Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Down the rushy glen, and beyond

We have been away, in a green and mossy world, one sandwiched between Loch Fyne to the west and the Trossachs to the east.  The Cowal Peninsula.  We have been staying in a holiday lodge yards away from Pucks Glen, a bewitching and atmospheric place which looks more like a theatre or film set for Lord of the Rings.

We all know that it’s wetter in the west!  The air is softer, the grass is greener and the mists swirl and drench.  Walks through the woods and glens, along trails and paths, are to spend time in a world of green.  The climate encourages varieties of mosses too numerous to count.  They smother everything that doesn’t move.  In fact if we had stood still too long to consult the map we would probably have started to sprout feathery green bits, and before long we would just be two tall mounds, softly rounded off at the top, looking down on a small, perplexed rectangular green shape at the end of a lead.  
Towering above are colossal conifers, ranked up the steep sides of the hills and glens.  They grow as straight as pokers and reach towering heights.  This is a world away from East Lothian!

At this time of year the woods have a haze of blue.  The native bluebell is flowering, the proper deep purple-blue one with an elegant stem which bows at its top.  It’s the species which belongs here as opposed to the invasive, sturdier Spanish bluebell, which is more insipid in colour and also comes in white and pale pink.  Before we moved to Scotland we would go every year to a spectacular bluebell wood Hampshire which is carpeted with flowers as far as the eye can see.  Acres and acres of oak woods where the nightingale sings on a balmy June evening – well, I hope it still sings there!  When I was young my mother and her sister would prepare a big family picnic brunch for both families, which we would take to the bluebell wood on a sunny Sunday morning.  Aunty Mary would cook the bacon over a primus stove and my mother would produce the lamb cutlets she had egg and breadcrumbed and then carefully cooked, all ready to be eaten cold as part of our picnic.  It was always a good spread.  Then, while the grown-ups lazed in the sun, I, my brother and sister, together with our cousins, would play in the oak wood, amongst the bluebells. The cuckoo called and the flowers gave off their wild hyacinth scent.  Surely this was heaven on earth - certainly one of my most blissful memories of life before adulthood.  Do families do that sort of stuff any more?   I’ve got a horrible feeling many are just hermetically sealed to their smart phones on the sofa or meandering aimlessly round Ikea on Sunday mornings.

The rain didn’t really let up during our holiday so we just had to get on with it.  We walked up Pucks Glen, which is a wondrous place.  There were definitely elves and fairies lurking in the background, I could feel them watching us as we made our way up the glen.  I remember learning 'The Fairies' by William Allingham when I was a little girl.  It was in one of my poetry books and I can remember reciting it over and over to myself.  I did believe in fairies, for a long time, so it was all very real.  I think this place must have inspired the poem.  It’s not a walk for the faint-hearted!  
Water gushed and rushed along, noisy and foaming over boulders and fallen trees on it’s way down the steep ravine.  The rocks either side are green, old exposed tree roots are green, everything is green.
The weather was very disappointing but we managed to cover a lot of ground, most of it in the car, but we had a good walk at Ardentinny by the aptly named Loch Long, and heard (and saw) the cuckoo, which is an important part of my Spring.  It isn't the same if I don't hear the cuckoo.  Sadly they don't visit the wood at home.  I also saw a red squirrel that day.  A good day.

I have other things to chat about but will do that in another post.  This one has hung around long enough.


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