Struan Lodge Beauly
log cabin holiday highlands
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the Reid family
It is not recorded log cabin holiday highlands if the Reid family stayed long enough to acquire a full understanding of the theological subtleties contained in the minister’s Gaelic sermons, but there was certainly a prolonged hiatus in the development of Dunoon as a holiday centre. log cabin holiday highlands Fate was busy hatching a catalyst. It came in the unlikely guise of a brilliant young engineer, Henry Bell.
Once Bell’s steamship, the Comet, had survived the considerable perils of her maiden voyage down the Clyde in 1822, the technological revolution in sea transport was safely under way. It led to the era of the Clyde steamer, as great a liberating influence in its day as Henry Ford’s Model ‘T’ in the early decades of last century.
The lure of cheap transport galvanized Glasgow’s static industrial workers, cooped in their grim sandstone tenements. They streamed ‘doon the watter’ in their thousands to the green coast of Cowal. It was an open playground close enough to the heart of the industrial wasteland for them to regard it as their own backyard; a clean, sea-washed backyard unscathed by the grimy, ravaging monster that the industrial revolution had unleashed to despoil the Clyde Valley.
Entrepreneurs, like Robert Hunter of Hatton who was acute enough to acquire a large chunk of the coast before the steamer—boom transformed the holiday habits of the masses, were waiting to welcome them. The holiday resort of Dunoon was born. Although it has played host to millions over the years, Dunoon is no more than an urban bridgehead on the hilly cost of Cowal. The interior has not greatly changed from the days when the Stewart kings hunted wild boar, and the Campbells of Loch Fyne herded their black cattle along the drove road through Hell’s Glen to Lochgoilhead and the markets of the south.
From its mountainous northern neck, the peninsula of Cowal is bounded in the west by the embracing arm of Loch Fyne, and in the east by Loch Long and the broad waters of the Firth of Clyde. The Isle of Bute thrusts a thumb into the crab-like claws of the sourthern seaboard forming the Kyles of Bute, the favourite seaway of the Clyde steamers.
The deeply indented southern coast strengthens the impression – fostered by the shuttling car-ferry from Gourock to Dunoon – that Cowal, like Bute, is an island. But there is a land route to Cowal, one that offers the traveller from the south the bonus of a sudden dramatic change in the landscape and an early confrontation with the West Highland scene.
From Arrochar the road winds through Glen Crow to the summit of Rest and Be Thankful at the western end of the glen. A road sweeps down through Gleann Mor from the summit of the pass to the head of Loch Goil on the east coast. Bare facts often conceal the whole truth. To describe Loch Goil as a branch of Loch Long is factually correct, but grossly misleading in that it conveys an impression of secondary status, whereas Loch Goil of the high hills is the peer of all the lovely lochs of Cowal.
The village of Lochgoilhead, grouped around the head of the loch, is notable for the antiquity of its church which dates from the fifteenth century. This is Campbell country, the lineage indelibly marked in the churchyard where the Campbells of Ardkinglas have buried their dead for six centuries.
The brooding heron can be seen fishing patiently off the shores of Loch Goil, and schools of cavorting porpoise, scorning the heron’s staid approach to his craft, have been known to hunt the herring shoals up the loch.