Loch Awe and Inveraray

Thanks to the generosity of Microsoft paying for a “celebration” of my 20th anniversary of employment, we got a room at Loch Awe for a few nights. Between Loch Lomond and Oban, Loch Awe feels remote and quiet, with one of the more photographed castle ruins at the north end.

We arrived on Friday afternoon and Mabel humoured me as I scouted for a good shot of Kilchurn castle. The shore across the loch is the ideal spot to take in the castle, loch, and hills behind. Apparently, it’s also ideal for fishing, as there were a half dozen tents and a dozen fishing poles competing for the best views. I found a great shot with a tree in the foreground bending “around” the castle in the distance and determined to be there the next morning at sunrise: 5am.

At the crack of dawn, what I found instead of my perfect shot was a large bright green tent filled with tipsy, giggling fisherman. I quickly hunted around for other angles and ended up with the batch below. I’m happiest with the last one I took, when I discovered a nice flowering tree to put against the best colour I saw that morning. Not sure it was worth a 4am rise on my holiday, but still satisfying.

My favourite shot of the morning: Kilchurn Castle

My phone said that I still had several hours of dry weather until the rains would start for the rest of the weekend, so it was now or never to get a few more good shots. I’d seen a waterfall the day before from the road, and checked my Komoot app to find a trail up to it. I saw enough farm roads and what looked like a trail that I decided to go for it.

After 30 min of trying to find a path up and realizing how boggy the path ahead was going to be, I should’ve packed it in… The carcass of a sheep caught in a fence I was hopping was another sign to turn back… The “path” I’d thought I’d seen on my phone app was just a fence through a bog. But I tend to get a bit stubborn when it comes to waterfalls, so I persisted and managed to get as close as I dared, capturing a few shots and videos on the way up, in case that was as good as I’d get.

Coming out of the woods, and into the bog

At the waterfall, my investment in the journey led me to take some risks with my camera and with slopes that I otherwise wouldn’t have for these shots. And the boggy, slippery walk down was the final lesson: I won’t be going off-road the day after a downpour again. I thought of my friend’s “Accessible Photography” YouTube channel and believe he’s got the right idea. Great shots don’t have to require life and limb.

In the afternoon, all I managed was to walk down the road to the village to discover that this seemingly remote place has a train station right below the palatial hotel on the loch.

The next day was spent in Inveraray, first at an amazing brunch, then at the castle. We were lucky to have just enough breaks in the rain to enjoy the rhody’s and azaleas in full bloom in the gardens.

Inveraray Castle, Clan Campbell

And Monday, for something completely different… One of Mabel’s favorite artists: Bryan Adams in Glasgow.

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