We've had our first flurries of January snow here at Appletree Cottage, Loch Lomond....
Beautiful crisp days. The red roof of our barn shines bright in the sunshine
A short walk down our quiet single track road gives another discovery at every corner...
sThe mists lift at Appletree Cottage and the trees sparkle in the sunshine
...A short drive away, in stunning rural countryside the mists drift off the distant hills
Despite the rural appearance of these photos, civilization is close by! Great eateries and pubs are 5 minutes from Appletree Cottage, Glasgow 35 minutes and Stirling 30 minutes drive. Quality shopping on the shores of Loch Lomond and Loch Lomond itself only 15 minutes.
For those of unfamiliar with, Appletree, the cottage or lodge is a recently purpose built high quality self catering holiday home at the south end of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
The cottage sleeps eight people in four bedrooms - choice of twins or doubles.
Each bedroom has its own private bathroom with walk-in shower (or shower and bath) wash basin and WC.
Underfloor heating keeps the wonderful open plan Lounge / Dining room / Kitchen toasty whilst wonderful views never fail to enthrall whatever the weather.
The log fire and free Netflix add interest to the winter evenings.
It is suitable for families or groups who have a member with restricted mobility (see our website)
Appletree Cottage is on a quiet road, away from traffic noise, but close to shops, pub, eateries etc. as well as handy for Glasgow and Stirling.
Come and give us a try - you won't be disappointed!
Its a beautiful sunny day at Appletree Cottage and we decide to go for a drive
It takes us about fifteen minutes to drive to Aberfoyle. From Aberfoyle we continue straight ahead along the main street (signposted Inversnaid and Stronachlachar)
A very pretty road takes us along the shores of Loch Ard where the water is still as glass.
Loch Ard is the source of the river Forth which at this stage is just a medium sized burn.
After passing the tiny village if Kinlochard the road enters a pretty birchwood forest and soon we see Loch Chon through the trees with menacing slopes towering above it on the far side. Passing places allow vehicles to pass on the narrow track.
Eventually the road straightens out and we leave the forest. To our left is Loch Arklet and we can see right down it to the gap in the hills in the distance where the road descends to Inversnaid on the remote eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
Soon we come to a T junction and the first house we've seen for a while. We take the right hand turn and descend for about two miles to the hamlet of Stronachlachar.
Loch Katrine is the setting for "The Lady of the Lake' written by Sir Walter Scott and hugely popular in 1810. Fittingly the two pleasure boats which ferry passengers around the loch are called "The Sir Walter Scott" and "The Lady of the Lake"
However, there are no boats out today. The water is beautiful, still and eerie and a mist shrouds the hills and adds to a sense of mystery. The pier lies empty awaiting the visitors in warmer months.
The cafe is closing and although we hadn't been the only customers we were now the only ones left. So we thanked them and started to make our way home.
Back at the T junction (the one with the house) we decided to take a quick detour down to Inversnaid. After following the shore of Loch Arklet we passed a small castelated dam at the head of the loch and then commenced our descent towards Inversnaid.
It was beginning to get dark when we reached Inversnaid Hotel - a huge building on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Only accessible by foot, boat or the road on which we had come the hotel is popular with walkers on the West Highland Way which crosses its doorstep. Across the loch we can see the lights of Tarbet village nestling in a gap between the hills.
As light was fast disappearing we decided to make our way home. On the way we again passed Loch Ard, bathed in the fading evening gloaming....
The tree is decorated and lit up for Appletree Cottage's third festive season!
Enjoy the luxury of heat on the soles of your feet from the underfloor heating through the blacknut wooden floor. Netflix is available on the large TV at no additional charge.
Enjoy the quiet dark skies around Appletree Cottage at night, free from light pollution from street lamps. Listen for the owls hooting or watch the deer forrage in the garden in the morning.
The Descent down Wallace Way
The path down is reasonably steep but is surfaced with tarmac and quite suitable for those with a wee one in a buggy.
The Wallace Way has been adorned with wood carvings created by Iain Chalmers. The walk takes visitors on a journey through time to learn more about Stirling's fascinating history.
As we are descending the hill we seeing the sculptures in reverse order – going back in time.
The first carving up is an excellent representation of the National Wallace Monument standing about 7ft tall (2.1m) and carved from a single piece of wood.
Mind your heads - low flying aircraft...
Further on down the hill is an image of a pilot holding the propeller of his aircraft. This is in celebration of Frank and Harold Barnwell who were born in Lewisham, London and moved to Balfron aged 2. They set up the Grampian Engineering and Motor Company in Causwayhead (just at the foot of the hill) in 1907 and produced their first aircraft there in 1908. However they had problems getting their aircraft airborne. It wasn’t until 1909 that they managed to fly to the recorded height of 13ft (3.9m) – landing after 80 yards in a field near Caurwayhead. This short hop was Scotland’s first powered flight.
At the junction of the footpath and the minibus route there is a carving celebrating the Battle of Stirling Bridge (1297) William Wallace’s tactic at the Battle of Stirling Bridge was aided by the narrowness of the bridge at the time. Only two horses could pass each other. This meant that it took ages for the English army to cross the bridge heading northwards. When more than half the English army had crossed the bridge Wallace sprung the trap and surrounded them on the north bank of the Forth whilst at the same time blocking their escape over the bridge. This resulted in slaughter and a bloody victory for Wallace.
One impressive thing about these sculptures is that many, if not all, appear to be fashioned from a single piece of timber.
Other carvings on the route represent the flora and fauna of the area, a bench with three characters carved sitting on it – a Roman a Pict and a Viking. The heads are missing so visitors may stand behind and place their own heads at the top of the mannequins for photographic purposes. A man holding a hammer above a modern looking anvil depicts Scotland’s First Metalworkers
Semi domesticated animals - comprising a sheep, a pig and a very nice pair of highland cows remind us of Scotland’s first farmers.
A large whale sculpture tells us that whales abounded in 5000bc whilst a collection of wild animals including a bear take us back to the ice age 10,000 years ago.
More information about the Wallace Way can be found here: https://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/the-monument/the-abbey-craig/woodcarvings/
By this point we are back at the visitor centre where we’ve parked our car.
Had we had more time we could have explored some of the many other paths and trails on Abbey Craig – all of which are free. However it was nearly time to go home.
Corrieris Cafe, Causwayhead
Just before going home though we popped into one of our favourite cafes which lies adjacent to the roundabout at the foot of the hill: Correris. An Italian ice cream parlour and Italian restaurant founded 40 years ago and still producing excellent food and friendly service. More about Correri’s can be found here: http://www.corrieris.co.uk
Appletree Self Catering Cottage, Loch Lomond
After a beautifully cooked meal we drove the 35 minutes back to Appletree Cottage:
Appletree Cottage - luxury fully en-suite catering for eight people situated in the beautiful Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Find out more about us at www.lomondappletree.co.uk
At the roundabout at Causeway head we turn up the hill (just before Correllie’s excellent restaurant and ice cream parlour.)
We follow the road up the hill and park in the free car park at the visitor centre.
Tickets to climb the monument can be bought either at the visitor centre or at the foot of the tower itself.
In the end some of us took the bus up, Some walked. We all walked back down.
Once we arrived at the base of the monument the views were already terrific over the Fourth Valley towards looking south over Stirling to the castle and westwards over the village of Bridge of Allan
Inside the National Wallace Monument
The Hall of Arms
After a short climb we come to the first room – The Hall of Arms.
This large room with its high vaulted ceiling contains an exhibition of the remarkable life of William Wallace and his victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge There are video enactments information boards and many artefacts around the room.
There was a good amount of stained glass commissioned with the building in the monument and the windows of this chamber and the ones above testify to the skill of craftsmanship employed.
Hall of Heroes
After a good browse around we climb the stairs again and this time arrive at the Hall of Heroes – an identical vaulted space to the Hall of Arms but this time with a collection of busts of famous Scots – poets, writers and inventors who transformed the story of Wallace into the legend we know today. Quite fascinating.
Also within the Hall of Heroes is a replica of Wallace's sword - nearly 7ft long - a huge thing to manhandle.
The Royal Chamber
Details about the monument are fascinating – for example that it was built for £13,000 with walls 1.5 meters thick at the top and 15meters (yes 15 meters!) thick at the bottom.
The design was put out to competition and 106 entries were received. Unfortunately only the runner up entry plan and J.T. Rochead’s winning design survive on paper.
Construction began in 1861 with private subscription. It took eight years to build with local stone from Abbey Craig until completion in 1869
The sighting of the structure on Abbey Craig is significant for a few reasons –
1. It was midway between Edinburgh and Glasgow – each city was vying to have the monument within their boundary.
2. Abbey Craig is supposed to be the point from which Wallace is supposed to have surveyed the lie of the land prior to the battle of Stirling Bridge and the place where he and his men camped the night before the battle.
A summary of the Battle of Stirling Bridge can be found here: https://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/sir-william-wallace/
Wallace himself came to a nasty end in London being hung, drawn and quartered on the orders of his old adversary Edward 1st of England. In 1305. His sword however survives and a replica can be seen in the hero’s chamber of the monument.
After the Royal Chamber we make our final climb up to the top of the structure – thus completing the full eight of the 246 steps to the top.
At the top the narrow spiral staircase opens out into the sky and a walk way around all four sides of the building.
The views to the north, south, east and west are all stunning – and the clearer the day the better.
To the west Ben Lomond on the shore of Loch Lomond can be made out.
To the east the river Fourth mianders towards the more open waters of the estuary. Grangemouth and Alloa were clearly visible on the day we were there and we thought we might be able to just see one of the towers of the new Fourth Bridge.
To the north lies the white buildings of the University of Stirling with the Ochils rising above it.
To the south far below us is the city of Stirling with the castle clearly rising above the old town.
There can be quite a breeze at the top so its worth considering whether to take a coat or hat & scarf.
After about twenty minutes of viewing from the top we decided to make our way back down again and make our way westwards and home to Appletree Cottage.
This took us down the Wallace Way and to Correri's excellent restaurant / cafe.
Please see our next blog!
Find out more about us at www.lomondappletree.co.uk
Things to do with kids at Appletree Cottage, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park
Walk up Duncryne Hill – about 10 minutes drive and 15 minutes to get up to the top. Fantastic views across Loch Lomond. Very satisfying brief walk.
Walk along old railway line over good high bridge over the River Endrick
When you’re here we can point out other good walks, local and otherwise.
There are also Nature Reserves nearby if that is of interest.
Buchanan Arms Hotel Swimming Pool and Spa - Day membership usually available, 5 mins drive, for wet weather cover.
(Appletree Cottage has Netflix if things get desperate.)
Around or nearby to Balloch which itself is about 15 minutes drive…
Tree Zone tree top adventure in Balloch (next Lomond Shores ) – about 20 minutes drive https://treezone.rezdy.com/catalog/46981/treezone-loch-lomond
A short stroll from the Sealife Centre (above) and the Maid of the Loch Paddle Steamer…
Maid of the Loch – paddle steamer http://www.maidoftheloch.org - open for tea and exploration within.
Sweeney’s Cruises on Loch Lomond https://www.sweeneyscruiseco.com
Various cruises commencing from Balloch, Balmaha and Luss
Medieval Castle on top of a rock with fantastic views over the Clyde Estuary
Lomond Shored Weekend Market
A weekend market at Loch Lomond shores during October
East Loch Lomond, Loch Katrine and Lake of Menteith - about 20-40 minutes away
Back at Balmaha The Oak Tree is great for lunch with a good menu and nice atmosphere and excellent smoked salmon salads – and sometimes their own beers for grown ups! https://www.theoaktreeinn.co.uk/
North of Balmaha there are good beaches on the loch and paths through the woods.
Lake of Menteith – ferry from Port of Menteith to Inchmahome ruined priory on the island.
(open till 31 Oct) https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/inchmahome-priory/getting-there/ (about 25 mins drive)
Also see photos on our blog page at www.lomondappletree.co.uk
Loch Katrine Cruise – cruise up the loch to the lovely tea room at Stronachlacher and back again. Alternatively, hire a bike (at ferry point) and cycle back along the very quiet lochside road (about 40 mins drive)
Stronachlachar tearoom right on the loch is attractive and good for a light lunch https://www.thepiercafe.com/cafe-bistro-bar/
Alternatively a nice lunch for this day can be had at The Byre, Brig o’Turk which is about 10 mins from Loch Katrine Ferry base
Over by Stirling (which is about 35 mins drive)…
Blair Drummond Safari Park (open till 28th October) https://www.blairdrummond.com
Stirling Castle, Stirling – 35 minutes drive https://www.stirlingcastle.scot
National Wallace Monument, Causewayhead, Stirling – about 15 mins drive from the castle
Great views from the top on a nice day! : https://www.nationalwallacemonument.com
Pony Trekking and Segway Trekking http://www.castlerednocktrekking.com/prices_and_booking_info.html
(there are some pony trekking places closer to Appletree but the Segway looked interesting.
Excellent state of the art 3d holographic imagery is used to tell the story of this epic battle.
Very much aimed at kits as well as grown ups
Glasgow, good for wet weather cover and less than 45 minutes drive - or train
Glasgow Museum of Transport (free, small charge for parking)
Award winning fantastic transport museum in Glasgow (about 45 mins drive to museum car park)
Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow (free, small charge for parking)
About 10 minutes drive from the Museum of Transport so a good thing to do on the same day
In the art gallery, as well as Dali’s famous Christ of St. John on the Cross there is a good collection of the Glasgow Boys’ works as well as that of the Scottish Colourists.
In the museum on the ground floor, there is room after room of varied exhibits within this building, initially built for the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901 (reputedly 180 degrees round the wrong way!)
The adjacent Kelvingrove is adjacent - with plenty of space to run around and very pretty bits alongside the Kelvin River with Glasgow University tower above)
The Science Centre, Glasgow (not free) is about 15 mins drive from the Transport Museum and 15 mins from Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery
We’ve tried to check that the above suggestions are open during most of October but recommend you make sure before you travel to any activity etc. and that the activities are suitable for your kids.
Luxury Loch Lomond Holiday Cottage - Two Years Old and a host of 5* reviews from guests
Not all guests leave us a review but all the reviews we have had are almost five star rated.
Appletree Cottage was built in 2015-16 on the site of an old barn (which even though demolished in 2011 is still on google street view(!)
The cottage is an architect designed timber frame highly insulated timber frame building with large areas of south facing glass to capture the sun and the stunning open views.
Appletree from the start was designed for self catering holidays.
All of the four bedrooms are fully ensuite each with shower or bath, wash hand basin, WC, heated towel rail and under floor heating. Luxury!.
With holidays for families and social groups in mind the living space is open plan with a spacious kitchen and breakfast bar at one end, an overhead lit dimmable dining area in the centre and a comfortable roomy lounge area at the other end which has TV (with netflix) and wood burning stove.
To make things even more comfortable the black nut wood floor of entire communal space under heated from an energy efficient district biomass boiler system which serves the whole farm and cottage.
A huge sliding door from the living space opens onto the terrace area where alfresco dining can be enjoyed in tranquility overlooking nine square miles of open countryside up to the famous Whangy rock formation in the distant Kilpatrick Hills.
A district wood powered biomass system heating the underfloor (living space and bathrooms) radiators (bedrooms) towel rails (bathrooms) and hot water throughout.
The solar gain from the expansive south facing windows and roof velux windows play a huge part in keeping the cottage toasty.
It has proved particularly popular with those from North America and the Middle east who vast variety of spectacular scenery that the surrounding National Park has to offer.
We have also had may visitors from the UK - even some fairly local who just love to get out of the city and relax in peaceful beautiful countryside.
Groups from abroad tend to be those visiting Scotland for the first time, wanting to explore the best parts of country - many of which are within easy reach of Appletree Cottage. (see below)
The cottage is also perfect for family and friend get togethers and this accounts for a large amount of the UK visitors.
Other folk just like to get away for a few days to be closer to nature and peace.
A universal favorite activity is just sitting in the cottage staring out at the view!
The minimum booking of three nights is very popular.
People who are on two-centre holidays often say they wished that they were staying longer at Appletree.
Others say it is the best self catering property they have come across.
Appletree Cottage Awards
Appletree Cottage has so far received the following rewards / ratings:
Visit Scotland (the Scottish Tourist Board) 4 stars
Visit Scotland: I Know Loch Lomond certificate
TripAdvisor: Certificate of Excellence
Association of Scottish Self Caterers: Committed to Quality certificate
Homeaway: Premier Partner
Reviews by guests of their stay at Appletree Cottage can be seen at the following:
Home and Away (formerly Owners Direct): https://www.homeaway.co.uk/p6856269
Freetobook: via widget on the cottage website at www.lomondappletree.co.uk
Google: appletree cottage loch lomond
More about Appletree Cottage
Appletree Cottage gets its name from the apple orchard close by.
The owners (Murray and Alli) bought the small farm in 2013 when it was semi derelict. The buildings were in a terrible state, the barns had no doors and many of the house windows were boarded up, slates were missing everywhere. Those windows which were not boarded up had been broken and large sheets of perspex screwed to the frames to keep out the elements. At time of purchase the building surveyor reported that although the building had secondary glazing it had unfortunately no primary glazing! It took three months to make the house habitable again.
Shortly after moving into the house in March 2014 the owners commenced planting an apple orchard. Initially 99 trees the count has now reached 230 with an additional 200 planned for next spring.
Last year the trees bore fruit and Shandon Apple Juice was born. This year with an increased yield it is hoped to improved on last years sales.
Guided tours of the orchard are available on request to guests staying at Appletree Cottage.
A regular group of ornothologists have visited Appletree regularly and spotted a wide variety of birds - including a local Osprey.
Appletree Cottage is superbly situated...
Appletree Cottage is in a prime position within the world famous. Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Lying at the southern end of Loch Lomond it is perfect centre for the huge range of activities the park has to offer. It is also within easy reach of some of the best places to visit and sights to see.
Here are a few good activities and places within easy reach from Appletree:
Sitting in the cottage staring out at the view (a favorite with many)
.4 distilleries offering tours: Glengoyne, Deanston, Lomond, Auchentoshan
Castles etc. Stirling Castle, Doune Castle, Dumbarton Castle, Wallace Monument, Inveraray Castle, Balloch Castle, Boturich Castle
Inchcailloch Nature Reserve island on Loch Lomond with ferry from Balmaha
Inchmurrin Restaurant on an island on Loch Lomond with ferry from Arden
Inchmahome Priory on Inchmahome Island on Lake of Monteith with ferry from Port of Menteith
Loch Lomond Nature Reserve and Flanders Moss Nature Reserve
Steamer trip up Loch Katrine (with optional cycle ride returning by traffic free shore road)
The Maid of the Loch paddle steamer on Loch Lomond poised to set sail again in 2019
The sea-life Centre and quality shopping at Loch Lomond shores
Sitting in the cottage staring out at the view (still a favourite)
Loch Fyne Fisheries offering fresh seafood on Loch Fyne
Blair Drummond Safari Park
Go-Ape in Aberfoyle and Tree Zone in Balloch offer tree top high wire adventures
Day round trip across Isle of Bute with two ferries and a spectacular drive
Visit to Oban - for pier-side fresh sea food and wonderful scenic drive (or by train on the West Highland Line)
Loch Lomond Sea Plane experience
Dumbarton Maritime Museum
Salmon Leap at pots of Gartness
Glasgow Museum of Transport (free)
Kelvingrove Museum Glasgow (free)
Shopping day out (by train) Glasgow
Woodland Fairy Experience Killearn and Luss
Benmore botanic Gardens near Dunoon
Many many beautiful walks of all levels, hill walking, rock climbing, cycling
16 Golf Courses within 30 minutes drive
Boating, canoeing, kayaking, pleasure boating, loch ferries, speed boating
Angling, clay pigeon shooting, horse riding,
Drifting off to sleep whilst sitting staring out at the view (you can't beat it)
Spa, gym and swimming pool close by with daily membership.
Visit local farmers markets at Gartocharn (10mins drive) and Arden (20 minutes drive)
Excellent Tea Rooms at Duck Bay Marina (20 mins) Gartocharn (10 mins) Three Sisters of Killearn (15 mins) and fabulous Stronachlacher, Loch Katrine (25 minutes)
The Clachan and Drymen Inn, Drymen
Old Mill Killearn
Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha
Tully and Loch Lomond Inn
Lake of Menteith Hotel
The Byre, Brig o'Turk
Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Luss
Princess Rose Chinese Restaurant, Balloch
Loch Fyne Fisheries, near Inveraray
George Hotel, Inveraray
At the end of the day...
Watching the sunset from the patio at Appletree Cottagae.
Happy second birthday for Appletree Cottage
To celebrate we've installed two new signs at the gate of the cottage
Brilliant fruit harvest at Shandon Farm and Appletree Cottage, Loch Lomond
Apple trees at Appletree Cottage
Prior to us planting apple trees on the farm in 2014 the land was used for mixed dairy and beef farming. It has taken some time to get the soil into good shape for apple growing.
Some of the apple trees on the farm have been so heavily laden with large fruits that the branches break under the weight. We have had to prop up many branches with sticks to prevent further breakage.
Varieties include a large number of popular and lesser known Scottish apples including Os.lin, James Grieve, Stirling Castle East Lothian Pippin, Lass O'cowrie, Scotch Dumpling, Clydeside and Bloody Ploughman
The Bloody Ploughman has a tale about it passed down through generations. It involves a ploughman who stole some apples and taking them home. The ploughman's wife disgusted at the harsh treatment of the ploughman for his misdemeanour threw the apples onto the compost heap. From one of the apples grew the Bloody Ploughman tree - with apples which are veined through with red when ripe - a bit like raspberry ripple ice cream - although obviously a bit different!
Did you know that if you plant an apple seed from an apple you will not get the same tree as the apple came from - it will be a new variety. The way to maintain a variety is to take a scion (cutting) from an existing tree and graft it on to root stock of another apple tree.
Scions can also be grafted onto an existing tree - meaning that that tree will have two varieties within it. We have heard of a chap in the south of England who has grafted 100 varieties onto the one tree! Great if your short of space and can't make up your mind!
We have grafted scions every year and now have over 200 trees in our nursery on various rootstocks awaiting planting in the new year.
The hedges around Appletree Cottage and the farm are full of brambles and blackberries, plumped up by our fantastic summer weather.
We have also put in some Damsons and Greengages and are looking forward to their harvest
A day out from Appletree Cottage to visit the Inchmahome isle and Priory on Lake of Menteith
Our jouney to Port of Menteith takes us just under half an hour.
Leaving Appletree Cottage we drive down to Croftamie village and then along the A811 past Drymen. At Ballat crossroads we turn left up the A81 towards Aberfoyle. Shortly before Aberfoyle at the roundabout next to the Rob Roy Hotel we turn right along the A81 to Port of Menteith.
Port of Menteith is a small hamlet beside Lake of Menteith.
Once in Port of Menteith hamlet we take the right hand turn onto the B8034 (towards Arnprior), past the excellent Port of Menteith Hotel, past Lake of Menteith fisheries (where you can hire fishing boats and tackle by the hour) and park a few hundred yards down this road on the right in the car park signposted “Inchmahome Priory”.
We board the first boat which is waiting and take our seats.
We don’t part with any money at this stage as payment is taken once on the island. The enterprise is run by Historic Environment Scotland. Charges are £7.50 per adult – but many membership cards are accepted – including English Heritage cardholders who go free.
It is a beautiful day and the waters are like glass with the occasional fishing dingy dotted here and there.
Lake of Menteith is Scotland’s only lake (everything else is a loch).
Wikipedia differs on this point citing a few other lakes – but all very small.
The word 'lake' in this case is supposed to have been a misinterpretation of 'Laich of Menteith' which means lowlands of Menteith.
There is no public jetty on the lake and so all boats have to be hired on site.
The shores are particularly good for bird spotting - especially in the early hours of the day.
After a few minutes boat ride we arrive at the small stone pier. Following a few notes about the island given by the somewhat bumptious skipper we are permitted to disembark.
The buildings are in a semi ruinous state but the remains and the surrounding grounds around them have been beautifully maintained and are in pristine condition. Information boards around the buildings give visitors a guide as to what the various sections were used for and some artistes reconstructions are interesting.
Among its many prominent visitors the priory was one of many hide-away places for Mary Queen of Scots as she sought to escape the clutches of Elizabeth 1st and her court.
Soon we are safely ashore and back in the car and heading back to Appletree Cottage, having had a thoroughly magical time on this mystical island.