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
Just 15 minutes drive south of Burnside Cottage is a magical, wild place called "Puck's Glen". It forms part of the huge Argyll Wildlife Park and is managed by the Forestry Commission. You can choose to take a 1 mile path or anything up to a four mile hike in varying degrees of steepness, and all walks are signposted. For the really brave, you can walk from the viewpoint at the top, over the hills to Loch Long, but if you choose to go this route you must be properly kitted out in mountaineering gear. The walk up to the viewpoint is not long - about three quarters of a mile and it's very steep but well worth it. The pine and conifer trees are so tall and dense not much sunlight filters through and so, even on a very warm day, the walkway is cool and inviting.
The real joy is on the way back down when you turn into Puck's Glen itself. A narrow dirt track with steps hither and yon takes you slowly, winding, down the gorge with a different view at every turn. The water is crystal clear and the waterfalls breathtaking. On the day I took these photographs we had not had much rain at all for some weeks, but as aye in Scotland, even in the dryest of weathers there is always enough water about to provide these rushing cascades. On the morning we were there we were the only two and the silence was broken only by the gurgling water and birdsong - magical - no wonder it's called Puck's Glen. When we got back to the car park several cars had appeared and people were preparing picnic lunches on the tables provided there. Children and dogs were running about and exploring the lower reaches of the woodland, the sun was shining and all was very right with the world.
On the cottage front, may I introduce you to Nibbler. I guess you can imagine why we've called her/him Nibbler and the garden bears the scars. Only now are some of the shrubs which have been gnawed to stumps beginning to make a comeback and the summer should be interesting and now that everything else is in full leaf Nibbler has found other eating venues and can sometimes be seen at a distance with the rest of the family.
Our red squirrels are very shy at the moment and I guess they are nesting. Possibly in a couple of weeks we'll be knee-deep in squirrels again. The greater spotted woodpeckers are back, along with Goldfinches, Greenfinches, etc., and to add to our family of wildlife several pheasants have inhabited the field but they're so shy they never come at all near the house - but we hear them frequently!
Scotland has been sweltering in a most unseasonal hot spell. We've had no appreciable rainfall for about six weeks and these last two weeks the temperature has reached the mid seventies - very unusual for this early in the season, but we're not complaining. Having said that I had better get on with the gardening - the weather report is for change in a couple of days.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.