With so much on this weekend I had to resort to rock, paper, scissors with my daughter in order to make a decision about where to go to on Saturday. Having lost (she always starts with a rock and I never remember), we made our way to Ardkinglas Estate, via the vomit road that runs along the side of Loch Long. It's about 50 minutes' drive, probably less if your child isn't threatening to throw up if you drive faster than 30 mph...... The car park is perfectly formed but small and busy so I was glad to be directed to park on the side and, after pushing our donation into the cairn with twigs, we made our way up to the starting point via what E thought was the Gruffalo's cave and some very cool looking Skunk Cabbage plants
Stewart Ennis was our storyteller for the trail and my initial concerns about not appreciating the story told in Scots were totally unfounded. Stewart was brilliant and because the story is so well known, in Scots it takes on another dimension.
"But hooziss big bauchle wi the mingin claws, An the bowfin big nashers in iz big jowly jaws? Eez goat big bowly legs an pure hen toes, An a durty big plook oan the end ae iz nose. Eez goat huge orange peepers an iz tongue is aw black, An erz giant purple jaggies aw owner iz back"
The Gruffalo trail is the perfect length for very young legs but you can carry on and explore the rest of the Woodland Walk which is clearly marked with arrows. I'm not going to wax lyrical about trees, I'm not an arborealist, but they've got some very tall ones, a very rare one and some very fat ones and they are interesting enough to get a 5 year to stop running away from you for 10 seconds
When we got back to the car park Alison Sykora had her pop up kitchen ready to go. A Swedish candle was the fire and popcorn maker. Alison was making the damper bread from scratch and griddling it. It smelt, looked and tasted delicious. The Loch Fyne mussels were sweet with the right amount of garlicky liquor and with the damper bread to soak it up, just perfect.
Ardkinglas Estate is a tranquil place, it's not commercial, it's not somewhere to go if you want to be surrounded by bright lights and noise. It is somewhere to go that's within an hour's drive of Helensburgh that's outdoors, peaceful, beautiful and you don't need hiking boots in order to enjoy it.