From the West coast
of Scotland

A fascinating ten-year archive of letters from one
the most beautiful parts of Scotland,
its people, places, landscape and wildlife.

map Pamela

"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..."

Pamela MacKinnon's

Letters from Argyll

May-June 1999

Dunoon and Squirrels

Last month we meandered down the side of Loch Eck, and this month I'm taking you just a bit further south, to the bustling town of Dunoon which sprang into life in the early nineteenth century when it became possible to travel there from Glasgow by rail and steamer. Well-off families would rent a house in Dunoon for the summer and families and servants would take up residence, leaving father to commute at weekends.


Nowadays Dunoon is rather a strange mix of modern and ancient, retaining a bit of the "Victorian seaside town" look, chiefly due to the Ferry Terminal Building which has not changed over the years. From the sixties to the nineties, Holy Loch was populated by the American Navy and when they moved out, about six years ago, it was thought Dunoon would rapidly decline - not so! Many people are now returning to the area and Dunoon is thriving once more.

One of the best known annual events in Scotland takes place in Dunoon - "Cowal Highland Gathering". This is held on the last Friday and Saturday of August and hosts the World Pipe Band and Highland Dancing Championships. These games are attended by individuals and groups from all over the world and it is a marvellous spectacle culminating in the torchlight procession which wends its way from the playing fields to the Castle Gardens on the Saturday night - rain, hail or shine!. With around 30,000 visitors to the area for this weekend you can imagine the atmosphere. However if I have whetted your appetite to enjoy this event, you might want to think of the year 2,000 as accommodation is booked out for this weekend a year ahead.


Things are getting very busy in the garden. We've had a lot of rain and some unseasonal very hot weather - put the two together and your get thumping great big weeds as well as plants looking good.

Birdlife is in full swing with parents flapping around finding food for the "weans" - who often look bigger than the parents - and just sit on a wire chirping to be fed. The lambs are a- leaping and Shirley is back with a vengence . If you're wondering what purpose the extra metalwork round the peanut cages serves, it is to keep the horses from eating - not only the peanuts - but the cages too! They've worked it out that if they squash the metal cages between their teeth they can get something (probably approaching crude peanut butter) out of the mess. Not now, I caught two of them the other night trying very hard to reach the nuts, but just not getting anywhere and so they gave up - I win this round!


The ponies have a new grazing field further away from the cottage so we only see them now and again, however I managed to snap Tess the yearling the other week and she will now take food from your hand. Hopefully next month I'll have some photos of the Greater Spotted Woodpecker who visits the feeding stations regularly - he's very shy and every time you reach for the camera he's off - but not this morning, hiding behind a large potted plant on the kitchen windowsill I managed to get three shots at him so we'll see the results next month.

"Where the magnificence of the scenery is matched only by the beauty of visiting wildlife."

Text and photographs © Pamela Mackinnon.

Yours aye,

Till next time...


June 1999
Argyll map

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