Tuesday, 23 September 2008


Sweet is the voice of the cuckoo
On the bending tree,
Sweet it is above Glendaruadh.
This weekend we went to Cowal. Given its proximity to the Central Belt, Cowal is the forgotten district of Argyll: a quiet, forested land of steep hillsides. We visited Kilbride Bay on a tip off, which was not as good as expected - perhaps because of the dull weather, high tide, and high expectations gained from a summer of sunny beaches in the Western Isles. There is a lavender farm nearby, which must be one of the most northerly ones in the world.

We also took a look at Kilmodan Kirk in Glendaruel. I've been here before, and there is something indefinable about this place that gives me a feeling of great peace and restfulness. It is the site of the chapel of St Modan, a 6th century contemporary of St Columba.

A small collection of graveslabs dating from the 13th-16th century have been lifted and are sheltered in an outbuilding next to the church.

Sculptured graveslab, Kilmodan:

Glendaruel is mentioned in an ancient Irish tragedy, The Exile of the Sons of Uisneach. As they return from exile to certain death, Deirdrie laments for the happy times they have spent in Argyll:
Is binn guth cuach
Ar craeib chruim
Ar in mbinn os Glenndaruadh
The river Ruel in Glendaruel:

Although peaceful now, examining the church in Glendaruel shows this was not always the case. Kilmodan Kirk has three separate entrances, with three separate balconies, so the three sides of the feuding family of the local Campbell laird did not ever have to physically meet. One wonders on what flimsy reason this family feud originated.

Cowal actually has a large town at its southeastern end, Dunoon: but this faces the Clyde more than it does the rest of Cowal, and a short ferry journey over the grey waters, surrounded on all sides by hills, takes the weekender out of the West Highlands and straight into the Central Belt.


mcgazz said...

I liked Dunoon when I was there a while back. Not seen a huge amount of darkest Cowal though.

Dave said...

I lost a pair of specs in Glendaruel, whilst investigating a hotel fire. You didnt see them by any chance?

Robert Craig said...

Dave - Dunans Castle? Anyway - no.

McGazz - last time I was in Dunoon was for the Cowal Games - I'd forgotten how beautiful it was round there. The Cowal Games has a 1000-piper procession down the main street after the piping competition, very impressive, it's a Caledonian Mardi Gras!

Dave said...

Mibbees aye

Robert Craig said...

Dave - was it the owner, in the billards room, with the petrol can and new insurance policy?