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
Three lochs and a castle
It is little wonder that Cowal is nicknamed 'Scotland's best kept secret'. One day in June when the sun finally came out with confidence and temperatures started to soar, we decided to take a detour on the way home from shopping in Dunoon and visit those spots we invariably take for granted. In the space of three hours, we managed to drive to three lochs, had lunch in one spot, coffee and dessert in another and passed only two cars on all the single track roads we encountered - and that was most of the drive!
If you take the B836 from Dunoon - and its one of the best single track roads I've driven on as its very flat with few trees at the roadside so you can see what's coming. You first come to Loch Tarsan. This is a Hydro Electric Loch with a dam at the west end and lots of brown trout which you can fish from the shore or by hiring a boat - with a permit of course!. Driving on for another ten minutes you come to Loch Striven, which is a fjord-type loch and very deep - its very popular with divers. Here and there along these roads are dotted the most beautiful cottages right on the roadside with spectacular views of the lochs, but since they're on single track roads they won't see much traffic and we didn't see one 'For Sale' sign anywhere.
Once past Loch Striven you come onto the A886 and head north towards Strachur. You then turn off on the Otter Ferry road and this is where the single track road gets scary and you start to climb very steeply over the hills across the moor and down the other side to Otter Ferry on Loch Fyne.
Driving north on the B8000 to Strathlachlan on Loch Fyne you arrive at old Castle Lachlan built on an inlet of Loch Fyne the Clan Seat of the Clan McLachlan. This castle was built in the 13th Century and when the Clan Chief of the time supported the Jacobites in the rebelllion of 1745, the Government of the day sent a ship to Loch Fyne to bombard the castle to ruins.
In the early 19th century a new castle was built further up the Glen to replace the old one and its been lived in by the Clan Chiefs ever since. The current Clan Chief Euan MacLachlan lives there with his family. I have heard it said that several ghosts inhabit the 'new' castle and one in particular made me roar with laughter. Apparently 'she' only appears when the housework has not been carried out properly. If she lived in my house she'd be worn out making appearances! Another few miles up that road just before you join the main road into Strachur you come to a magical little hamlet called Newton. Here the houses all sit around Loch Fyne with the most spectacular views. It was lovely to see the inhabitants of these fishermen's cottages sitting outside having lunch and tidying gardens - just enjoying being there - I know we enjoyed it too and we were home by 4.00 p.m. in time to potter about our own garden - lovely!
Talking about our own garden we have acquired a pheasant with four chicks although I can never get the four together to take a pic. Pheasants are supposed to be very bad mothers but this one is frantic with her young. She constantly calls to them to eat and they come racing out from the bushes to peck at the seeds I throw down for them. She then screeches when danger is near - a hovering crow or buzzard - and they all scoot back into the bushes to await the 'all clear'. They're so funny in the morning, while I'm trying to get my head around today's chores, they stagger out stretching and yawning - they're obviously living in our garden - and very welcome they are too as they never stop eating bugs.
The other fascinating inhabitants of the garden - our red squirrels - never cease to amaze me. When I took this photo, I could swear this one saw me and posed 'specially. There are three of them at present and I think they must all be related as there's a kind of sufferance between them. Up to a point. Then it all kicks off, and tail swishing and screeching commences until one gives up.
I hope summer has at last come to the West Coast of Scotland and wherever you are over the next few months - have a great time. I'll catch up with you in the autumn.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.