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
The Scots and Norwegians have a strong bond, sharing many similarities, not least the fascination for battle. During the 9th, 10th & 11th centuries, bits of Scotland were constantly carved up and claimed for this king or that lord and were forever changing hands. I came across a rather cheeky story which I thought might interest you. "Magnus Barelegs", King of Norway, seemed very fond of the West Coast of Scotland and made several trips here to, presumably, rape and plunder with varying degrees of success.
However, he decided he fancied conquering the Mull of Kintyre - yes the one Paul McCartney wrote the song about - under the seafaring rule of the time that if you could successfully navigate your ship round an island you could claim it for yourself!
Now the Mull of Kintyre is a very nice place but it is not an island, it is a peninsula, and has been since time immemorial. Undaunted by this geographical hiccup and determined as Vikings are, Magnus set out for Kintyre and ordered his men to carry their longships across the neck of said peninsula, so fulfilling the requirements for claiming the land they had navigated round! Kintyre then remained a Norse territory for many years.
Things improved after the Battle of Largs (1263) when The Scots soundly defeated the Norwegians and old King Hakon died at Kirkwall on his way home. Of course there was always so much fighting among the Scots themselves during these times that true peace in Scotland was a long time in coming.
We are fortunate indeed to live on the edge of Argyll Forest Park because we are often visited by deer - mostly Roe as in my photograph - but sometimes also Red deer, and they are quite undaunted by us.
However, one night I believe we were visited by a large black cat - something akin to a Puma... It had been raining that afternoon and our dog would not go out in the rain for the walkies. Just before turning in I decided to tempt her outside and boldly walked down the road which runs along the side of the house. There is no street lighting here and when it gets dark - it gets completely black - however fearless as aye off I trotted calling to the dog to tempt her. She was not for joining me and wouldn't even step out from the doorway. As I turned to head back to the house I heard a loud hiss, a heavy "bound" and my next thought was made from the hallway of the cottage with the door firmly locked.
Convincing myself over a bedtime hot drink that I had imagined the noises I eventually fell asleep, only to be wakened around 3.00 a.m. by the horses galloping and neighing in a frenzy, up and down the same road outside the cottage. As you can imagine sleep did not come easy after that and early next morning faithful dog and I went out for the morning paper and of course to have a look around. As we passed our gate I was taken aback to see one massive paw print in the soft mud and decided to take a photograph when I returned and send it off to an expert - if only to allay my fears. However, on returning from our morning stroll, I discovered that the postie had arrived earlier than usual that morning and had driven over the evidence!
On enquiring round the village I was met with blank looks and no-one had any information of the "big cat" kind to offer me. I have never had a similar experience since and the horses have never behaved like that at any time. I had convinced myself I had imagined most of it when two years later, I met a chap from Dunoon who on hearing I was from Strachur opened the conversation with "Well now, and how's the wild Puma behaving these days in Strachur?" ! ! !
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.