Anyone who keeps even an occasional eye on these pages will know of my love-affair with Argyll! Well, at the weekend I indulged that affair (along with the Lady of the House, of course!).
In just over an hour from our house we are within a very-diverse countryside with awesome hills (including what are known as the Arrocher Alps), frightening crags, steep gorges, marvellous uncluttered roads (where people will actually drive into passing places to let you go on your way un-delayed), deep clear lochs, water tumbling down rocks, tea-rooms with friendly staff and cakes to die for!
We have travelled the main roads around here many times, but this short break was to give us the opportunity to explore some of the side roads, many of which are single-track but well-kept.
Our accommodation was at the Creggans Inn at Strachur where we found excellent food (including scrambled-egg and salmon for breakfast), a large room with a wonderful view, and local beers! It once was the house of Sir Fitzroy Mclean, but now it is run by an imaginative young couple, the McLellan’s who are certainly providing a place in which to rest from the day-to-day worries of life.
However, we didn’t go there just to laze about! On Saturday morning we headed south along the western bank of Loch Fyne, to Kames, a sleepy little village on the outskirts of Tighnabruaich (pronounced TIN-A-BREW-ICH). Close by was the ferry terminal Portavadie, and I knew that it had a history of a disastrous Government plan to develop it in 1975. £11M of our money had been ploughed-into digging a large dry dock, which was never used.
We went to see the collapsing accomodation which was still there but were wonderfully surprised when we came round the corner to see a split-new marina…..certainly a great improvement, and it is privately-funded! I found out that the BBC did a report on it some years ago and you can see it on the following link….. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8113213.stm.
For those who like to ‘mess-about’ on posh boats, they can get more details on moorings and their apartments, on their web-site… http://www.portavadiemarina.com/
After a run to one of the highest points in the area, to see again the Kyles of Bute, we went down to Colintraive, and were lucky-enough to see the Waverley, the last sea-going paddle-steamer in the world, still proudly carrying passengers around all the ports of the western sea-board of Scotland.
Next day we ventured down Hell’s Glen, a very steep road into Lochgoilhead which has a reputation for its holiday homes which are tastefully set into the hillside and provide relative freedom for those who spend most of their life in towns.
Another 6 miles down a single track road took us to Carrick Castle where they were busy preparing for a Summer fair…..and they were rewarded by beautiful weather. However, our day was not yet over, as we had to visit a little renovated smiddy (or smithy) and had the chance to knock nails out of old horseshoes in a smoke-filled forge. ….and all for 50p each person!
We then spent a very pleasant hour in the local tearoom with coffee and apple and cinnamon tart with ice cream, chatting to three lovely ladies, whilst the owner tried to persuade us to leave by brushing under the tables, as it was after closing time!
Rain is never terribly far off in Argyll and this was true this weekend. What is does do, however, is give an ever-changing vista. No two photos taken from our room window were similar.
All good things have to come to an end, however and we had to head homeward today. We diverted to the town of Inverary, the home of the Duke of Argyll, and saw inside All Saints’ Episcopal Church with the famous Bell tower which can be seen for many miles. have a look on the link for more info. http://www.inveraraybelltower.co.uk/
If you like fresh sea food you would find it difficult to beat www.lochfyne.com which is a restaurant and smoke house, and much of what is sold is caught within Loch Fyne waters. We always call in for some smoked salmon and maybe kippers. It hit national headlines a few years ago, when Gordon Brown and John Prescott met here to start the plot (allegedly!) which ended Tony Blair’s reign as Prime Minister. None of the staff is available for comment.
Our last visit was just along the road, and is a micro-brewery, where relatively-small amounts of (rather-strong, hic,) beers are brewed. Not surprisingly their web-site is called www.fyneales.com !!
We got a dozen bottles and again helped the local economy a bit!
I hope that this has given you a brief look in at a small part of the most beautiful country in the world…..but why not come and see it for yourself!!