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
A day out in the rain
September will go down - I am sure - as the wettest September since records began. Getting completely fed up waiting for the rain to clear, we decided to spend a day exploring an ancient area of central Scotland which is no more than an hour's drive of Strachur and once we set out, even the rain cleared up here and there. Driving down the A83 and then turning left at Tarbet, Loch Lomond, we joined the A82 which lies alongside Loch Lomond heading for Crianlarich. Passing through tiny villages clinging to the shore of the loch - Ardlui, Inverarnan, etc., I was amazed to see so many houses and B&Bs lining the road (it's been a while since we took this road) but not surprised to find that the early part of this road is still quite scarey for a few miles. First stop was The Drover's Inn at Inverarnan (above right) for lunch. The Inn has stood on this spot since 1701 and the hauf (bar) looks as if it hasn't been cleaned in 300 years! We took my mum for lunch here a few years ago and she refused to eat - didn't stop us though! The original building looks as if it's falling down and thankfully they haven't upgraded the interior, keeping it, as much as possible, as it would have been way back then - actually more a museum with food and accommodation. This place is always busy and you can detect accents and languages from all round the world while you enjoy your surroundings.
Following our hearty lunch we set off again for Crianlarich coming very quickly to the Train Station which gave me a wee start, as seeing it brought back memories of days out as a child, one of the highspots being tea in the station tea room - and know what - it's still there ! As usual, parked in the siding, were many bogeys loaded with logs, headed for Ireland ? Scandinavia? who knows, but during your travels in the west of Scotland you're never far from a low loader transporting tonnes of logs to either a train or a ship for exportation.
Five miles on you drive into Tyndrum one of Scotland's most popular gold mining areas of the 19th Century. When in the 19th century gold was found in the hills of the area a gold rush ensued and the town blossomed to deal with the influx of miners from all over the world. When the price of gold fell, the mines were abandoned however in the 1990's a company started mining again for a few years but gave up for the same reasons. Tyndrum is a major junction in the Highlands - it has not one, but two train stations - Upper and Lower Tyndrum. Upper Tyndrum services the West Highland route to Mallaig and the Lower services the Oban line. The West Highland Way and the Coast to Coast Walk cross over here so it's a busy place all year round. This is an ancient area and there is evidence of Roman occupation, Christian teachers, Rob Roy MacGregor and Robert the Bruce, to name but a few.
As the rain got heavier and looked like closing in for the day we headed back home. However on the way up we had noticed a sign (just the one so look out for it) pointing to the entrance for the Falls of Falloch. Having never seen it before we decided to explore as the rain had stopped. We were relieved to find a small car park and the beautiful falls a three minute walk away - and no climbing. Boy would I have loved to have been here during the too hot days of July, although I guess your heart would stop if you jumped into this natural plunge pool - the water would be freezing even in hot weather. The noise of the falls is very loud - in fact you can hear it from the car park - well worth a visit at any time of the year.
Here at the cottage, well we have had a more than successful growing season as we successfully kept the deer at bay all year. Everything has grown tremendously - in fact a bit too well - and I've spent the summer digging up, cutting back and practically re-designing the garden due to the growth. A mixture of no deer, terrific heat and torrential rain has produced remarkable results and I took this photo today on the 30th September and you can see there's still a bit of colour and greenery to cheer us through to Autumn. Nights are getting quickly cold and darkness falls with alarming speed - goodbye to summer I think - but just remember, we've long cold winter nights by the fire and next Spring to look forward to.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.