The Semple Trail near Lochwinnoch

While Lymond’s places of interest are well visited, those that are unique to Nicholas are rather less so. This is partly because they are set further away from Edinburgh and the Borders which are the natural focus for most trips, and maybe a little because the scenery is a little less dramatic and there is less evidence on the ground that can be connected to the stories. However for House of Niccolo fans who want to get an idea of the landscape in which Dorothy placed Beltrees and Kilmirren a visit to Castle Semple Loch in the west of Scotland is a worthwhile trip.

The loch is a well-used facility for the local community – there is a sailing club, rowing club, windsurfing, and a bird-watching centre run by the RSPB. Curiously however it hasn’t been possible to walk right round the loch until recently. Following negotiations and path extensions the Semple Trail, the first parts of which were opened in May 2008 by Lord Jamie Semple, is now complete and runs fully around the loch and is already proving popular – indeed someone apparently complained to the council that it hadn’t been gritted during the recent very cold weather that reduced many of Scotland’s roads to near ice rinks!

Readers interested in this area can take  look at a couple of sites:

The Lochwinnoch Village website

which contains a number of interesting pages including some history of the real Crawford family of the area, and an extensive photo gallery which gives a good flavour of the area and includes a picture of the place known as Auld Simon. There’s also a section of old maps which I always find fascinating and some lovely old stories by a former park ranger. It seems to be a thriving community with a good sense of history and the site is worth exploring for a wealth of local information.

The Castle Semple Centre on the Visit Scotland site

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