Argyll Self Catering Holidays

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Argyll Self Catering Holidays Blog 

The Argyll Self-Catering Holidays blog is all about things to do and see in and around Argyll coupled with interesting articles to enhance your holiday experience.

Please get in touch if you would like to share your knowledge of Argyll or have interesting articles that owners and holiday clients would like to read.

Added: 21 Nov 2018
Secure your £50 DISCOUNT VOUCHER with Argyll Self Catering Holidays.

Book a minimum of seven (7) nights from 29 June to 25 August 2019.
Applies to first 20 bookings only.
*Conditions apply, selected properties.

Must be booked from 23 by 30 November 2019. Hurry!

Added: 21 Nov 2018
Secure your £50 DISCOUNT VOUCHER with Argyll Self Catering Holidays.

Book a minimum of seven (7) nights from 29 June to 25 August 2019.
Applies to first 20 bookings only.
*Conditions apply, selected properties.

Must be booked from 23 by 30 November 2019. Hurry!

Summer Cottages in DunoonSummer Cottages in Dunoon
Added: 01 May 2018
Dunoon is a charming town on the beautiful Cowal Peninsula and the maritime gateway to the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Fabulous for walking, cycling and sailing and horseriding, with exceptional views over the Clyde Estuary.

Find your perfect cottage, lodge, villa or apartment and experience some of the most the breathtaking coastal scenery of the Firth of Clyde and beyond.
Corran Cottage - Charming Cottage in KamesCorran Cottage - Charming Cottage in Kames
Added: 19 Apr 2018
Corran Cottage is a charming holiday cottage set back from the road with a private enclosed garden with wonderful views over the Kyles of Bute. Perfectly positioned and only two minutes walk from the village of Tighnabruaich.

The cottage is ideal for a small family or couples to unwind, relax and explore this beautiful part of Scotland.

Stylish and comfortable the open-plan lounge, dining and modern kitchen area is ideal for a self-catering holiday. Beautifully decorated with a nautical theme. The living area is designed to enjoy the spectacular sea views or step outside through the double patio doors to the outdoor terrace and enjoy the south facing sea views.

Sleeps four guests.

HOT TUB HOLIDAYS at Clydeside VillaHOT TUB HOLIDAYS at Clydeside Villa
Added: 13 Apr 2018
Argyll Self Catering Holidays features Clydeside Villa. A beautifully appointed holiday villa boasting spectacular sea views over the Clyde Estuary.

A stunning waterfront holiday home set in a picturesque location of Dunoon. Beautifully furnished to a high standard Clydeside Villa is self- catering holiday accommodation at its finest.

New HOT TUB for summer 2018. Take advantage of the large outdoor decking area, a soak in the hot tub and enjoy sunny afternoons with family and friends.

Featuring an open plan living area with magnificent sea views, five spacious bedrooms, and a large outdoor decking area with an undercover hot tub. Perfect for family celebrations, and special gatherings with space for several generations to relax and enjoy.

Added: 04 Apr 2018
Argyll Self Catering Holidays are keen to expand their property portfolio throughout Argyll and Bute. For property owners thinking of this option, Argyll Self Catering Holidays would be delighted to speak with you. Please contact Argyll Self Catering Holidays to arrange an initial consultation meeting.

Argyll Self Catering Holidays (ASCH) is one of Argyll’s leading self catering holiday specialists, dedicated to offering first-class service in the holiday rental market.

Launched in 2010, locally owned and operated, Argyll Self Catring Holidays is led by a dedicated team here in Dunoon.
Added: 04 Apr 2018
Shelford Villa is a luxury waterfront holiday home set on the banks of the Clyde Estuary in the coastal village of Innellan. Stylish, modern and welcoming the villa comfortably accommodates up to eight guests.

Featuring a private hot tub included in the price, a spacious living area with views and a wood burning fire. The panoramic sea views stretch over the Clyde Estuary and far distant views of Cumbra Island, Arran and the Kintrye Peninsula.
NEW PROPERTY - Shelbourne LodgeNEW PROPERTY - Shelbourne Lodge
Added: 04 Apr 2018
Shelborne Lodge is a beautifully appointed holiday home nestled in the idyllic village of Crinan. Boasting a prime waterfront location overlooking the historic Crinan Canal at Cairnbaan. The newly renovated holiday home proides an inviting and comfortable holiday in this wonderful part of Argyll. A perfect base to explore.

Featuring five bedrooms Shelbourne Lodge is perfect for families and friends, with plenty of space for several generations to relax and unwind.
New Summer Property in KamesNew Summer Property in Kames
Added: 10 May 2016
Kyles View, a warm and welcoming two bedroom self catering holiday apartment in the coastal village of Kames.

Set in a superb waterfront location this upper level apartment has magnificent water views across the Kyles of Bute and beyond. A wonderful hideaway to explore Argyll’s Secret Coast, or simply take time out to relax and watch the changing of tides and sea views. Ideal for family getaways or a romantic retreat for two. Sleeps 4.
Cowal’s Kitchen - The best places to eat!Cowal’s Kitchen - The best places to eat!
Added: 29 Apr 2016
Book your holiday in Cowal and experience our local food!

Cowal is a world-famous destination for foodies. From Loch Fyne’s famous seafood to Highland cattle beef and venison from the hills, Cowal offers the best of fresh, local produce.

The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant sits at the head of Loch Fyne. This is the place to sample local seafood, from oysters straight out of the clear water of Loch Fyne to Loch Fyne kippers.

Just along the road is the Fyne Ales Brewery, Shop & Bar. Follow the winding road up Glen Fyne for a few minutes and you’ll find the brewery. As well as bar selling a wonderful selection of ales and home-cooked food, there’s also a shop where you can buy the full range of bottle ales and mini casks, as well as beef from Fyne Ales’ own herd of Highland Cattle. Enjoy a pint of your favourite beer and a steak pie.

Head to Portavadie, Loch Fyne for modern food in a stunning waterfront setting. On a sunny day you can’t beat sitting on the terrace with a glass of cold Chablis, watching the yachts sail in and tucking into fresh seafood cooked to perfection. Try the homemade pizza in the Spa & Leisure Café.

The Colintraive Hotel is a great eatery with fabulous sea views. You have the choice of bar meal in the gastropub, where pets are welcome, or dining à la carte in the lounge.

Whether you’re a keen gardener or simply appreciate trees, flowers and nature, a trip to Benmore Garden near
Dunoon, is a fabulously rewarding experience. And you can complete the experience with a feast at the Benmore Café & Shop. You’ll find a selection of freshly made food, from homemade soups to an assortment of cakes, sandwiches and main courses which you can enjoy indoors or in the patio area.

With so many quality, local ingredients available in Cowal, it’s no wonder that the area has become a magnet for both chefs and devoted foodies alike.

 Tighnaheaglais Cottage set in picturesque Kilfinan. Tighnaheaglais Cottage set in picturesque Kilfinan.
Added: 29 Apr 2016
Kilfinan is a charming small village near the east side of Loch Fyne on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll and Bute, situated 4 miles north-west of the village of Tighnabruaich and 17 miles from Dunoon. Kilfinan is surrounded by beauty, the lochs, mountains and beautiful scenery attracts walkers, cyclists, nature-watcher and anglers.

Kilfinan features prominently in the history of Clan Lamont. The 13th Century church first recorded as far back as 1231 by ancestors of the Lamonts. Kilfinan Stones dating from the 9th century are located here. Not to be missed!
Benmore Byre this summer!Benmore Byre this summer!
Added: 29 Apr 2016
4 Star Benmore Byre is a beautiful barn coversion set within the grounds of a working farm near Dunoon. It’s just a short stroll to Benmore Botanical Gardens (you’re even provided with a free pass to the gardens for the duration of your stay) and you have the wonderful Argyll Forest and Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Parks on your doorstep.

You won’t be short of things to do. There are forest tracks, marked walks and cycle ways all around this area. Loch Eck is only a mile away and offers great opportunities for fishing or kayaking.

Benmore Byre can be booked along with its sister holiday cottage, Benmore Stable, to provide accommodation for up to ten people.

New Villa for Summer 2016New Villa for Summer 2016
Added: 13 Apr 2016
Clydeside Villa is a beautifully appointed luxury holiday villa boasting spectacular sea views over the Clyde Estuary.

A stunning waterfront holiday home set in a picturesque location in Dunoon. Beautifully furnished to a high standard Clydeside Villa is self- catering holiday accommodation at it’s finest.

Featuring a grand staircase, five spacious bedrooms, an outdoor hot tub, and a waterfront location.
Added: 23 Jul 2015

Website: http://
Added: 15 Apr 2015
New cottages this summer joining Argyll Self Catering Holidays. All located in Dunoon, Innellan, Inveraray, Minard, Strachur, Tighnabruaich, and Kames.
Added: 30 Jan 2015
It’s time to start planning your summer break in beautiful Argyll. See our fantastic range of holiday cottages, lodges and villa’s right here. Book online today.
Website: http://www,
Added: 20 Jan 2015
Hafton Lodge offers the perfect hot tub break. A stylish lodge sleeping up to 6 guest will provide relaxation, comfort and stunning water views. There is a large balcony that warps around the upper level lodge for lazy sunny afternoons. Book today.
Added: 09 Jan 2015
Check out our Winter rates for cosy cabins and inviting cottages. Warm and snug log fires...... Argyll Self Catering Holidays invites you to enjoy this spectacular region this winter. Book your break today!
Added: 20 Nov 2014
Christmas is coming. We still have cottages available over Christmas in beautiful Argyll. Call us today.
Website: http://www,
Added: 23 Sep 2014
Are you looking to let your Argyll holiday cottage? For professional, personable and realistic advice please contact Iain Fleming at Argyll Self Catering Holidays on 01369 706364.
Added: 03 Sep 2014
If you own a second home in Argyll we can let and manage it for you – helping you make the most of your property all year round. Our service is practical, professional and profitable. You won’t be tied into a contract or charged high fees for being listed. Interested in a hassle-free income? Then please contact Iain or Chrissie Fleming on 01369 706364.
Added: 21 Aug 2014
Beneli House is a wonderful holiday house and boasts some of the most impressive loch views in the area. Family holidays at Beneli House will create long-lasting special memories of a time well spent. Inviting, spacious and made for relaxing, almost every room has a stunning water view. Sleeps up to 12 guests. Located in Sandbank near Dunoon.
Added: 14 Aug 2014
Introducing ’Holy Loch Lodge’ in Hunters Quay, Argyll. A perfect family get-away offering comfort, space and freedom.. Sleeps 4.
Summer in ArgyllSummer in Argyll
Added: 13 Jul 2014
Last minute bookings still available in Argyll. Call us today to see what discounts are available.
Added: 09 May 2014
Which balcony do you want to spend your lazy days on over this summer break in beautiful Argyll, Scotland.

Find all the self catering holiday cottages on our website. —
Added: 08 May 2014
Ambrisbeg Cottage is a stone cottage which has been renovated to a high standard. The property is semi-detached with the owners but with private entrance, garden and parking areas.

It is in a secluded and rural location surrounded by peaceful farmland with beautiful country views. The spacious cottage has a large bedroom with a king-size bed, a fold-up bed, double size bed settee and cot so would be ideal for families or groups or for a romantic getaway. Sleeps 4.

There is a large garden with furniture for relaxing on sunny days, eating al fresco or having a barbecue.
Added: 17 Apr 2014
Spend your Easter indulging in Argyll’s finest... HAPPY EASTER
Added: 09 Jan 2014
Romantic short breaks in our cosy cottages in beautiful Argyll, Scotland. Breath-taking countryside, sunset views and snug log fires. Spoil someone you love...
Added: 18 Dec 2013

Added: 26 Nov 2013
Rowan Cottage is available due to a cancellation, situated at Blairmore this lovely cottage offers accommodation for up to 6 people.
Added: 26 Nov 2013
We still have limited accommodation available in beautiful Cowal.
Come and join us celebrate New Year in
style with our great range of properties with Loch and hill views. Ideal for a brisk Ne’erday walk to clear the head!

Added: 04 Oct 2013
A taste of Autumn in Argyll. Cosy cabins, inviting cottages, breathtaking countryside, warm and snug log fires...... Argyll Self Catering Holidays invites you to enjoy the spectacular colours of Autumn in Argyll. Book your short break today!

Last minute and discounted rates now available!
Added: 18 Sep 2013
After the conclusion of the successful 2013 Games bookings for 2014 are now being taken.

There have already been quite a few confirmed bookings,however we are currently seeking more properties and are busy loading in the rates for next year.

Have a look and see what we have to offer!!!
Added: 15 Aug 2013
Argyll Self Catering Holidays (ASCH) is one of Argyll’s leading self catering holiday specialists, dedicated to offering first-class service in the holiday rental market.

Launched in 2010, locally owned and operated, ASCH is led by a small dedicated team here in Dunoon. The owner Iain Fleming and his wife Chrissie are on a mission to put Argyll on the map, in particular the Cowal Peninsula. Iain has lived in the area for over 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge of the region, the travel and hospitality industry. Iain says, “if we can all work collectively in our local area we can show that Argyll can compete with other major destinations in Scotland.”

Argyll Self Catering Holidays have some of the best holiday cottages across Argyll, Scotland. Cottages, villas, apartments, bungalows, split-level houses, a castle, barn and stable conversions, farmhouses and log cabins – you name it and the chances are they have it. ASCH has invested in the latest online computerised booking system allowing clients to book instantly. Whilst many of their bookings are online, ASCH speak directly with many guests to offer personal advice and knowledge of the properties and of the region, allowing their guests to book the most suitable holiday choice for them.
Chrissie Fleming says, “ the demand for holiday rentals is growing fast and is rapidly becoming an ideal alternative to hotels. Holiday rentals provide the freedom to explore in your own style, privacy and space, combined with affordability, it’s a home away from home. You can even bring your pets. We offer our guests an opportunity to live in the local culture and experience local produce.”

In the last 9 months Iain’s Australian wife has joined the team. She brings with her 20 years marketing experience in the Australian tourism and hospitality sector.

ASCH now work with a large number of holiday properties in the Argyll region. Despite the continuing turmoil in the commercial property market there continues to be strong demand for self-catering businesses throughout Scotland. With consistent returns, this market is appealing to property owners. Here in Argyll ASCH are keen to expand their property portfolio throughout Argyll and Bute. For property owners thinking of this option, Argyll Self Catering Holidays would be delighted to speak with you. Please contact ASCH to arrange an initial consultation meeting.

ASCH provide property owners the complete service.

Westie needs help please.......Westie needs help please.......
Added: 15 Aug 2013
Please help my dad find us a nice dog-
friendly cottage in Argyll Mr Fleming.
He has left it late as usual and am worried that we won’t get a holiday this year.
It’s not much for a Westie to ask, a nice comfy house or cottage with lots of lovely walks and swimming in the loch.
Added: 18 Jul 2013

Added: 16 Jul 2013

Website: http://
It’s summer and he’s back....It’s summer and he’s back....
Added: 28 Jun 2013
Mr Muddles has returned for the summer, we found him chasing haggis around the hills of Ardentinny.
Great to get excellent feedback !!!Great to get excellent feedback !!!
Added: 17 Jan 2013
Hi Iain

Had awonderful break with our family at Budmhor. From the youngest to the oldest the house and garden were perfect for our needs.
The booking experience , and your attention to detail made a huge contribution to a very enjoyable holiday.
We will thoroughly recommend your agency ( and in particular Budmhor) to our wider family and friends.

Best regards

Maureen and Neil
Added: 10 Dec 2012

MOUNT Stuart, one of the UK’s finest stately homes, has been recognised as an outstanding heritage destination after winning two prestigious awards.

The spectacular Victorian gothic mansion on the Isle of Bute won the Hudson’s Heritage Awards 2012 for Best Wedding Venue and Best Shopping Experience.

Connie Lovel, Chief Executive of the Mount Stuart Trust, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be recognised as an outstanding heritage and visitor destination. This is great news for the Isle of Bute and for Scotland and shows that our country boasts wonderful historic venues to complement our tremendous scenery.

“These distinguished awards reflect the hard work, attention to detail and dedication of the entire team at Mount Stuart who spare no effort in making everyone’s visit a success – whether it is for a wedding or a memorable day out.
Added: 05 Dec 2012
“fantastic accomodation for a break away with friends a true home from home!!”
Reviewed November 20, 2012 Thoroughly enjoyed our stay here for Alison’s hen weekend. Fantastic facilities, clean, welcoming and a true home from home. Centrally located and would definitely recommend to others. Amazing value also.Thank you!!

Dog walking guidesDog walking guides
Added: 13 Nov 2012
Those paws are made for walking
Looking for a new dog walk? A dog friendly pub in your local area? Unusual places you can visit with your dog?

The Good Dog Guide are delighted to work with who write and publish Books of Dog Walks, Pubs and Places which are specific to a particular area. Watering holes, stile-free walks, lead off and ball throwing areas together with dog friendly places to eat and drink can be found in the easy to follow instructions and maps contained within the books. From £4.99 they make a great gift and the postage is free - London book out now!
Letter to our holiday home ownersLetter to our holiday home owners
Added: 02 Nov 2012
How are we doing?

Dear home owner,
You are aware we like to keep you updated in what we are doing for you. Let’s take a look at Argyll Self Catering Holidays one year on.
As you know we launched our own website in August 2011 and listed your property, perhaps you didn’t know your property is listed on many other sites including.

Trip Adviser

Visit Cowal

Google Add Campaigns

Facebook Ad Campaigns
We have been working very hard at website optimisation, (getting on the front page of Google to you and me) with considerable success, mostly due to the hard work of the team plus the expertise of a professional copy writer Eve McFarlane whom we employ on a consultancy basis.
We also recognise the importance of Social Media in today’s market and we are now available on Face Book and Twitter, we do try to Blog and Tweet on a daily basis so please do “like” us if you have social media accounts, it’s just a few more important pieces of the jigsaw that leads to success.
The website itself is almost organic in its growth, we were very careful in selecting a website build company who would allow us to edit and modify the site ourselves and we have become very proficient in doing just that. You will have noticed the site now has its own online booking and availability calendar system, a crucial addition that makes the difference in capturing the booking while the iron is hot, 24 hours a day seven days a week worldwide. We have also adapted the site to appear clearly on Smart Phones and i Pads, another piece in that jigsaw. From a standing start we are now receiving more and more enquiries on a daily basis, from as far away as Gourock, Mainland Europe, North America and Australia.
We are pleased, but not complacent, with our progress to date, and are conscious that we must continue to expand and diversify in the ways we promote Argyll and Bute.
Behind the scenes we have employed an accountant and administrator, making sure you receive your rental income as quickly as possible and running the office with a rod of iron.

As you may imagine the start up and running cost of all this have not been cheap and would not have been possible without the generous support and guidance of, Scottish Enterprise, The Noble Trust and The Kilfinan Trust to whom we are very grateful. Of course the income from commission we have received has also been ploughed back into the company in this first year.
Our intention when setting up the company was to promote Argyll and the Cowal Peninsula and to work together with local home owners, tradesmen, and Catering and Leisure industry providers. To this end we have had considerable success providing direct employment to local service providers including.




Gas fitters

Television engineers

Painters and decorators


Injecting new money into the community and to our delight introducing wonderful Argyll and Bute to a new audience.
This is just a snapshot of our first year, we will continue to promote your property to the best of our ability using every form of media at our disposal, from web based ,marketing groups, such as our own Cowal Marketing and as far afield as we can possibly go.
We do however need your support and input, our success is based on promoting and securing business for you our owners. Therefore we welcome any comments, both good and bad, that you may wish to make concerning the services we currently offer. We would ask you to take a few moments to do the following:

Review your property listing on

Review your photographs

If you don’t like it we will change it

“Like” your own property on our site for Facebook and Twitter (very important)

Let us know what you like or dislike.
Iain, Jim and David.
Unit 13
Sandbank Business Park
Argyll, PA23 8PB
01369 707 408
Facebook: Argyll Self-Catering Holidays
Twitter: @argyllholiday

Dalcamond House Thank youDalcamond House Thank you
Added: 31 Oct 2012
Dear Iain,

Thank you for processing our deposit. We very much enjoyed our stay at Dalcamond House even though the visit was under sad circumstances. The apartment was beautiful, was very well equipped and it felt like a home from home. Mrs Macdonald made us feel so welcome, she was on hand when the lights blew in the evening. She gave us a beautiful bunch of orange roses which she told us to take home, it was such a friendly touch. We will certainly be recommending the apartment to any friends visiting the area.

Myself and my wife would like to thank you for your very professional and efficient service.

David Wallace
New Addition in Kames, TighnabruaichNew Addition in Kames, Tighnabruaich
Added: 22 Oct 2012
Our latest addition to our website is the stunning Lodge caol Iolla situated on the edge of the golf course overlooking the sleepy village of Kames. The lodge is family owned and furnished to a very high standard. Extras include mountain bikes, golf clubs and fishing rods for clients to use. Activities in the area are walking, cycling, fishing, golf, tennis, photography and of course eating and drinking out. Great value for money please log into the main site for further information and to book!!
Dalcamond Upper Tripadvisor reviewDalcamond Upper Tripadvisor review
Added: 16 Aug 2012
“EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR HOME FROM HOME BREAK” Reviewed July 30, 2012 for a stay in July 2012 We stayed at this lovely accom for a 3 night break..We were a group of female friends who were looking for comfort and relaxation and thats exactly what we got. The location was perfect with nothing between us and the gentle sounds of lapping water. So stress busting.The view was beautiful even when the mist was there it was still worth looking at.
The apartment was spotless and very tastefully decorated with lots of extra touches. We had to call the lovely owner to ask for a light bulb and almost before I had switched off phone she was there to replace it. EVERYTHING required for a self catering holiday was provided, I couldn’t think of anything that was missing.
The balcony was a lovely place to sit and have a cofee and quiet time to read. The garden is gorgeous with bbq weather permitting. Three of our friends enjoyed the 4 mile walk along to Dunoon but there is a bus stop for the less able.The ferry service is good with very regular crossings which only takes 20 mins. We will certainly go back to Dalcamond House. There is also another apartment on the ground floor which the owner kindly showed us around and it is well worth a stay also. That one will be having a face lift this winter and I will be interested to see how it will look then. The owner certainly has a flair for keeping the features of such a lovely property.

Myrtle Bank Cottage Tripadvisor reviewMyrtle Bank Cottage Tripadvisor review
Added: 16 Aug 2012
“Well worth the money” Reviewed August 2, 2012 for a stay in July 2012 Booked through "Argyll Self-Catering Holidays" - couldn’t have been simpler or more pain-free. You let them know when you’re going to arrive - I ’phoned from the Gourock Ferry and they give you directions to the property. The property itself is beautiful. It has been refurbished to high specification and there was ample space for me, my husband and my friend. The front bedroom is lovely, the back one suffers from having a potting shed/conservatory attached, so it’s quite dark. The view from the living room is great and the three-piece-suite in there is very conducive to afternoon napping. The kitchen is spacious and well-equipped (you have to set the boiler when you go in) and I would advise turning up the refrigerator. We ate in the kitchen and, if I had to give one "note" it would be to change the dining table in there - it’s a bit awkward to sit at, at the sides (the table top is mounted on a cupboard and you can’t really get your knees under) - but that’s it, really. The bathroom has a decent shower (not as good as at home, but then, few places have) and the water gets hot very quickly. The thermostat is very responsive, so you can have the house as hot or cold as you like. Sandbank itself is a bit run down but there is a general store in walking distance. Dunoon is close by-ish (10-15 minutes’ drive) and has a a Co-op and a Morrisons. Our stay cost £75 a night and was completely worth the money and I would definitely consider going back.

Ease of booking Directions to the property
Key pickup/access to the property Overall condition
Quality of bedding/mattresses Kitchen/utensils quality
Cleanliness of bathroom Quality of facilities/amenities

Liked best: The view.
Liked least: The kitchen table.
Traveling group: Spouse/Partner
Would I recommend this vacation rental to my best friend? Yes.
Recommended for: Friends getaway

Sands Court available Cowal Games and the MODSands Court available Cowal Games and the MOD
Added: 27 Jul 2012
Sands Court 2nd floor new build,luxury 2 bedroom flat will be available for Cowal Games and the MOD.1 double,1 twin and a bed settee will comfortably sleep up to 6.Give us a call for more info or to pre book.2 mins walk to town
Four Star Birchgate Dunoon property available very soon .Four Star Birchgate Dunoon property available very soon .
Added: 25 Jul 2012
This fantatsic newly built 4**** property will very soon be available for holiday lets.

For the larger party or family,no need to leave granny at home, it is the last word in luxury, 2 minutes from the stadium and the Cowal Games venue, 10 minutes walk to the heart of Dunoon and ferry terminal.

Give us a call to discuss and pre book,it could be available for the National MOD.
National Park Events in JulyNational Park Events in July
Added: 11 Jul 2012

Events in July

National Park Rangers lead guided walks and events throughout the year, which are free to the general public. Rangers provide a unique insight to this special place and are experienced walk leaders and qualified first aiders too.

Introduction to East Loch Lomond

Every Tuesday, 2pm to 4pm. 3, 10, 17, 24 & 31 July. Meet at National Park Visitor Centre, Balmaha

Join National Park Rangers on a family friendly walk, discover seasonal flora and fauna along the way while learning about geology and treelore.

Chocolate Geology

Every Wednesday, 2pm to 3.30pm. 4, 11, 18 & 25 July, National Park Visitor Centre, Balmaha.

Come along to this interesting and informative event and find out how the landscape of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs was formed as you eat your way through the props.

Introduction to Inchcailloch

Every Wednesday, 2pm to 3.30pm. 4, 11, 18 & 25 July. Meet at North Pier, Inchcailloch.

Join National Park Rangers on a family friendly walk on Inchcailloch. Find out about the history and heritage of the island while discovering the many flora and fauna that make it such a special place.

Other information:
To reach North Pier a boat trip is required. The boat to the island leaves from Macfarlane’s Boatyard, Balmaha, cost £5 adults/ £2.50 under 16s

Callander Meadows - Nature Discovery Day

Wednesday, 18 & 25 July, 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Callander Meadows, Callander

Bring the kids along to this fun event where they’ll get the opportunity to take part in marsh dipping, invertebrate hunts and bird watching. No booking necessary.

Woodland Wonderland - Nature Discovery Day

Thursday 19 July, 2.30pm to 4pm, National Park Visitor Centre, Balmaha.

Bring the family along to this fun event where they will explore local woodland and learn about the plants and animals that live there. You’ll then head back to the visitor centre to create your own woodland themed work of art. No booking necessary.

Beautiful Butterflies - Nature Discovery Day

Thursday 26 July, 2.30pm to 4pm, National Park Visitor Centre, Balmaha.

Come along to this fun event and discover why butterflies are beautiful and amazing. No booking necessary.

Coming Up for Air Fun Day

Saturday 28 July, 11am to 4pm, Shepherds Point, Ardentinny.

Come along for a fun day of learning all about the sea. Meet creatures in our rock pool, create fantastic beach art pictures and find out a wealth of information about coastal biodiversity.

What to bring:
Many of the walks and events can last all day, so bring:

•Packed lunch and drinks
•Waterproofs and weather appropriate clothing
•Walking boots for walks, sturdy, comfortable shoes for events
•Sun protection in hot weather

Other information:

•Dogs on leads are allowed unless stated; assistant dogs are always welcome.
•Where there are restrictions on areas of land, walk leaders will comply.
•Children must be accompanied by an adult.
•Please book in advance as numbers may be limited.

Your comfort and safety is our first priority, please make sure you are equipped appropriately.
While every effort has been made to ensure the information in this listing is correct, all events may be subject to change, please check our website before setting off for your walk or event.

Booking is essential (unless otherwise stated), please call 01389 727810 or email:

Cowalfest: It’s Just a Walk in the Park!Cowalfest: It’s Just a Walk in the Park!
Added: 18 Jun 2012
NEW FOR 2012!!!
Superb 56 mile Coast walk over 6 days‐walking and ‘Riding the Marches’

Cowalfest is a ten day Walking and Arts Festival which will be held from 5 until 14 October 2012. The final weekend of our tenth autumn festival is enhanced this year by the arrival of the MOD in Dunoon, giving visitors reasons to stay longer and enjoy much more of what Cowal has to offer.

The rich variety of the Cowal landscape includes the Argyll Forest Park, the ‘Arrochar Alps’ and the ‘Cobbler’, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park and miles of stunning coastline, creating the perfect backdrop for these sometimes demanding and always rewarding walks.
Our 2012 programme is on our website now and has over 100 events including long distance walks, challenging hill climbs, mountain biking, horse riding, theatre walks, exhibitions, poetry, music, talks and walks for all ages and abilities with topics of wildlife, heritage, folk lore, tai chi, meditation, gardens and grand house and church tours.
Our walk leaders are an extra ordinary group of people who bring a variety of interests, knowledge and skills to their walks. Whether its long distance, challenging, endurance testing hill walks or town and forest paths rich with local interest, for our walk leaders it’s just a walk in the park!

2012 NEWS
The programme for the festival is available on our website and in hard copy at Dunoon Visitor Information Centre. You are welcome to collect copies if these would be of use. I hope that this will be of interest to your visitors and may encourage some to visit or return in October. Please feel free to add a link on your website to ours. The Cowalfest website will be updated with new events and regular newsletters. We can also add a link from Cowalfest to your website at a cost of £25. If this is of interest please contact

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Cowal Games WeekCowal Games Week
Added: 04 May 2012
Hot of the press, we have had a cancellation in for the cowal Games week.Rowan Cottage,if you want it book it without delay it wont be there for long !!!!!!!!!!
Remember we do not only do self catering apartments!!Remember we do not only do self catering apartments!!
Added: 23 Mar 2012
Hey Iain
The holiday has certainly got me back to the course. It was TRULY wonderful Iain , everything went to clockwork, flights, transfers , accommodation, food and us girls all got on amazingly . We had some real laughs and no arguments , all totally in agreement of everything.
Golf first day, was not my favourite course, unbelievably dry , short holes, just like pitch and put but you had to be so accurate. I lost about a dozen balls an all dried up vegetation. But still had lots fun. The championship course was so much better and obviously been watered as there were patches of green! They havnt had any rain out there and if that’s what it is like in March, phew can’t imagine what it will be like in the summer.
We played 9 holes of the championship course on the Monday giving us time to pack and have our hysterical prize giving. We will let you see the photos that Rachael loading inti a book .
We had so much fun and you were toasted a good number of times Iain, and think you will get lots of business from it, everyone so impressed with you .
Where we stayed was fabulous, great rooms, wonderful swimming pools, and tennis, rackets packed but no time!
Thanks again Iain xxxx

Mount Stewart opens 1st of AprilMount Stewart opens 1st of April
Added: 21 Mar 2012

Mount Stuart offers the most memorable day out this Easter. Offering one of the world’s greatest houses and some of Europes finest gardens right on your doorstep – Mount Stuart offers so much more.

To mark the start of our season coffee lovers will be invited to join in the fun by attending Bute’s biggest morning. Discover what your taste buds say about you with a unique experience to taste a custom made coffee, created and blended by our world-class baristas from Grumpy Mule our award winning coffee supplier especially for your personal preferences.
Visitors can take advantage of our money saving promotions throughout the day across our shop and eat outlets. There will be competitions, prizes and our restaurant and tea room will be offering coffee themed products throughout the day.

Easter weekend sees a traditional Easter Egg Trail following the Easter Bunny around the gardens to the House. Come and meet our happy hens, or ‘Get Crafty’ with a series of children’s workshops to make jewellery, key rings and miniature Easter bonnets. In the Restaurant there will be Easter egg colouring competitions with lots of chocolate goodies as prizes.
For the green fingered, the Garden Centre will be bursting full of colourful and fragrant displays and the 300 acres of glorious gardens, woodlands and walks (dogs can bring their responsible owners too), offer a spectacle of spring colour and theatre.
The House boasts a rich and intriguing history - with jaw-droppingly stunning interiors and sheer detail and grandeur, this really is a place that has to be seen to be believed.

Fantastic days out awaits you and your guests with House Tours, Gardens, Visitor Centre, Restaurant, Tea Rooms, Gift Shops, Garden Centre, Adventure Play Area, Picnic Sites, Walking Trails and more!
Encourage your guests to visit Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute this Easter and make their stay a memorable one.

To find out more about us please visit our website:

Guess what property!!!Guess what property!!!
Added: 16 Mar 2012
Our first Tripadvisor comment on one of our luxury properties in Innellan ....“Beautiful accommodation”
Reviewed March 13, 2012 NEW We have just recently returned from a weekend break here and had such an amazing time.The apartment is absolutely stunning and has everything you could possibly need I was very sorry to leave and will have no hesitation in returning here again.
Views are spectacular and there is nothing I could possibly fault would recommend this as a short break or long term break to anyone.

We are so pleased and hope this is the first of many.
Cowal TourismCowal Tourism
Added: 09 Mar 2012
ARGYLL’S TOURIST industry leaders gathered at Portavadie Marina last Thursday for a tourism industry summit - and, despite challenging economic times for all, are determined that the region can go from strength to strength.

And their resolve was strengthened by the announcement of a £164,000 funding boost for a two-year marketing initiative for Argyll and the Isles - a tag line that is increasingly being promoted as ‘the’ name for the area.

The second annual tourism summit, organised by Argyll and the Islands Strategic Tourism Partnership (AISTP), was hailed as a ‘fantastic success’ by those in attendance - over 140 tourism professionals along with local authority officers, councillors and VisitScotland chief Malcolm Roughead.

Opening the summit, Argyll and Bute councillor Neil Mackay told how at the inaugural event in 2011, the theme was ‘Stronger Together’.
Building on this foundation was the key, he said - and this was reinforced by Mr Roughead, the keynote speaker.
He said: “When you look at investment in Argyll and the Isles recently, despite the economic recession these are really fast moving times. This venue - Portavadie Marina - is a great example.
“People have had the courage and commitment to invest in the region, and we will come through this in a much stronger and more competitive place.”
He pointed out that 2011 had ended with indicators of growth in the domestic tourist market - and despite decline in European visitor numbers, there was growth in the North American market.
“We are very well placed to take advantage of this,” he said.
“Think ahead - there is the Commonwealth Games, the Year of Homecoming - there are 32 clan seats in the region.
“Yes, these are challenging times, but there are also opportunities and we have to work hard, and together, to maximise these.
“We can and we will.”

Mike Story of AISTP was equally enthusiastic.
“Argyll is a really fantastic place, with clan seats, castles, islands, distilleries, places of national interest, golf courses, Michelin stars, wildlife, world championships and more birds of prey than anywhere else,” he said.
“We have so much to celebrate but it has been kept hidden for so long - we can’t do that anymore.”
As part of increasing that visibility, Mr Story told how AISTP will have a significant presence at this year’s Expo event.
“We will take every single one of Argyll’s marketing groups with us - the eyes of the world will be upon us, so let’s put on a good display,” he said, after outlining the theme of Argyll’s Expo showcase which will be ‘A Journey Through Argyll’.
A question and answer session with the main speakers did highlight some key issues, though, with transport and travel high on the list and tourism leaders asserting: “Something has to be done.”
AISTP also announced the winner of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Award - Ian Cleaver, of Highland Heritage, which operates coach tours around the region from its Dalmally base.

Added: 07 Mar 2012
Run for it Mr MuddlesRun for it Mr Muddles
Added: 07 Mar 2012
Someone left the back door open at Mr Muddles holiday home at Benmore Byre.Im off he said.Dont worry he was quickly recaptured before farmer Neil noticed.
I made it to the end of the week,justI made it to the end of the week,just
Added: 02 Mar 2012
Well i’ll tell you I didnt think i would make this weekend.Feel like running away just like Iain at Portavadie !
Things might be warming up around here !Things might be warming up around here !
Added: 01 Mar 2012
Well well well,looked out the window this morning and it was bright and cheery,I even opened the window and stuck my head out,didnt suffer any ill effects.Mmmm might head out this weekend over to Portavadie do a spot of walking,might even stay overnight in one of the lodge rooms.Its hardly slumming it.
Missed Valentines DayMissed Valentines Day
Added: 14 Feb 2012
Dont panic ! Ok you forgot Valentines Day.Redeem yourself this weekend book the Couples Retreat Portavadie
Sounds like a very wooley proposalSounds like a very wooley proposal
Added: 10 Feb 2012
One of the country’s leading farmers has suggested that grazing livestock would help stabilise the hillsides above the Rest and be Thankful.
New property to Argyll Self Catering HolidaysNew property to Argyll Self Catering Holidays
Added: 08 Feb 2012
We have just been given a new property to promote.Pier Cottage Kames and it does what it sais on the tin.Right on the old pier,you dont get much closer than swimming than this.We will be taking more photos and a full discription will appear on the site soooooon promise.If you want to book though just give us a call.
Walk the dogWalk the dog
Added: 03 Feb 2012
Its so cold the streets are icy, everything is white, time to go to the hills and enjoy them.Find a holiday home for a weekend with a big open fire to warm yourself after a long walk with the dog and kids.Check out the website for houses with open fires.
Top 100 things to do in Argyll: Enjoy a drink at the Kames HotelTop 100 things to do in Argyll: Enjoy a drink at the Kames Hotel
Added: 31 Jan 2012
Right on the banks of Loch Fyne, the Kames Hotel is a great spot for an alfresco drink in summer. But it’s January and cold, so you’d be better off heading into its cosy Highland bar to warm up with the locals. It’s a great wee pub, nicknamed ‘the glue pot’ because once you’re through the doors you get kind of stuck. There’s a fine collection of single malts on offer, real ales from local brewer Fyne Ales and an excellent wine list. You’ll often stumble upon live music on a weekend and in the bleak midwinter, there’s no better place to hunker down.
Rabbie BurnsRabbie Burns
Added: 24 Jan 2012
On Wednesday Scots around the world will be getting stuck in to haggis, enjoying a dram of whisky, reciting poetry and singing some songs to commemorate the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

And the people of Argyll are no exception. If you want to join in and give haggis a go, there are plenty of Burns Suppers taking place. You could, of course, organise your own. There’s a great online guide here that includes a sample menu, recipes and poems to recite. You can get your haggis from most supermarkets, but we’ve heard that A.Kent Family Butchers in Dunoon do a particularly fine one.

If you’re planning an Argyll holiday next winter, then why not come for Burns Night? It’s always fun to celebrate it in Scotland and some of our properties are perfect for hosting big dinners. Take a look at Ormidale House with its roaring fires and dining hall seating 24 or Old Kilmun House with its wood-panelled dining room – just the place to toast the haggis with family and friends.
Top 100 things to do: Visit Mount Stuart on ButeTop 100 things to do: Visit Mount Stuart on Bute
Added: 20 Jan 2012
Bute is a gem of an island and home to Mount Stuart, the astounding Victorian gothic mansion set in acres of lush gardens overlooking the Firth of Clyde. Created by the third marquess of Bute in 1877, no expense was spared on this building and its interiors. The Marble Hall is stunning, its vaulted ceiling and stained-glass windows beautifully decorated with the signs of the zodiac. There are details and fine craftsmanship everywhere, from the animal carvings to the tapestries. The tour guides are always entertaining and full of fascinating insights into the house and the eccentricities of the family who built it. Take a stroll through the gardens and have a coffee or lunch at the modern visitor centre.
Top 100 things to do in Argyll: Climb the CobblerTop 100 things to do in Argyll: Climb the Cobbler
Added: 13 Jan 2012
At 2891 ft Ben Arthur, better know as the Cobbler, isn’t the tallest peak in the Arrochar Alps range, but it’s possibly the most enticing. Its jagged, 3 peaked ridge (one of them representing a cobbler bent over his last) is a spectacular sight and the views from the summit are breath-taking. On top of that, it’s a surprisingly accessible wilderness, with the most popular route starting just off the roadside at Succoth at the head of Loch Long.

It may not be a Munro, but it’s fairly serious walk so you’ll need to be fit to bag it. The path zigzags its way up the hillside through forest, follows a burn and then climbs steeply upwards. The Cobbler has 3 distinctive summits: the middle one is the highest.

Traversing the ridge in order to ascend any of these peaks is a tricky business and you’ll need a good head for height to reach the true summit, which ican best be reached by crawling through a hole known as ’Argyll’s eyeglass’. This hairy move is called ’threading the needle’ and should only be attempted by experienced hikers and scramblers.

You’ll need about 5 hours in total. Refresh yourself with a drink at the Village Inn in Arrochar afterwards.
These boots are made for walking …These boots are made for walking …
Added: 09 Jan 2012
The indulgences of Christmas and Hogmanay are officially over and it’s time to put those New Year resolutions about getting fit into practice. And what better way than walking? Argyll is brimful of fabulous walks, from easy coastal rambles to hardcore mountain climbs. So dust off your boots, pack a picnic and make your Argyll holiday a walking one.

The most famous walk is the long-distance Cowal Way, which runs for around 90 kilometres along the length of the Cowal Peninsula. It begins at Portavadie in the southwest and ends at Inveruglas on the shores of Loch Lomond, passing through beautiful countryside (and a fair few bogs!). Some sections are pretty rough and you’ll require some navigational skills, but this epic route is well worth the effort. Portavadie Marina, at the start of the walk, offers a range of accommodation for all budgets and has excellent facilities for walkers.

If hills are your thing, then head to the Arrochar Alps – by far the most spectacular mountain range in the southern Highlands. The most popular hill within this group is Ben Arthur, commonly known as The Cobbler. The Loch Eck hills also offer challenging walks, particularly Beinn Ruadh (664m), Sligrachan, and Clach Bheinn (643m). Lochgoilhead is another great hill walking area. Ben Bheula (779m), towering above Loch Goil, is a rewarding climb, and the hills between Loch Goil and Loch Eck, though less high have wonderful views of the mountains and sea. Have a look at Shoreside in Lochgoilhead and our properties on Ellary Estate – they’re both excellent bases for hill walkers.

And if you want to make a week of it, why not plan your holiday to coincide Cowalfest (, a walking and arts festival taking place from 5 to 15 October 2012? Base yourself in any of our Cowal properties for easy access to some fabulous walks and events over the festival week.
Holy Smoke Holy Loch !Holy Smoke Holy Loch !
Added: 14 Dec 2011
EXCLUSIVE: Emergency services were called to Holy Loch Marina on Thursday morning after receiving reports of a blaze on board a tug moored in the nearby loch.

The vessel ’Gary Grey’, which has been tied up in the Holy Loch for several years, had caught fire internally.

However, when emergency workers - including police, ambulance and fire personnel and coastguard volunteers - tried to assist, the situation developed intoa stand-off when the tug’s crew proved unco-operative.

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue personnel from Dunoon stood by on shore, but were unable to board the vessel - a specialist marine team would require to act insuch circumstances.

Both RNLI and Strathclyde Police RIBs were unable to attend due to the severe and worsening weather conditions. And it is understood that in any case, thefour crew members on board the tug showed some reluctance to come ashore.

A Cowal company, Clyde Sea Recovery, came alongside the ’Gary Grey’ and brought one crew member to Holy Loch Marina where he hoped to obtain theuse of a pump.

But it appeared that his colleagues were reluctant to allow him to return to the ship and protracted discussions between emergency service chiefs, the on-shore representative and the remaining crew members took place by mobile phone from the safety of the marina.

The crew member was heard to insist to fire personnel: "The fire is out. You are now able to accept that the fire is out. I am happy to go back on to the boatand be responsible for my own health and safety.

"We’ve got a perfectly good boat there on a perfectly good mooring - it is insured and given a few hours work we may be able to get her off the mooring and under way. We just need to assess the damage - I can’t really help anyone here any more."

The seaman also advised that he and his crew-mates had been working on the vessel’s wiring systems the previous day as part of repair works required before the tug would be hauled out for winter refit. He said that no one on board had suffered any ill-effects as a result of the fire, which was not visible from the shore by late Thursday morning.

Eventually the man agreed that ambulance staff could examine him for smoke inhalation or other issues, and was taken back out to the ’Gary Grey’ by a Clyde Sea Recovery vessel - following which emergency services personnel and vehicles began to leave the scene.

The ’Gary Grey’ had been sold, it is understood, within the last few days.

Kyles Newtonmore Nail BiterKyles Newtonmore Nail Biter
Added: 05 Dec 2011
Written by Colin Cameron
Saturday, 19 November 2011 20:13
Kyles Athletic’s league title dreams were left in tatters in Dunoon this afternoon (Saturday November 19) as a last-minute goal by Danny MacRae stole victory - and the Scottish Hydro Premier Division title - for Newtonmore.

Castle Toward New ResortCastle Toward New Resort
Added: 15 Nov 2011
CASTLE Toward, an outdoor education centre for over 60 years, is set to be sold to a Bristol-based timeshare company.

Argyll and Bute Council announced last week that, after its executive committee considered four bids for the 1820 mansion, Seasons Holidays were named as ‘preferred bidders’. The company plans to build a resort with a hotel, spa, conference centre and holiday lodges. It claims that over 200 jobs will be created.

The council was seeking offers over £2.25m for the property and its extensive grounds, which contain the ruins of the sixteenth century Toward Castle, the Chinese ponds, wooded areas and access to the shore.

Council leader Councillor Dick Walsh said that Seasons Holidays development would amount to one of the most significant leisure developments ever seen in Argyll and Bute, and would put the area firmly at the forefront of tourism development in Scotland.
“This plan has the potential to transform the economy of the local area, as well the wider region,” Councillor Walsh said.
“This is a company with a strong track record, which has been liaising with Scottish Development International, the government agency for inward investment, for several years regarding possible investment opportunities in Scotland. I am very excited that they have chosen the Cowal peninsula for their latest project.”

Seasons Holidays describes itself as ‘a specialist property developer working solely to provide high quality and cost-effective holiday homes for purchase’. It currently has six resorts in the UK – including at Brunston Castle in Ayrshire - and three in Europe. Until three years ago it ran its resorts on a timeshare basis, but now operates on a ‘fractional ownership’ basis. This model, described by one holiday commentator as ‘son of timeshare’, involves the purchase of a freehold share of a holiday property.

After wartime use as a combined operations centre, Glasgow Corporation purchased Castle Toward from the Coatts family in 1945. Initially used as a residential school for Glasgow children recovering from illness, it became available for use by all Glasgow children as an outdoor education centre.

With local government reorganisation in 1996 ownership passed to Argyll and Bute Council and Castle Toward was threatened with closure. The centre’s then principal, Peter Wilson, mounted a rescue operation and a company, Actual Reality, was formed to keep the castle in use as an outdoor activity centre. The council has made a number of attempts to sell Castle Toward and all – until now – have been met with stiff opposition. A host of celebrities and academics made sure the Save Castle Toward campaign received national headlines.

Actual Reality runs the council’s outdoor centre at Ardentinny as well as Castle Toward. Dr Christopher Mason of Actual Reality told the Standard: “Of course we are very disappointed. The provision of outdoor education and music experiences will end after 62 years at Castle Toward. Actual Reality is about the education of young people in Scotland and will carry on our work in other premises. We were prepared for this.
“We will be carrying on in Castle Toward and Ardentinny until the end of this school year. Beyond that – we are talking about Ardentinny with Argyll and Bute Council.
“I am absolutely positive about the future – I hope Actual Reality will be around for another 60 years.”

Seasons Holidays’ chairman Barry Hurley expressed his pleasure in securing Castle Toward in a presss statement, and revealed that his company had been looking at Castle Toward for five years.
“We will now endeavour to work closely with the local planning authority, Historic Scotland and all the associated bodies to achieve a deliverable mixed use resort development, whilst retaining the important historical heritage of the site,” he said.
“We are convinced this new development will be a catalyst for the re-emergence of tourism and leisure in this region of Scotland. The benefits in economic terms, new local employment and investment generally will be the most rewarding aspect of this new venture proposal that is seen at all our regional developments throughout the UK.
“A truly exciting opportunity now exists and congratulations to Argyll and Bute Council for seeing the future vision for Castle Toward as we have always seen over the past five years, since our first visit to the development. A great deal of thanks also goes to Scottish Development International, which has worked extremely closely with my acquisition team, Argyll and Bute Council and council members.”

We were keen to ask Seasons Holidays how many people it employed in its other resorts, and about its plans to refurbish the castle, but th company did not return our calls.

The seat of Clan Lamont is facing a new chapter.

Added: 31 Oct 2011
Dunoon girl Leigh Miller’s home has a Hallowe’en feel all year round with these spooky ‘faces’ in the doors.

Leigh noticed that natural grain in two of the doors resemble a ghost (left) and, perhaps less scary, the lovable alien, ET (on the right).

We hope you enjoy your Hallowe’en celebrations this weekend.
Big FreezeBig Freeze
Added: 25 Oct 2011
Council well prepared for winter onslaught
October 25, 2011

COUNCIL roads bosses have shown true grit ahead of an anticipated big freeze this winter – by ordering 70 per cent more salt stocks than last year.

Argyll and Bute has stockpiled nearly 18,000 tonnes of salt and has a fleet of 33 gritting and snow ploughing vehicles – with eight more set for delivery in December.

And the belt and braces approach is being extended further with roads crews preparing to carry out ‘dry runs’ to make sure everything is working properly.

But motorists are being warned to continue to drive with caution on local roads which can be unpredictable at the best of times.

Council gritter driver Willie Holmes said today: “We are first on the road when there’s been heavy snowfall and, although there can be some beautiful views, there are still some very real dangers.

“Despite the snow and icy conditions many people drive too fast. Remember even if the gritter has been, it will take a couple of cars to go over the grit to really make it effective – so my advice would be to slow down.”

The council will also be giving out salt stocks to local people to help keep individual locations safe for pedestrians too.

A spokeswoman for the local authority said: “There are more than 300 grit bins and thousands of salt heaps across Argyll and Bute, so you can spread salt on local pavements and roads.

“Salt will be available for you at roads depot gates and will be restricted to one 20kg bag per person.”

Councillor Duncan MacIntyre, chair of the transport and infrastructure committee, said: “This year’s plan to deal with winter is very impressive. The council is ready for whatever the weather holds in store.

“There will be leaflets distributed across the area with information on priority routes, how to be prepared in the car and some tips for winter driving.

“This year there will be also more information available online at .

“You can see the treatment routes and how they are prioritised. You can also see regular weather forecasts so you can plan ahead.

“And if the weather is severe you have to ask yourself if the journey is really necessary.”

Cairndow HomesCairndow Homes
Added: 24 Oct 2011
Written by Aileen
Friday, 21 October 2011 14:07

PLANS for a development which would bring much-needed new homes to a Loch Fyne community have been delayed - despite a full hearing to discuss the proposals.

Ardkinglas Estate submitted an application for 16 new houses, a childcare centre and seven commercial units on land adjacent to its existing sawmill at Clachan, near Cairndow.
The plans have been in the pipeline for some years now and were discussed at a meeting of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning committee in September.
Although planning officers had recommended refusal, citing development density, the area’s panoramic quality and objections from some parts of the community, councillors indicated their desire to find a way of approving the plans.
They pointed out the fact that there are employment opportunities available in Cairndow, but not enough houses - an unusual situation for a small community.
The committee members agreed to hold a full hearing, which took place in Strachur hall on Friday October 21.
But after considerable discussion, a final decision was deferred again - and will not be made until the committee next meets in Kilmory on November 23.
Full coverage of Friday’s hearing to follow in the Dunoon Observer and Argyllshire Standard.

Blow HardBlow Hard
Added: 07 Oct 2011
Written by Colin Cameron
Friday, 23 September 2011 14:03
The tail-end of Hurricane Katia brought plenty of rain and wind to Britain last week – so much, in fact, that wind-produced electricity was more than the grid could cope with.

National Grid, which manages the electricity transmission network, asked 13 windfarms to stop producing electricity for periods between September 10 to 14.

Locally, the An Suidhe windfarm, on the hills between Loch Fyne and Loch Awe, was asked to reduce generation.
A spokesman for National Grid said: “National Grid balances supply with demand on a minute by minute basis, and can ask power generators to come on and off the network to keep it balanced, making sure we all continue to receive secure energy supplies.
“In this case, some windfarms were asked to reduce their generation as supply was outstripping demand and our priority is always to operate the network as safely as possible.
“If there is too much generation, we sometimes use what’s called the balancing mechanism (BM) to accept offers for power stations to stop producing (and vice versa, we can use the BM to accept a bid to generate more power).
“We do this to make sure the supply/demand balance stays in balance, or else it could affect things like system frequency and voltage.”

The balancing mechanism is used to compensate generation companies for potential loss of production, and in last week’s storms, the total compensation paid was was £2.6m.

The National Grid spokesman added: “As we move into winter – and particularly after the clock change in October – electricity demand tends to increase. So while we can’t definitely say we won’t have to reduce generation over the winter, it is less likely given people use more electricity.
“This situation tends to arise when it is warm and there is relatively low demand, but the wind is still blowing.”

According to the British Wind Energy Association, wind turbines start operating at wind speeds of 4 to 5 metres per second (around 10 miles an hour) and reach maximum power output at around 15 metres/second (around 33 miles per hour). At very high wind speeds, i.e. gale force winds, (25 metres/second, (5-plus miles/hour) wind turbines shut down.

Added: 07 Oct 2011
A revamped timetable for Argyll Ferries Dunoon-Gourock service will be introduced on Monday – but five weeks later it will be withdrawn as both Argyll Ferries’ boats go for refit.

Managing director Phil Preston said that, in common with all other ferries, both the company’s vessels require to have annual refits and these will take place between November 7 and November 26 November. The service will reduce to one return sailing an hour during this period.

Mr Preston said: “The timing of the refits of the MV Argyll Flyer and MV Ali Cat is unfortunate, but unavoidable, and we are grateful for passengers’ patience while we carry out this essential work.”

Timetable revisions are designed to improve connectivity with rail services at Gourock railhead.

Mr Preston said: “When we were drafting the timetable for the new service, out of necessity we made a number of assumptions about some timings which experience now shows were optimistic, so we have taken the opportunity to adjust these.”
He added: “We are on track to implement other improvements such as electronic message boards at each port, and are in discussion with Argyll and Bute Council, Inverclyde Council, ScotRail, SPT and Transport Scotland, about the longer term improvements to passenger facilities which are required to help us achieve our vision of a frequent, reliable, world-class passenger service.”

Queen visits DunoonQueen visits Dunoon
Added: 23 Sep 2011
The 151,400 tonne Cunard liner Queen Mary 2 passes the Gantock, off Dunoon, this morning,hope they dont try visiting Lochgoilhead in that thing,said local wag. (Friday). Photo: Harry McGilvray, Sandhaven
Great cowal gatheringGreat cowal gathering
Added: 14 Sep 2011
Argyll enjoyed an unprecedented day of success at last weekend’s World Pipe Band Championships.
The region can now boast two world champion bands at lower grades – and the fourth best band in the world of elite competition.
In front of 40,000 spectators at Glasgow Green, some 8,000 pipers and drummers from 16 countries vied for the world titles across eight separate grades.

Now in its tenth year in competition, Kintyre Schools Pipe Band added to their British and European titles, securing the world crown in the Novice grade. In a contest involving 20 young bands, Kintyre Schools pipped Edinburgh rivals George Watson’s College by a single point. Also competing were Rothesay and District Pipe Band, which came 11th, and 13th placed Oban High School.

In the Juvenile arena Inveraray and District ‘wee’ band – stepping up from Novice for the first year – took an excellent fourth place behind George Watson’s College, Boghall and Bathgate and Dollar Academy. The achievement is all the more remarkable given that the young Inveraray band members went into this year’s contest just a few months after the band’s pipe major, Robert Stewart, passed away. In the same competition, Oban High School were placed eighth.
After qualifying in third place for the Grade 3B final, relative newcomers Cowal Pipe Band were ultimately placed a creditable eighth in a final comprising 12 bands. Rothesay and District had more success, coming third, just behind St Laurence O’Toole and clear winners New York Metro.

Over in Grade 3A current Scottish champions, Oban Pipe Band, recovered from a shaky qualifying round to take first place under Pipe Major Euan Dewar. Led by a strong piping score, Isle of Islay were not too far behind in fourth place.
Grade 1 is split into two components in which bands must perform a march, strathspey and reel (MSR) set and, separately, a medley of tunes.

In just their second year in the top grade after a meteoric rise up the rankings in the five years before, Inveraray and District is rapidly becoming established as a serious contender. Amid the showers last Saturday, Stuart Liddell led the young band to their finest performance yet. A good solid MSR round, in which the band was placed sixth, was bettered by an exuberant medley full of musicality – a Stuart Liddell trademark. A third place in the medley secured the youngsters fourth place in the world championships at Grade 1, behind more experienced bands Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland) in first, Simon Fraser University (Canada) in second and Scottish Power in third place.
Inveraray and District Pipe Band secretary, Jim McMillan, said: “Our Grade 1 band was looking to improve on last year’s ninth place at the ‘worlds’, in this their second year in the top grade,” he said.
“So we were delighted to finish in fourth place behind some great bands.”

The Royal National MOD Dunoon 12th-20th October 2012The Royal National MOD Dunoon 12th-20th October 2012
Added: 08 Sep 2011
The Royal National Mod is organised by An Comunn Gàidhealach (The Highland Association) which was founded in Oban in 1891 and has HM The Queen as its Patron. Famous for celebrating our Gaelic linguistic and cultural heritage, Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival and provides opportunities for people of all ages to perform across a range of competitive disciplines including Gaelic music and song, highland dancing, instrumental, drama, sport and literature.
The support of organisations such as Caledonian MacBrayne, The Royal Bank of Scotland, The Royal Mail Group and BBC Scotland has helped to consolidate the status of the Royal National Mod as Scotland’s main Gaelic cultural festival.
The international dimension to the Royal National Mod continues to grow with the support of EventScotland and VisitScotland while the leading Gaelic language promotion and development organizations in Scotland including Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Comunn na Gàidhlig, the Gaelic Books Council, Pròiseact nan Ealan , HIE and the Gaelic Media Service all offer considerable support.
Cowal Highland Gathering 2011Cowal Highland Gathering 2011
Added: 06 Sep 2011
Written by Gordon
Thursday, 25 August 2011 08:09
Cowal Highland Gathering begins today (Thursday) in Dunoon.
Thursday’s highlights include the Scottish National Dancing Championships at 10am and classic car display at 1.15pm.
Friday sees the Scottish dancing come to a conclusion and the heats for the world championships, solo piping competitions and heavy athletics.
The pipe bands turn up on Saturday for competition in all grades. In highland dancing the Argyllshire Chamionships take place at 10am and at noon the World Championship finals begin.
Other highlights include the Ceilidh Tent and the massed bands at 6.30pm.
Watch this space for regular updates from Dunoon Stadium…

Fflying Fifteen Scottish ChampionshipsFflying Fifteen Scottish Championships
Added: 29 Aug 2011
Flying 15 Race Reports

Scottish Championships at Holy Loch

Competitors came to the Holy Loch over the 20th and 21st August from as far away as Northampton, Yorkshire and Cumbria. Sponsors Holy Loch Marina looked after the boats and Loch Fyne Oysters provided a tasty buffet to welcome crews. With prizes including malt whisky from the Loch Lomond Distillery, a decent weather forecast the scene was set for a weekend of top level racing.

On Friday evening the assembled crews were treated to a welcome supper courtesy of Loch Fyne Oysters, we were treated to some of the company’s finest delicacies and the club was really buzzing with a great pre-event atmosphere. The highlight of the evening a talk from Steve Goacher on how to get the best from your fifteen both up wind and down, the packed club house received the pearls of wisdom gratefully and looked forward to applying them on the water.

For Saturday the race officer set a windward leeward course in a 8 – 12 knot WSW breeze, the fleet keen to apply the knowledge gained the previous evening engaged in close racing with Goacher/Evans (3821) taking the win from Chris Bowen (3351) from Northampton (so much for local knowledge) and third Salmond/Condy (627). With the wind swinging to the SSE and building to upwards of 20 knots the race officer was able to set a much longer windward leeward course almost the length of the loch. This breeze favoured some of the heavier crews and again Goacher/Evans moved to the front of the fleet by the end of the first beat taking a second bullet from Bowen (3351) and in third Purves/Anderson (3347).
The fleet came ashore, greeted with drams of whiskey and shortbread, courtesy of sponsors Loch Lomond Whiskey. An excellent hot supper was served in the clubhouse, washed down with more samples of our sponsor’s product or the local beer depending on preference. A great evening was had by all.

On Sunday morning with a very shifty breeze developing the crews waited for over two hours for the wind direction to settle so the race officer race officer was able to set a course. An even longer wait due to a broken ferry left three crews stranded on Bute and ultimately missing out on proceedings.
Race three got under way in a WNW breeze with big lifts to be found on the west shore of the loch and again close racing amongst the fleet whilst a breakaway group dominated the race. The result again gave a win for Goacher/Evans from Purves/Anderson (3347) and Neville (270) in third. The last race started after a short delay to shift the windward mark and again the fleet headed to the west shore looking for lifts into the windward mark. With Goacher/Evans in the fleet at 5th and pushed to the wrong side of the run were we going to see a different race winner? No Goacher/Evans moved up to second by the end of the run and took the win on the last beat from Jamieson/Wilson (3521) and Salmond/Condy (627) in third. The race was a very tight affair with much place changing as crews worked hard to get one last good result as it was something of a closer match in the classic and silver divisions.
In the Classic fleet Salmond/Condy fought hard to keep in front of Challis/Shaughnessy while in the silver fleet Purves/Anderson kept a respectable distance in front of Orr/Ferguson in and Scott Train to close off the other prizes.

In the final analysis Messrs Goacher and Evans (3821) won the Scottish title, from Purves/ Anderson (3347) in second overall and the first HLSC boat, Salmond/Condy (627)in third .
Bobby Salmond also claimed the Classic section and with it the HLSC Silver and Classic combined trophy, (Just as well as he had forgotten to bring the trophy to the presentation having won it last year.) A special mention should be made here for Patrick Condy, a young cadet member at HLSC who took on the challenge at short notice of crewing for Bobby the current classic world champion. Also braving the fierce conditions teenage Alistair Ireland from Toward Sailing Club sailing with his dad did a sterling job .

All in all a very competitive and hard fought championship. Enthusiasm for fifteens has steadily grown over the last 10 years at Holy Loch and the club was delighted to be given the opportunity to host the Scottish Nationals. Full results can be found at and the club is now focussed on the Marineblast regatta which is on the 11th and 12th September.

World Pipe Band Championships 2011 Cowal Gathering Dunoon NextWorld Pipe Band Championships 2011 Cowal Gathering Dunoon Next
Added: 29 Aug 2011
Argyll enjoyed an unprecedented day of success at last weekend’s World Pipe Band Championships.
The region can now boast two world champion bands at lower grades – and the fourth best band in the world of elite competition.
In front of 40,000 spectators at Glasgow Green, some 8,000 pipers and drummers from 16 countries vied for the world titles across eight separate grades.

Now in its tenth year in competition, Kintyre Schools Pipe Band added to their British and European titles, securing the world crown in the Novice grade. In a contest involving 20 young bands, Kintyre Schools pipped Edinburgh rivals George Watson’s College by a single point. Also competing were Rothesay and District Pipe Band, which came 11th, and 13th placed Oban High School.

In the Juvenile arena Inveraray and District ‘wee’ band – stepping up from Novice for the first year – took an excellent fourth place behind George Watson’s College, Boghall and Bathgate and Dollar Academy. The achievement is all the more remarkable given that the young Inveraray band members went into this year’s contest just a few months after the band’s pipe major, Robert Stewart, passed away. In the same competition, Oban High School were placed eighth.
After qualifying in third place for the Grade 3B final, relative newcomers Cowal Pipe Band were ultimately placed a creditable eighth in a final comprising 12 bands. Rothesay and District had more success, coming third, just behind St Laurence O’Toole and clear winners New York Metro.

Over in Grade 3A current Scottish champions, Oban Pipe Band, recovered from a shaky qualifying round to take first place under Pipe Major Euan Dewar. Led by a strong piping score, Isle of Islay were not too far behind in fourth place.
Grade 1 is split into two components in which bands must perform a march, strathspey and reel (MSR) set and, separately, a medley of tunes.

In just their second year in the top grade after a meteoric rise up the rankings in the five years before, Inveraray and District is rapidly becoming established as a serious contender. Amid the showers last Saturday, Stuart Liddell led the young band to their finest performance yet. A good solid MSR round, in which the band was placed sixth, was bettered by an exuberant medley full of musicality – a Stuart Liddell trademark. A third place in the medley secured the youngsters fourth place in the world championships at Grade 1, behind more experienced bands Field Marshal Montgomery (Northern Ireland) in first, Simon Fraser University (Canada) in second and Scottish Power in third place.
Inveraray and District Pipe Band secretary, Jim McMillan, said: “Our Grade 1 band was looking to improve on last year’s ninth place at the ‘worlds’, in this their second year in the top grade,” he said.
“So we were delighted to finish in fourth place behind some great bands.”

Added: 22 Aug 2011
Ian Jack, Friday 29 July 2011 20.30 BST Article history
The Waverley still sails the river Clyde … but for how much longer? Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/REUTERS
If there were to be a contest for the best British summer in living memory, I would vote for 1955. Meteorologically, that might be debated. Other summers since may well have been hotter and sunnier across the United Kingdom as a whole. But that summer in Scotland was glorious. Day after day the sky dawned blue, even in Port Glasgow, which is notorious for its rain, and where for a week that year I spent the first of my holidays with my uncle, aunt and cousins. One day we took a ferry and a double-decker bus to a beach near Dunoon. There, late in the afternoon, I looked up from the rocks to see a two-funnelled steamship come round the headland, gliding towards us like a small liner. "That’ll be the wee Queen Mary," my uncle said, "going home to Glasgow from the Kyles of Bute."

To describe the effect as an epiphany would be going too far, but the sight of this pleasure steamer planted an interest in me (reinforced the same evening by sailing home on a ship where the crowds on deck sang to an accordion band) that grew into an enthusiasm, and in adolescence almost to an obsession, before falling back into a deep fondness that still persists. In 1955, pleasure fleets still sailed across the Bristol Channel, along the south coast and down the Thames, but neither in number nor style did any of them equal the fleet on the Clyde, where the geography demanded sea travel both in winter and summer, and which launched Europe’s first sea-going steamship in 1812. As a cult, the Clyde steamer is at least as old (and was once just as fierce) as Britain’s better-known devotion to steam locomotives.

Books first began to cater for it 100 years ago, so that on winter nights summer holidaymakers could study the details of their favourite ships, their engines, outlines and relative speeds and comforts: the Duchess of Hamilton versus the Glen Sannox, say, or the Mercury against the Marmion.

I imbibed this history as a 13-year-old member of the Clyde River Steamer Club (founded 1932), which sometimes organised sea-going excursions. You could lean on the rail and listen to elderly men (or so they seemed – they may have been in their 50s) recall "the great days" when more than 40 steamers served the Clyde coast in summer and ships from rival companies dashed from pier to pier under a fug of coal smoke. Two world wars and changing holiday habits had brought this golden age to an end – to that extent, I lived among ghosts – but in the late 1950s the Clyde could still boast a fleet that contained eight or nine elegant ships driven by paddles or turbine-powered propellors.

The old rituals of summer continued. You might sail all the way downriver from Glasgow, or (a more popular choice) take a train from one of three city termini to reach the firth at one of half-a-dozen railhead piers and board a steamer there. Smells were exchanged – the stale tobacco smoke of the railway compartment for fresh sea air – at the opening of the carriage door. If your boat left in the morning on a day-long trip to the furthest reaches of the firth, to Campbeltown or Inveraray, coffee would be brewing in a dining saloon which later served roast lunches and fish teas.

Portents of these meals mingled with the whiff of smoke and hot grease. Then the engine room telegraph rang and ropes were cast off, and within minutes you were surging full steam ahead towards the hills of Argyll or the mountains of Arran. You might go below and watch the engine cranks turning mesmerically or stay on deck to see a succession of Victorian resorts, some no more than a line of villas along the shore, come and go. This was the Clyde steamer’s great trick: that within an hour or two it could take you from one of the world’s densest cities into the heart of one of its most intricate and beautiful landscapes, and give you companionship as well as food and drink, and shelter from the rain.

I use the past tense, but it can all still be done. Alone of the old Clyde fleet, the paddle-steamer Waverley still sails to the islands and up the sea lochs every day in high summer, then sails south for a short season in the Bristol Channel, the Solent and the Thames. Her survival is a testimony to the enthusiasts who saved her from the scrappers 35 years ago, and later to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant that paid for her complete overhaul. Launched in 1946 from the Glasgow yard of A & J Inglis – a site now occupied by Zaha Hadid’s new Riverside Museum – the Waverley has followed the same tracks across the Clyde ever since. Britain has preserved many handsome machines, from royal yachts to express railway engines, but none of them other than the Waverley do the work they were intended for, where they were intended to do it. To sail on her is to experience a tradition that began with Henry Bell’s Comet. The following 199 years have never known a summer, excepting one when the Waverley was under repair, when the waters of the Clyde haven’t been churned by a paddle steamer. In a livelier and truer sense, she is much more "iconic" than Hadid’s museum. The Waverley represents a technology and a delightful form of seaside pleasure that found their highest expression on the river that built her.

Whether the Waverley will still be sailing to celebrate steam navigation’s 200th anniversary next year is now an open question. The oil price has sent fuel costs shooting up – the boilers now burn oil at £8 per minute – and poor summers over the last three years have reduced annual passenger numbers by about a third; in 2007, 155,000 people sailed on the Waverley, falling to 95,000 in 2008. Other than a £50,000 grant from Glasgow council, the ship receives no public subsidy, though she is a wonderful ornament and a source of business to the seafronts of many other local authorities. An appeal has been launched (see If £350,000 can be found, the ship can afford her annual dry-docking and maintenance. If not, then her smartly raked and striped funnels will soon have appeared above the low-lying islands of the Kyles of Bute for the last time, and the familiar three blasts on her steam whistle to the yachts in Rothesay Bay (’Take care! I am going astern!’) will never be heard again.

The ship that I saw rounding the point that day in 1955 left the Clyde 20-odd years later, to become a bar moored next to Waterloo bridge, and is now reported to be a floating gym somewhere on the Seine. In London, it ("she" no longer seems appropriate) looked forlorn. Every time I crossed to the South Bank, I tried hard not to notice it. What did its crowd of evening drinkers know about turbines, high teas or the way the ship would slip expertly alongside the wooden pier at Tighnabruaich? Yeats described my feelings perfectly: Cast a cold Eye/ On Life, on Death/ Horseman, pass by!

The Waverley richly deserves a better fate. Long may she sail to remind us of summers past., prompting our expectation of summers to come.
A Bridge To FarA Bridge To Far
Added: 17 Aug 2011
THE notion of a bridge between Dunoon and Gourock is not a new one, but an Inverclyde councillor is hoping that steps can be taken to make it a reality - some day.
Russell Goes To HolyroodRussell Goes To Holyrood
Added: 12 Aug 2011
A small army of people wearing yellow and black rosettes were in seventh heaven today (Friday) at Lochgilpead Joint Campus as the result of the Argyll and Bute seat for the 2011 Holyrood election was announced, and SNP candidate Michael Russell was returned - having increased his party’s majority ten-fold.

After a campaign on issues such as proposed school closures and - in Dunoon at least, ferries - the people of Argyll and Bute gave the SNP candidate 13,390 votes (up from 9,944 in 2007). In second place was Conservative candidate Jamie McGrigor with 4,847 votes (down from 5,571). Third was Mick Rice for the Labour party with 4,041 (4,148) and in fourth place was Liberal Democrat Alison Hay with 3,220 (9,129).

The result followed the national trend, which produced an overall majority for the Scottish National Party and saw the Liberal Democrats humiliated.

This result caused the map of the highlands and islands to turn SNP yellow and one party activist told the Standard: "This is more than Charles Edward Stewart managed to do." For the Scottish National Party unbridled joy. For the Liberal Democrats: Lochaber no more, Skye no more.

Speaking after the poll Mr Russell said: I’d like to say thank you to the people of Argyll and Bute who elected me and I will try not to let you down. There are big isues in Dunoon and Argyll and we need to work on them together. The school closures and the ferry issues need sorting out, and I’m not afraid of confronting them and discussing them, and we need to do that together.”

Jamie McGrigor said: “I’m hopeful that I will get in on the list and be able to work together with Michael Russell for the good of Argyll and Bute.” It was later confirmed that Mr McGrigor did indeed win a place on the Highlands and Islands regional list, along with his party colleague Mary Elizabeth Scanlon. Rhoda Grant and David Stewart were successful as Labour list MSPs and, for the SNP, John Finnie, Jean Urquhart and Mike MacKenzie won through. Mr MacKenzie stood for the Argyll and Bute seat at last year’s Westminster election.

Labour candidate Mick Rice quipped: “Politicians have to accept that they can’t re-elect the people. I think, though, that things will start to move in our direction.”

LibDem Alison Hay said, simply and with dignity: “I live to fight another day.”

Independent candidate George Doyle managed 542 votes while George White of the Liberal Party won 436.

For full coverage and reaction see next Friday’s Dunoon Observer.
Fell free to comment on this story below.

Toward SchoolToward School
Added: 12 Aug 2011
At the heart of the community
THIRTY years ago Toward was a proper village. Those of us of a certain age remember the Coach House tea room, the shop and post office – both now private houses. Although the steamer pier is long gone the village still boasts a church, a Stevenson-design lighthouse and a school.
However, if Argyll and Bute Council has its way Toward Primary School will be closed by next year, its 20 pupils making the daily journey to Innellan school instead. At a recent council meeting education spokeswoman Ellen Morton said that she was ‘very comfortable’ with putting the merger of Toward and Innellan schools forward for consultation.
There has been much talk from politicians and pressure groups about the future of Toward and other threatened rural schools in Argyll and Bute, but what do the users of Toward School – the children –think?

When we visited the school last week we saw a school at the heart of its community. We saw enthusiastic children who are genuinely proud of their school and its achievements and who are clearly benefitting from a Toward Primary School initiative - its membership of the Forest Schools movement.

Forest Schools see pupils take some of their lessons from the classroom to the woods. While it may appear that the children are climbing trees and building a bonfire - playing, they are doing so under instructive supervision and developing important life skills in the process. Apart from Toward, only Kilmodan, Tighnabruaich, Sandbank and Inveraray schools offer this initiative locally.

It is clearly important to the Toward children.
One boy said: “If we had to move to another school we wouldn’t be as close to the beach and get to do as many activities.
“The school at Innellan doesn’t do Forest Schools, which we all enjoy and get a lot from.”
Another boy came from Innellan to Toward in the last year. He said: “I wouldn’t like to go back. It’s better here because it’s smaller, we do work on the beach and in the forest. In a bigger school you don’t really get to talk to the teachers as much.”
And it wasn’t just the boys. One girl, almost bursting with enthusiasm, said: “I haven’t been at Toward that long but I love it. The forestry is great – and the teachers know you better here.”

Toward school is certainly in an ideal location. Just over the wall from the playground is a beach with rock pools inviting small people to guddle in them. The school is powered by a vast array of solar panels, won recently in a Scottish Gas competition. The school actually makes money for the council as the extra generated electricity is sold back to the National Grid.
Alan Stewart, Parent Council chair, explained that it was a condition of the prize that, in the event of the school’s closure within five years, the council would have to repay the cost of the solar array – some £12,500.

And it’s not only the children who would be affected by the school’s closure. One parent said: “I would be absolutely devastated if the kids had to move.
“I have nothing against Innellan but the situation here is fantastic and they get an excellent education.
“This school is part of the community and, in order to sustain this rural community, we have to keep schools open so that people can see this as a place to move to.”
Another said: “This is a lovely school. I moved my son here last year and he has become immersed in everything that goes on in the school.
“I have eight children and we have found that smaller schools serve children much better. They are able to get more one-to-one time with the teachers, and more interaction with each other. In a large school they can be just a small fish in a very large pond.
“Toward is a very close-knit community and a lovely area to be in. The school is central to that.”
As part of the council’s pre-consultation process Cllr Ellen Morton visited Toward School for half an hour before putting it on the list of schools put forward for closure consultation.

We wonder if the councillor visited the same school we did, or spoke to the same group of kids who, even at home-time on a Friday, seemed entirely content to stay in the building – which is clearly a second home and a secure environment to them. There was no itching to get home to their computer games – but an obvious fondness for their school and fellow pupils.

Would these children retain their enthusiasm if moved to a larger school? Is it worth risking the viability of an entire community to save a relatively small amount of money by closing its school?

A number of new homes are being built in Toward at the moment. Are they likely to produce more pupils for Toward Primary School?
These are now questions that the council’s officers and elected representatives must now answer and - for the sake of rural communities throughout Argyll and Bute - they will need wise heads to make the correct decision.

Morrissey Plays DunoonMorrissey Plays Dunoon
Added: 12 Aug 2011
Morrissey played to a packed Queens hall in Dunoon tonight (Saturday). The audience chanted, sang and bounced along to the music with the people at the front reaching for the man as he in turn reached for them. The setlist included a brilliant cover of Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love and the encore of This Charming Man. Dunoon was charmed.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 June 2011 14:49
Charlie Chaplins NemesisCharlie Chaplins Nemesis
Added: 12 Aug 2011
FOR MANY years Dunoonites have been proud of one of the town’s internationally famous sons.
Eric Campbell, Charlie Chaplin’s burly villain, claimed to be from the Cowal town and, in 1996, the Scottish Film Council erected a plaque of Chaplin’s hairy enemy in Dunoon’s Castle Gardens.
Earlier this year, however, one of Campbell’s descendants contacted Argyll and Bute Council pointing out that Campbell actually came from Cheshire – and the council is set to remove the plaque.
Last Updated on Sunday, 24 July 2011 16:49
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