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
Bridge over the Atlantic
Sounds incredible I know but here it is. Spanning a narrow inlet of the Atlantic Ocean and affording the only road access to Seil island, which is about 16 miles south of Oban, the Bridge was built in 1791 by John Stevenson of Oban. It was commissioned by Lord Bredalbane, MacDougall of Ardencaple and the Easdale Slate Company, the latter having the biggest commercial interest in good simple traffic flow. Being 40ft high with a 70ft span believe me driving over it is rather like a ride on the big dipper and of course its single span so you have to keep your eyes peeled for oncoming traffic on the single track roads leading to it.
The surrounding countryside is beautiful and its hard to believe that since the early 1600's this area was a thriving community mostly involved in mining slate and at one time 10,000 people lived between the three islands of Easdale, Slate and Luing. The slate from these areas can only be hand carved - unlike Welsh slate which can be machined - and I was gobsmacked to learn that at its peak 9 million slates were produced each year by the miners. The slates were exported all over the world, so magnificent was the quality of the product, and this lucrative and very demanding business thrived for over 200 years until on the 23rd November 1881 a huge storm hit the West Coast of Scotland. The flooding that followed completely filled the mines and rendered them unworkable and many homes were also destroyed in that one storm. Attempts were made to continue mining in a very small way but the costs involved were so great production ground to a halt and the population moved away in search of work. However, today these islands have a thriving community of people from all over the world, drawn to their beauty and the total lack of stressful commerce. They have 2 very good museums, one on the harbour at Ellanbeich and the other on the tiny island of Easdale which has no traffic and is reached by a 2 minute boat ride. All in all a great area to spend a full day or stay awhile as there are B&Bs, Hotels and lots of holiday cottages for rent.
Meanwhile, back on the ranch! I promised you a photograph of Cocky and the seed feeder and here it is. The pheasants have been with us all year and there are still about eight which we think are all this year's hatchlings. We have three cocks and five hens and the hens are very much in charge - they actually run towards us every morning when we open the curtains, waiting for the seed which we put out specifically for them. However they seem to prefer the wild bird seed so once they've picked our their favourite bits from the pheasant feed they rush over to the bird table to finish their breakfast. Quite a few of them have worked out the benefits of raiding the seed feeder so that needs to be filled up every day also. Its such a privilege to be able to sit in the cottage and watch these, and all the others, sort out their priorities and get on with the day's tasks. We also have some kind of hawk in the vicinity. We have never yet been able to get a good look at it because its the behaviour of the other birds which draws our attention to danger in the garden and by the time we've realised its the hawk again, tailfeathers disappearing at speed is the only glimpse we have ever had of it. We think its probably a hen harrier or a sparrowhawk but we'll keep watching and let you know once we're sure.
And, lastly, our red and white squirrel. Apparently this kind of albinoism is quite common in squirrels and I think its very attractive. We haven't seen him for some months and we're now down to two red squirrels. One of the cock pheasants is none too pleased with the squirrels and just today he chased them both away from the feeding station, however the squirrels are not the least impressed and within minutes they were back collecting hazelnuts from the bird table and burying them all over the garden. What a great show they give us, its a wonder I ever get any work done, talking of which the light's fading and food for the humans must be my priority.
Hoping you have a great Festive season and that love, peace and prosperity will be with you in 2002.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.