhododendrons and azaleas make quite a spectacle against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean.

The ladies completed their day with another visit to the Manor House Hotel on Gallanach Road where afternoon tea has been replaced for the group in favour of a cold Chardonnay or local craft beer and more takes of ‘daring do’ from Eddie the barman.

Last evening in Oban tonight before we head south to Islay via Kilmartin Glen and Crinan.

The adventure continues for these ladies with About Argyll Walking Holidays in Scotland

Isle of Kerrera, Argyll, Scotland


Sunday 5 May 2019

A dry day greeted us as we waited for the passenger ferry to Kerrera this morning. Everyone in high spirits, no jet lag, and no hangovers to be concerned about except maybe mine for not checking the date imprint on my camera – doh! It should of course be a day later!

The ferry started at 10.35 so by 10.45 we were walking the southern route on the island – lush green fields, sea air, and lovely views at every turn to greet us on this 6 mile walk.

Signs for the Kerrera tea shop were too much to ignore so we made a slight detour for elevenses and scones or rhubarb and custard cake.

The cafe was delightful, with a toilet with a wonderful view and it was even twinned with another in Pakistan!

Walking on further towards Gylen Castle and as we approached the view was amazing. As Kerrera shelters the entrance to Oban Bay, views are everywhere. It is a lovely green island, it’s unsurfaced roads used only by farm vehicles. It’s fertile pastures support sheep, goats and some highland cows. It has fine cliff scenery and at tiny Barr-nam-Boc Bay you can see the jetty remains where cattle herds were brought from Mull were landed on their way to market. The animals then walked the drive road to the east coast where they swam the Sound to Oban!

Gylen castle is perched high on a sheer cliff of conglomerate and was built as a tower house by Duncan MacDougall in 1582. It occupies a narrow promontory, access to which is by a vaulted passage under the main block. It only lasted until 1647 when it was sieved and burnt by Cromwellian troops.

Some latter day visitors from USA still feel the urge to lay siege!

The isle has much to commend it and makes a very pleasant 5 hour walk with stunning views over to Mull with Ben More in the distance.

So it was back to the ferry to end our first day of walking and enjoying the Southwest Highlands & Islands with

For more information and to see how you can enjoy Scotland see the website above or email

Tomorrow we head off on a 6 hour boat trip to the Garvellachs, uninhabited islands, and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool.

Check in tomorrow for more updates on the journey with Beth from New Zealand, Peggy and Cynthia from New York, and Deborah and Suzanne from Canada.

South West Highlands and Islands


Today we are off to the Island of Kerrera just off the coast of Oban – literally only a 10 minute ferry journey.

On arrival in Oban last evening after a brief pause in Glencoe, we had a delicious seafood dinner in The Fishouse Restaurant on the harbour.

The weather looks dry with a northerly wind so chilly but clear so hopefully some views to share later.

Beth, Peggy, Suzanne, Deborah and Cynthia are all well and eager to start their holiday with About Argyll. Check out the website link below for more details of walking tours in Scotland with About Argyll.

Hadrian’s Wall – day 2


From our hotel in Gilsland we drove back to Steel Rigg car park ready to continue our Badger Adventure .

Joan and Tom ready for day 2.

The weather was forecast to be cooler and our first hour was to climb Peel Crags and Milecastle 39 (Castle Nick) before gaining a view of Crag Lough Sycamore Gap. The Sycamore was made famous as a star in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.

Joan and Tom aka Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman – and the sycamore tree as himself!

Walking up to the crag we passed the Crag Lough with some stunning views through the crags to the water. No need for a huge wall here with the crag being such a good defense against the marauding barbarians from over the border into Scotland.

View from Steel Rigg to Crag Lough.

A few more ’undulations’ and we traverse Hotbank Crags, Cuddy’s Crags and then Housesteads Crag. Coming along the wall you are greeted by the archeological site of Housesteads Fort. The Fort is one of the most important Roman sites anywhere in Europe with well preserved ruins of the granary, communal latrines, commanders quarters and much more.

Housesteads Fort / home to up to 1000 Roman infantrymen and cavalry.

The next portion of todays 19km walk took us past Busy Gap and the impressive restoration work of John Clayton in the 17th century.

Sewingshields Crag just before Turret 35a and a saxon burial chamber / crypt.

Leaving the crags behind we picked up the ditch on the north side of the wall and the vallum on the south. More sightings of Hen Harriers and a Goshawk kept our journey alive with wildlife.

Soon we arrived at Brocolitia Fort and the Temple of Mithras and the sun God. After a quick prayer we hastened our way onwards to Limestone Corner, the most northernmost point of the Roman Empire.

Temple of Mithras with altar at the far end and two Sun God worshippers!

The last part of our Badger Adventure took us along a relatively flat part of country to Chesters Fort and Roman Baths. Ritchie (Chief Badger) was waiting for us in the bus ready to adjourn to the Crown Inn in Humshaugh for libation of local ale and northern sustenance!

So another great day with Joan and Tom and ready to return to Chesters first thing tomorrow to explore the Fort and Baths before our 15km walk to East Wallhouses.

Why not tailor your Badger Adventure by following the link to the website and see what you can do!

Badger Adventures

See you tomorrow!

Hadrian’s Wall day -1


Met with our clients Joan and Tom today in Penrith before driving to Gilsland in Northumberland to settle into our hotel and go through a briefing pre dinner.

Van to carry luggage and also to accompany us along the way to help with any tired legs or excursions that may take our eyes en-route – all part of the Badger Adventures experience.

Meanwhile, after a short pre dinner walk to the River Irthing Gorge it was a full dinner and a swapping of travel stories and experiences as we got to know each other ahead of the walk.

For more information see Badger Adventures

Day 14 the Final Day Coast to Coast – September 2016


The final day is always a mixed blessing – soreness in the bones, some thoughts perhaps of getting back to work or normality, even some thoughts of ‘never again’! Nonetheless, the day is here and we leave Egton Bridge to head for Bay Town. The day is relatively straightforward with no big climbs other than Grosmont hill and then a gentle meander through Littlebeck Wood with a halt at the Falling Foss Tea shop to entertain us.

Once past Littleneck, we climb up on to the last piece of the NY Moors before seeing the coast in front of us. It always looks a similar sight to the one we left two weeks ago in St Bees – but that was Wainwright’s tidy mind to give the challenge some symmetry.


So as we walked into Robin Hood’s Bay, all that remained was to walk down to the beach, wet our feet in the North Sea and fling our pebbles carried from the Irish Sea at St Bees into the North Sea at Robin Hood’s Bay.

The triumphant Coasters September 2016

Apologies for the delay in posting but as some of you know, we had a close family bereavement on the penultimate day and this overshadowed everything over the last week.

Well done to all the Coasters and may the memories, good and bad, last longer than your blisters!

Coast to Coast – Days 10-13 Richmond to Osmotherly, Blakey Ridge and Egton Bridge


Richmond to Osmotherly is one a 26 mile slog across the Vale of Mowbray – and somehow comes as a ‘surprise’ to many Coasters for some reason – it is well documented as a hard day and THAT it is. With and average daily speed of 2 mph so far on the C2C  this promises to be a long 13 hour day unless you pick up the pace when you can on the flat.

Alan waits patiently for departure in Richmond - he obviously knows something!

Alan waits patiently for departure in Richmond – he obviously knows something!

I’m always struck that people who embark on the C2C don’t realise how hard a challenge it is. Henry Stedman says “let us be clear – the Coast to Coast is a tough trek, particularly if undertaken in one go”. Ramblers describe it as ‘challenging’ and they’re not wrong – so it’s always a bit of a surprise that Coasters suddenly make comments about not having time to take photographs, or that it’s a tough day, or that it’s not a race. It’s simply a matter of making sure that you get into your lodgings in time for a shower, meal and recuperation in good time.

So the day across the Vale of Mowbray is long and flat and can take up to 12 hours unless you manage your route well and take advantage of the flat and easily walked terrain.

Still a fair way to go yet Ladies!! Not sure Tai Chi, will help!

Still a fair way to go yet Ladies!! Not sure Tai Chi, will help!


Well - there you go - 25 miles done and that's how you may feel!

Well – there you go – 25 miles done and that’s how you may feel!

So we made it for showers, blister dressing and a hobble to the Golden Lion for a sleep infused meal.

Coming up next is a superb 20 mile day across the Cleveland Hills and on to the N Yorks Moors with some morale crushing ascents and descents. We left Bob and Christine to make their way to Blakey Ridge by vehicle due to tired muscles, sore knees and a desire to complete the remaining two days – a sensible option!

The view to The Wainstones from the top of Kirby Bank

The view to The Wainstones from the top of Kirby

Today’s pace was slow at less than 2 mph (not helped by tea and scones before lunch at Lord Stones) but that’s what the group craved and that’s what they got. Nobody admitted to the fact that the cream scones were weighing heavily on their body’s but the pace gradually slowed. When we hit the flat old rail track, it slowed dramatically apart from the spearhead contingent of Steve, Alan, Paul, Sam, Sue, and Kathy who kept up a consistent and steady pace to the end.

Spot the Famous Grouse!

Spot the Famous Grouse!

Food and drink at the Lion at Blakey is plentiful and good so another good meal and rest was the recipe for most!

The next day is a very easy 10 miles to Egton Bridge – downhill all the way – yes that’s true. So we arrived mid afternoon with a lot of time to recuperate and relax before our final day of 17 1/2 miles. Breakfast is later in this sleepy part of the U.K. So a leave time of 0845 looks likely and at our rate of walking I estimate arrival into the top of the Bay at around 1700.

As far as I’m aware at the moment, all 13 Coasters will be walking so that will give this group an 84% achievement rate – ahead of the average – so fingers crossed!

Coast to Coast – Day 9 – Reeth to Richmond

Swifts gather on the wires contemplating their imminent departure to the Sahara Desert in one flight.

Swifts gather on the wires contemplating their imminent departure to the Sahara Desert in one flight.

Well here we are with another easy stroll through delightful countryside alongside the River Swale – 10 1/2 miles of recovery, which  is just as well because we have 25+ miles across the Vale of Mowbray tomorrow. Overall, today’s walk is not a spectacular day as we leave the Pennines behind but with the sun shining, it makes an exceedingly pleasant one.

As with most of our days, we don’t get very far without paying homage to a very important place – this one is no more than 15 metres from our hotel but was still visited!

The most important trip of any day for some. This one no more than 15m from our hotel door at the very start of our day.

The most important trip of any day for some. This one no more than 15m from our hotel door at the very start of our day.

So having spent a penny or two, we were off. A nice easy day to Richmond and the largest settlement on the C2C. A busy market town built around the 11th century castle built by Alan the Red.

The route to Richmond is truly uneventful, with few hills and a couple of pleasant villages interspersed with lush hay meadows. The real highlight is arriving above Richmond town and seeing the castle in the centre – and of course a lofty view to our next destination – the Cleveland Hills and Osmotherly way off some 25 miles as the crow flies!

So little to report today – no new injuries or mal de mer to contemplate – the only contemplation being where to eat this evening in Richmond.

108 miles under our feet with approximately 84 to tread.

Coast to Coast – September 2016 – Day 7 Kirkby Stephen to Keld


Today is a red letter day – we reach half way at Keld and we crisis the Pennines and the watershed for the northern uk where water now flows to the North Sea rather than the Irish Sea. BUT the legendary peat bogs of Nine Standards Rigg await those unsuspecting souls who aren’t fleet of foot or able to dance across the boggy terrain.

Nine Standards as we leave the Lake District for Yorkshire

Nine Standards as we leave the Lake District for Yorkshire

Yorkshire at its best!

Yorkshire at its best!

Steve (a Yorkshireman) was first to sink his leg into a peat hole and enjoy the feeling of cold dirty putrid decomposing water and matter  fill his boot and traverse his leg. Fortunately, he’s sharing a room with Bob who is very understanding! Steve looks quite happy though despite his misadventure.

Steve was the first to taste the Yorkshire Bog Experience - quite fitting for a Yorkshireman!

Steve was the first to taste the Yorkshire Bog Experience – quite fitting for a Yorkshireman!


Kerry also tasted the Peat Bog experience – just a little more than Steve! Here she is modelling the latest fashion accessory of peat bog worn just over the knees – mmmmm quite fetching!

So we had some interesting moments over the bogs, but we still had 13 to sample the wares of Amanda Owen’s kitchen at Ravenseat Farm – cream teas were the order of the day and all enjoyed in the sun.

Ravenseat Farm - 9 kids already for Amanda and Clive - who knows what winter will bring?

Ravenseat Farm – 9 kids already for Amanda and Clive – who knows what winter will bring?

Ravenseat Farm

Ravenseat Farm



We reached Keld Lodge late afternoon after a steady walk and with two days ahead of easy walking, the group should be recharged and ready for a 26 mile and a 21 mile walk back to back. If they can manage that then they will make the end – time will tell!



%d bloggers like this: