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
Macleans and birdsong
Last month I mentioned Strachur House and thought I would expand a wee bit on the family who currently own the Estate - Sir Charles Maclean, his wife Lady Deborah and their family, together with Sir Charles' mother, Lady Veronica Maclean.
In the 1950s Sir Fitzroy Maclean, who had been a driving force in the Government, the Armed Forces and the Diplomatic Service, (also a prolific writer and, it is well known, the template for Agent 007 - James Bond!) decided to bring his young family back to Scotland and so bought Strachur Estate, which unknown to Sir Fitzroy, included the Creggans Inn, a medium sized hostelry.
With Lady Veronica Maclean - herself a writer of cookery books - ruling the kitchen and many of the world's rich and famous visiting, the Creggans Inn became a focal point of Strachur during the 60s and 70s. As they both grew older and Sir Fitzroy spent a lot of his time abroad, many management teams were brought in to run the Inn and sadly, over the years, it faded into mediocrity. However, following the death of Sir Fitzroy in 1996, his son Sir Charles - also a writer - decided to bring the Creggans back to its former glory and, to date, is right on target. The Creggans is now the best place to eat in the area and currently the rooms are being refurbished to the very highest of standards. Many of the books written by members of the Maclean family are available in the gift shop in the Inn, (and I would recommend "Scotland - a Concise History" by Sir Fitzroy, for those who are seriously interested in the subject) together with lots of interesting literary "jewels" from other local writers. Indeed there is a small library in the coffee shop which is full of reading matter, mostly about Argyll and the Isles, and the Inn is well worth a visit even if only for a cup of their superb coffee.
On the wildlife front things are hotting up. There is much fighting over food going on between the small birds which are increasing in number and variety every day. The woodpecker is back after an absence of two months and Shirley is eating nuts like there's no tomorrow. Siskins, finches, tits, robins, song thrushes and blackbirds fill the garden from dawn to dusk. It is such a joy to sit here writing this and the only sound I hear is birdsong. The next sound I expect is the Cuckoo, usually about the beginning of April. That sound confirms spring is here. Everything in the garden is sprouting and these last few days have been beautiful, the soil's drying out so I have no excuse for not tackling the garden chores. It's now light until after 6.00 p.m. and it won't be long until light doesn't fade until 11.00 p.m.
Oh well, can't delay any longer must get out and enjoy this glorious sunshine and fresh air.
"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."
Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.