Mid-Scotland: Argyll and the Grampians Part III
Moving further from Edinburgh, but still within a three hour drive for most of these destinations, remarkable and romantic scenery is well within reach.
Argyll is Campbell country – a name that was for generations associated with the memory of the treachery at Glencoe. The clan headquarters is Inveraray near the head of Loch Fyne, the handsomest small town in Scotland, an eighteenth century creation modernized with impeccable good taste. It is the centre of a romantic countryside with Oban, to the north, the county’s second largest town and, in addition, a very popular and attractive holiday centre.
In a romantic setting beside the Aray where it joins the headwaters of Loch Fyne, stands Inveraray Castle, the headquarters of the clan Campbell since the fifteenth century. The present castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, the Campbell chief, was completed in 1770. It is an early and outstanding example of the neo-Scottish baronial style.
Reflected in the peaceful waters of the aptly-named Loch Awe, between Ben Cruachan and the hills that flank Glen Orchy, Kilchurn Castle belies its warlike past. Kilchurn was a Campbell stronghold and its keep was built by Sir Colin Campbell in 1440, with additions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In 1746, the year of Culloden, it was occupied by Hanovarian troops at the invitation of the Campbells who were anti-Jacobites. The same gale which blew down the Tay rail bridge in 1879 removed one of Kilchurn’s towers, but it remains one of the most splendid and splendidly sited ruins in Scotland.
Snow on the mountains adds exciting contrasts as this view of Stob Ghabhar (3565 feet/1085 m) from across the waters of Loch Tulla proves.
Loch Tulla is a small, remote, inland loch near the Bridge of Orchy on the road to Glencoe.
The prominent mountain seen on the left of this picture is the Pap of Glencoe (2430 feet/740 m). It is the westernmost peak of a six-mile-long ridge, Aonach Eagach, running along the north side of Glencoe, the notorious pass where, in 1692, 40 members of the clan MacDonald were massacred by soldiers of William III’s army commanded by a member of the clan Campbell, Campbell of Glenlyon. The loch in the foreground is Loch Leven, a sea loch which joins Loch Linnhe at Ballachulish ferry.
Loch Linnhe, not that anyone could forget, is home to Castle Stalker, made famous in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.