About Caol Ruadh
Entering the enchanted grounds of Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park (pronounced 'Col Ru') feels a bit like stumbling out of a rabbit hole into a strange world beyond.
The sculpture park is an outdoor gallery which displays and sells work created in Scotland by established artists. I've visited a few times over recent years and have observed dozens of unique artwork by a variety of designers on each occasion, including pieces by famous Scottish artists Andy Scott (creator of the famous Kelpies) and Rob Mulholland (creator of 'Still' the popular mirror man that until recently stood in Loch Earn).
Around every corner is something mysterious and wonderful, sometimes natural, sometimes man made but always a delightful surprise.
The gardens are a wonder of their own, with stunning views across the Kyles of Bute and access to the scenic shoreline. Rustic summerhouses, a characterful boathouse, walled garden, wildlife pond and tennis court are just some of the architectural jewels.
Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park is a work in progress. When I first visited in 2014 many of the little buildings along the shoreline had yet to be renovated. When I returned again this year, I was delighted to see many of them restored and filled with artwork. Having the freedom to walk openly around the grounds and discovering all the concealed gems among the trees, gardens and shoreline is the reason that I love passing a couple of hours here.
Well positioned benches provide viewing points to fully appreciate the idyllic setting opposite the Isle of Bute, the place I currently call home. In fact if you are on the Isle of Bute, a five minute ferry crossing from Rhubodach will take you across to Colintraive on the wonderful undiscovered secret coast of Argyll. From Colintraive it is just over 1.5 miles to the sculpture park.
The sculpture park opened in 2012 and is run by Karen Scotland and her partner, Anne Edmonds. They have combined their backgrounds in design and landscape architecture to create something unique which can be enjoyed by everyone. I love the fact that I can also take my dog Willow along with me as the 20 acre estate and open air gallery are ideal for a walk with your four legged friend (although they must be kept on a lead).
Unfortunately Caol Ruadh is only open every other year to allow maintenance and improvements to take place and is not due to reopen again until June 2019 when there will be an entirely new exhibition to explore. However, the work carried out during the closed season means that the gardens and exhibits will continue to grow in the future.
Caol Ruadh Sculpture Park is a real hidden gem and a visit here is a total treat for the senses and imagination. I really recommend it as somewhere well worth seeking out when you are in this part of Argyll.
Tips for your visit
If you are a fan of public art then I also recommend visiting Crawick Mulitiverse in Dumfries and Galloway or following the Andy Scott Sculpture Trail in Central Scotland.
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