From the West coast
A fascinating ten-year archive of letters from one
the most beautiful parts of Scotland,
its people, places, landscape and wildlife.
"Strachur is a small, sleepy, sprawling West Highland village spread along the north eastern shore of Loch Fyne - the longest sea loch in Scotland. This is a very dramatic and beautiful part of Scotland, full of ancient history, magnificent forests and wildlife..."
Letters from Argyll
- September '98 Introduction
- October '98 Half Hung Archie
- November '98 Magnus Barelegs
- December '98 Pantomime
- January '99 Storms and Gardens
- February '99 Campbells and midges
- March '99 Macleans and birdsong
- April '99 Loch Eck and Spring
- May/June '99 Dunoon and Squirrels
- Summer '99 Glasgow
- Autumn '99 Colour and Rowans
- Winter '00 Siskins and Finches
- Spring/summer '00 Puck's Glen
- Autumn '00 Macbeth and a Squirrel
- Spring 2001 Town and Country
- Summer 2001 From Scotia to Dunadd
- Winter 2001 Bridge over the Atlantic
- Summer 2002 Cowal and 3 Squirrels
- Autumn 2002 Smiddy and Stones
- Winter 2002 Bagpipes, deer and jays.
- Spring 2003 Rest and Be Thankful.
- Summer 2003 3 lochs and a castle
- Autumn 2003 A Beaut of an Isle
- Winter 2003 The bonnie banks
- Spring 2004 The Hollow Mountain
- Summer 2004 Kintyre Peninsula 1
- Autumn 2004 Kintyre Peninsula 2
- Winter 2004 Arrochar Gateway to Argyll
- Spring 2005 A Walker's Paradise
- Summer 2005 Scotland in Miniature
- Autumn 2005 Skye - The Misty Isle
- Winter 2005 Across the Water
- Spring 2006 The Crossroads of Scotland
- Summer 2006 Calling all seafarers
- Autumn 2006 A day out in the rain
- Winter 2006 A Winter's Day Out
- Spring 2007 A Favourite Place
- Summer 2007 Bonnie Galloway
- Autumn 2007 Port Appin
- Winter 2007 Loch Fyne and a Fine Dram!
- Spring 2008 Snow mountains and Spring!
- Summer 2008 A Walk in the Park
Macbeth and a Squirrel
Well, the very unusual summer has most definitely ended. In fact it ended in the middle of August in this area. We managed to take advantage of a weekend in tropical July and escaped to one of our favourite parts of Scotland - Morar. To get there you go to Fort William, turn left and then travel 46 miles west until you hit the coast. Half of the 46 miles is very scary single track road but its well worth it. This is one of the many beaches in Morar on a busy Saturday afternoon in July! In the morning we spent some time at Mallaig and were astounded by how tourism had changed it. You now arrive in Mallaig via a dual carriageway and even a roundabout. They have a small sea life centre, heritage museum and a swimming pool. You get the big ferry here for Skye and when we watched the amount of tourists coming and going it is no wonder changes have to be made. New homes were all around and an air of prosperity was very noticeable.
I went in to a local shop for some picnic goodies and was enchanted by the chat:
"Hello Mrs McDougall and how is your Donald?"
"Och he's a lot better thank you - a pound of best beef links please and half a pound of black pudding"
"Excuse me, may I ask for some informations please - can you be telling me where we may go to find the ship to Skye?"
"Of course lass, where is it you're from then?"
"Oh we are from Croatia and this is our first time in Scotland"
"Och isn't that lovely and the weather's so good just now, well you'll be wanting to go out the door here and turn left at the corner and you can't miss it, the next ferry is due in about twenty minutes"
"Oh thank you so much, goodbye"
"Aye cheerio lass, what a nice girl - now where was I? Och aye, and can I have two nice lamb chops - Donald's awfy fond of a lamb chop" .... and so on and so on. The locals taking all of this in their stride - tourists from all over the world converging on this tiny fishing village making their way to Skye.
Then the ferry came in and disgorged many cars, buses and people only to swallow up another load and make their way "over the sea to Skye". We, on the other hand, laden with goodies, made our way back to a wee secret cove - which I'm not going to give you directions to - you can find your own and believe me there are many - and enjoyed one of the best days we've had this year - swimming no less and reading and of course devouring fantastic local food.
We toddled down to Ardrishaig that night for our evening meal and unfortunately I forgot to take my camera so I can only tell you that the sunset was just the most wonderful sight to behold. I've never seen a sun so huge or so flame coloured and the very air we breathed seemed to be purple and salmon. All too soon the sun set and then, of course, the midges came out to eat - if you've ever been to the West Coast of Scotland I need say no more, however if you're not prepared to accept that the midges are here you'll miss out on an awful lot.
Back at Burnside Cottage we experienced a very colourful if short lived summer. Everything seemed to bloom at once and just as swiftly everything was finished by the middle of August. I've managed to do quite a lot of thinning of shrubs and found some plants I had forgotten all about - how some plants survive beats me, there they are completely overshadowed by others but they manage to hold on, so next year should be interesting if they manage to survive.
May I introduce "Macbeth" a Limousin bull, isn't he splendid? He didn't seem at all interested in us, no matter how many times I spoke to him he just looked at me with this expression but very generously allowed me to take this photograph. The pheasants have grown in number - we now have fifteen roaming around the garden and field but I can't get a photograph of them because of their marvellous camouflage - however, I'll keep trying.
The red squirrels have been absent from the garden since the middle of August - in fact this is the last sighting of one of our cheeky wee friends - I do hope they come back. On a much larger scale, for a brief three week period this chappie appeared in the field.
Most of the leaves have fallen now, and the autumn colour is just about gone. I can't believe Christmas is so near - it seems only a couple of months ago I was storing the decorations from last year. Someone today mentioned there were only 36 shopping days to Christmas, so, may I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for the festive season and look forward to bringing you more stories from this lovely part of Scotland early in the new year.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.