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
Last month I mentioned a character called "Half-hung Archie" and this story is so popular I decided to relate it to you. The legend goes like this:
Several centuries ago, Archie MacPhunn was a notorious sheep stealer and all round blaguard of the family MacPhunn. His career as a sheep stealer was somewhat short lived when he was arrested and tried, found guilty and sentenced to hang by the neck at Inveraray Jail. The sentence was duly carried out, and his wife rowed across Loch Fyne to collect the body. Mrs MacPhunn was nursing their child at the time and as they made their way across the loch with the gruesome cargo, she thought she saw movement in MacPhunn's shroud. Tearing the shroud open and realising he might still be alive, she mixed her own milk with some whisky and administered the strange concoction to MacPhunn. By the time they reached the far shore, MacPhunn had regained consciousness and went on to live for several years after that!
During my research on this "legend", I found out the following facts: Archie MacPhunn of Dripp did exist, he was tried, not for sheep stealing but for murder, and was indeed hanged at Inverary. However, it would seem there may be some truth in the "back from the dead" tale because he was buried in the cemetry of Strachur Parish Church, which would suggest he died from causes unrelated to criminal activity! The one part of the story cannot be substantiated is the reference to whisky and mother's milk, however you can buy a MacPhunn whisky - a fine single malt - only in Strachur.... Makes you think!
I promised to introduce you to some of our friends here a Burnside Cottage and I'd like to start with Shirley the Red Squirrel. We have been at the cottage now for four and a half years and it's only this year that we've been honoured by the company of Shirley. She started off on the bird nuts which hang outside my kitchen window but over the months has progressed round the garden and can often be seen exploring the flora and fauna.
There are several cats in the area and she has to keep a close eye out for them but usually twice a day she does the rounds and in at least one of our feeding stations she will find some hazelnuts or walnuts to supplement her diet. As you may know we have had the most horrendous summer, torrential rain day after day, and one day there was Shirley, helping herself to bird nuts - a shadow of her former self. It had been so incessantly wet her beautiful fluffy red coat was dark brown and merely stuck to her frail body and that magnificent tail was a brown pencil! We haven't seen her for a couple of months but our friends - who have always had red squirrels visiting their garden - have assured us this is common behaviour and we should see her back again in the autumn. We look forward to it.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.