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Scottish anchorages

Asknish Bay

The hotel has laid some very convenient moorings in the bay but if there is a lot of southerly weather you may have to anchor round the north side of Rudh'Arduaine in North Asknish Bay where the moorings these days do not belong to the hotel but are tempting nevertheless. There is a small jetty and a farm track steeply up the hill to the hotel and gardens. The hotel advertises itself as having the best view in Scotland, and this may well be true if you avert your gaze from Craobh Haven, that ghastly pastiche of a Scottish fishing village. And don’t look too hard at the hotel itself which when it started as the Loch Melfort Motor Inn added the very ugly 'Cedar Wing' to the side of the splendid Edwardian House, presumably trying to ape the American concept of a motel because with car parking next to your bedroom door this is exactly what it looks like. Calum and Rachel Ross who took over in 2009 are extremely accommodating and helpful, the hotel is very child and pet friendly with a small outdoor play area, and the food is excellent - definitely worth a detour. Not surprisingly it has twice won the Scottish Independent Hotelier award. You can eat in the hotel dining room but may feel more at ease in your sailing clothes in the Chartroom Bistro and Bar which sadly lost the charts on the walls some years ago - the charts on the blinds are not a good substitute (and you can get a shower here too). Personally I find the Bistro a bit of a dull space, the dining room is far preferable for a relaxed evening, maybe because I just like the deep couches and open fire in the lounge where one can peruse the menu over an apéritif (ph 01852 200 233).


Loch Melfort Hotel with cows

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The south side of the hotel, in early spring


There are two excellent things to do here. Visit Arduaine Garden and eat — no, dine — in the Loch Melfort Hotel.  


The garden was started in 1895 by James Arthur Campbell who had bought the land and named it Arduaine (pronounced Ardoonie), meaning green promontory which is exactly what it then was — bare land. He also built the house which became the Loch Melfort Hotel in 1965. As usual for the West Coast, the success of the garden depended on planting numerous trees as a windbreak. The trees are magnificent. Tucked away in their shelter at the bottom of the rocky promontory are some very pretty water-gardens connected up by tiny tinkling streams. A stone heron presides over one of the larger ponds.   Now the garden belongs to the National Trust for Scotland who took it over in 1992 from the two Wright brothers who in 1965 had rescued and greatly improved it after the Campbell family could no longer keep it going. Sadly in 2009 the Trust looked as though it was going to close the gardens because of its financial difficulties, a threat temporarily withdrawn almost at once, and in 2011 reversed altogether — closure would have been a travesty and a lot of us Trust members made a big fuss; there must be better ways for the Trust to save money, and at the same time their rather conservative image could be sharpened up.