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Guest Blog: Hill Running

Posted by Beppo Buchanan-Smith on Aug 22, 2014 4:46:08 PM

The anniversary of the start of First World War has given rise to some interesting television programmes. Many readers may have seen Beppo’s aunt, Dame Mary Corsar, being interviewed after the Drumhead Commemoration. Two of her uncles fell in action.  George Buchanan Smith was mortally wounded at Loos in September 1915. His brother, who was nicknamed ‘Beppo’, was ambushed in East Africa fighting with the Indian Army.

As a small boy I had a keen interest in the Second World War. This curiosity was fostered by playing with soldiers, Action Man and watching numerous war films (most frequently The Great Escape). It wasn’t until I was older that I read Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man, and had my mind opened to the horrendous conditions endured by both sides during the Great War.

Last week I took another look at some of George Buchanan Smith’s poetry. There is no doubt that my generation is made of less stern stuff.  One clear piece of evidence is our recent showing in the Law Breakers (a Scottish hill race). Race results are now freely available on the internet but anyone interested in the performance of the Buchanan-Smiths in this year’s race can save some time by starting at the bottom of the results list! With these thoughts in mind I decided that it was time to remove my bottom from my armchair and get out and do something. So on Sunday I decided to drive over to the Lomonds of Fife Hill Race, which is a run I had not previously attempted.

Hill running, or fell running as it is often alternatively known, is a simple sport. You start at the bottom of a hill. You run to the top of the hill, and then you run back down the hill. Sometimes you run over several hills, but the format is more or less the same. Compared with many other sports you need very little equipment, as a minimum all you need is a pair of trainers, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt or vest. The logistics are also extremely simple and most of the time little organisation is required. You drive there, park in a lane, pay a few quid, get given a race number and four safety pins and you’re all set.

For many years I thought that you had to be either an Olympian or Royal Marine to participate in this sport, until a friend kindly encouraged me try it. Anyone who goes jogging occasionally can run a hill race. In fact anyone who can manage some brisk hillwalking can participate in a hill race. That said I would advise that your try a short race that isn’t too steep on your first attempt. I would also warn you not to be too surprised if the first half of the race takes much longer than the second half.

The hill running community is especially friendly and the organisers (usually local clubs) are always hospitable. The top-level runners and seasoned participants are always welcoming and encouraging. I had the pleasure of meeting Scottish legend Manny Gorman, who was signing copies of his book. Manny is an experienced hill runner and in 2009 he set out on a continuous unmotorised journey to run all of the Scottish mountains that are between 2,500 and 3,000 feet high (these hill are known as the Corbetts). On this expedition he covered a staggering 2,600 miles and 420,000 feet of ascent by foot, cycle and yacht in seventy days. I am looking forward to reading the account of this journey through the Scottish wilderness which I suspect involved fantastic stamina and determination, not to mention plenty of fresh Scottish weather.

Manny arrived at the start and said ‘I am just gonna jog around’. I noticed that he positioned himself at the front of the pack however, and by the time I got back to the village hall he had already got changed (the official results report him in 21st place). I positioned myself cautiously at the rear of the field. One couple from Edinburgh told me that they regularly run the Pentland Skyline Race. It is a race that I always fancy, but feel that it is a little beyond me. It occurred to me that if I could stay in front of them it might be a litmus test of my fitness. I also heard two fellas chatting about a 65km race that they were going to run in Scandinavia next week. They agreed that they would go slowly to ‘loosen themselves up’ but set off slightly more quickly than I expected. I decided that I would try to keep up with them in hope that I could put some distance between myself and the Edinburgh couple.

It was a relatively warm and sunny afternoon but there was a ferocious wind. Like many fell races the Lomonds route goes through some fantastic countryside. The run takes in two peaks, East and West Lomond, which are sometimes known as the Paps of Fife. As I approached East Lomond the South Fife coast and the Firth of Forth revealed itself. The view on the ascent of West Lomond exposed the rolling fields and flatter landscape of Fife. The race continues further west from the summit of West Lomond and takes in one of the steepest descents of any hill race in Scotland. Runners are forced to glissade as if descending a snow slope. There are three forms of glissade. They are the ‘standing glissade’, the ‘sitting glissade’ and the ‘out of control glissade’. This is also the order in which the runner finds themselves descending this slope!

There is a cruel sting in the tail as the descent from West Lomond is followed by a climb back up hill. I managed to stay ahead of the Edinburgh couple and on the final downhill section one of the two chaps destined for Scandinavia pulled a muscle which meant that I was able to pass them. The race was great fun and I can thoroughly recommend it. One of the pleasures of trying a new event is the reward of an inevitable personal best. The race is 16.2km (10 miles) and involves 800m of uphill. I arrived back in 2 hrs 18 mins 11 seconds, and was 137th out of a field of 197 runners. I was relieved to be some way off of the bottom of a results table this time. I also had a wry smile when I spied that a student that I taught last year came in over half an hour behind me!

Many runners and hillwalkers visit the Isle of Eriska Hotel each year and it is ideally located for a number of Scottish Hill Races. Most obviously the Beinn Lora Hill Race starts in Benderloch, but the hotel would also make a great base for the Lorne Highland Games Race which is only 3.2km. The Oban Games has a race as does the Taynuilt Games and the Appin Show. There is a much longer and tougher race between Creagan and the Clachaig Inn in Glen Coe (24km) after which the spa would be a fantastic location to recuperate.

 

Vernon Gayle

 

Topics: activities in argyl, activities, Guest Blog

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 20th July

Posted by Bertie Badger on Jul 20, 2014 3:52:00 PM

It's been a chaotic whirlwind of ups and downs this week, as the weather failed to make up its mind with the forecast: sending us outside in light clothes with promises of sunshine only to surprise us with a downpour later.

Jellyfish by Eriska Pier

Earlier in the week we had heard reports of potential thunderstorms coming our way, though things are looking to be a bit clearer than initially expected, giving us enough opportunity to get outside and explore.

Today: Cloudy and overcast, with occasional showers in the afternoon.

Monday: Things will remain dry, with sunny intervals throughout the afternoon

Tuesday: Another cloudy day ahead with brief patches of sunshine.

Wednesday: Looks to remain mainly unchanged, though expect some light showers in the evening.

Thursday: Today will start off dry, with frequent burst of sunshine, with rain showers dominating in the afternoon.

Friday: Intermittent sunshine and showers throughout the day.

Saturday: Predicted to be drizzly for the best part of the day.

With enough dry spells to allow for a lengthy trip outdoors -without having the worry of incapacitating heat - we recommend those coming to the area enjoy a nice bike ride along the Oban to Fort William cycle path. With Eriska being only two miles from the path, guests can enjoy the nice scenic route from Benderloch to Port Appin with relative ease and enjoy a bite to eat at the one of the few cafes and bars on route.

Topics: Isle of Eriska Hotel, Scottish Weather, weather, weather forecast, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, west highland weather, activities in argyl, cycling near oban, west coast cycling

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 13th July

Posted by Bertie Badger on Jul 13, 2014 2:08:00 PM

It's been a picturesque week with plenty of sunshine adorning the West Coast and bringing out the features that make this part of Scotland truly unique. Though most of the locals are adorning a slight redish-tint to their skin; having been caught out by the heat!

View from Lismore cropped resized 600

But unfortunately our streak of good luck ran a little low with the weather taking a turn for the worst yesterday and ending the week on a downpour.

Today: A cloudy start to the day, with things brightening up later in the afternoon.

Monday: Light sporadic showers of rain expected in the morning getting more consistent and heavier as the day progresses

Tuesday: Things look to remain dry throughout, with some sunny intervals in the afternoon

Wednesday: Following a dry morning, periodic light rain showers will make an appearance in the afternoon with brief patches of sunshine.

Thursday: White cloud to dominate, with temperatures reaching their high teens

Friday: Heavy rain showers and burst of sunshine predicted for most of the day

Saturday: Looks to remain unchanged, with the week ending on a bit of wet note.

For those coming to visit the West Coast this week, we advise proper planning to ensure you make the most of the dry weather. For those looking for activities to keep them out the rain, we would recommend a trip to Cruachan Power Station, located on the shores of Loch Awe. As well as a being an engineering marvel, the hollow mountain homes a cavern in its centre which claims to be large enough to fit the Tower of London!

Topics: Scottish Weather, weather, weather forecast, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, weather in the west highlands of scotland, west highland weather, activities in argyl, activities, West Highlands Walks

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 6th July

Posted by Bertie Badger on Jul 6, 2014 10:25:00 AM

When it rains it pours.The West Coast weather, this week, has been a bit up and down, with heavy rain taking us by surprise on more than one occasion. However, the sun was more than generous nearing the end of the week, with temperatures peaking in the high teens , really emphasising the features that make Scotland unique.

Eriska Beach

With the forecast last week originally promising an abundance of rain, we were delighted when the sun came out fighting for the weekend and hope that next weeks less-than-promising forecast will follow suit.

Today: Lots of sunshine today, with brief showers in the early afternoon and cold south western winds

Monday: Rain showers and sunny intervals throughout the day

Tuesday: Heavy rain predicted in the morning and early afternoon, with things clearing up as the day continues. Sunshine is due to make an apperance in the evening

Wednesday: White cloud to dominate, with brief periods of sunshine in the morning, though thins are expected to remain dry.

Thursday: Another dry day, with more burst of sunshine throughout.

Friday: Looks to be another cloudy day with rain expected in the evening

Saturday: The week ends on a gloomy note with rain persisting throughout the day, broken by sporadic bursts of sunshine. Though things are due to clear up in the evening.

There seems to be enough promise of sunshine to plan some more outdoor activities to spite the rain! For those coming to the area we would recommend looking at the available activities hosted by our friends over at Stamash. Archery, Coastering and Kayaking are just an example of what they offer in the Argyll area, making for a great day out!

Photograph by Glen Montgomery, F&B Manager

Topics: isle of eriska, Scottish Weather, weather, weather forecast, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, weather in the west highlands of scotland, west highland weather, scottish sunset, activities in argyl, activities, Island

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 8th June

Posted by Bertie Badger on Jun 8, 2014 2:37:00 PM

One week in and we already fear the summer weather is going to be an unpredictable whirlwind of sun and showers.

Having prepared ourselves for a lot of doom and gloom this last week, we found ourselves pleasently surprised to have been frequented by warm temperatures, sunshine and only the gentlest of breezes.

View of Eriska Surroundings

It would seem that the pattern will continue onto the next week, leaving us all guessing what to expect, but with temperatues now sitting comfortably in the teens we can finally start to make full use of our summer gear! 

Today: A dry start to the day, with intermitant rain and sunshine in the afternoon.

Monday: Looks to be mostly dry, with thick white cloud for the most part. A possibility of sunny intervals in the morning and earlier part of the afternoon.

Tuesday: Some light showers expected to start of the morning, with things clearing up as the day progresses.

Wednesday: Predicted to be a day of light showers.

Thursday: The weather is forecast to be mostly unchanged, with more showers throughout and brief spells of sunshine in the morning.

Friday: Another dry day, with white cloud dominating and moderate winds coming in from the north.

Saturday: The week look to be finishing on a dry spell - with more white cloud and chances of sunshine.

Flowers at EriskaIt looks like we may have ample opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and so we encourage you to explore the area and all it has to offer. Though it may be wise, for those coming to stay with us this week, to pack both suntan lotion and a waterproof jacket - just to be safe.

The area offers several cycle paths for keen cyclists varying in difficulty and length. The Isle of Lismore, in particular, is a lovely place to spend the day with unbeatable views all around. The Island has a length of 9 miles broken up periodically by cafe's to rest and grab a bite to eat, making it suitable for beginners to expeirienced cyclists.

Topics: Scottish Weather, weather, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, weather in the west highlands of scotland, activities in argyl, activities, Scottish Island Walks

The Ultimate Father's Day Guide: 5 Unique Ways to say Thank You in Style

Posted by Bertie Badger on May 16, 2014 4:50:00 PM

Long has it been that the man of the household went to work to support the family and put food on the table while the mother stayed home to look after the children; in modern society the roles are a lot more equally balanced with dad’s job as a parent becoming a lot more hands on. But regardless of their parenting style, all fathers deserve to be appreciated.

It’s come to that time of year again when we find ourselves scratching our heads trying to think of the perfect gift to make them smile and show our thanks for a job well done. Though with just about one month to go until Father’s Day, there’s more than enough time to plan the perfect surprise that you can enjoy together.

Golf

A day out for a round of two of golf is a great way to have fun with your dad. Some alone time on the green with a little friendly competition gives ample opportunity to strengthen your bond.

Eriska Golf

Boat Trips

A day out at sea can make for a great adventure. Embark out to the Western Isles and witness the wonders of Scotland from the sea, spot the wide array of sea birds and animals that inhabit the waters or hunt the many historic castle that line the coasts.

Coastal Connections Boat Trip 22.4.11 resized 600

Clay Pigeon Shooting

Clay pigeon shooting makes for the perfect father-son day out. With guns in hand and adrenaline flowing you'll find yourselves enjoying an unforgettable experience that you can always remember together.

Clay Pigeon Shooting at Eriska

Men’s Spa Treatments

Our spa offer a selection of men-specific treatments that will allow your father to relax and release all the stress and tension built-up over the years from raising you! (only joking). Though a massage could do a wonder of good to help wind down after the days festivities.

Eriska ESPA Spa

Dinner

Finishing the day off with a nice meal can be the cherry on top to a perfect day. Discuss the highlights of your day and reminisce about old ones over a delicious meal and a glass of whisky can leave you feeling closer than ever.

Eriska Restaurant

It's not about what you get - it's about what you do. Though your Dad will appreciate a well-thought of gift, nothing beats a bit of quality time.

Topics: spa treatments scotland, Fine Dining, activities in argyl, father's day, Golf Course West Coast

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 11th May

Posted by Bertie Badger on May 11, 2014 8:40:00 AM

The weather of the West Coast of Scotland this week has been a tad unpredictable with continously alternating rain showers and sunny intervals - leaving us all a little frustrated as we find ourselves unprepaired for the day ahead (Though we can't deny it's doing wonders for the Island's flora)

bluebells at Eriska

Though it would seem that this little predicament of ours is likely to continue, with weather reports remaining unhelpfully vague.

Today: Sunshine throughout the morning with frequent showers in the afternoon

Monday: Expect light showers for the best part of the day, with patches of sunshine throughout.

Tuesday: Following a misty morning things are looking to clear up leaving us with lots of sunshine in the morning and afternoon.

Wednesday: Likely to be cloudy for the most of the morning, with rain showers commencing throughout the afternoon.

Thursday: A mixture of light and heavy rain expected to domintate the day.

Friday: Things look to dry up a little, with rain forecast only for the later part of the evening.

Saturday: The weeks forecast ends on a rather vague note with more rain and sunshine predicted throughout.

Clay Pigeon ShootingWith just over twenty days until the first (meteorological) day of summer we certainly hope that the rain subsides to allow our guests the delights of enjoying their lunches and afternoon tea in the sunshine with a nice glass of Pimms at hand.

Though even these tedious drizzles cannot stop us from making full use of the Island's facilties. Clay Pigeon Shooting in particular has proven to be popular amongst Eriska's residents this week and is something we would definately recommend it to those coming to visit us over the coming season.

Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, Scottish Weather, weather, weather forecast, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, west highland weather, activities in argyl, West Coast walks

Get Walking Week: Taking the First Step

Posted by Bertie Badger on Apr 23, 2014 4:06:00 PM

With Easter well and truly over and April coming to a close, some of us may find ourselves patting our chocolate-filled bellies, enjoying the sunshine from the comfort of a lounger in the garden and stocking up on barbecue supplies in preparation of the summer months.

The first week of May brings us Get Walking Week – a festival created to encourage the populace to get active and explore the wonders that await them outside their doorstep, wither it’s making short journeys on foot instead of taking the car or finding time out with working hours to enjoy a more lengthy trek.

Why Walk?

Isle of Kerrera walks

Without trying to state the obvious – walking is good for you.

Keen walkers frequently boast of the physical and mental benefits of walking; stating that as well as being a good way to stay fit and tone lower-body muscles, it also offers a form of stress relief and can greatly improve your mood.

Further to the health benefits that come with walking, Britain’s beautiful and diverse landscapes – in particular the West Coast of Scotland (in our unbiased opinion!) – have many nature walks, national parks and mountain paths to explore, offering breath-taking scenery out onto lochs, glens and forests.

Getting Started

The best thing about walking is that anyone can enjoy it: it’s free and you can go at your own pace. All you need is a pair of shoes and you’re ready to get going!

Start of small, building up your pace and distance through time – it’s never a good idea to over exert yourself, which could lead to injuries like sprains.

For those who fancy a slightly lengthier walk; it’s always a good idea to bring plenty of water and some snacks with fast-releasing carbohydrates like fruit. (A raincoat wouldn’t go amiss either!)

Avoiding Soreness and Fatigue

Muscle soreness and fatigue is a symptom and consequence of most physical activities and is usually fixed with a good rest. Though you’re unlikely to get any from light strolls and shorter walks, long and hilly ventures could leave you sore for days!

Eriska Hot Stones MassageMassage is a useful tool to help relieve tightness and stiffness in muscle tissue and can reduce fatigue and soreness by increasing the blood circulation, bringing more oxygen and nutrients into the muscle.

For walkers we would recommend getting a leg specific massage to concentrate on easing the tension in your tired limbs before going on your next adventure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: isle of eriska, scenery, activities in argyl, activities, Get Walking Week, Walking, walks in scotland, West Coast walks, West Highlands Walks, Scottish Island Walks

West Coast Weather - Week Commencing 20th April

Posted by Bertie Badger on Apr 20, 2014 1:46:00 PM

 After what seemed like an eternity of the weather toying with us - teasing us with the occasional day of dryness, and even a spot or two of sunshine - Scotland finally broke through the barrier into suntan-lotioning and sunglass-wearing this week, giving everyone the Easter Weekend we all hoped for! 

Boat at Otter Point

The shores of every beach in Britain is likely to have been bombarded by impromptu trips to top-up tans and here at the West Coast things are livelier than ever! With any luck we'll be enjoying the sun for a while yet, allowing us all to dust the cobwebs off our summer gear and enjoy the great outdoors!

Today: Clear blue skies all day accompanied by a slight breeze

Monday: Sunny intervals throughout, with temperatures climbing to a comfortable 16°C

Tuesday: A cloudy start to the day, clearing up late morning and remaining sunny for a large part of the afternoon.

Wednesday: Looks to be mostly cloudy, with some brief rain showers. Temperatures remaining moderately high.

Thursday: Sporadic rain showers predicted to fall throughout the day, with things drying up in the evening.

Friday: More cloud and mild wind throughout, though things expected to remain dry.

Saturday: Looks to be mainly unchanged, with thick cloud to persist.

lake at golf courseThough we are not completely free of those pesky April showers, the week ahead offers us ample opportunity to enjoy the fresh outdoors!

Those visiting us this week are in for a real treat: the sunlight brings out the vibrant colours of the Island's flora and makes for an unforgetable sight. The Cairn, in particular, will be worth a visit to witness the incredible 360° view of Eriska's surroundings out towards the Isles of Lismore and Mull as well as Loch Creran. 

If you're in the area why not go on one of the boat tours that leave periodically from Oban and Port Appin: try your luck at spotting the infamous white-tailed sea eagle, witness the wonders of the numberous ancient castles that line the shores and bask in the beauty of the surroundings from the sea.

Topics: isle of eriska, Isle of Eriska Hotel, History, weather, weather forecast, Argyll Weather, West Coast Weather, Warm West Coast Weather, weather in the west highlands of scotland, west highland weather, sunglasses, activities in argyl, activities, Island

Easter in Scotland: 5 Reasons to Visit the West Coast

Posted by Bertie Badger on Apr 9, 2014 3:22:00 PM

 

The Easter Holidays are upon us! There were times, I’m sure, that you felt this day would never come – after what seemed like an endless winter – and now that it’s here you can finally have that much needed break that you deserve! Though for those sitting at home waiting out the rain by catching up on TV in the hopes that the sun will shine once again; we implore you to resist the urge. With Spring in full swing there is ample opportunity to make the most of your break.

Believe it or not, Easter is about more than just gorging on chocolate eggs and rendering that “New Year Diet” obsolete! Here, at the bonnie West Coast, there is a whole range of activities and events to celebrate the season and so guests to the area will find themselves spoilt for choice.

Nature Walks

Being largely unspoilt by modern metropolitan culture, the West Coast adorns several scenic nature walks with viewpoints looking out to the unbeatable landscapes that Scotland has become famous for.

nature in argyll resized 600

Spring Festival

The three-week Spring Festival, on the Isle of Colonsay, runs every year from the end of April and offers a variety of workshops, demonstrations and live music. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn new quirky skills, like Stone Carving, and revel in a more traditional culture.

Trips to the Isles

A trip to the Isle’s is always a nice day out: wither it’s just for a couple of hours to the Isle of Kerrera for a bite to eat at their popular Seafood restaurant; a few hours with a bike to the Isle of Lismore cycling it’s lengths down to the Lighthouse; or a day trip to Mull to stop by Tobermory, Duart Castle or hop over to some of the smaller Isles. For the Virtuoso’s amongst us, keep an ear out for the Mull Music Festival in Tobermory, at the end of April, celebrating the best of local music.

Local Marketsargyll lamb

With the weather subsided to a reasonable mixture of sunshine, cloud and showers the locals are beginning to come out of hibernation and very soon the ever-popular farmer markets will once again become a frequent fixture in the area. This year our neighbours down at Kintaline Farm are hosting the “Lorn Community Producers Market – Spring Fayre” on 17th April which celebrates the local food and crafts, with community organisations and fun activities throughout.

Cadbury Easter Egg Trail

Well  it just wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter egg hunt and this year Argyll council are hosting theirs in Arduaine Gardens, near Oban, between 18th  - 21st April. A great day out for the whole family as you enjoy the stunning surroundings of the gardens on your hunt for the hidden chocolate treasure!


The West Coast of Scotland's unique location offers a breathtaking alternative to the larger cities and towns, allowing you to experience the true beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

With a variety of events being hosted by the community on a regular basis, there's always something different to do and see for everyone, adding to your holiday and creating  a truly unbeatable experience

Topics: isle of eriska, wildlife, Food, scotland easter break, scottish spring break, scenery, Celebrate, sunglasses, Family Holiday, activities in argyl, activities, Island, easter in scotland, easter in argyll, scottish islands easter