If you are a true storm force wind fan, deepest rural Scotland is a fine place to visit. If you really do want to get away from it all it is hard to beat the Scottish Highlands.
I tried this style of break in Argyle looking forward to rich sightings of wildlife like otter, eagles, buzzard, pine martens and of course a good helping of deer still on four legs and not being served up for dinner. One deer and blue tits (which I have in my garden anyway) was really as good as it got.
To overcome the wild life famine I rented a boat with skipper Andy Jackson, a man able to find seals at the drop of an anchor. He is part of a major Scottish wildcat project so stories of how that had evolved made up for the lack of my bird and animal sightings. Carna Isle on Lock Sunart has been successfully cleared of feral cats leaving the small but growing population of the true wild cat to establish a safe living area. Inbreeding had seriously affected wildcat numbers and their health.
Other conservation projects have been introduced and it is possible to visit Carna Island as part of those works. If not some very basic accommodation is available but you must love life without shops, people, swimming pools and so on. More information about the newish Carna Conservation Group at www.carnaconservation.org. More detailed Scottish wildcat info at www.wildcathaven.co.uk. We sailed around Carna with resident Deer, Pine Martens and a variety of birdlife keeping itself to itself as did the water life like Porpoise and Dolphins. I am sure you will have better luck. Andy runs regular boat tours and can be contacted through email@example.com
Be warned single track driving in the Scottish Highland is tortuous and not for the feint hearted. Isolation has its attractions, but despite fantastic views from our comfortable rented purpose built Scottish holiday home the lure of civilisation, that a Southern England softie likes me needs, was too much.
The Isle of Eriska Hotel is the perfect antidote to isolation. It has plenty of cold winds to contend with they just do not matter. This is a good example of a hands on family run hotel that really does benefit from its owners TLC. What a great decision to flee the remote Highlands drive for a couple of hours and cross over a bridge to this 300 acre private island and immerse myself in hotel life .
A garden spa suite with hot tub in its own small garden is just the job and top end fine dining was excellent. Later this year a new more informal restaurant is to open which will be a welcome change to rich food overkill.
It has the spa, the golf course, sailing and clay pigeon shooting but my favourite is the walk. A not too demanding route around Eriska Island produced the wild life sightings I missed in the wild Highlands. A family of deer even grazed a few feet from our hotel room.
Owner Beppo is part of the Buchanan Smith family who purchased, what was then a rundown farming island, in 1973. He lives on the island and his mission to chat to as many of his guests as he can does away with the need for one of those satisfaction cards.
Unlike Carna Island and around Eriska is full of people. Whom might you meet? Many Americans like the couple close to us at dinner. We will call them Hilda and Alf. She was desperate to see the suppertime hotel party piece of resident island badgers turning up to eat. Alf was determined to go outside and smoke a cigar that Hilda thought would ruin the show. As her voice got louder and louder and she became more and more, agitated he surrendered and suppertime escaped cigar pollution and badgers duly arrived.
Then the American drunk with a fixation about belonging to a club, a secret society, or the Klu Klux Klan. My jumper had a small motif, which he poked his finger at demanding to know what it meant. It is the time for bed badge I told him.
A favourite away from it all-spot is close to the Eriska Island Pontoon. Grab a seat and give yourself plenty of time to enjoy Loch Creran. Norway owns most of Scotland’s salmon farming and their ships regularly sail by as do a variety of pleasure craft. Not too many though.
Music. The brilliant Lalah Hathaway with her vocal performance on Something from the Snarky Puppy album Family Dinner followed by her Dad Donny and his fabulous live version of The Ghetto a track he wrote with Leroy Hutson. A fine Scottish whisky might help you imagine being at the Troubadour Club in Hollywood as Donny played.