Struan Lodge Beauly
log cabin holiday inverness
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Around the village of Lochgoilhead
Around the village of Lochgoilhead, the surrounding hills are the log cabin holiday inverness haunt of the golden eagle and peregrine falcon, and wild cat still lurk in the lonely corries.
North through Hell’s Glen, the road through the pass offers views of Inverary on the west side of Loch Fyne. Seen from t he heights across the loch, the ancient stronghold of the Campbells of Argyll has an idyllic air grotesquely at odds with the life-style of the Campbell chiefs, log cabin holiday inverness whose power was only temporarily eclipsed by the loss of the ninth earl’s head to the executioner’s axe.
A few miles south of the old ferry crossing from St Catherines to Inverary, the hills of Cowal are cleft by a long glen stretching from Strachur to Dunoon. Loch Eck, the biggest freshwater loch in Cowal, lies midway between the two.
The road south follows the shoreline of Loch Fyne as far as Otter Ferry and reaches down to Ardlamont, the heartland of clan Lamont. The rule of the Lamonts in south Cowal clashed with Campbell ambitions and ferocious tribal vendettas soaked the land in blood.
The east branch of the crossroads at Millhouse leads to Kames and Tighnabruaich on the Kyles of Bute. Tighnabruaich has succeeded in retaining its highland character. Sheltered by hills and trees, with the narrow moat of the Kyle separating it from the green hills of Bute, no village could be better fitted for the role of tranquil backwater. One of the delights of Tighnabruaich lays off-shore; its attendant cluster of yachts, bright and silent as butterflies, fitting consorts for a village with no grandiose ambitions.
Benmore Gardens provide another welcome retreat. These woodland gardens extend from the River Eachaig to Glen Massan south of Loch Eck, and were gifted to the nation by Mr. H. G. Younger in 1925. Under the enlightened administration of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh, a comprehensive collection of rhododendrons has been established at Benmore. More than 200 species are represented, as well as many rare trees and plants from abroad. In the woods to the north, there is a pond of spectacular golden carp. But the most magnificent sight of all is the main avenue of redwoods, dignified giants towering more than a hundred feet high.
The outflow of Loch Eck runs into the Holy Loch, the base for the depot ship of the American Polaris squadron. God must have a sardonic sense of humour, as a Highland wag once remarked when commenting on this unholy alliance.
The village of Kilmun on the shores of the Holy Loch derives its name from Saint Mun, a contemporary of Saint Columba. The gentle Saint Mun founded the monastery of Kilmun in the seventh century. In 1442, Sir Duncan Campbell – doubtless influenced by the sanctity of the site – in turn founded a collegiate church there. His church did not survive the gross excesses of the Scottish Reformation, but the domed mausoleum of the Campbells of Argyll has endured. To this day Kilmun remains the burial place of the chiefs of clan Campbell.
Sandbank has featured in more recent history. It is the site of the most famous yacht-yard in Cowal, birthplace of those American Cup challengers of nostalgic memory, Sceptre and Sovereign. From Sandbank, the coast road to Dunoon goes out by Lazaretto Point, once a quarantine station, described a century and a half ago as ‘the place where vessels loaded with cotton discharge their cargoes and perform quarantine.’ The Lazaretto is no more than a memory, like the past glories of Hunters Quay, once the focal point of the great Clyde regattas that attracted yachts and yachtsmen from every part of the country.