Discover the ‘holy grail’ of lush landscapes
PORT APPIN Argyll, Scotland Mark Jones
OUR road trip into Scotland is a journey of ever-changing scenery that never ceases to surprise.
We head through the eerie pass at Glencoe before the landscape comes alive with the fiery reds and acid yellows of turning trees.
Then, after miles of bracken and pine, it switches again, into a lush environment of fern, bramble and old forest, as the road runs out and we arrive at our destination, Port Appin, a fishing village near Oban. The Gulf Stream and Atlantic rainfall have created an almost subtropical landscape here.
Looking west, I’m not sure if I’m looking out at loch or sea, island or mainland. In fact, it is all of them – you look across Loch Linnhe to the island of Lismore. Beyond is the last chunk of the mainland. To the south is the island of Mull and the Atlantic beyond.
There’s a 15th Century castle to the north-east that may be familiar. It’s Castle Stalker, but fans of 1970s comedy movies will know it as Castle Aaargh, where French soldiers sneer at our heroes from the battlements in Monty Python And The Holy Grail. The Lismore ferry chugs into view and we decide to take the ten-minute crossing. After the luxuriant greenery of Port Appin we are shocked to find ourselves on a flat, bare, bony island.
Lismore has a rich history that belies its seeming isolation. Now it’s a perfect place for a day’s rambling or cycling.
As the evening rolls in we take a circular walk that skirts the loch – and whoosh! A sea eagle swoops and rises from the water with a fish in its talons.
Where to stay: Our hotel is the nearby Pierhouse, a snug, warm bolthole – built for the piermaster in the 19th Century. It was a busy job, servicing the steamboats as they went from Oban to Fort William. The railway put paid to that trade. The Pierhouse became a private house, then a hotel.
In 2018 it was bought by the Wee Hotel Company, owned by Gordon Campbell-Grey. Doubles B&B cost from £130 (thepierhouse.co.uk).
dmg media (UK)