Often you come upon the most interesting tales from the most surprising sources.
I was driving down to Loch Fyne in the spring this year when I saw a notice to Ardkinglas Woodland Garden and being inquisitive by nature I turned off the road to explore.
This woodland garden boasts some of the widest and tallest trees in Britain including one, a fir tree some 64 feet in height which is considered to be the tallest tree. There are many trees and shrubs of unusual varieties to admire including some ornamental figures of ladies made out of metal. It is truly worth a visit if you are passing that way. The woodland garden lies within the estate which includes Ardkinglas House a Scottish style shooting lodge built in 1906/7 by Robert Lorimer for Sir Andrew Noble who was married to a Campbell. Sir Andrew made his money from conducting experiments in explosive and gunnery becoming chairman of Armstrong’s an armament company which is mainly responsible for modern day ballistics and gun design. He gave Robert Lorimer free rein to create a splendid country house similar to that of that of his company’s founder Lord Armstrong’s country house on the Northumberland moors. Ardkinglas House was one of the first houses in Scotland to be lit by electricity from a hydro scheme.
The local village of Cairndow has a pub with some excellent seafood, which neatly leads on to the second part of this tale.
A recent incumbent of Ardkinglas was John Noble who along with local fisherman Andrew Lane founded the Loch Fyne Oyster Company in 1978 which led to the opening of the first Loch Fyne Oyster Bar across the other side of the loch from the Ardkinglas estate. The company and oyster bar are now world famous which in some respects may be attributed to a clandestine meeting in 2004 at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar between the then Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Chancellor Gordon Brown to discuss who was to succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister. Naturally word soon got out and the meeting has since been dubbed by the press as the ‘Loch Fyne Accord’. I trust that all who attended this meeting were able to enjoy the fruits of the oyster bar as seafood of this nature, although very expensive, is an acquired taste.
So you see how history is made as the saying goes ‘From small acorns mighty oaks can grow’ and that could well be applied to the Ardkinglas Woodland Garden. See you next week.