Having summoned the ferry to take us from Easdale village to Easdale Island by pressing the bell, we thought we’d probably be back on the next scheduled one about half an hour later. After all, it’s a small island and we had visited it previously. We had not anticipated the lure of the woolly pig or the blonde Mangalica pig, according to Wikipedia.
We found a sign saying ‘Pigs’ and followed the direction in which it pointed. We came across a sunken area with a couple of these lovely Mangalica snoozing away – this is the female.
Once we got closer, we realised that there was a large litter of tiny piglets sprawled over the male pig – we later established they were about 2 weeks old. They started to move around as we got closer.
A close-up of one of the piglets straddling dad’s foot.
Clearly, it was tea-time so they all made for the mother and started suckling. She did her best to sleep on.
After a lot of wriggling, they managed to line up so they could all get in to feed.
Happy little piglets!
Once fed, they all toddled off.
And back to dad – perhaps he has more body heat but the challenge was for the whole litter to climb on top of him and find a secure perch.
There were several false starts and not all climbing was elegant.
Some tried a double-decker approach to hold on.
Eventually, they managed to form a neat line although the one at the end didn’t look to secure and more wriggling, slipping and re-climbing followed.
Looking quite contented here.
They look much more comfortable lying snuggled up next to their dad – well, apart from the one underneath but it looked happy enough.
The sow slept on presumably happy that the boar was looking after their little family.
If you want to visit the pigs, they are owned by the folk who run the Easdale B&B which looks like a very peaceful place to stay.
Finally, a short summary of what we have on show in Edinburgh at the moment.
On our long walk around Dunadd en route to the Crinan Canal, Paul couldn’t resist the view from this bridge crossing the River Add; whereas I prefered the bridge itself featuring my muse.
Shortly after the bridge, we happened on some sheep – mostly grazing on the hay bale but one seemed determined to see us off.
They stopped eating, showed some mild interest in us in the way that sheep do, then drifted off.
On the following day we walked from Crinan Harbour up the hill on the other side from the Crinan Basin. The weather was changeable with a lowering sky over the harbour.
As we climbed, blue skies emerged reflecting turquoise on the water.
In the distance, across Loch Crinan we could see Duntrune Castle . One of Scotland’s many ghosts apparently haunts the castle in the form of a piper killed by defenders in 1615 after playing his bagpipes to warn attackers of the castle that they had been discovered.
As we continued our walk, yet more changes in the weather – here with sunlight reflecting in the middleground while more typical west of Scotland weather lurks in the background.
Taking this photo, Paul was definitely influenced by fellow Norwegian, artist Theodore Kittelsen, you can almost see trolls hiding among the trees.
On our way back from our walk, we stopped at the Crinan Basin for coffee and meringue where we saw the puffer, VIC 32, built in 1943 and reminiscent of the famous Vital Spark. Clyde Puffers developed from coracles with subsequent influences from Viking longships and, later, gabbart barges before becoming steam-powered and finally incorporating a wheelhouse.
During the war when there was an urgent need for sea-going victualling or food supply ships, the Clyde Puffer design provided the ideal craft. However, the Clyde ship yards were somewhat busy at this time and the Admiralty had to look elsewhere to fulfil orders so the VIC 32 was one of the puffers built by Dunston’s of Thorne, Yorkshire.
The VIC 32 is one of the last few coal-fired steam-powered puffers left and it is still possible to cruise round the Scottish islands on her – trips can be booked via website http://savethepuffer.co.uk/
On our way home from Tarbert, driving from Portavadie to Dunoon, we stopped at one of the laybys to check out the view down Loch Riddon towards Stuck, Glaic, Knockdow and Toward. Scottish placenames are wonderful!
Getting a bit closer, you can see the Colintraive to Rhubodach ferry in this shot. Before the ferry was built, cattle were swum across from the island to be sold in lowland markets.
After that, it was off to the ferry and the drive home to Edinburgh.
Easter weekend in Tarbert was a wild affair weather-wise with rain followed by mist followed by sun with a stunning rainbow appearing in the middle of it all.
Tarbert, the Gaelic for an isthmus or a place over which a boat can be dragged (there are a few places with similar names in the west of Scotland) is a lovely wee harbour setting popular with sailors, especially during the Scottish Series Yacht Race which takes place around the end of May each year. It’s also well known for its annual seafood festival; Tarbert prawns and locally caught scallops feature on most menus in town.
There is also a lot of history in the area – nearby is Dunadd Hill Fort. The site first occupied in the Iron Age, was later used by Gaelic kings of Dál Riata in the 6th to 9th century. The Dál Riata tribes subsequently merged with the Picts leading to the establishing of the kingdom of Alba. The site is open to visitors and has some interesting carvings including a boar and 2 human footprints thought to be used in ceremonies to inaugurate new kings. The setting is dramatic, with the hill rising above the Mòine Mhòr, Gaelic for the Great Moss, a huge flat area of marshy land around the Crinan Canal.
The Kilmartin Glen has the highest concentration of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland. On our wet walk to Dunadd, we found a couple of impressive standing stones in an otherwise unremarkable field.
The canal is also a favourite with yachtsfolk who want to cross from one side of the peninsula to the other – it provides a short cut from the Sound of Jura at Crinan to Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp. Having battled the rain and wind, we were lucky enough to spot this rainbow hovering over the yachts moored on at the Bellanoch Marina on the Canal.
Following on from our encounter with a fish eating Grey Heron, we were back on the Water of Leith path, this time looking for otters, having been told that they’d been seen recently. We soon realised that the water level and force were too strong and any sensible otter would be sheltered somewhere safe. Some shots giving an idea of the strength of the water flow.