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

February 1999

Campbells and midges

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

As you drive through Strachur you will be able to glimpse sight of Strachur House nestling, as it does, at the start of the 3,000 acre Strachur Estate. This house, built in the Palladian style during the 1780s, was commissioned by General John Campbell - upon his return from the American War of Independence in 1785 - considerably wealthier than when he went!. About the same time as Strachur House was being built, Robert Adam was working on the re-building of Inveraray Castle and it is said that some features from Inveraray Castle can be seen in Strachur House. As Inverary Castle is the Family seat of the Clan Campbell and Inveraray is only 22 miles round the loch by road or 4 miles by boat, there would be ample opportunity for General John to view the work in progress. Today visitors are welcome to Inveraray Castle during the summer season but Strachur House is not open to the public.

Blue Tits

Blue Tits

As he was full of plans for his estate, General John also built a coaching inn - The Old Inn - which still stands to this day, although it now provides housing for two families. It also may be that, about the same time, he funded re-construction of Strachur Parish Church which sits across the road from The Old Inn. The Church was extensively altered in 1902-3 and is still in use today. There are a number of tombstones - similar to those found on Iona (13-15 century) - which were discovered in an older graveyard nearby and built into the outside walls of the church - visitors are always welcome.

It's now February and, as is always the case, daffodils are poking their way through the soil in readiness for Spring. Bird activity is frantic and this morning there were a pair of Goldfinches eating from the bird nuts. The weather has been mostly very mild and wet but there have been a few short cold snaps and apparently snow is on its way this weekend. The horses were down this morning - they must be hungry - but after feeding they wouldn't

a midge! a midge! a midge! a midge! a midge! a midge!

Actual size picture of six midges dancing reels.

wait to have their photos taken - they look quite different in the winter with their thick heavy coats - so no pictures there. This chappie is just one of a herd of Highland Cattle who live near Dunoon and nearer Strachur there is a herd of black Highland Cattle.

You may have heard of the notorious "midgie" well, apparently Highland cattle were bred on the West Coast for their course shaggy coats which act as a deterrent to the infamous "wings wi teeth" as I have heard them aptly described! Yes, there is a definite "buzz" about the garden and the nights are getting longer again so there will soon be no excuse for avoiding the inevitable - you know, the jobs you put off last year and the ones that have been half started which need to be completed now so you can progress... and so on - yes, Spring has almost sprung!

"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...


February 1999
Argyll map

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