Oak Cottage - Loweswater

Retreat to the quiet of the Western Lakes

The Cottage, and  the view up the Buttermere Valley
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May 2004

Ann and I ventured north to explore the Scottish Coast from the Mull of Kintyre north towards Oban.

This was an area we had visited briefly several years ago when traveling with the caravan to Islay, Jura, the Isle of Arran and the headland of the Mull of Kintyre.

This time we plan to explore the coastline and the islands more closely, taking the car and our two dogs but no children this time. We started with two nights in the Gigha Hotel, then found B&B in Tayvallich and Lochgilphead in order to see the coast and the Crinan Canal.

First stop - Loch Lomond (via the low road)

The mountain in the distance was Ben Vorlich, at the northern end of the loch.

A gentle breeze pushed the clouds away and we relaxed with lunch whilst sitting on the pebble beach.

This tree seemed particularly artistic and crying out to be photographed.

Rather than head north we turned left towards Arrochar and past Inverarry heading south again along the northern shore of Loch Fyne towards Kintyre.

Gigha Island (pronounced gee-ah) is served by the Macbraynes Ferry Lochranza sailing from Tayinloan on the mainland and the 5 pm crossing was the last but one of the day - good timing there. The 20 minute service took us over to the island which is situated between Kintyre and the outer islands of Islay and Jura. Gigha itself is only six miles long and barely two wide at its maximum.

Gigha was in the news in 2001 when the island was bought by the islanders so ending centuries of feudal ownership. The local people set up an Island Trust and raised sufficient money to buy and run the island for themselves.

Sunshine at the hotel. It was warm enough to eat out even quite late into the evening. Gigha is popular with the west coast boating fraternity and several smart cruising boats were moored up in the bay.

Achamore House on the island is famed for its tropical gardens, and here at the hotel even the trees look distinctly different. The mild climate allows many more unusual plants to grow.

Beach bums - white sands, sunshine, good company - what more could you want ?

The beach overlooks the moorings and is just down from the hotel itself.

Time to play . . . Holly and Harry.


The clear still waters of the Sound of Gigha.

Gorse and bluebells were in profusion behind the beach. The thrift, or sea pink as some people call it, and a wide variety of lichens on the rocky shore added to the array of colour on offer.

Achamore House today is privately owned, but most of the grounds belong to and are managed by the Island Trust.

The gardens were largely planted under the supervision of Sir James Horlick (1944-72) and many of the plants and trees themselves have been donated to the Scottish National Trust. This complex arrangement however does not seem to cause too many maintenance problems as the gardens were in excellent condition and a delight to visit.

Surprising Scottish resident, one of a pair we saw in the main garden.


The viewpoint above Caolas Cara and Ardlamey Farm on the southern end of the island.

In the distance is the Isle of Islay. This would be a great place to catch a Scottish sunset on a fine night.

The Islay Ferry and the Paps of Jura from the northern end of the island.

The island has many antiquities including standing stones, old chapels and burial grounds. This window, dedicated to Sir James Horlick, is one of the many delightful windows in the present day church.

Two days on Gigha ended all to soon and we headed back over the ferry then north to Tayvallich.

In the evening light we drove to the end of the Loch Sween peninsular, to the harbour of Kiellmore.

This was famous in times past for being the unloading point for the cattle from the outer islands. The jetty has certainly seen better days and these houses appear to be relegated to the rank of holiday homes. A wild and lonely place on a rough night I would think.

New Info Aug 2006: Recently I received an email from Jim Mcloed relating to this building. Click here or on the photo to read his message.

Thanks Jim for the email.

Kiellmore outer harbour on a slightly windy early summer afternoon.

The hills opposite are the high ground of Jura as we saw them across the sound.

Tayvallich harbour itself is a classic anchorage, a circular bay with an easterly entrance on a western facing peninsular.

These were some of the many boats lying at anchor. The village boast a thriving local community, a shop and tearooms, and a fine pub restaurant. We struck up a lively conversation over dinner and made it back late to our b&B after a very sociable evening at one of the houses overlooking the village.

In olden days the west coast of Scotland relied on the sea for transport and communication. The Crinan Canal was a pre-Victorian venture designed to shortcut the 120 mile sea passage round the Mull of Kintyre for boats travelling north from Glasgow and the Clyde

It has had a turbulent history but seems to be enjoying a renaissance now as not only a short cut, but also as an attraction itself for the many pleasure craft of the west coast.

Old and new - a collection of older boats contrast with the newer glass fibre cruising yachts.

The larger boat moored at the back was one of the famous Clyde Puffers, flat bottom boats powered by steam and designed for the west coast trade. These were immortalised in the Para Handy Stories on TV many years ago.

The morning after a rainy afternoon. A walk through the forest to West Otter Ferry near Lochgilphead. This was the western jetty for an old ferry route across Loch Fyne. The old cottages at the back of the beach have fallen into disrepair long ago.

Woodland Magic.

Vivid green vegetation in a forest clearing and toadstools on an old tree stump.


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Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon IXUS 400 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

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