Heritage and Wildife of South Argyll 6-night cruise departing 28/4/12
A cruise report with a distinct focus on food!!
We set sail on a lovely sunny afternoon bound for Carrick castle on the banks of Loch Goil. By the time we reached our destination we were like old friends with almost a party atmosphere aboard. For our first evening meal on board we started with canapés of smoked prawn with mango and mint and smoked mussels with strawberry and balsamic. This was followed by a simple meal of Cockaleekie casserole ( slow cooked Grampian chicken with leeks, red wine and black pudding) served with asparagus and cheddar mash. Farmhouse cheeses with biscuits, celery and fruit followed and a chocolate and Laphroaig whisky truffle with raspberries and coffee with home-made Drambuie fondant cups to round the meal off.
The next morning we awoke for a breakfast of Lorne sausage, crispy bacon and eggs. Then we headed south to Millport on the Great Cumbrae isle. We arrived in beautiful sunshine and enjoyed a lunch of squid ink and chilli risotto with monkfish medallions and small herb salad followed by lemon posset topped with braised rhubarb and ginger crumble. Some of us went ashore to visit the “Cathedral of the Isles” or to cycle around the island. After a couple of hours we were off again, heading north to Loch Striven. On the way we were treated to sightings of porpoises, diving gannets and eider ducks. No -one wanted to go ashore so we settled for the night, feasting on a canapé of peat-smoked haddock rarebit; Stephen’s home-made pan haggis with neeps and tatties and whisky gravy; roast sirloin of Argyll beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and vegetables and pan gravy. All this was rounded off by the cheeses with coffee and home-made whisky truffles.
The next morning we awoke to a breezy day and after a breakfast of pale smoked haddock with poached egg we were off to Loch Riddon where some went ashore for a gentle stroll along the old Colintraive road. Back aboard, lunch was home-made tomato and mint soup and a smorgasbord of sandwiches on home-made breads. A short trip into Loch Fyne allowed us to anchor for the night in Glenan Bay near Portavadie. Some went ashore for a walk in the birch-woods and we were able to observe shags, cormorants, razorbills, guillemots, gannets and eider at close quarters from our vessel, with a back drop of lovely evening sunshine. That night we sat down to a meal of smoked Argyll mussels in white wine, garlic and herb cream, then collops of Seil Island venison with braised red cabbage, broccoli and herbed potatoes. This was followed by the usual farmhouse cheeses with celery, grapes and biscuits anda green apple and Cognac syllabub with cinnamon puffs, coffee and an amaretto fondant .
Next day we went across the loch to the fishing village of Tarbert after a breakfast of the famous Loch Fyne kippers. An enjoyable day was had in the sun, then aboard for a light lunch of venison and mutton scotch pie with mash, peas and gravy. From here we sailed south to spend the night in Lamlash, sheltered by the Holy isle, famous as a Buddhist retreat and monastery . We had a birthday party on-board that evening and we enjoyed a seafood buffet comprising lobsters roasted in lemon grass, kaffir lime and coconut; scallops with pancetta and garlic; cockles steamed in whisky; mussels in garlic and white wine cream; kiln roasted salmon and salmon pate; steamed brown crab; langoustine in garlic butter; clams with spring onions and basil as well as salads and home-made breads. This was followed by cheeses and then a birthday cake made by the chef. A great time was had and the birthday party went well.
We were up early for a breakfast of bacon, egg, mushroom and tomato then off to Ailsa Craig, an island that is the remnant of a long extinct volcano and now home to vast colonies of sea-birds; we saw everything – 80,000 gannets , seals, gulls, guillemots, terns, skuas, shags, cormorants and a few puffins. Lunch was roast beef stovies with pickled beetroot relish and oatcakes, then on to Brodick, the main town on the Island of Arran. Most went ashore to visit Brodick castle and enjoy the warm sunshine. In the evening we had a simple meal of olives and sun-dried tomatoes as a canapé followed by fillet of Argyll beef “Stroganoff” style with saffron pilaff followed by the best sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch sauce and ice-cream.
The following morning we rose to find a fog enclosing the boat. We had a breakfast of Argyll smoked salmon and scrambled eggs then sailed north to Lochranza for a distillery tour and with hopes of catching a glimpse of golden eagles. Luckily as we rounded “The Cock of Arran” the sun broke through and we had a lovely warm day for the walk to the distillery but unfortunately the eagles weren’t at home. We then had a lunch of celeriac and blue cheese soup with spelt flour soda bread followed by king scallop and black pudding salad with Parmesan puffs and balsamic reduction. Then a cruise across the Kilbrannan sound to Carradale and a chance to visit the old Norman Castle and walk on the lovely beach before getting back on board to head east. We had a beautiful cruise in very warm sunshine towards the evening anchorage, around the Kyles of Bute and into Loch Riddon for the night. Our final dinner on board started with a canapé of carpaccio of venison fillet with garlic and parmesan, followed by Oriental marinated salmon with vegetable caponata and oyster sauce; lime cheesecake with berries macerated in Drambuie and finished with coffee and Arran gold fondant cups.
On the Friday morning we set sail for the Holy Loch. We enjoyed a full Scottish breakfast of mushrooms, tomato, tattie scone, bacon, Lorne slice, Argyll beef link, Stornoway black pudding and egg. This was just what was needed for the onward journey and we all look forward to the possibility of meeting again.
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