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Today I'm on a journey along the western fringes of Scotland,
starting here at the head of Loch Fyne
and finishing 83 miles south on Holy Isle.
From Loch Fyne I head south to the port of Tarbert
to get the ferry to the Isle of Arran.
From Lochranza I'll be travelling on to Blackwaterfoot
then exploring the mountainous Ard Bheinn.
Next I stop off at Kilmory before arriving at Lamlash
and finishing my journey with another ferry trip to the Holy Isle.
Along the way I'll be looking back at the very best
of the BBC's rural programmes from this part of the world.
This is Country Tracks.
For the first stop on my journey, I'm here to meet Tuggy Delap,
local cattle farmer and purveyor of fine ales.
Farming is becoming an increasingly difficult business
and to survive, many farmers are having to diversify.
In 2002, Ben visited Tuggy on her farm
to see how she was ringing in the changes.
We know farmers are having a tough time and they're trying to diversify,
but for some that means seeking refuge in drink.
MUSIC: "Strange Brew" by Cream
# Strange brew
# Strange brew
# Strange brew. #
Loch Fyne is famous for its salmon and oysters
and soon real ales could be added to the list.
What made you decide to build a brewery on Loch Fyne?
Well, Ben, look at the building.
It was crying out for us to do something with it.
It was falling down.
The slates were flying off it and we decided that we had to rescue it.
The boys were standing in front of the fire with pints in their hands
and we looked at it and said, "We could always open a brewery".
And just out of silly comments, funny things begin.
Now, Kenny, you're the brewer.
Can you just tell me what's going on in this room?
This is the fermentation room we're standing in at the moment.
We keep this room around 20 to 22 degrees,
and the beer will ferment out within two to three days.
From here, it goes next door into the conditioning room
where it's kept in conditioning tanks for at least seven days.
From there, it's casked or bottled.
Here they use a lighter malt for a paler ale
and a crystal one for a darker brew.
-Apart from the brewery, you're still a working farm, are you?
-Yes, we are.
We have a very nice arrangement with a neighbour
who runs a black-faced sheep flock.
They run sheep on our low ground
because they have only high ground and not as much as we have.
We also have a very, very large shed which we winter sheep in together.
We have a small flock of sheep
-and we have newly acquired a little herd of highland cows.
Do the highland cows benefit from the brewery here?
The highland cows were bought specifically because of the brewery because we have draft,
the spent grain at the end of our process
and we've landed up with this incredible supply of food
that needs to be fed to somebody.
We're not brewing enough times a week to have a very big herd,
but, as the brewery grows, so will the herd.
-Are you pleased with the results?
-Yes, I am. The beer is very good.
I indulge myself in it. Yeah, it's good beer.
Already, orders have come in from Loch Fyne Oysters,
the local pub, Oban and even as far as Edinburgh.
So what's your output now?
Our output at the moment is once a week, which is not enough.
We've got to that stage
where we'd like to be brewing three times in ten days.
There are now more than 400 micro-breweries across the country,
many of them on small farms.
But whether they survive and prosper
depends on one thing and one thing alone.
It's very nice. Nice, clean, crisp flavour.
I'm very pleased it's such a good local beer.
Cheers then. Good health.
And as for me...
'Seven years later, I'm here in this stunning weather-beaten landscape
'to revisit Tuggy on her farm
'and find out how the highland cattle and ale industry is faring.'
How many have you got now?
Well, there are 14 here
including two bullocks who should have gone to the butcher but...
Isn't he going to be delicious?
We've got 14 more slightly younger ones down there.
-And then we've got 14 calves and seven bulls, so I've got 52.
-And we started with four and one heifer.
And they're all still eating this?
They eat this all year round. We have it fresh in the summer.
In fact, this is fresh. This was brewed from yesterday's brew.
-Tell me about the beer production cos it means you must have a lot of barley draft coming off?
We've gone from two brews a week when Ben first came to visit us
and now we're up to four and five brews a week.
It's going really, really well. We're pleased with it.
-It's won lots of prizes.
-Really? Tell me about those.
We won one of the World Beer Awards last year with Avalanche
which was a fantastic success we were pleased with.
We won a gold medal at Peterborough,
the second biggest beer festival in Britain.
Look at him coming across for a feed.
What are the demands of having a bigger herd?
How time consuming is that? Things like injections...
Yes, we dose them regularly for liver and fluke like everybody else does.
-And we have to do Bluetongue, this new thing.
With Bluetongue, they have to be done twice.
They're going to be done again on Wednesday, four weeks apart.
It's been eight years since you've been brewing and you haven't looked back since.
I'd love to take a picture of you and your cows basically.
I'm going to have a photography master class later,
so I'm practising, Tuggy, so if you'll help me out and pose...
-Bisto won't come and pose for us.
-Who's going to pose?
Give us a smile, Tuggy. There we go.
Four seasons in one day.
-That's what they say.
-Incredible, isn't it?
If we weren't still wet, I'd think we were still dreaming up on the hillside.
-This is brewing HQ where it all happens?
Our ten-barrel brew plant producing five times a week.
We're doing 1,700 litres times five. It's a lot of beer going out.
It's been a struggle but worth every minute of it.
Let me get a photo of you with your barrels of beer,
cos that's the story here.
The Tuggy success.
-Oh, look at that.
-There it is.
-Thank you so much for showing me around.
Listen, we've got some beer here. You'll have to take it with you.
-Lovely to see you.
-It's just a wee sample.
Highlander, Avalanche, the one that won the World Beer.
And that one won gold at Peterborough.
-We've got five of them in bottle but you've only got two hands.
-Brilliant. Thank you so much again.
Really good to see you. Excellent.
Lovely to meet Tuggy.
What a spirited character
and fantastic the brewery is doing so well.
What an awesome start to the journey.
My journey's well and truly underway and I've already got some local beer to show for it.
To tell the truth, the thing I really want to get stuck into is the seafood.
After all, it's what this area is famous for.
I'm making my way south along the west side of Loch Fyne.
When John Slattery visited these parts a couple of years ago,
he was following the west coast Seafood Trail.
Fresh oysters. What better way to embark on a couple of days of a Seafood Trail
than to see the product in its natural habitat?
Loch Fyne oysters, here, on the west coast of Scotland,
is the biggest producer of oysters in the UK.
And they're farmed on the principle of total sustainability.
Oysters are growing here in their entirely natural environment.
Although at the turn of the 19th century, they were fished out.
Early example of over-exploitation of stocks.
But the shells were here when we first started farming oysters here 30 years ago.
So we knew that they would grow here.
And when we're farming oysters like this, we're not putting anything in
to the loch at all - they're not fed on anything
They're just feeding off the loch itself.
So there's no input at all...
-So there's very little maintenance?
-There's a fair bit of maintenance
but we haven't changed this environment since we've come here.
The oysters are processed and packaged to be sent all over the world.
A million and a half oysters are sold from here every year.
And just a short drive along the trail,
I can have them prepared for me by experts.
# Well, I'm waiting
# Hey, I'm waiting
# I'm waiting
# Yes, I'm waiting... #
Oh, here it comes.
OK, John, here we go.
What you've been waiting for.
Some people like Tabasco it you want a bit of a kick
but to get the real taste you should have them as they are with a bit of lemon.
Go on, you try one first then.
Bit of lemon, oops. Sorry.
There will be people watching this going, "Oh, my God!"
-And other people going, "I'd love to be doing that."
Once you're hooked on oyster-eating, it's a real passion.
Just swoosh it on.
You gonna chew it?
Right, your turn.
OK, so what... Which is the smallest?
-So loosen it up.
-Loosen it up
so it's loose off that muscle at the bottom.
-I'm shaking - I really am.
-Right, there you go.
-So what do I do now?
You put this end in your mouth and tip it back. Get the whole lot in.
-And I've got to chew it?
I'm going to chew it - I'm going to chew an oyster.
Maybe it's an acquired taste.
-It's not that bad.
It's actually not that bad.
It's really very good.
-Do you want to try some smoked salmon?
-Go on, yeah. I think I might enjoy that a bit more.
This one on the side is called a Bradan Rost. It's like a roasted salmon.
That actually happened by accident here one day.
Someone turned the ovens up too high one day and came out with a...
This sauce is quite nice. Oh, this is quite good.
Loser. Winner, most definitely.
I am told that this road actually becomes the Long And Winding Road
and that eventually brings you to the Mull of Kintyre.
Get the connection there? Beatles, Wings, Paul McCartney?
You know - the Long And Winding Road.
# The long and winding road boom boom... #
The trail runs alongside Loch Fyne.
At 40 miles long, it's Scotland's longest sea loch.
This is Tarbert.
It's a really pretty place, very picturesque.
It's a very good place to go to get a bite to eat.
Tarbert has been famous for fishing ever since Man first took to the waters to find food.
Appropriate then that the founder member of the Seafood Trail is based here.
-Hello. How are you?
Hi, how are you? Oh, Wow! Thank you very much.
What have we got here?
We've got Loch Fyne king scallops. Wonderful!
They were brought in about an hour ago.
So what are the criteria to be a member of the Seafood Trail?
They have to be waterfront-based,
primarily because the locations are so pretty,
where we all are.
They've got to be very close to the producers.
This whole concept of food not having to travel very far
is really important to all of us so we all source our fish locally.
These, I'm have to try cos they look delicious.
-You have to. They are wonderful.
-It doesn't look like fish.
It doesn't. Scallops are a really meaty shellfish.
There's so much of them and they're hugely meaty.
The king scallops are quite unique to Loch Fyne. You don't get them anywhere like that.
It smells lovely, actually.
Mmm. Very crunchy, yeah.
God, they're really nice.
One of the things that we all claim is that we don't do very much to our food except cook it.
And sometimes we don't even do that so it's all about...
I know - I had oysters this morning.
Oysters, you don't cook at all. Scallops two minutes under a grill.
Lobster, 15 minutes in a boiling pot.
So what you get the absolute taste of what it's meant to be. It's not hidden by anything.
-Cheers. Thank you very much.
Day two of my Seafood Trail.
And after eating so much fish yesterday,
what better way to work up an appetite than to go fishing for lunch.
-John. How are you doing?
-Not bad. Yourself?
-I believe you're the man who's gonna get me lunch.
-Say no more.
-What shall we do?
Stick that on, cast off. We'll go and get it.
-So how far are we going?
-Just round the corner here.
-I won't go far.
A bit of a dance! There we go. Where is that?
-Can you take this grappling hook?
And you'll see there's two bows.
-There's a big bow and a small bow.
-Throw it in between the two.
Look at that. What a pro!
First time, Ally, first time.
Good man. Pull it up as fast as you can.
I'll get these out of the way.
-Oh! That's a little shark, is it?
Off you go, boy.
-He's a big fella, isn't he? This is a brown crab.
-A brown crab.
-A brown edible crab.
-He's a big fella.
-Oh. There you go.
-There we go.
-That's what we're after.
-Look at him flapping.
-He's a big fella, is he?
-How can you tell that?
It's wide, its back.
-See how wide it is.
If you see a male against that, it's narrower.
I think I have enough there now. I think I've got my lunch.
That lobster, I think, might be the...
Piece de resistance.
Yeah, piece de...
Ronnie, thank you for kitting me out. I'm all set.
But I'm a bit lost what to do next with this fella so over to you.
We picked him up about ten minutes ago from the fisherman
down at Carsaig Pier.
-We're going to put him in a pot of boiling water and create a little thermidor out of him.
So the first thing we have to do is kill him in the most humane way possible
and the best way to do that is get a knife in the cross
just at the top of his head here.
And we'll give him a quick stab, as quickly as we can
and straight into a pot of boiling water.
So if I want to do that, it's not very nice but here we go.
Straight into water.
This is a beautiful lobster. It really is.
I fished that one myself.
-OK, how much brandy?
-I'll tell you when.
Yeah. One for the cooking and one for the chef.
More in. More. More, more, more.
You've got to test everything that you cook to get the right flavours, to know what it needs.
To get the right seasoning, the right herbs, everything.
-This is where it starts to finish.
-I felt guilty about him being killed earlier but not...
-The guilt goes, doesn't it?
The guilt really does go.
I'll just put this into the grill.
This, I've been looking forward to.
It looks so good.
-That is the business.
Fantastic! Yeah. "Can I"?!
My fork was already in the lobster before you gave me an answer.
Aw, the taste off it is just...
The sauce... The meat just has that real...
You'd better get back. You've got lots of customers waiting for you.
I know my place, it's fine.
Got rid of him.
So, what have I learned on my Seafood Trail? Well, I'm not terrified of oysters any more.
I've fallen for scallops.
And after fishing, cooking and eating this lobster, I mean, what a finale.
I've only done a few of the stops on the Seafood Trail.
There's 11 in total and you know, when it's this good, I don't think you can ever get sick of seafood.
Back on my journey and I'm desperate to try some of this area's famous seafood, too.
And leaving Loch Fyne behind, I think I may have found the perfect place
to continue my quest for local food.
I've arrived at Tarbert to catch the ferry to the Isle of Arran
but I've just got time to pick up some local fruits of the sea.
-How're you doing?
Good, thank you. I believe that you have some local fresh seafood
that I'm very keen to try.
I'll just put that down.
There's a little bit of bacon with these just to give it...
The fishermen used to have these for breakfast as they were catching them.
King scallops and bacon.
There you go, there's a bit of dressing on the side.
And you've got a nice Tarbert style cold cocktail.
Make a nice seafood picnic, that, especially now the sun's out.
Now, I've never been to the Isle of Arran before
so I'm just a bit excited about my first trip over there.
The ferry from Tarbert to Lochranza takes just under an hour and a half.
And I've arranged to meet a local on board to give me an idea of what to expect.
-Ian, I'm Joe.
-Pleased to meet you, Joe.
-Nice to meet you.
We're heading to the Isle of Arran. You're a longstanding resident?
-Yes. Very much so.
-You've been there for how long?
I've been back home for 21 years now.
I was born and bred on the island.
One of the natives.
Then you went off and worked but you've been drawn back to the magic of Arran.
Very much so. It's the fact that it's just so unspoilt.
We're very fortunate that way. It's still much as it was.
And there's not two days the same.
People say, "Don't you get tired going round this island every day in the summertime?"
-I'm very excited - it's my first time across there.
What can I expect?
You can expect what we call, "Scotland in miniature."
You have the high mountains to the north
and much softer landscapes to the south.
Population - round about 5,000.
Obviously, that increases many times over the summer period.
What is it that brings the tourists? What will they come to Arran for?
-They come for the golf. Seven golf courses.
-Hill-climbing, sailing and a lot of walking.
They have a coastal walkway around the island which is all signposted
and very popular again with the summer visitors.
-Can I get myself an Aran jumper here?
-Oh, you won't get one in Arran.
-They are made in the Aran Islands - off the west coast of Ireland.
-And it's A-R-A-N and we're A-R-R-A-N.
-So that's the difference between the two.
So no chance to add to my wardrobe on this visit.
You probably would but it wouldn't be made in Arran.
If I was going to visit one place on Arran for a bit of food,
to sample, what would you recommend?
Go to the island creamery down at Torrylinn.
And you cannot eat Arran cheese without an Arran oatcake.
Oh, really? So these go really well with the Arran cheese?
Definitely. The two go together.
'It doesn't get much better. Sailing toward Arran
'and savouring the foods that came from these very waters.
I really love islands. They're the most romantic of escapist places.
And Arran doesn't disappoint. It's got the beauty of the Highlands
and yet, a far-flung feel to things.
In 1988, photographer Charlie Waite came to Arran to take landscape photos.
And Country File followed his journey.
The landscape is something that has appealed to everybody
for thousands if not millions of years.
And it is something that we are very emotionally involved with because after all, it is all we have.
We want solitude and we want peace and we want romance.
and it usually involves the land and the shape of the land.
People have been very complimentary
and said that a Charlie Waite landscape is something very special and specific.
and captures and image locked in some sort of time warp.
and is perfect and tranquil and seems to come from another time.
I would like to think that some of my photographs result,
if you like, in a photograph
that takes nature suspended in one of its most perfect performances.
With landscape photography,
as with any other understanding and appreciation of landscape,
the impulse is obviously connected with the emotion.
And in my case it's very much an emotional,
in fact, also a spiritual, experience.
It's really the product of waiting
and being very involved with one's surroundings and one's environment,
and observing the pattern of light, the movement of clouds,
the trace of the sun, the trace of shadows, and everything, really,
that relates to where I am at that particular moment.
At any one time I can find myself working on a number of projects,
but at the moment I'm working in the Scottish Islands.
Arriving on the Island of Arran is no different to arriving anywhere else,
be it an island, or the mainland. It's always a question of getting
in the car and embarking on a sequence of reconnaissance, really.
Before starting off on any one of these trips, the important thing
is to make sure that I've got a good collection of maps that are going
to cover the whole area. That really is absolutely vital.
Also making sure all the equipment in clean and free from dust,
and prior to any one of these trips, I usually do spend a good 20 minutes
just cleaning lenses and making sure that I've got all the necessary
paraphernalia that goes with the making of these photographs,
which, surprisingly, isn't a great deal. Everybody assumes that
landscape photographers have an enormous amount of equipment,
but actually the cameras that I use are relatively simple.
Square formats, clockwork, and very reliable.
One of the reasons that I'm drawn to any photograph is usually
its simplicity more than its complications
so if I see just, perhaps, a simple graphic shape,
albeit in the form of a tree, or estuary, or rocks, or whatever,
as long as there's not too many of these aspects and features
in the landscape, I'm usually going to stop. More often than not
I'll be able to arrange all the various elements in some sort of shape,
and organise them and usually they'll make a photograph.
The standing stone on the West side of Arran has a lot of power for me,
and the only problem that I found with this was that
I didn't want to minimize either of the two
main elements in this photograph so it was a question of trying it
first from close up to the stone, which rather reduced the mountain,
so I then decided to withdraw, so to speak,
and compress the stone against the mountain so that both
of them had equal power and I think it worked very well.
In my particular work, and the usage of a square format,
the subject matter is important, especially in the foreground.
So in this particular case it was a collection of stones,
which in early evening produce quite long shadows,
and they were all perfectly round, and in the centre,
which is also a very important area, there was a rather placid water,
which had a certain amount of reflection on it,
and in the far background, which is as important,
there was a reasonably well-defined area of mainland.
So all of these things, foreground, centre and background,
are all things that have to be considered.
My photography does provide me with a union, if you like,
the camera acts as a channel for me to relate more to the landscape
and I do feel rather a sense of loss when the photograph has been made,
and I'm often rather reluctant to leave it, it's perhaps rather like
saying goodbye to an old friend, even though, in many cases,
the relationship might not have been very long,
perhaps just a matter of hours, but it has been very intense.
And when I pass one of these places again they seem rather distant to me
and I don't think I would ever really be inclined to stop again.
They'd just be a little niggling thought that perhaps
I could have done it better.
Travelling down the west coast of Arran,
I've arrived at a place called Blackwaterfooot.
I'm keen to improve my photography, so I've come here to catch up
with Charlie Waite, because after 20 years away, Charlie has chosen
this bleakly beautiful place for his return to Arran.
-Charlie Waite, I presume?
-Ah, hello, Joe.
Charlie, it's been 20 years since you were filmed here
taking landscape photos, what have you been up to in that time?
Well, carrying on and doing more of it! The main thing about it
is that I'm constantly still making mistakes,
and I'm really more than happy to admit that.
So endless errors, but perhaps less errors than there used to be.
But within that time, things have been constantly changing,
technology has come on leaps and bounds, have you kept pace with that
or do you stick with what you knew back then and stay true to that?
I still use film, but digital has arrived in the last 10 years,
and it's thrilling! It's opened up photography for so many people,
but sadly, I think it tends to allow people just to still
snap, snap, snap, in the way they used to with a roll of 36,
so they're not really being, dare I say it, discerning enough.
Digital is excellent, but one needs to be a little bit more scientific,
define the objective, work out what image you're going to make.
So not engaging...in the same way.
Not engaging, not engaging, and the key about photography
is actually, really... I carry my little creative took here,
really what it's about is what you're looking at,
and whether the resulting image will awaken anything in anybody.
It's all too easy just to press the button
and not really get involved with what you're photographing.
I don't know if this will awaken anything but I've taken a few snaps
on my route, on my journey. I don't know how it will fare
with the water coming at us here, but I'll show you a few.
Can you take landscape photographs on a, sort of, digital camera?
Oh, yes, yes, yes, and yes again. You really can.
You just have smaller area to work with,
you just have to think a little bit more about what you're photographing
and you have to really wait and not execute it casually.
You and I could produce an image that's quite similar,
and it would be just as good on that, and as good on this.
-I've got my foreground!
-You've got to have your foreground interest.
A bit lower might have been better.
Now we are very overcast today but we do have some interesting light
-on this surface, it's shimmering there.
What could we look at now on this little point and shoot?
I would have thought the best thing one could do is get very muddy knees
and get down very low, because one of the problems about
landscape photography is, like all photography, it's two-dimensional.
In order to mitigate that, you need to try and convey a sense of depth.
If you can't convey a sense of depth then the thing will just look flat.
One of the keys to convey this depth is a good, strong foreground,
and here we have one. These lovely ripples, fantastic patterns,
and sweeping the viewer of the image right from the start
so you introduce them to the very beginning of the picture.
Then they just travel through it and roam through it
right up to the end of the picture, which is the sky.
-I've got to give this a go, OK?
-This is rather a nice little pattern
-it's a kind of star shape, here, just there.
You could incorporate a foreground like that, a detail of that,
-Not on top, you mean?
-Absolutely straight down.
Yes, and so you maybe photograph about there,
-and try and get no bald bits, like the top of my head.
Try and not have that bit, that little bit of sand is a problem.
If you can imagine, at some point this image is going to be big.
The last time you saw it was in the back of that little screen,
when it was really tiny, so any errors, any aberrations, are going to be noticeable.
And you can't say, as a photographer, "I didn't see that."
-You can't say that, cos you're a seeing person, you know,
you're a visual person. I think that's rather lovely, there.
I think it's challenging us a bit, let's have a go.
I wouldn't think of that necessarily as landscape, it's another thing
in my mind, you think, "I've got to get the panoramic".
-These little opportunities, little nuggets on the ground.
-Yeah. Little details.
It was really great to meet Charlie, and his insights on photography
have certainly inspired me to keep persevering.
As much as I like a country hike, on Country Tracks we like to mix up
the modes of transport, so for the next leg of my journey,
I'm back on four wheels but this time, very much off-road.
-Darryl, I'm Joe.
-Are you well?
-Very well, thank you, nice to meet you,
-and very excited about this, we're going quad biking!
Excellent, what's the plan?
-To go up there, basically.
Yeah, as we look at it now it doesn't look much,
but once we get into the teeth of it you'll see how challenging it is!
'This island is renowned for its rocky terrain,
'and I want to get up into the hills and tackle it first hand.
'Darryl Urquhart-Dixon, from the local quad bike centre,
'has promised me an experience that he says, will blow my mind!'
'I know I'm in safe hands as Darryl is a fully qualified
'instructor and has permission to ride across this area.'
-Nice bit of easy riding now across the ridge line,
just follow me, then we're going to hit a track, cut left,
and then we'll probably bomb up the track pretty quickly.
-Let's do it!
We're climbing the slopes of Ard Bheinn,
the highest point in a landscape
created by the collapse of an ancient volcano.
I really wanted to see Arran from a different perspective,
and up here I certainly got that!
-Wow! This is it!
-Welcome to the summit of Ard Bheinn.
-Well done, very good.
That's incredible, that's absolutely amazing!
It was an exhilarating ride up,
I don't think I stopped grinning all the way, and the views
are just stunning, you feel like you could almost touch the clouds.
What an incredible experience of Arran. Unbelievable!
It's easy to see why Arran attracts so many tourists each year,
but as the islands off Scotland seem to prosper, other areas can fare less well.
Adam Henson reported from Campbeltown, at the tip
of the Mull of Kintyre, over on the mainland.
Here in Scotland, we're just a few miles from the Northern Irish coast, and its tourist bonanza.
But things are quite different here on the Kintyre peninsula.
Kintyre stretches southwest down into the Irish Sea for some 30 miles.
The Mull of Kintyre, immortalised in song by Paul McCartney,
is at the tip of this stunning landscape,
and from here on a clear day you can see the coast of Ireland.
The area has a shared heritage with the North Antrim coast.
In fact, some of the first inhabitants here were the Scotti,
a tribe from Ireland, which colonised much of the west coast of Scotland.
Campbeltown, situated at the head of a deep loch, is around 20 miles from the Mull,
and is the largest community in the region, known locally as the "wee town".
It was once a prosperous fishing port, a centre for coastal shipping,
whisky distilling, and ship building.
Sea transport was key to the town's success, but over time
ferry links to Glasgow and Ireland stopped, and there was a decline in the town's fortunes.
Last year, around 85,000 people visited Ballycastle,
compared to a mere fraction of that figure coming to Campbeltown.
Tourism is seen as the key to this town's future economy,
but the lack of a ferry link is considered by many
to be holding back the future regeneration of this area.
The trouble with the local economy here, it's a closed economy,
we're very dependant on single, large industries for employment.
And when one of these industries has a hard time, closes factories,
like happened with a clothing factory here couple of years back,
it means a lot of people had to move away to find employment.
But once we have that link, and we're able to develop tourism here,
that gives us a much stronger, open economy.
Why aren't the tourists here? It's beautiful, isn't it?
Yeah, it's certainly beautiful, and the tourists are here
but they're not right here, there's maybe about, every year,
50,000 tourists are travelling during the tourist season to Arran,
which is just about five miles over there, and Islay, which is probably
only about 20 miles in this direction over here,
there's another 100,000 tourists a year going, these places
have got two ferries on in the summertime to cope with the tourist trade.
It triples the population in these islands during the summertime.
So would a thriving tourist industry help Campbeltown, do you think?
It certainly would, because the jobs that would result from it
would be jobs in the community. And because it's linked to tourism,
it's going to be a much more stable and long-term base for drawing the local economy in.
At the turn of the century,
Campbeltown was a major tourist destination. A regular ship
would bring visitors from Glasgow, and many built large homes here for weekend retreats.
The town was at the centre of Scotland's malt whisky production.
Springbank Whisky is world-renowned,
and the distillery has been here since 1828.
Campbeltown was once known as the whisky capital of Scotland.
In fact, in the early 1900s, there were 24 malt distilleries here.
And what happened? Why did they all disappear?
Well, the whisky distillery owners
at one time in Campbeltown could see no end to the actual boom
that they were experiencing and unfortunately
they took a lot of very shortcuts when they were making the product
and in fact they made a very bad whisky,
and hence they fell out of favour.
You go through lots of traditional methods, don't you?
We are the only whisky distillery in Scotland actually
that carries out 100% of the process
to turn basically barley into bottles of whisky.
So this is where you malt the barley.
Where we're standing just now is the traditional malt barns
as we call them, the building where the malting is carried out.
What the guys are doing now is taking the barley
which has been germinated on this floor for five days
and putting it down this hole in the floor
where it's being taken to the kiln. And you can see the barley here.
You can feel the heat in it.
This is a typical malting variety called Optic.
-I grow that at home.
-Oh, you do, yes?
What you have to understand here is that we do malting
and once we've finished the malting, which takes about us three months,
we then go and mash and distil.
So you don't actually see the whole process
from start to finish at Springbank.
We tend to do seasons of malting and seasons of distilling.
Well, there's plenty of barrels here, Frank.
Plenty of empty barrels out here
but where we're actually heading for just now
is one of the maturation warehouses.
The store's here where we keep some of the barrels.
Full barrels, that is.
Well, we've seen part of and talked about the making of the whisky.
This has got to be the good bit.
Good bit for you.
This is an example of one of the bottles that we do.
This is our ten-year-old Springbank, one of our most popular brands.
So, you want a wee taste?
Oh, yes, please.
This is at 46% alcohol.
I'm not a whisky drinker but this is delicious.
Mmm. We like to think so.
Just outside the town is Tangy wind farm.
All the wind turbines here are made by Vestas
who opened a factory in Campbeltown in 2001.
It created much-needed jobs for the community
that had recently experienced
the closure of the Machrihanish airbase in 1997.
220 jobs were lost and 170 more went
when the shipbuilding yard closed in 1998.
The town was in economic freefall.
When I heard that the shipyard was closing,
I was pretty keen to try and see
if there was something we could do to salvage it.
And it was through that, and through some publicity I got,
that I was approached by Scottish Power
to see if there was anything we could do with the yard
in terms of the manufacture of wind turbine towers.
As well as providing lots of employment to Campbeltown,
what else has the wind turbine brought to the local community?
For every person in Vestas there's almost one person in the town
somewhere indirectly involved and employed.
It's been a great success story, you know.
With the government setting a target
of 10% of our energy coming from renewable sources by 2010,
the Vestas factory in Campbeltown could expand, creating many more jobs
and bringing back the prosperity to the community.
Although speculation continues,
Campbeltown is still without its ferry.
I started my journey today at the head of Loch Fyne,
then travelled on to Tarbert
On the ferry trip to the Isle of Arran
I got some great tips from Ian Hendry
then headed from Lochranza to Blackwaterfoot
for my photography master class.
I quad biked up to the heights of Ard Bheinn
and now I've arrived in the little town
When I spoke to Ian on the ferry,
he said there was one place I simply must visit.
So I'm driving south to Kilmory to visit the island creamery.
-Hi, Joe, how are you?
-How're you doing?
-Not too bad, thank you.
Good, good. This looks fantastic!
Yeah, this is a very hands-on traditional process
so we'll let you see a bit and then you can maybe have a go.
How long have you been here and doing this?
Well, the creamery's been on the site since 1947.
-So we've been here quite a while.
I can already see a particular colour to this cheese,
even at this stage.
Yes, all the cheese we're making at the moment is red in colour,
which is the annatto that we're adding to the milk
that gives us that colouration.
And what happens now? These guys are about to work it?
We're draining off the whey at the moment
and then they're gonna start to work the curd in the vat here.
Just talk me briefly through the process.
Where's it coming from to get to this point?
In the vats on the other side we'll fill in the milk.
and then we add the starter into the milk.
And then, once the vats are full, we'll add the rennet in
and the rennet coagulates the milk to a blancmange-type substance.
And then we start to cut that
once the cheese-maker's checked that he's happy with the set.
We then start to cut it. Once we start to cut it,
very slowly at first and then we speed it up,
we start to get the curds and whey at that point.
From that point on you then want to scald the vat
which is bring the temperature up
from the fill temperature of 32 up to 40.
And that's called cooking the curd.
And that drives the moisture out
and makes the small curd particles very firm.
I feel like I'm in the way.
I'm gonna come round and let these guys do it.
They've drained all the fluid, what you call the whey, is that right?
Yeah, that's all the whey gone. Now we're left with the curd
and that's what will become the cheese later on.
Fantastic. Is there something I can do? Can I get hands-on?
-I'll come round...
-We'll go round the other side.
Paul makes it look a bit effortless but I can assure you it's not.
I thought it would just fall apart but it's pretty firm stuff.
Yeah, the cheddaring process has actually started
so that's what you're seeing.
-Put your hands right under.
-Hands under and flip it, there we go.
What's so particular about this cheese? What make it special?
I think part of it is because it's all made from local milk.
100% Arran is what we say, right enough.
And I think it's just the quality of the milk
on the island that just makes it.
I'm not keeping up here, am I? You've done all the other side?
There we go.
He makes it look so easy!
It's years of practice!
And then the next thing they'll do is they'll cut it up the middle.
-And then they'll start to put them on top of each other.
So, yeah, if you just pile them up, yeah.
This is also keeping the curd warm while you're doing that.
It is lovely and warm, a nice temperature.
And the idea is to retain the heat.
-There you go.
-Slap it on! Yay!
This stuff won't be ready now for a few months yet.
But can we fast-forward the process
-so I can have a look at the finished product?
-we'll go through there and have a look through.
-Ah-ha, the finished product.
Now, this is a Burns Truckle.
Why have you made a Burns cheese?
It's to commemorate the 250th anniversary
of the birth of Robert Burns.
Fantastic. And you're going to keep that going all year?
We're going to keep it for the whole of the Homecoming year,
which is 2009.
-Would you like to take one away with you?
-I'd very much like to.
Try it and let us know how you get on.
-Great. I'll look forward to that. Thanks, Alex.
Well, here I am in Lamlash.
It's the largest settlement on the island,
but it's still a very beautiful and tranquil place.
And you wouldn't know it today, but this used to be a naval base,
sheltering the fleets during World War One and World War Two.
And the name Lamlash originally derives from the name of a monk
who spent some time across the bay in Holy Island.
Now, that's where I'm going next for the final leg of my journey,
which I'm very excited about.
My journey has taken me from Loch Fyne down to the port of Tarbert
and over to the Isle of Arran.
I travelled from Locharanza to Blackwaterfoot
then scaled the volcanic slopes of Ard Bheinn.
From Kilmory I headed up to Lamlash.
Now I'm ending my travels with another ferry trip,
to the Holy Isle.
John the skipper's just delivered some bad news for me.
I was hoping to have a picnic on the island, which I could still have,
but the rule is no meat, no fish and no alcohol.
So my Loch Fyne beers will have to stay here,
John's agreed to look after them.
Just gonna leave them there on the boat. Pick 'em up on the way back.
Holy Isle has a rich spiritual history
that stretches back to the 6th century.
Since 1993, it's been run as a multi-faith centre for world peace,
owned by the Buddhists of Samye Ling.
I'm meeting Robert McKenna, who lives and works on the island.
It's basically set up as retreat centre for people who want to come
and, I suppose, be in a safe space just to...
explore and develop and experience that sense of inner peace.
And that's open to anyone?
Absolutely anyone. That was the whole idea.
The vision of the Lama who first got hold of the island
was to have an inter-faith and in fact a no-faith centre
so anybody and everybody, that was the whole idea,
just a safe space to come and explore
and to experience a sense of inner peace.
The tranquillity and peace of the island lends itself to that
but the course is also a gate towards that, you know?
So there's courses for meditation, stuff like that?
Meditation, Tai Chi, a whole range
of different self-exploration courses
and some really eminent teachers from all over the world.
So, yeah, it's working.
-It's quite an isolated place, isn't it?
-It is, yes.
I mean, as you know yourself, it's tricky to get over here sometimes.
Depending on what the weather's doing,
it can change in five, ten minutes, so it happens, yes.
What does that mean for the community here?
Do you have to be quite self-sufficient?
We're getting towards it. The whole idea is we're trying
to be as sustainable and as ecologically sound as possible.
So we are growing a lot of our own produce now
and that's developing season by season.
And that's a big part of the project, you know?
To be sustainable. We're talking about wind turbines
and, as I say, we're producing a lot of our own food.
And hopefully we'll be,
at some point in history, 100% self-sufficient.
-Right, so you've got a veggie garden.
I've been picking up some food on my journey, some good local produce
and hopefully I'll be able
-to find a spot to have a bit of lunch here today.
Maybe I could have something to go with my cheese and crackers.
Of course. You can pick your own lunch, how's that?
-Is that possible?
-It doesn't get any fresher!
-So point me in the direction...
-Through here is the gardens.
Let's go and have a look.
-These are very well maintained, aren't they?
-Oh, yeah, it's great.
Thanks for that. Got some lovely greenery for my lunch.
Doesn't get any better than that, I'll tell you.
-What are you doing here?
-I'm replacing these prayer flags.
-As you can see, these prayer flags here.
-Can I give you a hand?
Yeah, can you just grab on to them? That'd be good,
So, we're just going to take these down here
and tie them on where the other ones are.
What's the reason behind having these prayer flags up here?
They are what they say they are - prayer flags.
So they hold prayers, basically.
The idea of them is that the message is carried in the wind, if you like.
They're beautiful and they're obviously up for a while,
these are a bit tattered and weather-beaten.
The idea is that they last a year and the turn of the year,
then they are replaced so it's a continuum of the peace
and the message going out there.
-And that message is written on these, isn't it?
-Yes. I mean,
this is going back 1,000s of years.
And as they become frayed, the idea is that they drift away.
And the message is carried in the wind, and that's how they work.
So this peace and compassion will blow across
-to Arran, the mainland, everywhere.
Thanks, Robert. I'm going to have a spot of lunch.
Okey-doke, enjoy yourself.
Holy Isle is simply fascinating.
And it's a great place to take time
and reflect on my experiences over the last couple of days.
I've indulged in some great food, certainly had a taste of adventure,
and, of course, there's this ever-present, stunning landscape.
So join us next time for more Country Tracks.
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