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
"Rest and Be Thankful" and New Arrivals
When you travel north to the West of Scotland you have two choices of route. You can drive to Gourock and catch a ferry across the Clyde to Dunoon - which is called the 'Gateway to the Highlands' - and then head north, or you can take the A82 out of Glasgow and within 20 minutes the beauty of Loch Lomond and the surrounding mountains fill your every glance - no matter what the weather is doing. The road up Loch Lomondside is very good and its not long until you branch off at Tarbet to the A83 heading west through Arrochar. This is where you know you're starting to climb into the mountains.
The road takes you through Glen Croe which was carved out of glacial movement during the ice age - as are most of the valleys in this region. This is the valley through which cattle were driven to the lowland markets, and the area was used frequently by the population of the time. A series of roads and bridges were therefore built following the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46 by General Wade and General Caulfield with the original intention of making the region more easily controllable for Government forces, but it also opened up the area to tourists. Atop this road there is a large flat area where travellers would rest - and no doubt be thankful - as the remainder of their journey would be downhill. Hence the name "Rest and Be Thankful." Boswell and Dr Johnston stopped here in 1773 and wrote of terrible weather. Dorothy and William Wordsworth visited in 1803. Nowadays there is ample parking at the viewpoint and there is always someone - no matter what time of year - parked there.
Driving along this road is testing. Its very steep and the road is narrow. Added to these difficulties one can't help but gaze in awe at the scenery as you gain altitude and the floor of the Glen drops further away from you. Sheep graze lazily on the hillside and sometimes wander on to the road so it's best to pull off the road where possible and enjoy the view as you need all your senses about you to drive. This is the main trunk route to the west and its always busy
During severe winter months the word goes round the village 'The Rest is closed' which means that the authorities close the snow gates at either entrance to the road until the snow clears. We were stuck last year in a very heavy and unexpected snowfall as a huge lorry ground to a halt on the steep slope heading east. It was hours before we all slowly headed in convoy over the hill pass and, glad to say, down the other side and off to Glasgow - late, but no worse for our experience. Glad to say improvements are always being made and as long as you don't want to get somewhere in a great hurry it is a very enjoyable drive and a very forceful reminder that you are now in the southern highlands and more of the same will present itself to you as you head further west or north.
Here at the cottage, Spring has most definitely sprung and lambs are appearing by the day everywhere you look . Just a few miles north of Strachur in a big open field overlooking Loch Fyne live several Highland Cattle and this wee chap was the first of this year's young. A week later there were three and no doubt there will be a fair few more as the weeks go by. Having gone through the winter with two pheasants we now seem to have four. Deer have been galloping across the field but not stopping to eat my garden - I am amazed and delighted.
Talking of gardens, I went daft last year and bought loads of packets of seeds - none of which have been planted yet. I always lose lots of seedlings when I plant during February/March as our garden is always six weeks behind everybody else's, so I guess to plant now might produce better results. Time will tell, and I'm going out right now to start.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.