We were in Cowal for Hogmanay, staying in Tighnabruaich and enjoying the place, the fantastic light, the darkly glittering sea and deep winter colours, stovies, steak pie and whisky. The Kames Hotel on Hogmanay was buzzing nicely, and the loony dook the next day tempted me in…
My icy swim lasted about ten seconds, but I got my head under, and it demonstrated one good reason for living in Scotland – here my pallid gingerman torso is the norm.
The celebrations showed the sense of community such places have: a few pissed people, right enough, but no problems, friendly chat and good cheer. The fireworks outside the pub were great, too.
We admired the range of enormous properties, odd for such a small, remote place but doubtless explained by Glasgow money in years gone by, and I would guess that while it’s a remote community like many others in the Highlands and Argyll, there’s still money here in a way that there isn’t in some of those other communities.
And we enjoyed a run through the Kilfinan Community Woodland, where good things are happening, with dark evergreens being felled for the benefit of the community. It seems they are also clearing the dreaded invasive rhododendron ponticum, a massive problem in this part of the world, getting people involved with the land and generally helping to tie the community down.
At least one family has been brought in by the availability of a woodland croft, and the sense of possibility we picked up on when we chatted to the crofter was refreshing.
We will be back to explore the community woodland, no doubt, and to find out more about its impact, but the fact that the woodland organisation has cleared a large area of the massed non-native timber crops and opened up the hillsides, hopefully for native trees, has got to be good.