As Spring turns into Summer I’ve been enjoying getting out and about on my Volunteer Ranger patrols with Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
Amongst other activities, this month I partnered up with fellow Rangers to try a new driving route in Cowal. The Cowal route is very popular with volunteers, heading as it does to some of the most gorgeous yet relatively unvisited areas in the National Parks western extent. Covering an almost 100 mile round trip, this route is a fantastic drive in it’s own right and takes in highlights such as Loch Fyne and Loch Eck, Benmore Botanic Gardens, Pucks Glen and Kilmun at the Holy Loch, close to Dunoon.
Travelling from point to point, we stop off at various locations, providing a visible Ranger presence and engaging with visitors. Sometimes it is very busy, while other times it is quiet and at Jubilee Point, a stunning viewpoint on Loch Eck, there were no other visitors so we were lucky enough to hear and then spot crossbill feeding in the trees above.
Benmore Botanic Gardens is an amazing place to visit, attracting visitors froma ll over the world, and we enjoyed a walk around the Gardens meeting visitors. The Gardens are famous for having a temperate rainforest microclimate, and contain plantings emulating the mountainsides of Chile and the Himalayas. The rhododendrons were in peak flower when we visited, and the bees and other insects were having a field day!
We had also planned to walk around the circuit of Puck’s Glen, but forestry operations meant that we had to respect the path closure, and we were able to advise some other visitors of alterative options in the nearby area to explore.
Before beginning the rteurn joruney back to base, we checked in on the village of Kilmun, a historic area with the remains of a 12th century church. Settled since 3500 BC, the religous links are what gave the nearby Holy Loch its name.