Ellary and Castle Sween estates lie between Lochs Sween & Caolisport and includes the scenery that has made the West Coast of Scotland famous. The shore consists of rocky outcrops with inlets and sandy beaches, islands and islets and just cries out to be explored. The structure of the rock forms a series of large or small glens and corries which lie in the same direction, making walking the hills a sheer delight. Many comment that the same fascination can be experienced on a short walk, not far from the cottage where they are staying, as from a long expedition into the hills; although I would recommend, for anyone staying more than a few days, to head out to Corrbhan Mor which is the highest point of Ellary and Castle Sween estates, and for me, the most beautiful country.
A large part of the peninsular on the Loch Caolisport side is part of an SSSI – a site of special scientific interest. This designation was made because of the quantity and diversity of the mosses and lichen. The whole estate has also been designated a National Scenic Area. The views from Ellary Estate out over the sound of Jura are just fantastic, and with the McCormack Isles in the foreground, an ever changing vista depending on light and weather.
Cove cottage is set in the hills above Loch Caolisport and there is a track from the loch side about a mile up to the cottage. The track goes through part of the ancient oak woodlands that line the shore. The cottage is the most remote on the estate and offers fantastic views and complete privacy and isolation.
Cove cottage was built nearly 200 years ago as a farm workers cottage. Until the 1980s there was no road to the cottage and the only access was by path up from the road – a good 10 minute walk. After the track was built the cottage got running water and electricity and started to become the house it is today. No changes were made to the structure of the building. It is a single storey building with thick walls, giving deep window ledges and a very cosy feel.
The original stable is still there and is now used for storage. You enter the cottage at the back door into a small utility area. Then you go into the main living room of the house, this is the sitting room/kitchen. The sitting area has an open fire for either logs or coal and has a back boiler for heating the water. The main room has windows out both sides of the house. Further into the house, there is a passage that takes you to the 2 bedrooms (1 with en-suite shower) and the family bathroom. The passage also give access to the front door which takes you out into a conservatory area with original cobbles on the floor.
When the inside was renovated, the cottage was insulated and modernised to allow for today’s expectations without changing the look or feel of an old stone cottage. There is no mobile signal but the cottage has a payphone and satellite internet is available.
The unspoilt countryside of Ellary and Castle Sween makes it an ideal place to observe wildlife. There are large areas of oakwoods on the Loch Caolisport site and all arround Cove cotage, and considerable areas of the Loch Sween site are wooded mainly with birch and alder. These areas are home to many of Scotland’s native species, and it is not uncommon to see fox, badger, otter, roe, sika and red squirrel. Higher up the hills you will be unlucky if you are not able to observe herds of red deer, and if you include sea birds and migrating birds, more than eighty different varieties have been spotted on Ellary and Castle Sween. Take a walk along the shore and observe otter and seal. Schools of porpoise and basking shark and, more rarely, dolphin come near enough to be seen. Closer to the ground you can spot stoat, weasel, shrew, dormouse, pine martin and occasionally adder! Wild flowers are abundent, some of them quite rare. Fungi of many different varieties; you can collect useful amounts of chanterelle and field mushrooms in season. Ellary and Castle Sween truly is a haven for wildlife!