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.


No comments:

Lochside cottage near Glencoe in the Highlands of Scotland
  • Short Breaks Glencoe
  • Stories about Appin villages blog