Struan Lodge Beauly
log cabin holiday scotland
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Dunoon crowds around a double bay
Dunoon crowds around a double bay – East Bay and West Bay – divided by the log cabin holiday scotland headland of Castle Hill. The royal castle of Dunoon belonged originally to the hereditary high stewards of Scotland to whom King Malcolm – with typical monarchical largesse – gave a grant of Bute and Cowal in the eleventh century. All that remains of the historic fortress, once the jealously prized possession of the Earls of Argyll, are a few scattered log cabin holiday scotland stones on the grassy crown of Castle Hill. The castle was totally destroyed by the rampaging Murray of Atholl in 1685. It was a suitably ignominious end for the mute witness of the slaughter of the Lamonts by the Campbells; a massacre notable, even by the permissive standards of the seventeenth century, for its grisly blend of treacherous savagery.
The famous pier on the point was built by the famous Stevensons – father and uncle of immortal Robert Louis – and its period character has in no way been imparted by the later reconstruction. The pier belongs to the era of the paddle-steamer, as do the miles of promenade lined by solid Victorian villas, once the homes of wealthy Glasgow merchants who had achieved the supreme status symbol of a house on the coast. The villas are now private hotels and guest houses, as unequivocally Scottish in their aura of formal rectitude as the high teas served within their substantial walls.
Nostalgia is a Scottish trait which is one of the reasons why cheap package tours to the Costa Brava have not wiped Dunoon off the tourist map. There is a peculiarly Scottish homeliness about the place, evoking memories of innocent pleasures in simpler days when the sun always shone and instant fulfilment was always to be found in an ice-cream cone or a bottle of fizzy lemonade.
The scenes at the end of Cowal Highland Games – the supreme annual event of the summer season – are laden with nostalgia. The pipe bands march back from the sports stadium into the town bearing their trophies through the crowded streets. Fathers hoist their sons shoulder-high for a better view, just as they were once lifted on high as small boys to see the march past of the kilted giants.
But paradoxes abound. A short drive south from Dunoon leads to Ardyne Point, fenced by a tracery of tall derricks. An army of construction workers is engaged here building concrete production platforms for oil-fields in the deep waters east of Shetland. Many of them come from Glasgow and Paisley and Clydebank, descendants of those workers who first made the trip ‘doon the watter’ in transitory flight from their grim industrial bondage. None of them could have foreseen that their children’s children would one day journey to Ardyne Point, on the tip of Cowal Peninsula, to earn their daily bread.
The old concept of a brief summer season is dead, its obsequies sounding in the merry ring of cash registers the whole year through. Enthusiasts of the new regime claim that there has been an infectious infusion of fresh life, energy and gaiety, transforming standards. They point to the fact that even the chill Victorian mausoleums, which once held gloomy sway masquerading as hotels, have followed the trend-setters in providing a milieu fit for après-ski addicts eager for all the creature comforts when they descend from the snow slopes.
Such affirmations do not meet with universal acclaim. Ecologists and ornithologists deplore the bulldozing of slopes, where the greenshank once nested, to provide a freeway for skiers. They bemoan a too-easy access to the high tops of the Cairngorms, and the long-term effect of a mass influx on the wilderness heights.