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
A Walker's Paradise and destruction on wings
Calling all walkers ! Although there are many stunning and challenging walks all over the Cowal Peninsula - mostly of an upwardly nature - it's nice to get away to a completely different landscape, and a great day of walking opportunities is just over an hour's drive from Strachur. Travelling to Inveraray on the A83, you turn north along the B819 and then east on the A85 passing through Dalmally, and twelve miles or so further on, switching onto the A82 north, you come into Bridge of Orchy - an ancient resting place for drovers on their way south to markets. To make the journey even more inspiring, take the challenging (and slightly shorter) route - yes another one of those single track roads, the B8074 - which is accessed a couple of miles past Dalmally - and follow the course of the amazing River Orchy for ten miles or so through Glen Orchy (above right). This river (below right) bends and turns - a milk pond one minute and a raging torrent the next, water crashing over rocks and forcing through crevices and as you might imagine a magnet for the white water rafting fraternity. All the way along the riverside there are howffs (ranging from caravans to wooden shacks to corrugated iron lean to's) nestling among the trees in various degrees of delapidation but no doubt offering fishermen, who not doubt are the freqeunt users, a real outdoors accommodation experience. Canoeists, and hikers are well served by this stretch of river which I've visited many times and always found it breathtaking.
At Bridge of Orchy there's a train station on the West Highland Line where the train to Fort William and Mallaig - the end of the line - can be boarded. You may have heard of The West Highland Way and it passes close by the train line. Opened in 1980 this 95 mile stretch of walking route starts at Milngavie in the north west of Glasgow (pronounced Mulguy by us Glasgwegians) and takes you all the way up to Fort William - a very popular walking route it is too. You don't have to do the whole route in one go. Many people choose a stretch of say five or ten miles to do at a time and eventually they complete the 95 miles over a set period. The amazing thing is that although Bridge of Orchy has been so prominent on the West Highland route for hundreds of years it remains a tiny hamlet with a Hotel (great food), Church, Train Station, Post Office and a few houses.
Just off the A85 at Bridge of Orchy you can turn onto the B8005 to Inveroran and this little 3-mile stretch of, yes, another single track road, takes you to a car park from where you can walk for many, many miles towards Loch Tulla (right), Rannoch Moor and Blackmount - a range of mountains taking you into Glencoe. You know when you get to Inveroran as there is a Hotel and that's it and the car park lies a little further on. Everywhere you look you see woolly hats bobbing along as walkers come or go on their preferred route and the peace and quiet is deafening. Much more open countryside than that of Cowal. Gentle rolling hills and moorland stretching as far as the eye can see makes this area enjoyable by walkers of all abilities and you can make it as easy or difficult as you like. The day I took these photographs the weather was not great - I think we managed about an hour of sunshine - but the hills in the distance changed every few minutes with the passing clouds so even if you don't want to walk you can just sit and watch the scenery unfold - fabulous!
Here at the cottage - well we've been visited for one day only so far - by this beautiful colourful little fellow but although he's lovely to look at, he is a bullfinch, and I have watched a pair of them completely strip our plum tree of flower buds in a few hours - the result - no plums!
The other destructor - if you happen to be a small bird - is this hen Sparrowhawk. This is the only time in three years I've actually seen the hawk set down in the garden and I wondered if she was young and perhaps hadn't quite mastered the art of flying through the shrubbery in pursuit of some tiny bird. Usually you just see a scatter and catch sight of hawk's tail-feathers as they swoop and turn on a sixpence and then they're gone. The second I took this photograph she was off.
I'm very glad to say that today we are enjoying a much needed warm spring day and now that I've finished writing this I'm off to the greenhouse to tend my new plug plants which are growing well. Let's hope that this summer is an improvement on last - couldn't be worse could it?
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.