From the West coast
of Scotland

A fascinating ten-year archive of letters from one
the most beautiful parts of Scotland,
its people, places, landscape and wildlife.

map Pamela

"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..."

Pamela MacKinnon's

Letters from Argyll

Autumn 2007

Simply Stunning - Port Appin

Port Appin What can one say about the Great British Summer of 2007 except - drastic. I don't think I've ever experienced such a miserable summer and glad to say this only happens once in ten years or so, so all we can do is look forward to next year. However, having given up trying to photograph in the rain all summer we were fortunate indeed in the last week of September to experience a really beautiful spell of weather. Very cold nights left vegetation somewhat surprised and wilted but when we realised the weather was settling to good we decided to get out and enjoy the days. We had been in the Appin area earlier in the year but did not have time to explore Port Appin so we decided to go back and boy were we glad we did. What an area for scenery.

Connel Bridge

Travelling north through Inveraray, passing Loch Awe going towards Oban, we arrived at the Connel Bridge (left), a Cantilever bridge built in 1903 which takes you across Loch Etive to the romantic and breathtakingly beautiful area of Appin. Depending on the time of day you can see the natural phenomenon known as the Falls of Lora which takes place with the changing of the tide as the high waters of the Etive meet the lower waters of the sea and this produces a swirling and bubbling much enjoyed by canoeists. Crossing the bridge you take the A828 which covers the area between the Oban and Fort William and then about halfway, you take a left hand turn signposted for Port Appin (single track - what else !) which you toddle along for about two and a half miles and then you arrive at Port Appin. Just before you reach Port Appin, you gaze upon the striking Castle Stalker (below, left). Originally built in the 13th century by the MacDougall clan it was re-built in the 16th century by the Stuarts of Appin and it became a favourite hunting lodge of King James V . Its been recently completely restored inside and out but remains, on the exterior, much the same as it has for centuries and is inhabited today.

As you reach the Port you pass a tiny collection of houses and one hotel built next to the pier, which all look out across Loch Linnhe to Kingairloch . From the pier a passenger ferry (left) runs every hour to take you across to the island of Lismore (Gaelic Lios mor which translates to "great garden" and Lismore is a very special place for vegetation) which sits in the middle of Loch Linhe. View across Loch LinheThis ferry crossing takes about ten minutes and you can stay overnight, hire bicycles or walk around the 10 miles long island. If you want to take your car you have to get the ferry from Oban which takes about an hour. The history attached to this whole area would fill countless volumes so suffice to say that the clan system was very strong hereabouts and various "incomers" came and went over the centuries - the Vikings of course and the Hanovarians for a short time.

Castle Stalker

Standing on the beach (above) the panoramic view is entirely stunning and it's said on a clear day, looking to the north, you can see the top of Ben Nevis.

The area of Appin is steeped in folklore and there are tales of mermaids resting in the windows of Castle Stalker (left) combing their hair, exploits of the Feinn - the legendary heroes of the Celts - you will probably have heard of Ossian the poet, and strange women - glaistigs - who are described as half fairy, half woman or sometimes half goat dressed in green. The local Glencoe and North Lorn Folk Museum produces many booklets which cover the history, plant life and tales of this stunning place - we will definitely return and you should add it to your list!

Japanese Anenomes Here at the cottage we have been "tidying up" all week. I just couldn't resist taking this photograph of our Japanese Anenomes (right) which have flowered for the first time this year. As I said we had two very cold nights this week and after the first frosty encounter - which was a surprise - all begonias, dahlias, impatiens and tender fuschias gave up. I hope that by transferring them to the greenhouse I'll be able to over-winter them and use again next year. That's one of the many pleasures of gardening - you just never know what will happen tomorrow. Although the summer was dismal we were overjoyed by the abundance and variety of flowers this year - and some still have to burst forth - we have some new chrysanthemums which look like they may flower very soon indeed. Everywhere you look the leaves are changing colour and Argyll puts on its multi-coloured coat for Autumn - the next few weeks will be very pleasurable indeed.

"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."

Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.

Yours aye,

Till next time...

Pamela

September 2007
Argyll map

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