Bath with a view

White bells

This week an event that saddened us greatly, the funeral of a friend who should have enjoyed many more years of life, took us back for a couple of days to Argyll.

Despite the sadness of the occasion, it was impossible not to appreciate the lushness of the scenery we drove through, with greens of every hue punctuated by bursts of joyous colour.

Bluebells

It’s bluebell time.

Bluebell carpets of intense blue were spread beneath trees while rhododendrons and azaleas were ablaze. This part of Argyll is a place where these not only survive, but thrive. Until we stayed there, I considered rhododendrons to be shrubs, and was amazed by their height as trees, often with stunning ruby red or cinnamon bark.

Salmon pinks

Rhododendron flowers never cease to bring me pleasure.

Like rhododendrons, trees here also grow to record-breaking heights. Entrance to the botanic garden at Benmore is via a sierra redwood avenue, said to be one of the finest entrances to a botanic garden anywhere in the world. The avenue was begun by an American, Piers Patrick, a year after his purchase of the estate in 1862. He planted 50 sierra redwoods, natives of the western slopes of Sierra Nevada in California. Some of these trees now stand over 50 metres high.

Redwoods

The avenue of Sierra redwoods at Benmore Botanic Garden

The estate later became part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, its west coast mountainside situation ideal for growing many species that thrive in its moist climate.

Benmore

Benmore Botanic Garden in its spring finery

Not far from Benmore is Loch Eck, a loch that, to me, should be as well known as Loch Ness or Loch Lomond. By the shores of the loch are two old inns: the Coylet is a coaching inn dating from the 17th century; the Whistlefield started life as a Drovers Inn, situated on an ancient cattle-droving trail that began in the West Highlands and led to the markets of Central Scotland, and from there to Smithfield in London. The oldest part of the Whistlefield is now the beer cellar, and dates from around 1455, with the main structure of the building, originally single-storey, completed around 1663.

What a sight!

Whilst we could enjoy the views of loch and hills, we did wonder if others could enjoy the view of those relaxing in the bath.

At the foot of the hill

Coylet Inn from the opposite side of Loch Eck.

We stayed overnight in the Coylet where we had a family-sized bath snuggled within the bay window with a view of loch and hills — a bath with a view for sure.

We tootled along the road to enjoy a meal in the Whistlefield where our starters of pigeon breast, for husband, and smoked prawn in Drambuie cream sauce, for me, went down extremely well. The very large, exceedingly tender, venison steaks of our main course didn’t disappoint either.

The funeral the next day was followed by a cup of tea in the Royal Marine Hotel — not as old as the inns but with an interesting history nonetheless. Originally built in 1856 a number of rooms were let

Venison steak

Venison steak enjoyed at the Whistlefield Inn.

to the exclusive Clyde Yacht Club. After the Club received Royal patronage, it purchased the hotel, but in 1888 it was gutted by fire and was subsequently rebuilt. Its visitors book records the stays of leading businessmen and royalty. At its gate still stands the first telegraph office in Scotland, when built it was used to relay yacht race results to London.

On the road home we fitted in a visit to the new visitor centre at Kilmun Church where the mausoleum, last resting place of many of the Dukes of Argyll, is being refurbished. But more of that at another time.

Flowers and hill

Taken against Ben More which the garden is named after.

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About jingsandthings

I am me. What do I like? Colour Shapes Textures Paintings, photographs, sculptures, woven tapestries, wonderful materials. The love of materials probably comes from my father who was a textile buyer, and I grew up hearing the names of mills and manufacturers which sounded magical and enticing. Glass in all its soft and vibrant colours and flowing shapes, even sixties glass which makes its own proud statement. A book I can immerse myself in. Meals with family or friends with lots of chat and laughter (and probably a bottle or two of wine). The occasional trip abroad to experience the sights, sounds, food, conversation, quality of light and warmth of other countries. To revel in differences and be amazed by similarities. I like to create and to experience, to try and to achieve. And then there are words – read, heard, written at my keyboard, or scrawled on sticky notes, or along the edges of dog-eared supermarket receipts excavated from the unexplored nooks of my handbag. What do I dislike? Cold Snow Bad design Fast food Condescension
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17 Responses to Bath with a view

  1. Walter says:

    The avenue of Sierra redwoods! A wonderful image. I almost feel the coolness of the shade. //
    ¡La avenida de los secuoyas! Una imagen admirable. Casi puedo percibir la frescura de la sombra.

  2. I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. You’re right to commemorate it with this post featuring such gorgeous country.

    • Thank you. I’m sure our friend would have understood the please we took in the area where he stayed. When we lose someone close to us we often plant a small tree or shrub. That way there is something that brings pleasure and reminds us of them.

  3. Dina says:

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend, Dorothy. The image of the Avenue of Sierra is magnificent!
    Beautiful post.
    Dina xo

    • Benmore is a magnificent garden. When we stayed for a time in Argyll we used to go there regularly. No matter what the season, or even the weather, there was always something wonderful to see. The redwoods are very long lived and it’s humbling to think they’ll be there for many years, and see things we’ll never see. Our thanks have to go to the American who planted them so many years ago.

  4. carolee1945 says:

    Your photos are just stunning, especially the last one. I clicked on them, and made them full size, which stunned me even more!!! Have you considered writing a guide book? I would love to go to the places that you describe. I have been to the botanic garden in Edinburgh, and I thought it was one of the best ones I had ever seen. (not sure the name of it, though, is there more than one? this was 25 years ago)

    • Thank you. I just snap happily away and am occasionally surprised by the results. I haven’t written a guide book, but at one time I was involved with a destination development project. That was quite interesting as everyone had their own views of what to promote.

      Edinburgh botanic garden has continued to expand and improve. It has what were originally termed outstations — three locations elsewhere in Scotland where plants, trees and shrubs not best grown in Edinburgh could thrive. One is Benmore, Dawyck in the Borders, and Logan in the south-west. All now form part of the Botanic gardens of Scotland group and provide experiences that Edinburgh can’t replicate. Benmore, for instance, is a mountainside garden.

      Apart from visitors enjoying the plants, the gardens do a vast amount of conservation work, and at Benmore I’m sure there are now more of one particular species than there is in its natural habitat. Presumable specimens will be sent back there. Edinburgh is also the centre for an enormous seed bank, keeping seeds of plants from around the world, for conservation and for research. So botanic gardens aren’t just pretty faces.

  5. bebs1 says:

    So sorry for your loss, am sure your friend is in a better place now. Thank you for the beautiful pictures – they are all postcard pretty.

  6. Thank you for your kind words, Bebs1. I think the beauty is in the landscape and I’m just trying to let others glimpse what I see.

  7. Dina, when we stayed in Argyll, a sequoia grew in the garden, as they did in many gardens and open spaces round about. I suspect these and the ones at Benmore were planted around the same time. As well as the height, and grace, I really loved the feel of the bark which is what deters fire destroying them apparently.

  8. Such a beautiful garden!

  9. There are some quite spectacular gardens on the west coast, most created in Victorian times when plant hunters were being financed by landowners who shared in the handout of seeds on their return from places like Japan and the Himalayas. Plants from these places seem to thrive on the west coast of Scotland, hence all the rhododendrons and azaleas.

  10. Dorothy, sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. Your post, filled with much beauty and history, is a wonderful way to celebrate your friend’s life, though. The Sierra Redwoods are especially stunning, reminding me of a favorite arboretum in Heidelberg, Germany.

  11. The redwoods are spectacular. And our friend was brought up in the area and loved it passionately so I’m sure he would understand us enjoying the beauty of it, especially at that time of year when the azaleas and rhododendrons are at their best and the place is so colourful. Sadness and beauty often march side by side.

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