Finally we got there – after a few more misadventures amongst which was an invasion of the grounds of Taynish House – based on the (wrong) assumption that SNH owned the entire peninsula as a reserve.
Getting down to The Piggery, almost on Loch Sween at the southern end of the reserve, makes you wonder how on earth the (smallish) Ardfern fire engine got down there to attend to a recent fire in a generator outbuilding at Taynish House.
Although we had come here to see the novelty of an outdoor exhibition of photographs by Lochgilphead High School pupils at The Piggery – with SNH’s Caroline Anderson in the continuing Snapberry project – we found that it was facing competition from the natural exhibition that is Taynish itself.
It takes you over. It subtly alters your rhythms and your time clock. It strips away and it adds.
Walking along the path parallel to the shore, further to the south, you see the long blind stone walls of The Piggery ahead, between forest and marsh. It’s well away from the Taynish house – you would, wouldn’t you? – and here on the foreshore, it has easy access to the loch from where, once, the pigs came and went.
The structures you can see in the woodland to the east of The Piggery are not Taynish House but earlier and quite grand ruins.
You pass The Piggery’s gable end at the edge of the path and suddenly you are simply in a world of massy stone. There’s so much of it you can hardly at first see that there is some sort of order to it.
What you’re looking at are the walled outdoor pig pens, running down stone cobbled slopes from the once roofed sheltered inside pens and emptying into a stone water channel that runs the length of the building.
Each pen once had had a gate on the far side of the water channel, separated them from the outer yard within the curving piggery wall.
The day we made it here was Thursday 30th August – a beautiful warm, bright day, brutal for photographs. But sometimes, the play of sun coming in from an unexpected angle brought its own rewards.
The images shot in the Taynish reserve by the Lochgilphead High school pupils are to be projected on the gable walls in Colchester Square on the night of the fabulous annual Lochgilphead Lantern Parade – Saturday 3rd November.
Apart from one image which, in its specific location, cannot be replicated in Lochgilphead, this article therefore shows only the curation of the exhibion at the Piggery, how the space has been used to show the images.
No one could wish for a better gallery.
This single image came as a shock. Beginning to explore the magnificent building, we walked through the main yard to get into the once covered pens at the back. There was the water channel coming into the open from the pig pens and there was one of the images lying midstream.
The perils of an outdoor gallery, you think, as you bend to lift it clear. Then you stay your hand, as this image is not being moved by the stream. You look at it and see that it’s a footprint. You laugh out loud – there’s no one here to hear.
In its laminated plastic envelope, this is a really witty piece of curation – a stepping stone of another order in a place where many feet have passed over the years.
So when you see the footprint in the sand on the gable end in Lochgilphead’s Colchester Square on 3rd November – and they switch off the street lights to maximise the magic – you’ll remember the fun of its real home here.
Going back from The Piggery and joining the main path, a left hand turn to the shore is irresistible. You have to know, so you go.
You emerge from the green woodland onto the broad marshy foreshore with the little Ulva islands ahead. You wend down the good firm path to the shore, past arresting little details. This needs time – take it. Taynish is about time.
On the shore, there’s an impenetrable belt of lichened rocks between marsh and water. You wonder quite what process made it like this.
You can see the arrangements made for boats coming in and out.
There are cattle grazing amongst the stones, with swans on the water and dragonflies and butterflies on the marsh.
You can simply look and inhale it all.
Over to the left of this characteristic Taynish seat is a serendipitous marriage of man-made and natural stone structures out in the water.
And when you can tear yourself away, back where the path down to the Piggery rejoins the main path south, before some couth sheds, there is a side path offering a diversion with a duck board to the shores of Loch Mhuirich.
Taynish challenges as well as soothes.
You eventually get here – it is a long walk but a mood-shifting and time-travelling one. The immediate thought is ‘I could live here forever’.
Then there’s the almost equally immediate ‘but’ – ‘I couldn’t bear how long it takes to get in and out’. You just want to be beamed down.
Slowly you realise that this is the point. If Taynish was easy to get to, a lot of us would have been living here for some time – and it wouldn’t be the nature reserve it is. We would have driven so much away.
This, of course, is the great problem with the invasion of wilderness by wind farms.
If the government does not become more discriminating in its politically driven rush for wind at all costs and at speed, there will be no more wildernesses, no more places you have to work to get to and no more transformations of the soul when you do.