Sunday, 7 April 2013


Travelling along the shore of Loch Fyne between Lochgilphead and Inveraray there are a couple of places worth stopping off at.  Crarae Garden managed by the National Trust of Scotland covers 126 acres in a highland glen centring on Crarae Burn.  It was planned during the early 20th century using donated plants and seeds gathered from far-flung expeditions.  The garden has some rare trees among its collection, including the National Collection of nothofagus from the Southern Hemisphere.  In autumn the garden is a riot of colour thanks to the acers, prunus, sorbus and other colourful deciduous trees.  In the spring it is time for the rhododendrons, azaleas and other exotic shrubs to strut their stuff; there are 600 varieties of rhododendron, including some which are exclusive to Crarae.  These delights, along with the waterfalls and torrents within the garden, can be explored via a series of winding paths.

Auchindrain is an open air museum displaying a preserved "township" of the kind which was once common in Scotland, where families lived and worked together.  Visitors can step inside the buildings and houses and get a good idea of how people used to live within these communities.  It was a hard life, and serves as a reminder of how mollycoddled we all are now.  Townships such as this disappeared with the emergence of modern farms, crofting and large estates, most notably during the Highland Clearances.  There is a tearoom serving light meals and cakes, and full access to the site is available from April to October, although limited access may be possible during the winter months.

Map of the area. 

Rhododendrons at Crarae. Photo by Gordon Brown, via Wikimedia Commons

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