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Lentil Soup

Would you like the choice of 67 different walks, picturesque scenery, along with an arts festival? If so, Cowalfest 2004 is just the ticket for you.  Cowalfest, Cowal Walking and Arts Festival, kicks off on Friday 8 October and finishes on Sunday 17 October 2004 in a very attractive part of Argyll.
 
The programme for Cowalfest 2004 was launched with a reminder of the Gaelic heritage of the area on 21 August at the Glenbanter Forestry Commission Office.As sounds of the harp hung hauntingly in the air, Princess Deirdre emerged from the waterside through long grass and flowers, reciting a translated lay from the Glenmassan Manuscript. Written in classical Gaelic, the manuscript dates from 1512 and relates the story of Deirdre of the Sorrows, her lover Naisi and their wanderings in Argyll - a story of sex, love, betrayal, power, honour and revenge. Princess Deirdre was played by actress Sadie Dixon Spain dressed in traditional Celtic costume in order to evoked the peninsula's Gaelic heritage, as the Cowalfest 2004 programme was officially unveiled. The Glenmassan Manuscript gave a taste of the forthcoming festival which marries walking, wildlife, heritage, arts, music and drama which runs throughout Cowal.
 
The Glenmassan Manuscript originated in Ireland around 1512 and was known to be in Kintyre by the 17th century. One of only 70 pre-1700 Gaelic manuscripts in Scotland, it was in various hands in Cowal for 100 years before being brought to the attention of the Highland Society. Although studied by Gaelic scholars in Cowal, it finally came to light up a Forester's lum in Glenmassan. It is now in the care of the National Library of Scotland.
 
"Few people realise that only 200 years ago Gaelic was the principal language of Cowal" Russell Bruce, Chairman of the event organisers for the Cowal Walking Festival Association told The Flag. "That was to change when the wealthy merchants of Glasgow fell in love with the area and set up home. Just as the Victorians were captivated by such a special place, West Highland in character with breathtaking scenery yet little more than an hour away from Glasgow, we hope to encourage more people to discover its hidden treasures today. Tellingly Different is our theme this year. Cowalfest 2004 is our golden opportunity to really shout about the beauty and the heritage of the area. So we are combining 67 themed and guided walks with a rich and varied programme of concerts, ceilidhs, exhibitions, displays, talks, workshops and much more. There will be something for everyone whether day-trippers, short break or longer autumn holiday visitors."
 
A biodiversity hot spot, Cowal has at its heart the vast Argyll Forest park - Scotland's oldest and now part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park - interspaced with mountains, sea and fresh lochs. The series of graded walks take in a wide variety of low-level paths to more strenuous routes for fit, experienced walkers. Visit www.cowalwalking.org for full details.
 
With the nights drawing in, and a nip in the air, the Cowal walkers might enjoy a plateful of this week's recipe, Lentil Soup, at the end of their days activity.
 
Lentil Soup
 
Ingredients : 6 oz lentils; 1 onion; ham bones or 1 ham stock cube; 2 carrots; 1 potato; salt to taste
 
Bring lentils and bones or cube to the boil, grate carrot, chop onion, grate potato, add to pot and allow to simmer for 3/4 hour.  

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