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
Scotland in Miniature
Although the Cowal Peninsula has everything you want for a sightseeing holiday, it's always refreshing to visit other areas and re-charge the batteries (also gets me out of the kitchen!). Last month we returned to one of the southernmost Islands in Scotland - The Isle of Arran (not to be confused with the Aran Islands of Ireland where the jumpers come from). When I say we returned - we actually lived on the island for four years when we made our great escape from Glasgow city living in 1990. For four years we enjoyed being island dwellers living just along the beach from Lamlash Bay (below). and I have to tell you it was a wonderful experience. Living there was like being on holiday 24 hours a day. It is often described as "Scotland in miniature" because it has mountains, beaches, cliffs, farmlands and thousands of acres of untamed forests, hills and waterfalls, all packaged together in an area approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide. This is the highest peak on Arran - Goat Fell (below) and there's a steady stream of walkers trekking to the peak at any time of year. In fact there's a Goat Fell Race every year and people actually run up and down... that would be for the fit folk!
There are traces of settlements on Arran as far back as 4,000 BC although it is thought there might have been inhabitants going back as far as 7,000 BC. It is protected on it's western coast by the Kilbrannan Sound and the Mull of Kintyre while the Firth of Clyde and the Ayrshire coast stretches south by it's eastern shores so it's fairly well protected all round. The Gulf Stream keeps the waters of Arran warmer than the norm and this is why there are many palm trees and other exotic plants dotted all round the island, in fact a neighbour of ours had a very substantial castor oil plant in her front garden when we lived there and on re-visiting we found it had doubled in size. There is everything to do here, walking, sailing, golfing (Arran has six golf courses) and it is a particular magnet for geologists as the island lies on the Highland Boundary Fault. There are three medieval castles two in ruins and one of which is still inhabited - Brodick Castle (left) - now run by the National Trust for Scotland.
Across from Lamlash Bay lies Holy Island (right) which was bought in 1992 by the Buddhist Community of Samye Ling. Nowadays they have a fully functioning community and you can take a boat ride over to the island - weather permitting - and spend a few hours.
You can sail over to Arran from Ardrossan - about 55 minutes - stay on the island - there's plenty of accommodation to suit all tastes - and then take the Lochranza ferry at the top of the island over to Kintyre. Or you can spend just a day on Arran although that would be very expensive if you took your car. Have a day off, park your car in the large ferry terminal car park at Ardrossan then catch a bus from the pier which will take you right round the island. There's a frequent service so you can get off and on as you please. The funny thing is when you sail into Brodick Bay and the huge ferry disembarks, for about fifteen minutes the place is teaming with bodies all meeting and greeting, and then, just as suddenly, serenity returns as visitors and islanders alike cram into buses and cars and head off round the island to their favoured spot. All in all the Island of Arran is well worth a visit. In fact people have been known to holiday there and never go home - it's just that kind of place!
Here at the cottage - well, after erecting deer fencing round the entire garden this spring and successfully keeping the munch machines off my roses - and everything else - this wee chap (right) appeared two weeks ago. Cute as he is, he is captured here just finishing off some flowering mimulus which are unfortunately just the right height. Hopefully he'll be the only one of his kind we see in the garden, if he finds a mate I think we'll have to move!
The weather's been unusually warm recently and for the first time since we moved here the garden is looking like I planned. You wouldn't believe it but I have to water the garden every evening it's been so warm and dry, so, armed with my trusty hose I'll now do the needful and also provide the midgies with their evening meal - country living, eh!
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.