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Glamping on Arran

Set in amongst the beautiful landscape of the Isle of Arran lies the wonderful luxurious Runach Arainn Yurts. I set out to discover Arran and enjoy a peaceful retreat in a quiet secluded corner on the Island with inspiring views out to the West.

I arrived in the evening just as it was getting dark, the cosy embrace of the Yurt was perfect and it didn’t take me long to get the fire going, cosy in for the night with a book listening to the noise of the wind around me. The Yurt itself has everything you could possibly need, each yurt comes fully equipped with lots of practical furniture, the comfiest bed I’ve possibly ever slept in, towels, cooking utensils and crockery. Two of the Yurts are able to accommodate up to six people and the third can accommodate up to four. I spent my time there on my own but these little havens are ideally suited for a romantic weekend away or for a family holiday set in a perfect spot for exploring the exciting wonders that the Island has to offer.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe accommodation also provides log burners that even in the cold month of February in Scotland heated the Yurt to a very comfortable temperature, solar lighting for the long dark evenings and even plenty of books to keep me occupied. On the property are high standard composting toilets, eco-friendly products and all set in a wooded area of the Island. The place itself is very environmentally friendly and it’s wonderful being able to have a break in such a well thought out place working with nature and not taking from it.

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI didn’t have a set plan for the weekend, I decided that I would take it slow and enjoy my time In the Yurt and go to different parts of the Island when I felt like it. The Yurt beckons you to simply relax and be mindful of the surroundings around you, we tend not to give ourselves much time to read, think or simply do nothing but enjoy the moment in where you are so it was refreshing having no obligations, nothing I really had to do but enjoy the Yurt and the surrounding location. I had a long walk on the lovely beach only 10 minutes from the accommodation which sat on the southern shore of the Island. All around me was an abundant array of wildlife and flora and fauna all sat with views out towards the northern shores of Ireland (on a clear day!)

I spent the rest of my time taking it slow and driving around the Island with walks out to the incredible Machrie Moor Standing Stones, Lochranza in the North of the Island, Glenashdale Falls and even a brisk walk up part of the way towards Goatfell, (I sadly didn’t get to the top as the snow was pretty high and I didn’t have all the right gear with me!)

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It is the perfect location to get out and about or simply unwind, slow down, connect to nature and sit by the fire. There is no other properties nearby so it sits within a shelter of the trees with inspiring views as far as the eye can see. I would highly recommend the Yurt and I’ll let the photos speak for themselves at how much dedication and work has gone into each one of them. Every feature of the yurt has been carefully thought out down to the very last detail. To book a stay at this unique property and stay in one of the most original properties on the Isle of Arran head over to their website here: Runacharainn.

I’m certainly looking forward to going back!

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A Winter’s Escape

In the dark month of January, the chance to have a little break and be surrounded by forests came at the perfect time.

Nestled in a secluded and sheltered area of the Cairngorms lies the homely and inspiring accommodation of the Dell of Abernethy just a stone’s throw away from Nethy Bridge. This was the ideal location for us to be based to explore not only the area around the accommodation which is full of surprises but the wider area of the Glenmore Forest Park too.

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Our accommodation for the few days we spent there was the beautifully renovated property of West Dell. Dell of Abernethy has 5 properties which offer the perfect escape for romantic getaways, family holidays, retreats and events. West Dell, East Dell, Little Dell, South Dell and Dell Lodge all have a unique feel and are original in their character and presence. It is the perfect location to get out and about or simply unwind, slow down, connect to nature and sit by the fire. There is no other properties nearby so it sits within a shelter of the trees with inspiring views as far as the eye can see.

 

The property has been renovated to a very high standard: retaining all of the unique features from the beginning with a cosy eclectic twist. The grounds around the cottage beckon you to have a wander and admire the wood carvings, the sculptures and the lanterns that dot around the trees (I loved this feature) it really brightened the place up in the evening.

 

We arrived late on the Saturday afternoon after a long and snowy drive from the Outer Hebrides. It was already getting dark and we were excited to just settle into the cottage, sit by the fire and unwind. It was also an added bonus when we were met with homemade brownies! The place beckons you to simply relax and be mindful of the surroundings around you, we tend not to give ourselves much time to read, think or simply do nothing but enjoy the moment in where you are so it was refreshing having no obligations, nothing we really had to do but enjoy the cottage.

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We embarked early from Dell on the Sunday morning to make the most of the bright winters sun (a welcome in the depths of winter) and made our way for the Glenmore Forest Park. We parked up behind Glenmore Lodge and took off for the walk that would take us up past Lochan Uaine, (The Green Lochan) Ryvoan Bothy and then up and over Mealla a’ Bhuachaille standing proud with incredible views over the Cairngorm Mountain Range and further North.

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I have to say there is so much to do in this area around Nethy Bridge, Boat of Garten, Aviemore and Glenmore. As we only had a couple of days to spend in the area, instead of being overwhelmed at the abundance of walks to do, we picked the one that would cover a large area and spent time really getting to know that place, hence the reason we chose this one. We passed the unique vibrant waters of the Green Lochan and popped our heads into Ryvoan Bothy, (this is on my list for the summer) and then headed straight up the steep but impressive path which goes straight to the summit of Meall a’ Buachaille. We were very lucky with the weather, the light doesn’t last very long at this time of the year in Scotland so we were eager to make the most of the sun as it shone on us towards the ascent of the mountain. The climb itself is relatively easy (13 miles return loop) and is paved most of the way with rocks and a stony staircase all the way to the cairn at the summit.

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We left feeling impressed with the area and more of a knowledge of the panoramic vistas that the mountain climb offered us. It was then onto the infamous Aviemore Mountain Café after exhausting most of our energy on the climb, also cake is always deserved after a hike right? The café offers up a hearty lunch with a unique menu, brilliant coffee and even more delicious cake, a warm welcome after being in the cold for the better part of the day. We then took a spin around the Glenmore Forest Park stopping at our favourite Loch Morlich for views over to the snowy dramatic mountains. By this time it was dark and there was only one thing to do and that was to spend the evening in the warm and lively Old Bridge Inn situated just outside of Aviemore. This was recommended to us by the brilliant team at Dell of Abernethy and it definitely didn’t disappoint! The Old Bridge inn served us hearty delicious food, it has a fine range of malts and local ales, hosts some varied music nights and has such a vibrant atmosphere!

 

On Monday morning we left early once again to head over to Inshriach where I had booked us onto a Nordic Woodcraft Course with Wooden Tom. The location itself is incredible, Tom Banks who calls himself Wooden Tom has a base where he has built a shelter/ cabin and workshop area in the middle of the forest on the Inshriach Farm Grounds. We spent the day with him learning about various techniques on how to carve from wood, the difference in working with certain wood, carving spoons and having a wonderful time learning a new skill which we will definitely be incorporating into life back on North Uist, (that is if we can find enough trees!) If you would like to book onto a workshop with wooden tom and learn a new skill which is completely environmentally friendly and highly recommended please head on over to the website. Courses are for solo learners or groups.

 

We spent the rest of our break enjoying our peaceful cottage at Dell of Abernethy and giving ourselves some time to relax and just enjoy the environment and atmosphere of the place. The Dell not only offers unique accommodation but is also available as a wedding venue and runs retreats and events  throughout the year!

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If you would like to book in for a stay at this wonderful place (which I can highly recommend) please follow this link: Dell of Abernethy and pick one of these cottages to escape to, I know I’ll be going back as soon as I can! Thanks again to the lovely team of Wendy, Polly and Ross for hosting us in your beautiful corner of the Country and providing us with many spot on recommendations of places to eat, places to see and walks to venture on in the area! We had such a lovely stay slowing down and connecting to nature, thanks again for reminding us what is important!

To follow along on social media head on over to their social media pages: Instagram and Facebook.

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Original works available on the lead up to Christmas!

Delighted to share with you all a series of paintings that are available to purchase. Most of my work has sold recently and I’m currently finishing up a new series of paintings for my solo show opening on the 20th of January at Maclaurin Galleries in Ayrshire.
These works that remain have all been made in Scotland and are all original, signed and are available to be shipped worldwide. This is a great chance to own one of my original paintings at a discounted rate just in time for Christmas! Please email me at ellisoconnor@hotmail.co.uk if you would like to acquire any of these works.

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetAshore, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetDrift, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

3 Ellis O'Connor, Ice, 2016Ice, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £225

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetFlow, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with hb2 presetShifting Land, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

6 Ellis O'Connor Svalbard 2016Svalbard, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £255

6 Ellis O'Connor, Svalbard, 2016Edges, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 30 x 42cm. £255

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetShetland, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetPeaks, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £185

Processed with VSCOSOLD Adrift, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

Boreray, Mixed medium, Ellis O'ConnorSOLD Boreray, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

IMG_20171026_154337_116SOLD Heavalmixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm. £255

Skye 1 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 1, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 2 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 2, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 4 Ellis O'ConnorUntitled 3, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Skye 11 Ellis O'ConnorSOLD Untitled 4, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 13 x 25cm, £175

Tidelines, Mixed medium, Ellis O'ConnorTidelines, mixed medium painting on fabriano paper, 21 x 30cm, £255

Sponsored by Calmac – Isle of Rum

At the end of June I was fortunate enough to be invited out to the incredible Island of Rum with Calmac Ferries! The Isle of Rum is located off the West Coast of Scotland and is the largest of the Small Isles. I was pretty excited as I had been to the Island before but hadn’t had a chance to do much exploring so now was my time!

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Day 1

We set off from Mallaig on the Monday morning bright and early. We were lucky with the journey as it stopped in at Eigg first so I got another glimpse at one of my other favourite Islands. We arrived and were met by Dave; one of the Island residents who takes visitors around on a buggy transfer!

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We checked into the Rum Bunkhouse met by Jed another one of the Island residents who runs the modern and very well equipped bunkhouse located right on the water and close to the heart of Kinloch Village. It was then onto the first walk of the day: this time a hike on the Northside Nature Trail. This circular trail took us 1 hour and is easy enough to circumnavigate and is ideal if you are just on the Island for a day trip. It takes you up and along the north side of Kinloch Glen, giving you views out into the NNR and a glimpse of the true wild Rum. We also passed by Croft number 3 who had a whole variation of animals and a lovely shed full of handmade gifts made on the inspiring Island.

We then went on the second walk of the day, this time to the Otter Hide! It is only a thirty minute return walk from the new pier and takes you through Loch Scresort’s southside woods. The walk itself is a gentle one along a good quality, but unsealed, path and can be enjoyed by all and passes some of the islands initial settlements. There are a few ruins of black houses from the Highland Clearances within the woods. We spent a great deal of time wandering through the woods and then taking in the sights at the Otter Hide, a fantastic and well-made building which blends right into the wild landscape of Rum. Sadly we seen no Otters but it is an ideal place to sit and just look out to the surrounding Islands and passing sea traffic.

After our two big walks of the day we then headed off for the Island Tea Shop to meet Kim the owner who provided us with a three course meal of local produce in the Island’s community hall. Rum Café is open 10am-4pm, Monday to Saturday, for soups, plated sandwiches, baked tatties and home-made cakes. Packed lunches will also be available on request. Evening meals available 6-8pm but must be booked in advance. Later that evening we set off for the third walk of the day: up to Coire Dubh (just to the back of the village), a 30 minute walk to the corrie with great views of Rum and Skye. There are so many self-guided walks available on Rum and I would recommend anyone that goes to the Island to just get out and explore, the only inhabitants of the Island live in the village of Kinloch so as soon as you leave the village you are met with a true wild and incredibly varied rich landscape where you tend not to come across another human for a very long time!

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Day 2

We set off early having hired bikes with Fliss at Ivy Cottage and headed straight for Harris, a 16 mile return trip to the rugged and exposed south west of the Island. The Harris road is fairly smooth with some rough patches and it’s just under 8 miles one way. You take the road out of the village up 2 miles to the crossroads, then take the left branch. It’s a gradual climb up to the highest point in the road, then it’s a brisk freewheel down into Harris Bay. As soon as we made it down to Harris Bay we were met with a large and friendly group of Rum ponies who happily greeted us along with a pack of feral goats who I was pretty surprised to come across! The Rum pony is an island type of the Highland Pony breed that is native to the Highlands and islands of Scotland and has been present since the last ice age. The first record of these ponies on Rum dates back to 1774. The ponies are a working herd and are used during the deer culling season to extract deer carcasses from the hill. They are also used as a grazing management tool outside of the deer culling season when they live out wild on the hill and can be found grazing at Harris.

Harris was the place on Rum that I was looking forward to going to the most, partly because of the unique and wild geology in the area but also because of the feeling you get when you are there. You truly feel like you are at the edge, it’s very barren, raw, elemental and feels like you really have to work to get there which makes it even more special. It’s also a breath-taking experience seeing the Rum Cuillins from the other side, the force of the mountains in their full majesty. We spent a good few hours wandering around Harris Bay taking in the bizarre sights of the Mausoleum, the farming remains of the old ‘lazy beds’ and of course spotting the many deer and Highland Cows.

It was then onto Kilmory Bay which is a 10 mile return trip from Kinloch Village. As we were at Harris anyway it took us a lot quicker to cycle on the pleasant path all the way down to the beautiful bay. Kilmory is located on the north coast of Rum and there is a 4WD road that you can take to get there. As soon as you reach Kilmory Glen you are met with the stunning views over to the Skye Cullin whilst entering the Kilmory Red Deer Project study area where we were met with many many deer, some even wandering around on the beaches! It was another few hours spent wandering around the stunning beaches that this part of the Island had to offer.

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The evening was spent in one of the Islands new unique properties that are available to stay in. The Rum BBQ Bothy is located right along from Kinloch Village and is set right on the water looking out to all the peaks on the mainland. It has all the amenities you need and is a unique self-sustainable build which I really didn’t want to leave! We ate local venison cooked on the bbq right in the centre of the bothy, the best way to end another full on adventure packed day.

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Day 3

On our last day on Rum we started the day off by joining onto the Ranger Walk from the ferry terminal. We met Trudi the local Ranger who took us on a leisurely two hour small group walking tour whilst telling us about the local flora, fauna and unique geology and history of the Island. After the Ranger Walk ended we headed off to the very quirky and eccentric Kinloch Castle for a small group guided tour with the castle warden. The castle itself is absolutely bizarre inside and is definitely worth a look, it seems so mad to have such a building on such a wild Island yet it is home to some of the most sacred objects from around the world and extremely historic paintings. Our last stop of the Island tour was meeting Sylvia, the local historian who had just recently opened a new Heritage Centre on Rum which is definitely worth a look around.

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After a whistle stop tour of the majestic Island it was time to head off on our Calmac Ferry back to Mallaig! Rum is a paradise for hill walkers and mountaineers. Even though this was a sponsored trip from Calmac I would highly recommend checking this Island out for yourself and can honestly say there is so much to see not only in the village where there are many businesses flourishing but in the great open expanse of the wild Island. Rum is home to some of the most spectacular mountains to climb, coasts to explore, wildlife to watch and is begging for you all to explore it for yourselves! Catch you on Rum, it won’t be long until I’m back for another big journey, this time I think I’ll aim for the mountains!

Here are all the links for the businesses I’ve mentioned in this blog post: