Monday, November 26, 2007

We are booked for Christmas and New year but still open for a relaxing short break in January

Our friends in Glenfinnan still run a wild life trip on Loch Sheil if they have enough visitors in January, you might see eagles. Maybe.
  • Wildlife trips on Loch Sheil

  • Sorry about being booked out just when you want it. But we have January still open and a bit of February.
  • Winter breaks January February March in Glencoe

  • If you just want to rest, relax, read a book in splendid surroundings, pop out for a coffee and afternoon tea, then cosy up to a warm cottage and television, then try our cottage in Glencoe on the West Coast.

    The cost of a five day short break in January is less than half the normal rate, the lowest price of the year. You can have a week, or a longish weekend, or a five day midweek break.

    After all that Christmas stuff, New Year parties, the family gatherings, you just want to put your feet up, don't you?

    Try our place.


    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Late availability Christmas and New Year

    Sometimes other holiday home owners visit this blog site, and want to find out how to do their own internet web site.

    Also I run a couple of other sites which might be useful to them or to you.

    One of them is a blog site I've just started called How to Find your Ideal Holiday Property, and another is a blog site called Scotlands self catering offers, and a third is for other holiday home owners with internet web site tips.

    If you are interested, here they are.

  • Still available for Xmas and the New Year, self catering in Scotland

  • Scotland's self catering, fine individual cottages and chalets, the blogsite

  • Scotland how to find your ideal holiday property, another blog site

  • John

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    6 days holiday in Glencoe

    Sue Hamilton and her family pals from Melbourne are wonderful - so enthusiastic about everything they do. They planned this trip months in advance, leaving hsbands and families behind. They determined to enjoy every second, every day. And, apart from the awful food on a Calmac ferry, what's new about the dreadful Calmac? - they did just that.

    What a true delight to have them at the cottage.

    The weather was pretty good as we drove from Glasgow airport and the sun was filtering down through the overhanging branches along the road beside the beautiful Loch Lomond but by the time we reached Glen Coe the rain was pouring down (yes, horizontally) and we lasted all of 3 minutes out of the car trying to admire the view.

    No sleep since leaving Melbourne
    Despite having had virtually no sleep since Melbourne (about 35 foggy hours ago) and feeling decidedly under par, we opted to call in at the Glencoe Crafts & Things on the way to Bayview Cottage for the recommended coffee and cake. Well worth the effort and time - cosy and welcoming (even though we dripped water all over their floor). The “Scottage” as we affectionately call it, was exactly how I imagined from the photos on the web and we settled in like magic.
    We decided to potter around locally the next day, Sunday, and drove to Cuil Bay to watch the clouds skittering across the grand panorama to the south - the weather alternating sunny and cloudy.
    On down to admire the historic and violent, it seems Castle Stalker and the good view from inside the pretty café while sampling their yummy soup and coffee and cakes.
    First, Lismore island
    We dragged ourselves away from the food to catch the little Port Appin ferry across to the island of Lismore but we were early and were forced to wait at the Pierhouse and to look at the expansive view and to sip single malt whiskey until the ferry was ready to go. I have always wanted to try Laphroaig since reading that it was Rebus’ tipple - I am an Ian Rankin fan - but finding it a little too robust for my taste, I found I had to sample other brands in the days to come until I found one more to my liking. Oh dear.
    We discovered an amazing thing on Lismore - it is warm and sunny there while elsewhere it is blowing a gale. Walking down to catch the ferry suitably attired in our raincoats we were almost blown off the quay but as soon as we stepped on to the island, the sun came out and we had to strip down to short sleeves during our walk. It was a beautiful sunny walk and we had the distinct feeling that the island was enchanted (or maybe it was the whisky). Which-ever, the weather definitely changed for the worse immediately we left Lismore. Truly!

    The Jacobite train from Fort William
    Monday - and the Jacobite train trip from Fort William. Another glorious day with amazing scenery all the way to Mallaig and back. We loved going over the viaduct at Glenfinnan (in 2000, driving through there, we had been lucky enough to photograph the viaduct with the steam train chuffing over) and we enjoyed seeing the Harry Potter bits along the way eg the loch with the tiny tree islands dotted over it (Loch Eil?) and Loch Shiel of course.

    I should mention that in an attempt to photograph the train curving romantically into the tunnels, I had to hang out of a window several times. When I returned to our carriage, Leigh my niece, and Diane, my sister took one look at me and burst into hoots of laughter. It seems my face was somewhat blackened from the soot! Very hard stuff to get off, I tells ya. I will never live it down.
    We discussed the fact that junior HP fans may be a little disappointed with only those few things to relate to - considering the hype. Also we were sad to read that the red HP train was vandalised. Such acts are always hard to understand - perhaps the perpetrators should read more.
    We had lunch outside in the sun at a café in Mallaig and got sunburned. We have told that story since all over the world - sunburnt in Scotland! While we were eating, we were entertained by a young fiddler who was busking across the street from us and after lunch we gave her some money and thanked her for the fine music.
    On Tuesday we drove to Mull via the Corran and Lochaline ferries we love ferries. Loch Sunart was still and the surface was like a mirror reflecting everything above it. Have you seen it like this on your many drives? Absolutely beautiful!

    Calamity. We lost all our 800 photographs of Scotland
    It is about here in our travels that I have to admit something really, really devastating. We lost all of our photos of Scotland! Around 800 of them, times two! And I won’t tell you how very good a lot of them were or what great shots we took of the cottage and little bay area because you would be as upset as we were/are. My camera was not much more than a week old and I was mimicking Leigh’s actions as she tried to discover how much memory was left in her son’s camera. She avoided “cancel” and pressed “delete” instead and I followed like a sheep. We had previously discovered that we were taking almost identical shots so would have been fine if both of us had not pressed that button. So you see we will have to come back to take them all again - not that we need an excuse. By the way, the mirrored loch shots were outstanding. Leigh was more upset over losing her black face shots.

    Trip to Iona, eerie and interesting
    Anyway we drove down to Iona and had time to thoroughly explore the Abbey and its antiquities. Leigh loved it. As we were leaving, a sea fog drifted in making the scenery really eerie and interesting. By the way, I asked and was told that Fionnphort is pronounced ‘fin-ny-firt’. Just so you know…in case somebody else asks…and they might. As we neared home, around Onich we realised that we were just in time to witness a fantastic sunset over Loch Linnhe and Kingairloch. Can you wonder why I thought I had high blood pressure!

    The dinner trip to Tiree
    Wednesday and the day of our afternoon/evening dinner cruise to Tiree.
    We arrived in Oban for lunch and sat in the sun on the edge of the quay with our legs dangling over the water and ate fresh oysters bought from a little place on the wharf. And such oysters! They were wonderful, possibly the best I have ever tasted and keep in mind that that is said by somebody who has eaten oysters off the rocks on the south-east coast of Australia. We went back for more and waxed lyrical to the lovely young lady serving. She was so chuffed, she gave us some delicious home-smoked fish to try. I would have loved to have taken it all home with us but alas the cruise returned much too late.
    The cruise itself was wonderful and it was really interesting to see Tiree and Coll, albeit from the ferry. The islands seemed so remote and isolated – it was as if they belonged to another world. As we stood on deck and watched the cars and trucks and lorries of all sizes file off and on, it seemed as if the islanders’ entire existence was being loaded off and on to the ferry. The ferry service is obviously an important life-line to the islands. It is hard to believe what it would be like there in the winter. And these islands are just the INNER Hebrides! The sky was clear but it was cold enough for us to wear our coats outside yet a young teenage girl was standing on the quay wearing only shorts and a singlet top and no shoes. She was smiling and looking excited as if eagerly waiting to greet her family or friends. She looked lovely. Time to leave and on the trip back we sat and gazed and gazed at an amazing, almost never-ending sunset. A great cruise but the food was not so great. If we did it again, we would take our own dinner, perhaps bread and some local cheese and a salad or some of that yummy seafood.

    The Glencoe Safari trip
    Day 6 – Thursday - and after writing a few million postcards we headed off to the Glencoe Visitors Centre for our Land Rover Safari. Scott was our man and besides being pretty cute, he knew lots about the history, geology and the flora and fauna of that breathtaking National Park. How awe-inspiring it is to just stand in that beautiful glen surrounded by those incredible mountains?

    We were watching a lone stag apparently unusual in itself, sitting on the ground some distance away when something frightened it and it came running straight towards us. We all held our breath as it came closer and it must have been only 10 metres away before it realized we were there and went bounding off in another direction. How lucky are we? Later on, we were watching and listening to a pair of buzzards flying high above the northern ridge when a thunderous noise frightened the life out of us. It was a jet plane flying incredibly low through the glen. It was amazing to see but it was also goodbye to the buzzards. All in all it was a great tour with a great guide and gob-smacking scenery. See I am running out of adjectives!

    The Kylerhea turntable ferry to Skye
    Last day (sadly) and we headed for the Isle of Skye. We were almost there when, on a whim, we decided to turn off at Shiel Bridge and take the alternative road to Skye via the Kylerhea ferry. Well, that was an interesting experience - lovely scenery at the very top of the Sound of Sleat but the queerest little ferry that only took two vehicles at a time. The cars had to balance each other on a sort of turn-table on the ferry. It was the weirdest feeling sitting in the car and rotating around while moving across the water. The road on Skye from the ferry was one-lane, narrow and very precipitous. It was a bit scary because of a sudden heavy mist but at least the low cloud prevented us seeing just how steep the sheer drop was on the off-side! Skye was spectacular but regrettably we didn’t have time to see a great deal of it.

    So you see, we packed a fair amount of things into one week – and I haven’t even mentioned our walks around the other side of the bay etc - but we loved every minute. Mrs Traynor was very helpful and we admired her beautiful roses (and envied her living in such a beautiful spot all the time). Michelle was lovely and went out of her way to help us out when needed. And thank you for being so very nice - I will let you know when we are coming next and hope it will not be too far down the track. … Sue

    Thanks Sue, for the lovely story. You've left some good friends in Scotland.

    We have some breaks available for the winter from January to March. April is booked though.

    Winter self catering breaks January February March in Glencoe

    Also, although we are booked for both Christmas and the New Year, we have some very good friends with very good properties who still have vacanices you could try them at this site.

    Still available for Xmas and the New Year, self catering in Scotland

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Like all Scottish genealogy the search ends with Noah

    This continues Pokey Sue's tale of finding her ancestors in Scotland - she lives in the USA. The photo is of Inverary Castle, a truly good Victorian House, rebuilt after a big fire a few years ago. The real castle is a ruin on Loch Aweside.

    Hi John, the bit with the Hawkers or Campbells sign and accompanying nice history bit from you was great.

    The Campbells moved forward across the USA after 1824, however we didn't have much interest in that.

    We already had the names and were more interested in where did we come from, rather than where we ended up. And it's not too interesting to find the 4th great grandfather who ran the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise in Arkansas. (But maybe I'm wrong!)

    There is a passenger list. This too came from going back and forth across the Atlantic. I put John's death details on a New Jersey university email list for historians, and amateur researchers. A 90 year old lady in California recognized our family. She knew the people, had the name of the ship they left on from Leith, and bounced us back to Killin in Scotland, based on a place name in the death documents.

    But like all genealogy, it doesn't really end till it gets back to Noah.

    This story ends with some resolution, but just opens up another mystery. Our John Campbell's likely father was one Lord Neill Campbell, an early governor of New Jersey. He stayed in New Jersey only a couple of years however, and actually returned to die in Scotland.

    For anyone trying to search their Campbell background, I would not probably point anyone to a particular Campbell website, as there are as many theories about Campbell lines as there are about the Massacre. Scotland's People is a good site.

    I may have missed the point here for the plot, but I'm afraid all I can offer is this type of non-linear tale. But don't worry if it's not right for your blog! It's fun to do anyway. And I have been able to impress Kent by mentioning that if you google Highland Lochaber Campbell, you might turn up Pokey.

    Pokey Sue.

    Thanks Pokey. It seems you just have to fiddle about really and sooner or later you turn up some info. The web is a good place to start - I personally would try the Clan sites, then the names and the places, then I'd ask the grandparents - they know it all anyway and you'll be on the way to a lot of fun.

    (I discovered, then met, my entire family in Australia. An uncle moved there early in the 19th century. But I found them from scratch.)


    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Christmas and New Year availability self catering Scotland, last minute bookings

    If you want to find a self catering cottage in Scotland for Christmas and the New Year it is quite late. But we know of four of our friends with very good properties who have vacanies at the moment. Nov 8.

    Try them at this page

    Last minute availability for Xmas and the New Year self catering in Scotland


    Sunday, November 04, 2007

    If you have a Campbell name in McDonald country, take care

    This tale is from Pokey Sue. She and her husband are coming back from the USA to Scotland next Spring. They used to live at Barcaldine, down the road a bit.

    Sue has made a study to trace her husbands' forebears and we'll publish bits of it from time to time. She is married to a Campbell - read on.

    Beware! This is a land where feelings can still run deep. Some may joke about your family connections but others may feel there will never be enough time to mend the old feuds. Our family name Campbell is famous or perhaps infamous for its involvement in the Glencoe Massacre of 1692.

    Aware of this on our first trip to Scotland, we decided perhaps we should call ourselves the "Smythes" until we found out how far back someone might hold a grudge.

    While waiting for a bus in Tyndrum, not far from Glencoe, two gentlemen emerged from the nearby pub, and while waiting with us asked our names and where we were from, bidding us welcome to their fair land. We said we were the Smythes from Maine. They shook our hands and wished us a good trip. “I’m a Macdonald myself. Glad yeere no’ one of those treacherous Campbells!” said one, and turned to spit emphatically, hitting the back of the bus with the last syllable.

    Later at the Clachaig Inn, Glencoe, Mrs. Pokey Sue "Smythe" crept by the reception desk at the hotel to snap a furtive photo of the sign that says “No Hawkers or Campbells” for the family album. Then she met Mr. "Smythe" for a nice pint at the Hiker’s Bar we enjoyed the beautiful green mountains around us. The site of the ancient massacre as it happens.

    The libraries are wonderful for researching your Highland ancestors. You can use the internet right there for free if you are travelling, and the bookshelves are usually filled with lore from the area you are in. So if you are looking for a starting point, this is a great way to do it. It also answers questions from people about why are you here and what is it about the area that interests you? Someone might take a little more time to talk with you, as after all, you are maybe, a long lost relative!

    Editors note.

    Strange this antipathy towards the Campbells. I speak as an outsider with no axe to grind. The Campbells were winners throughout the ages, or at least they always joined the side that would win. The clan and its huge territories were built on this idea, so I suppose you could never quite trust your Campbell partners if they decided to switch sides.

    By and large they joined the Royalists, and in general the Highland and Island clans were anti royalist.

    The Campbells were on the side of Robert the Bruce, so this pitted them against the powerful Comyns. Thus at the Battle of Brander the Comyn kinsmen, the Mc Dougalls, lost their title as Lords of the Isles. That was a big come down. This in the early 14th century.

    They had fights with everybody really, but then so did nearly all the other clans. The 17th century was one of the worst for clan battles. Campbells joined with the McDonalds to fight the Frasers at Loch Lochy in 1544. 130 years later they were set up by the government to take the blame for the dastardly Massacre of Glencoe. It was a vile crime, and the army was led by a Campbell, but there were few Clan Campbell soldiers. Most of the soldiers helped the McDonalds to escape, which is why only 39 out of 400 in the Glencoe area were killed.

    Most of the Campbells were on the winning side against the Highlanders at the Battle of Culloden, the last land battle fought on British soil. But there were a few on the side of Bonnie Prince Charlie.....just in case.

    They are still in and around government, even to-day. Do we hear the name Menzies Campbell, and Alistair Campbell? There is a Campbell government in Vancouver to-day. Aileen Campbell is an Scottish National Party MSP in the Scottish parliament. In the Scottish Executive to-day there is a Neill Campbell, and Andrew Campbell, a Ruth Campbell, Colin Campbell, Joanne Campbell.

    Who said "born to rule".....

    Autumn short Breaks November December Glencoe
    Winter breaks in January February March in Glencoe
    Spring short breaks, March April May Glencoe
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    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Ardnamurchan; the best of the West Coast

    They passed the Corran lighthouse on the way to Ardnamurchan. Lovely couple.

    We got on really well, and were particularly lucky with the weather. The last three days were dry and there were only intermittent showers on the first three.
    We mainly explored around the area and spent a few days in and around Fort William. We took up one of your suggestions to go to Ardnamurchan Point which we really enjoyed and was the highlight of our trip (and also the best weather!).

    We did the Gondolas in Fort William which was also good, did a a couple of museums (the West Highland and the Clan Cameron), explored the coast between Kentallen and Oban (we followed your advice on getting to Tralee beach to the letter - and would never have found it if you hadn't explained how!), visited the 12th century priory and had a good day in Glen Nevis.
    We had also wanted to visit Staffa and Mull but didn't seem to get round to it. It was the last week they were running the Staffa trip we wanted to do and it was too windy when we first tried to do it, so after one failed attempt we decided to abandon it and just stay mostly more local.
    We also didn't really explore Glen Coe and when we were leaving we realised how spectacular it was and wished we had spent some time there.
    When we were driving up, I think we were concentrating too much on traffic and where we were going to notice! Your cottage was very cosy and well located for what we wanted to do so it was great. I think we would like to visit again in future as there are definitely places that we didn't get round to visiting.

    Off season, special breaks Glencoe

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    Tuesday, October 16, 2007

    Waterfalls in Scotland are wonderful in the rain

    This is the sort of e-mail that makes everything worthwhile. No reason for Kate T and Geoff to be so kind, they had terrible weather but it did not stop them. Thank you K + G, it was lovely to have you.

    Dear John and Gillian,
    Beautiful Bay View Cottage was everything and more that I had
    expected - warm, cosy, comfortable,beautiful location and very very

    We had a brilliant time staying there for the week - despite appalling
    weather - it rained sideways for most of our time there! But the plus
    side was that the waterfalls everywhere were spectacular - including
    the one that comes over the top of the mountain way up behind Bay View

    We spent quite a lot of time in and around Glencoe - the cottage
    couldn't have been better located and also went up to (and around)
    Fort William and the Great Glen and down to Oban and around there too.

    My visit has whetted my appetite for more Scottish Highland holidays
    for certain.

    We went up to Skye after leaving Kentallen - again the weather was
    poor, but we saw some tremendous sights, and then down to Loch Moidart
    where we were fortunate to see some sunshine and blue skies and had
    another splendid time.

    All in all a tremendous holiday and I'm already planning a return
    visit! I have also given your website address to some friends and
    family, so they may be in touch with you soon.

    Thank you also for the excellent range of information available in the
    cottage - we only scratched the surface of what there is to do and see
    - and I have to say I LOVED the hip bath - took a bit of getting used
    to to start with, but very effective.

    (We never managed to get on line at the cottage - so nipped along to
    the Tourist Information Centre at Ballachulish instead - good excuse
    to have a cup of coffee at the same time!!)

    Thank you again for helping us have a brilliant holiday. You are very
    lucky indeed to own such a wonderful retreat.

    Kate T & Geoff


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    Sunday, October 14, 2007

    Finding an ancient Campbell (1)

    One of the the loveliest things about letting out your cottage is the friends you can make. I've never met her, the lady who goes by the delightful nickname of PokeySue, but she and her husband live in the Usa and are coming back to Scotland next Spring for a visit.

    She is a genuine romantic, loves the old Highland stories. Married to a Campbell, she is the kind of person who had to find out about his ancestors.

    She is going to post the story in bits at a time and I am going to put them on this blog. I asked her how she started.

    As a young girl, I read a book called "Highland Rebel" by a prolific author, Sally Watson, who wrote adventure books for girls. The heroine of the book was Lauren Cameron, a 12 year old arch enemy of the wicked Campbells and a staunch supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Some years later I found myself married to a Campbell with two Campbell daughters …, I was intrigued to find out how our American Campbells landed in the USA, and I wondered why they were "wicked".

    First, I asked a member of our family, who supposedly had the Campbell family tree. He sent me a list of all the Campbells, going back to Noah and the Ark. This was very discouraging and I gave up quickly after realizing finding our John Campbell among thousands was too difficult. I gave up.

    Later the history of Scotland drew me back into it. With my memories of Scotland from the childhood yarn still clear in my mind, Kent and I finally traveled to Scotland for the first time. I made Kent drive down all the backroads in Lochaber to find a place called Highbridge, the site of one of the first battles (a skirmish really) between the Highlanders and the Redcoats, described in the book. When we finally did find it after many trials and travails, it was breathtaking. A ruin, marked by a cairn, deserted and ignored by tourists. History was reality. I knew then, that if we kept looking, we would find our Campbells somehow.

    It was the sense of history that made us want to know more. Of course I did not know at the time that our Campbells had left Scotland, long before the '45, and that our research would bring us to pre-revolutionary New Jersey.

    To be continued...High Bridge is off the A82 between Spean Bridge and Fort William, the little road is sigtnposted "Brackletter"

    The photo above shows Bidean Nam Bian, the highest mountain in Glencoe, and the Ballachulish bridge.


    Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
    Short Breaks Glencoe
    Scotland's top self catering, individual cottages and chalets with last minute offers

    Sunday, October 07, 2007

    November is the month for short holiday breaks in Glencoe

    We have made some very good friends amongst holiday cottage owners - the smaller ones, not the bigger businesses, and we have all got together on a new Scottish web site. This tells everyone about the special low rates we all offer around now. These other owners have excellent properties in wonderful locations.

    The site is at
    Special offers, self catering,short breaks, off season

    We ourselves start to offer shorter breaks in November. We are full up for the first week in November, but for the next five weeks before Christmas we offer short holidays from Friday to Monday or Monday to Friday. If we did it any other way our poor housekeeper would be working at any odd time - Michelle is absolutely wonderful and we try and play fair with her.

    You can see our rates and availability here Last minute availability Glencoe

    ps the colours are splendid in November.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Karin's right. The Scottish people are friendly and kind

    Applecross, on their road to Skye. From our friend Colin at

    Dear John,
    We really enjoyed our vacation. We found the cottage to be just right and very cosy. It had all that we needed! We were very happy about the rubber boots and the extra rain gear. Sascha and I appreciated the information about the area and the kids appreciated the videos especially Braveheart! I didnt mind it at all. We loved all the lochs and went hiking many times in Glencoe. That is where I ate haggis and I also tried black pudding. That was a surprise because it is spiced with ginger. I really enjoyed it.

    We were regulars at the co-op in Ballachulish and also visited the slate museum there. We went also to the Isle of Skye which was very beautiful. We loved the drive up there. We enjoyed driving on the left side of the road as well. It took time to get used to because the gear shift is on the wrong side and I always mistook the first and third gears the first and second day. One time I even drove a few yards on the right side before I noticed what I was was all fun.

    We found the Scottish people to be very friendly and kind. I enjoyed the way they took their time with everything. We drove to Inverness as well and at least I had my first "high tea" in a very lovely tea room there. That was a highlight even for my boys. The older one really enjoyed drinking tea and eating scones! The younger one (10 years) had hot chocolate, but what he found most interesting was to watch the workers make the cakes and scones. That was lovely because all that was served was baked right there in an open kitchen. That was a lovely afternoon.

    I took many walks on the path on opposite the house and enjoyed the stillness there.
    We tried to leave the cottage in the same condition that we found it. Please let me know if I can help with anymore translating for German tourists.

    All the best! Karin

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    The Anoch Eagach solo. The wrong way.

    This is where Keith walked. The usual route is from East to West. This lovely photo was taken by Dougie. His photos of Scotland can be seen at

    Hi John,
    We arrived back late on Saturday and I spent Sunday generally sorting out. School started on Monday, so I now feel as if I have been back ages!

    The information, guidance and friendly help you gave prior to our visit and in the cottage was the very best we have ever experienced. No other host in any holiday cottage we have rented has been so keen to help and ensure we have a good time, know where to go, how to find the cottage etc etc. Your book in the house was read by us all; you really did work very hard on behalf of your guests and should be proud of yourself!!
    We had an active holiday and the boys always had things to do. The weather was OK, not sunny, but also not pouring with rain.

    What did we do? Firstly, we read all your information so we are grateful to you for your insight. We walked to the Hidden Valley, climbed Ben Nevis, walked to the waterfalls in Glen Nevis, the boys climbed at Kinlochleven Ice Factor (what a brilliant place!) they also ice climbed on our last day which was the first time for them. Kind instructors and very welcoming.

    Keith walked a ridge which ended near the Clachaig which he just loved, but it sounded quite scary to me and I am glad the boys did not go too. It was foggy on top, so we had decided that Keith should trial it alone. He met people walking it with helmets and ropes, but he managed it and will talk about it for ages.

    We ate at the Seafood Cafe whch was different and fun, but I think it fair to say we liked eating at the Clahaig most. It was lovely and informal, good food and not too expensive. (Haggis, tatties and neaps!) We enjoyed seeing deer outside the pub, just stood looking at us as we got into the car...beautiful. I very much wanted to go on the "whalewatching" trip from Arisaig to one of the islands, but was outvoted and due to lack of time (and will) we did not go. I regret that. Keith and my boys love to be active, to hike etc and did not want to spend a whole day on such a trip. We also kayaked (it was great to have the garage to lock the boats away) in the bay, to the bridge and to the Island of the Dead, off Glencoe.

    So, the location/ area is stunning. Keith wanted to do far more hikes than we had time to do. The deer, the heather, the mountains were beautiful to say the least. I was fascinated by the history and read most of your history books! I had to stop by about Thursday as it seemed too gloomy, too unfair. I needed to read about something nice happening to someone. James of the Glen is rather stuck in my head at the moment! Where is the actual plaque on the site of the massacre? Is it just the cross in the village? I looked in "a field just beyond the Clahaig" as one guide book said, but "just beyond" gave me no direction or scale! Still I made myself not be too morbid about it all ...........

    The cottage was lovely and clean. Bath is interesting, especially for Jim who is 6ft 5ins. He is of the generation who have never really done anything but shower, so I think he probably came home a bit dirty!!! (No harm in that)

    Sally also had some very sharp things to say about the people who run the roads up here. She wants speed restrictions and better driving. She thinks the roads are dangerous, and we totally agree with her. The absolute worst bit of road is 10 miles south of the cottage on a sharp left bend. The signage and lack of speed restriction are a disgrace. Her remarks are going to the Village Council who also share her views, and now I'm going to do a separate blog and try and whip up a campaign about with. Good on you Sally. Thanks. Oban Times letters page, here we come, that will do for a start.

    The pic is of the boys, Jim and Charlie, in the Hidden Valley. One of the reasons why the Glencoe MacDonalds were so hated by the other clans was because they carried out continual raids on other clans' cattle - an act punishable by death if caught at it - cattle thieving was the bank raid of the day. The other clans came in strength to the Glen to find the cattle and they never could. That's because the beasts were shoved up the steep track to the Hidden Valley, a feat which no one thought possible. Like most Scottish tales it is happy and sad at the same time. Sad if you are a Cameron or McLean or Campbell, but happy if you were a Glencoe MacDonald with food for the winter.

    (Would the MacDonalds of Skye ever do such a thing? No, of course not. They'd nick the cattle out of the Dunvegan estate and ambush any McLeods who tried to get them back. Happy days.)


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  • Friday, August 24, 2007

    Ancient Scottish hunter-gatherers traced to Benderloch, in Appin

    Reconstruction of Mesolithic settlement in Finland.

    When our girls were young we used to go caravanning at Ledaig, near Benderloch on the Oban road. Once we climbed a small hill overlooking the village and picked up a tiny rock which seemed to be sliced into layers, interleaved with fibres, which looked burnt. It could not be natural.

    I sent it to the British Museum who sent a report back to me that it looked like the remains of a Vitrified Fort. These strange embankments have no lime or cement to hold the stones together. It seems to have been done by the application of intense heart. But no one knows why. I remember our young Joanne was particularly disinterested at the time. When you are seven you have other things on your mind.

    Now the archaeologists have gone back a lot further. They’ve found the bones of the Mesolithic people at the end of a garden in Benderloch. They lived between 3,500 and 5,000 years ago. They’ve found a jawbone and other bones and have uncovered some caves – in a garden! They think there are the remains of two individuals there possibly a youngster s well.

    Times past, people roamed throughout Scotland, in small tribal groups. For 4,000 years, after the ice retreated the climate was warmer and wetter, For their living, woodland was good with its plant gathering possibilities, rivers and sea were good for fishing, They travelled, pursuing herds of animals as they moved inland in the Summer and to the West Coast in the Winter with its more tranquil, warmer climate. They butchered the animals with their stone tools, cooked the fish on open hearths. Nuts, fish and game is what they ate.

    But the West Coast had one other thing in its favour. Caves. Caves were the housing estates of the day. Lewisian gneiss one of the oldest rocks in the world and it is perfect for creating rock shelters. That is what we have around this part of the country.

    You know, this land is absolutely marvellous. We can trace the story of our people from the Mesolithics in their caves, the Neolithics with their the standing stones which are everywhere. The biggest in Argyll is just 2 miles down the road from the cottage. Then we have the unexplained vitrified Forts and the equally mysterious Brochs – on Lismore.

    The duns and burial mounds of Kilmartin, the early Scots from Ireland, St Columba, the clash between the early Gaels and the Picts, followed by the Vikings, then their settlement and integration with the population. Angus Og, son of Somerled ruled the Western Isles and formed an alliance with Robert the Bruce. He won the War of Scottish Independence at the famous Battle of Bannockburn. This led directly to the Stewart Kings and Queens. The first Stewart to rule was his son-in-law. He led directly to Mary Queen’s of Scots, her son, James, the first Stewart King of England, ending with Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

    The rest is history.

    What a place this is!

    Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
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    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Wonderful week of weather in Scotland. Yes!

    The garden wall at Ardchatten Priory near Connel. About 13th century. The wall, not the flower.
    Dear John

    We had an absolutely wonderful time up there, I think we had the best weather in the UK during that week! Only one day was a complete washout...
    The countryside and scenery is stunning, I could certainly see myself spending my retirement there.
    Apart from the walks (hidden waterfalls was a smash with the kids), we went ww rafting in Glengarry, talk about adrenalin.., seafari trip was also incredible

    Cottage is very snug and cosy, everything you need was there. Thanks again for all the useful advice and tips on what to do.
    I’m sure we’ll be back.

    Note from editor: you might not believe this, but Kentallen has a little micro weather system all of its own. It has more sunshine and less rain than the average for the West of Scotland and about one-fifth of the rainfall they have in Glencoe itself six miles to the East. How do we know this? Because there is a Met station at Dunstaffnage near Oban.

    Forget the Med. It is far too hot there. Try Kentallen, it is near perfect. And on the odd occasion when it is not perfection, it is wondrous to watch


    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Booking local services - good and bad

    Three ladies from Australia are coming to the cottage for a week. They've been to the area before and love it. We can all understand that, can't we?

    They'd like to go on the Harry Potter train to Mallaig, the Calmac dinner cruise from Oban to Tiree, and the Glencoe Land Rover Safari trip, and please could I book them?

    Love to. Actually I thought I'd use it as an exercise to test out the booking services.

    Here are the conclusions. The general accessibility was poor for all of them. Goodness knows how everyday visitors get on when they try and get through. You've got to be persistent. They'd give up, half of them.

    Once you are through, though, the staff are nice and helpful. No probs. Can't tell about the Visitors Centre, Glencoe. Haven't been able to speak to anyone at all to-day.

    The Jacobite train web links are pretty poor - if you get Scot Rail, you'll find it easier to book a journey to Paris than the famous Fort William line. "Where exactly is Fort William?" But I got the local number - from our web site actually, says he brushing his nails on his shirt. They were too busy dealing with face to face customers the first time I rang when they did not answer, understandable. But once I'd got through it was brilliance all the way. An e-mail confirmation, credit card and see the guard on the train. No probs. 3 minutes

    Now I don't usually have anything good to say about Calmac. (MacBraynes was always ok for me, what is all this Calmac stuff?) Their Gourock office was useless as usual.
    Along the lines of "Where is Oban exactly?" - not quite, but nearly. Even gave me the wrong number for their Tour office. The management is real rubbish - the people are nice but they do not have the information except for straight ahead ferries. I got the local Tour Office number - from guess where again? - and they were very good.

    We do not even have to book, let alone pay for the Calmac trip in advance. Just turn up and you'll get on. It is a regular ferry, this trip, that is why. Calmac have always been far more concerned about cars and their length than people.

    Only one thing wrong. They don't serve a meal on board - oh yes, you can get one, but it is self service. Actually we know this service and it is pretty good, the meals are good, and the prices are fair, so I'm not marking them down for this.

    Only the blinking Glencoe Visitors Centre, run by the Scottish National Trust was awful. You can't get an answer on the phone. Left three messages to call me back, no one picked them up. They do give you a duty managers number, but why don't they just transfer the calls? Will have to do it all again to-morrow. Will have to ring the manager I suppose.

    Real pain, this lark. Best to use the tips in our web site, events page.

  • Lochside cottage Glencoe local events

  • John

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007

    Some wonderful walks

    Picture taken from the top of the Pap of Glencoe by our friend David "Cubby" Cuthbertson, the Glencoe mountaineer. He was the body double for the climber in the film Touching The Void.

    A couple of weeks ago, our guests staying at the cottage did a huge amount of walking. Look at this programme:

    They started out with the big half circle mountain trip around the back of us on day one, the Ballachulish horseshoe. This circles around 3,000 feet, and the mountain grows out of our back garden.

    Next day, not having had enough of mountains, they went part way up Ben Nevis in the evening.

    Then they walked part of the West Highland Way from Tyndrum to Crianlarich and back. That is a low glen walk, total 13 miles, with a little up and down. They would have passed the remains of a 14th century chapel, St Fillans, granted rights by Robt Bruce four years after his famous victory over the English at Bannockburn near Stirling. Ten years earlier Bruce had won his famous Highland battle near this spot at the Pass of Brander near Cruachan. His opponents were the McDougalls, supporters of Bruces’ rivals for the Crown.

    Here is what Wikipedia says about the battle
    “A party of loyal Highlanders, commanded by Sir James Douglas, climbed high up the mountain and, completely unobserved, positioned themselves in the enemy's rear. As the Macdougalls attacked they were caught in a vice, with King Robert coming from below and the Black Douglas from above. The men of Argyll wavered and then broke. They were chased westwards across the River Awe all the way back to Dunstaffnage, while John their chief escaped down the Loch in his galley, eventually taking refuge in England.

    Later in the week our intrepid guests did the Hidden Valley.......... and loved it. Then, following day, they did the Pap of Glencoe. Whew! that's a lot of walking.

    They said “Everywhere.....such wonderful walks and beautiful scenery......spoilt for choice !!”
  • take a break in the Autumn

  • We have weeks available in October and in November in the cottage

    Monday, July 16, 2007

    If we are full, then Cath can probably take you.

    We received this lovely e-mail this morning. Must help out if we can because we are lucky enough to be booked up until the end of September. (Couple of dates in October free still!)

    Also Cath's place takes 6 and a couple more whereas we only can only take 4+

    Dear Gillian and John

    I believe you have Bayview at Kentallen, which is a lovely location! I am making contact to ask if you would consider passing over any surplus bookings for weeks that you are already booked this summer.

    We have not rented out our property at North Ballachullish for several years now due to a combination of family illness and being abroad in New Zealand for a while. We have arrived back in this country too late to organise our own bookings for the summer.

    The house is available immediately and sleeps 6 + 2. Our property is situated in 1 acre off Old Ferry Road. A photo is attached.

    Please email to let me know if you are interested (or phone 07917 072117). Many thanks in anticipation.


    Sunday, July 08, 2007

    Wow! Look at this wild life trip photo

    Photo from Seafari, Oban.

    Lovely new report just in from last week's guests
    Dear John and Gillian,
    Just a quick e mail to say thank you for the use of the cottage for our holiday. It had everything we needed to make us comfortable during our stay.
    The area is beautiful and we had a couple of good days so saw it at it's best. When you live a busy life in Glasgow you can easily forget that there is beautiful scenery just two hours from your doorstep. We really are very lucky us Scots!
    As I mentioned on the phone we tried the Sea.fari trip from Easdale and it was a great day out. We saw a lot of wildlife, but unfortunately no dolphins on the day we went. We would recommend it to others, being out on the water certainly blows away the cobwebs. Overall we had a great week and have come back refreshed and ready to face reality again!
    From John,
    I asked Tony Hill at Seafari to send me a piece for this blog, because we have had several commendations of the trip fom guests. Here is what he says and which I'm very pleased to post.

    Sea.fari Adventures Oban are marine eco tour specialists offering a variety of tours around Argyll's spectacular European Special Area of Conservation - Firth of Lorne. You can visit the infamous Gulf of Corryvreckan, home to the World's Third Largest Whirlpool. A family favourite, don't be surprised to see porpoise, dolphins and minke whales. There are seals and otter on the shoreline, red and fallow deer on the islands and birds of prey like sea and golden eagle in the air along with a host of seabirds.
    Open all year (limited winter sailings) visit the website or telephone 01852 300003 for further details


    Monday, July 02, 2007

    Surprise - it brought back childhood memories

    Mc Cagis Tower Oban

    The cottage was very clean and cosy and a great base for exploring the surrounding area. I had quite a surprise as your cottage is only a few miles down the road from a lodge I stayed as a child - Glen Acculish, just past the Ballachulish House hotel!! I remembered going under the bridge by the Ballaculish hotel. We did lots of walking. On Sunday we went into Oban -walked up to McCaig's tower, wonderful views, then went on a boat trip to see the seals and had a nice meal in McTavish's.

    Monday we went to Glengarray castle, and walked to the top of the hill behind it, tiring but worth it.

    Tuesday we went to Fort William and then on to Glen Nevis further past the centre to a long and rocky walk to a waterfall. That was definitely worth the trek.

    Wednesday we went to Mull and walked to Torosay and the other castle further on (got the bus back though as a long trek!).

    Thursday was the only rainy day so we did the Seal Sanctury and went to do the hydroelectric station but it was fully booked.

    Friday we went for a ride Spean Bridge way and did another waterfall walk and on to Mallaig for the ride. We also went for a ride along Glencoe to the Visitor centre. We had two lovely meals at the pub on the old Glencoe road when we found it!! We hadn't gone far enough the first time we tried to find it.

    We had a wonderful time thank you so much for all the information in the cottage and emails. We didn't want to come home!

    Marie and Leighton

    Saturday, June 02, 2007

    4 Do's and 1 Dont's to find your independent holiday property on the Internet

    Our family spotted this hotel beside the Station at Verbier in Switzerland. You could ski straight down to it. "This is the place for us" we said. So we booked it for the following year through an internet agent.

    When we arrived, it was the wrong hotel at a different station. Ouch!
    The internet sales agency. The first Don't
    We made the mistake of booking the hotel through an internet agency, where you book online with the Directory, not the Hotel. Don't do it. They know lttle about the property, you lose contact with the owners, and because the owners pay a hefty commission to the agency, above 30% very often, they load up the charges. You'll generally get it cheaper if you buy direct from the owners. That is the first Don't.

    Directories. The first Do, but choose big ones.
    Of course you can find a property in a Directory, one which quotes the owner's web site and e-mail address and you then deal direct. Just make sure the Directory is a big one so that there are many properties in the area you search for. The directories charge the owners a fee for listing, but it usually works quite well. You ought to bookmark your short-list otherwise you'll find difficulty in finding them a second time around. That's a Do.
    Finding owners' web sites.
    Not so easy as it sounds because you have to wade through Google's pages of Directories before you find individual sites. There are about 10,000 holiday properties in Scotland. The moment you Google "self-catering Scotland" you are in trouble. The sites in the first pages are all those by clever professionals who know their way around Google's 200 "web crawlers" which identify the sites they think you will want - using only your search term as a guide. Clever, these directories, with oodles of specialised knowledge - about Google. They know about inbound
    links, about keyword emphasis, they know about anchor text and they write their text around the search terms they think you will use. That impresses Google no end.

    Do narrow your search
    You'll get fewer directories showing up on Google if you narrow the area of your search. You would not find our site if you Googled "Scotland self catering", you would have to search through the first couple of pages if you used "The Highlands" but you would find us on page one if you Google "Glencoe cottage" and its variations.
    You could also find us on page one if you Googled, simply, "Lochside cottage". People rarely look past page one - they change their search terms. Well, if you get crowded out with directory sites you may have to go to page four or more to find individual owners' sites.

    When to book.
    In Scotland, the two most popular areas are Edinburgh, and the Highlands - our area. Properties divide into two, there are the large Victorian houses or other houses with four or five bedrooms. If you are trying to get a property for several families to share there are many opportunities, but don't leave it until late. The best properties in the high season are nearly all booked out. You'll have a problem if your date is fixed. By May all of us at the top end have only a week or two to offer in the Summer. We get one third of our high season bookings about 7 months in the previous year, particularly from returning guests.
    Off season, you can try for late bookings. The only exception to this is for Christmas and for New Year. These are premium weeks and will sell out.

    Spending Hogmanay in Scotland is a pretty romantic notion for some.
    Or, Do use these other two ways to find your ideal holiday property. Google the word "Dmoz" This is the world's largest hand-edited Directory, called the Open Directory. It is not too difficult but a bit laborious to navigate your way through the options to find the property you want anywhere in the world in fact.
    The route to find us, for example, is: Recreation/Travel/Europe/United Kingdom/Scotland/Highland/Lochaber/Self catering/then you'll get a good number of properties. If you use the Back button you can find other areas, obviously.
    The final sneaky way is to do what 600 people every year do. They go to our own site where we have listed about 25 attractive self-catering properties whose owners we have come to know. They are all over Scotland, and all good properties. Try them

    Thursday, May 03, 2007

    "You'll not beat this place, Johnnie"

    Gllian never calls me Johnnie unless she is happy. New place just opened in Glencoe village street, Carnoch Restaurant. (They do Take-away too – very valuable if you are fed up with cooking for yourselves)

    Our meal bill totalled £26 for a Salmon dish of superb quality and beautifully cooked , and Haddock and chips, but with a very light batter, followed by Banana pancakes, and cream, two lattes, two large glasses of wine. The ingredients were of the highest quality and so was the cooking.

    The owner’s eye – it makes a big difference
    They are lovely people, too, and unlike all the other restaurants in the area, the young owner is out front mixing with the customers. Book 01855 811140

    This might not be too fair on David at Crafts and Things across the road. He is always around welcoming people, saying hello, but he does not do full meals.

    Our lady at our table was from Glasgow, as you can tell probably from the following exchange.

    “Did you take the tip from the change?”
    “No, I never touch your money, I’m not married to you.”

    For quick with you’ll never beat Glasgow people. I was brought up on it, because I was raised there and am proud if it.


    How to stop big burly Scotsmen in their tracks

    This is Springtime in Scotland. the weather is gorgeous. This is the local megalithic stone near our cottage. How old? Well, let me see, would 3,000 years old impress you?

    Imagine the scene. I have just been overtaken on a single carriageway road by that most lethal of drivers, a white van man from Glasgow, doing 60mph.

    Coming the other way is a monster truck full of pine trees just harvested, at the same speed. Closing speed of the two vehicles 120mph.

    Neither of these men would you want to make angry in a back street of the Gorbals on a Saturday night when they’ve had a couple of drams.

    Both of them screech to almost a halt – 5mph, and pass within centimetres of each other, very gingerly.


    There was a tiny lamb, sitting on the side of the road with its feet rubbing together on the white line, bathing its head in the sunshine. On the other side of the road is Mother sheep, blissfully unconcerned, munching away at the grass thinking “Got to get some sustenance, the little sod has been keeping me up all night.”

    That’s how you stop even the most formidable Scotsmen in their tracks. They are just big softies.


    Ps Mind you, I wonder what their speed would have been if I had been sat on the roadside myself instead of the lamb, with a sign around my neck saying “Sassenach”
    (Google it, if you must)

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    I might regret saying this - few midges this Summer?

    You heard it here first. There will be few midges around this Summer.
    Great news. I'm thinking of putting out a press release on this. We are at the cottage now and there are no signs of the dreaded midge. They usually start around May, build up to a ferocious climax in August, and die off in Septemer having feasted on human blood all Summer.
    You won't believe the next bit, but I promise you it is true. Although we are on the West Coast with its notorious reputation for midge atrocities, and you can see the human remains from countless bites all around the Glencoe Lochan in the Summer - why do you think they put the Glencoe Hospital there? - we get virtually no midges where we are at the cottage.
    We have not had one guest complain about midges here, at this spot. No I can't believe it as I write. Neither Gillian nor I, in all the nineteen years we have been here, have ever complained about the midges. and we are wimps. The first to scurry off to bed if there was any danger of a bloodsucking female around. It is the females who bite. As ever.
    Why few midges this year, then?
    We now have a comprehensive midge measurement service for the first time in Scotland. In the Spring of last year they were forecasting that midges would be bad in a dry summer. They weren't. they were very light. They know this because there are machines around that kill off midges, and the scientists can collect the remains and get a count.
    To their amazement, they collected significantly fewer than the year before.
    If we are to get aother long dry hot summer, then starting with a lower population and breeding stock then I think we should get fewer still.
    The midge forecasters don't start until this month, so I'm getting my forecast in early.
    Nothing like hot news - a scoop in fact.

    Friday, April 27, 2007

    Kentallenite - the most amazing granite stone

    This is the pier at Kentallen, 200 yards from the cottage. Best fsihing in the area.
    Three young people took a week off and gathered at the cottage. This is what they said. "We really enjoyed our week, the scenery is amazing. We wandered about a lot and tried some fishing. We caught 30 fish in total but only four big ones."
    "The neighbours and locals were friendly and helpful, and the cottge was great. We are going to come back and explore more.
    The cottage was great."

    A party of Japanese got out of a coach at the pier near the Hollytree up the road from here. They took out little hammers and began hammering at the rock. Strange behaviour? Well not if you are a geologist.

    Our cottage at Bayview is built from local stone quarried from 300 yards away. In the world of geology this Kentallanite stone is famous.

    Its particles look like this, but you would need quite a powerful microscope to see this.

    The stone was formed about 400 million years ago and is very very tough. On different occasions it has apparently had six miles of ice on top of it. Hardy stuff! We could tell that by the language of the men who installed our double glazing. Fancy our cottage being 400 million years old!


    Friday, April 20, 2007

    The wrong man was hanged here in 1752

    This is the site of the killing of the Red Fox. It is about 200 feet above the curve in the road between Ballachulish Pier and Kentallen. It is actually the ancient road to the South which used to pass in front of our cottage. The victim was carried from here to Ballachulish House where he died from his gunshot wounds.
    Robert Louis Stevenson wrote "Kidnapped" based upon a true tale of the Highlands. His uncle built the Corran Ferry so he knew our area well. In the story, a lad was accused of killing a local "factor" - the man who collects the rents in the Highlands. He was chased and harried all over the country to Edinburgh, but they hanged the wrong man, his 52 year old cousin, for the murder.

    The victim was a Campbell - always they seem to feature in these atrocities, the Campbells. This one was very unpopular with the Stewarts of Appin because he was a bit tough on them. He had plans to clear out a lot of the Stewart families from their lands. These are the lands around our cottage, including Ardsheal across the water from our lounge. 1752 was the year exactly 70 years after the Massacre of Glencoe.

    This chap Colin Campbell, The “Red Fox” was having a drink in Inshaig the old pub in Duror with James Stewart, known as James of the Glens. James was arrested, and taken to Inverary for trial. It was rigged, James was hanged on a rock above to-days Ballachulish Hotel and beside the bridge. You can see the rock there if you look. His bones were tied together and left there as a warning to others.
    Friends later cut them down and buried them at Keill Graveyard near Duror just off the road to Oban two miles to the South of us.
    Gillian and I made a serious effort a few years ago to find the graveyard. It was ruined, very overgrown and based in the middle of farmyard buildings. We found it but it took a bit of doing.
    There is a big row going on in the local papers now about how it has become even more difficult to find because the farmer has locked gates and hampered access. We hope it gets opened up properly, it is a national treasure this site.
    ps The weather has been unbelieveable up here. Who says it rains in Scotland?

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    Forgotten village found near Fort William

    150 years ago an outbreak of Cholera wiped out a little community, high in the hills, above the town. Tollie, on th slopes of Ben Nevis, and its origins go back at least to the 1800's and possibly even further back towards the Bronze Age.

    They've found the outline of the houses there amongst the trees. Funds for some archeology are being sought and ideas discussed about restoring the village.

    Another old, lost village, Daingean is now a tourist attraction. It was found and restored a couple of years back, near Invergarry. In that case the residents were shipped out as part of the infamous Clearances around the 1850's.
    Undoubtedly there are other lost Highland settlements to be disovered.There have been so many ups and downs in the Highlands over the centuries.
    It is a beautiful country, but it can be savage.
    The picture is of Stalker castle, near the cottage

    Monday, March 26, 2007

    Three feet of rain per second. We loved it.

    Youngsters only care about rain, cold and snow if the parents make a fuss. This wonderful family just gets out there and does it. They stayed at the cottage last week.

    HI John and Gillian,
    Thanks for having us at Bayview. We had a great week. The whole place is stunning and the cottage was perfect for us. All the little ones enjoyed being there.
    We had one glorious sunny day and walked the old road through Glencoe (with buggy and baby rucksack!) Phenomenal views. The last 2 days were snowing heavily, which made doing things tricky, but one of the snowy days we walked (unbelievably the three year olds did walk themselves) up to the first waterfall up Glen Nevis path.

    The next day was difficult to do anything, but when the clouds cleared (for about 10 seconds at a time) the views of snow covered tops were breathtaking. In between times it followed the traditional three feet of rain per second, so we did some the other things you suggested eg sealife centre (great for our kids), Ice
    climbing at Kinlochleven (hard work!) but good play area for the kids at both.

    We had a great time, thanks.
    With best wishes
    Damian, Barbara, Elizabeth, Catherine and Ruth
    That story takes us back to our own family - quite a few years back, it must be said. You can see the details of where they went on the following pages

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    "Pregnancy is Hindering my Game"

    Pic of wood in Ariundle forest by Mr.Pallant last year.
    Georgina and Richard had a week at Kentallen in January
    Hi John
    We had a lovely time and a really relaxing break. We went to Oban and Port Appin which was lovely although unfortunately the Airds hotel was closed but a lovely setting all the same. We had a lovely day out to Mull crossing on the Fishnish Ferry. We saw deer and very few people! Had lunch at Tobermory and then did a circular drive round the island with a quick stop at Calgary Bay which was beautiful and deserted!

    We took the fabulous road to nowhere to Kinloch Hourn which was amazing (although a little windy and rainy so missed the full impact of being surrounded by all the munroes!), but were kept company by the hundreds of deer along the way and a couple of birds of prey we couldn't get close enough to to identify.

    We also got in a couple of bowling games at Fort William where pregnancy seems to be seriously hindering my game....much to my husband's pleasure! But made up for it by beating him at pool with the mini table in the cottage at Bayview, so my sincere thanks for that!

    We also did the Walk at Ariundle but spotted no golden eagles unfortunately, but a lovely walk none the less.

    We ate at the Clachlaig Inn most nights although tried out the Bulas restaurant at Ballachulish Hotel, which despite very polite service was a bit of a shambles, with the fire alarm going off and instigating an evacuation in pouring down rain, and what seemed to be them just getting to grips with the menu. It was interesting and not totally unenjoyable but pricey and food wasn't quite worth the price. Bardolino was lovely though as I sniffed Richard's from across the table.....

    I was disappointed that we couldn't find any mention of Burns night anywhere in the area, not even at the Clachlaig, but I had the Haggis none the less and enjoyed every mouthful!

    It was cold, windy and rainy with a bit of snow thrown in so definite need for snuggling and lots of wool. We had a lovely time, thank you very much.

    George and Richard
    If anyone is interested we offer a blog site for other holiday home owners helping them to prepare their web site.
    We've got some time free in the cottage in March. Have a look at this page

    Tuesday, January 23, 2007

    The Glencoe Massacre - it was not all it seemed

    The Glencoe Massacre has reverberated in the history of these lands. But it was not quite what it seemed to be.

    It wasn’t a massacre. An atrocity, yes. An early attempt at ethnic cleansing, yes. Horrible, yes, an abomination of Highland hospitality yes, but a massacre no. A massacre means a mass killing and this was not that - although the government plotters intended it to be.

    The Government plotters originally planned to include many other clans, but only the Glencoe McDonalds provided the excuse.
    It is wrong to blame Glenlyon, the commander of the troop. He faced execution after a trial for treason if he did not carry ou the attack.

    King William signed the orders in England but later washed his hands of the whole thing and claimed to know nothing of it. That’s politics for you.
    But it was horrible, really horrible. Men were tied up, and slaughtered later. A mother and her baby were killed. Nine men and boys died in the initial attack at Inverrigan House. Half naked McDonald women and their families were turfed out in the snow, to run into the hills. To be sure there were some psychos in the Army, and they got the killing job.

    The facts
    The atrocity occurred at 5.00am on February 13, 1692 when some of the 135 men in the Argyll regiment, who had been billeted for 11 days with McDonald families in the little Glencoe communities and receiving hospitality, turned on them after receiving orders to kill all the MacDonald men below the age of 70. The regiment were not all Campbells. Only a few were professional soldiers.

    The Captain of the troop, Robert Campbell of Glenlyon who was 60, seems to have been deliberately chosen as a shambles of a man by all accounts, a drunkard, who had recently taken his army commission to help to clear his large gambling debts. He discovered his mission only the night before, when he was given his orders, by a Major Robert Duncanson. This major seems to be a key figure who kept well out of it himself. He had command of more troops who were billeted at what is to-day’s Ballachulish House. Glenlyon was promised that the Duncanson troops would be in support, but in the event they did not set out until 7.00am with more than an hours trek ahead of them.

    More telling facts
    The killings began with gunfire at three points and a piper sounded the start of the attack. That is a sure way of the soldiers warning everyone up the glen that trouble is about. That was clearly deliberate. Swords and daggers would have been far quieter and more effective and would have seen off half of the targets before the MacDonalds were roused. They were at close quarters, for goodness’ sake.

    It is thought that there were about 200 McDonald men in Glencoe. The total population was a little bigger than it is to-day, but more spread out. Yet only 39 were killed. After a surprise attack before dawn, as they all lay sleeping in their beds, with soldiers outside, in their yards and they succeeded in killing only 39? If the soldiers killed three McDonalds each, then only 13 soldiers were needed to do the job. They probably just used the usual psychos and case-hardened non-commissioned officers to do it. The rest must have fired into the air.

    These soldier lads couldn’t do it. Not in any way. The person who had cooked for them for the past ten days was like their own mother. They had laughs with the boys, who worked on the farm just as their own brothers worked. They eyed the girls, and vice versa. Then they are told suddenly to get out their swords and rifles and kill all the men – it can’t be done. And they did not do it. They made sure the families were warned – the soldiers got the blame for it, just the same.

    Two of Glenlyon’s lieutenants refused to carry out the murders and broke their swords. They were later prosecuted and freed. Also, according to tradition, the family of Campbell of Airds at Castle Stalker helped many of the fugitives.

    Glenlyon himself, the commander of the troops was moved to mercy on two occasions: but both young McDonald men were promptly murdered by Duncanson. It is said that he had a personal grudge against the McDonalds who had stolen his cattle and ruined him.Actually his fight was with Glengarry.

    Another telling fact
    Additional soldiers were sent to block off the passes out of the Glen. Escaping McDonalds would head naturally the other way towards Duror in Appin. That is where their long-standing friends were, the Stewarts. They knew that another military force was at Ballachulish, so they would not go along the coast. There is a poor escape route out to Glen Etive for the families living up the valley and this was blocked off. Some of the 39 were killed here at the top of the Glen. But incredibly, the easier Appin routes were not blocked at all. Come on, that was deliberate.

    The plan for the atrocity, was probably Duncansons. He selected Glenlyon to lead the attack probably because Glenlyon was related by marriage to Alasdair Mcdonald, MacIain’s younger son. This would help to lull the suspicions of the people of Glencoe. They arrived and claimed hospitality under the Highland code and said that the Fort William garrison was full.

    The McDonalds were very suspicious and wary. Campbell forces were always rather frightening. The McDonald Chief had been late in signing his loyalty oath to King William. Oh, they would have been very worried indeed but in ten days their fears settled down. The soldiers themselves had no idea why they were there, of course, so they would have been re-assuring.

    The event was planned by the government in London. The Clans did the bidding of their Chiefs, not the Crown. The main aim of the government was to pacify the whole country. This included the Highlands. The Act of Union between the two countries was still 15 years in the future.

    The government decided to make all the Clan Chiefs vow an oath of loyalty by January 1st. The McDonald Chief, MacIain left it till late, then set out for Inverlochy, to-days Fort William, where he was told to go to Inverary to sign. He did so, but arrived six days after the deadline. All seemed well, but this was the excuse the government in London needed for teaching the Highlanders a lesson in treachery.

    Afterwards, those responsible for organising the murders were pardoned by William. Dirty job politics, always has been, always will be.

    This must be one of the most disgusting orders ever to be given to an army commander in British history. These are Glenlyon’s orders from Major Duncanson.

    “You are hereby ordered to fall upon the Rebels, the MacDonalds of Glencoe, and put all to the sword under 70. You are to have especial care, that the Old Fox and his Sons do upon no account escape your Hands, you are to secure all the avenues that no man can escape: this you are to put in Execution at five a Clock in the Morning precisely, and by that time or very shortly after it, I’ll strive to be at you with a stronger party. If I do not come at five, you are not to tarry for me but fall on. Feb 12 1692"

    In fact, it appears that the Secretary contemplated the total extirpation of the clans, for, in a letter to Sir Thomas Livingstone, commander of the forces in Scotland, dated January 7th., he says, "You know in general that these troops posted at Inverness and Inverlochie, will be ordered to take in the house of Innergarie, and to destroy entirely the country of Lochaber, Lochiel's lands, Keppoch's, Glengarie's and Glencoe," and he adds, "I assure you your power shall be full enough, and I hope the soldiers will not trouble the government with prisoners."
    John Winkler

    Tuesday, January 02, 2007

    You won't believe this, but January could be the best month in Scotland

    Loch Etive from the top of the old road to Bonawe, photo taken five hours ago on 2nd January

    "If we are going to Oban then lets do the old road around Archattan," she says.

    That's ok by me. The first part of the journey from the cottage is down Loch Linnhe, with the tops of the Morven hills across the water in snow. They are hills, too rounded and gentle to be mountains.

    Then we are on the single track old road, the one that old McIain took on his journey to vow loyalty to King William exactly 315 years ago to this very day. He went to the wrong castle first, then crossed back over the Ballachulish ferry, then the Shian ferry, and then over this hill you see, to the Bonawe ferry to complete his journey in the Campbell stronghold of Inveraray.

    I guessed it would take more than three days altogether for them to walk to here, but Gillian said they were probably on ponies and she is right. They signed the deed six days later than the deadline, and old McIain was assured it would be ok, no problem. 38 days later he was dead, the first one to be murdered in the Glencoe massacre at exactly 5.00am. King William himself signed the papers, and later said he knew nothing about it when the scandal broke. That's politics for you.

    "What's that?" she says, "Oyster catcher," immediately answering her own question. "There's a heron"
    We go past the lovely old Archattan priory, with its gardens. If you ever go inside, then in the ruined parts you'll see a small skull and crossbones carved into the stone above the arch of the 10th century remains. It took me a long time to find references for this strange carving, but apparently it is an ancient Christian reference to the Cross, not uncommon in religious buildings - just a few hundreds years before pirates adopted it as their logo.

    We went on to Oban. As interesting as ever, and nice not to have too many tourists around.

    The Calmac ferry was just lining up for the journey to the Outer Hebrides. It leaves at 3.30 and arrives at Lochboisdale around midnight. 2 of you with a car will cost you £100 for the single journey. No reduction for the Islanders, so you can understand why they get grumpy over Calmac.

    Then to, Piazza, on North Pier. They are very busy. "We know you are serving lunches, but could we have a coffee?"

    "Of course you can, and would you like the table by the window overlooking the harbour?"

    You can't beat this place, you know.
    Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
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