It was my birthday a few days ago and Linda and I planned to have a day out. Where to go? Well, I chose a visit to the Cowal Peninsula, on the west coast, via the ferry from Gourock to Hunters Quay – HQ – next to Dunoon. It meant driving along the motorway, through Glasgow, to Greenock and on to the ferry terminal. It’s only a 20 minute crossing over the Firth of Clyde with tremendous views of the hills and of Cowal itself.
We had a browse around Dunoon, with its large houses along the seafront, originally the country homes of Glasgow business men and later, guest houses, and looked at the old pier to where the boats used to bring Glasgow holidaymakers coming“doon the watter” – the water being the River Clyde - during the Glasgow Fair – two weeks trades holidays in July.
Almost opposite the pier is the old castle hill, the castle long gone except for a few bits of stone wall visible at the top, and the far more recent Castle House Museum. Along Argyll Street we looked at the shops, and found a cafe for a light lunch, then hopped back into the car again for a drive round the peninsula, starting by hugging the edge of Holy Loch, which for years was the US submarine base.
Turning off the main road north we drove towards Colintraive, with views to Arran over Loch Striven, then instead of turning down to the Bute ferry , our route took us the opposite way for more fabulous views, this time over the Kyles of Bute – Kyle is from the Gaelic word for narrow, and refers to a stretch of water. Looking down from the viewpoint at the top of the road, we saw the ferry crossing from Colintraive over to the Isle of Bute. It’s not a long crossing, probably only taking about five minutes across the Kyle. Rothesay on Bute is another of those Victorian holiday destinations, but a visit there will wait for another day. We were bound for Tighnabruaich ( Tie-na-BROO-ich, the Scottish CH), for no particular reason except the beautiful scenery. I was in and out of the car taking photos: lochs, mountains,
flora (primroses) and fauna – well, lambs and a particularly obliging pheasant who posed in the dappled sunlight coming through the hedgerow beside the road - All I needed to photograph now, I joked, was a waterfall, and suddenly there it was, a series of small falls cascading over rocks. So pretty!
We hoped to stop at an inn we remembered from a previous visit to Cowal some years ago, but when we reached Ardentinny we found the inn closed till further notice. Hmmm! Sign of the times, I fear. So back to Dunoon then, and found the most delightful Italian restaurant as part of the Argyll Hotel. We ate the most gorgeous risotto, followed by perhaps the second best Tiramisu I have ever tasted – the best was in Venice – accompanied by the music of Eros Ramazzotti, a favourite popular Italian singer of mine. It was wonderful!
Luckily the ferry runs till ten o’clock at night, so we aimed for, and caught, that last one, back to Gourock. Going over to Cowal this way is like visiting an island but it is just a land peninsula, so if we had missed the ferry, we could have taken the much longer land route by Inveraray and Arrochar, and down to Glasgow by the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. The ferry is far more fun.
It was after midnight when I dropped Linda off in Edinburgh, and about 1.00 in the morning before I got home, but it had been a great day out.
Talk again soon.