News from the districts – August 28, 2020

Northern bottlenose whales breaching close to Lochgoilhead. Photo: Derek Prescott

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There was concern this week after a number of northern bottlenose whales were seen in the Firth of Clyde and an Argyll sea loch.

The animals were spotted off Greenock and earlier this week in the upper reaches of Loch Goil.

The northern bottlenose whale is an ocean species reaching a length of around 10 metres and growing to seven and a half tonnes. They can dive to over 1,400m depth and stay submerged for up to two hours hunting deep-water squid. Fish such as herring, prawns, sea cucumbers and starfish may also form part of their diet.

Whatever has drawn them to the inshore waters of Scotland’s west coast, experts are worried that strandings could occur. Vet Catriona MacIntyre of Bute and Cowal Vets was monitoring the situation on behalf of the British Divers Marine Life Rescue group. She said: ‘These deep sea species are unfortunately a stranding risk.’

By Wednesday of this week, the whales had moved towards the southern reaches of Loch Goil near Carrick Castle, the hope being that they would head back out to sea from the Firth of Clyde.


After a long period of lobbying, businesses in Arrochar and Tarbet celebrated last week as the authorities relented and agreed to relocate ‘road closed’ signs relating to closures around the A83 Rest and be Thankful.

Many business managers have complained that the positioning of the diversion signs at the A82/A83 junction at Tarbet has damaged their revenue as potential customers believe the villages of Arrochar, Tarbet and Succoth to be cut off and inaccessible.

Prominent in the campaign to have the signs moved have been Jane Ireland of the Slanj restaurant and Cristina Sanchez-Navarro of Ashfield House guest house.

Jane and Cristina announced on August 21: ‘After much lobbying and [many] conversations a trial period has been agreed. The signs will be relocated to Succoth on a trial period of four weeks.

‘Thanks must go to everyone who supported the relocation but especially to Councillor Shonny Paterson, Jackie Baillie MSP, Maurice Corry MSP and Brendan O’ Hara MP.

‘Now to start the campaign to find a permanent solution for the Rest.’

Isle of Islay

Radio and TV presenter John Beattie enjoyed a staycation break on the beautiful island of Islay last week.

The former Scotland and British Lions rugby player posted videos of the island’s fantastic beaches on Twitter, posting: ‘It was actually wonderful, restful, and relaxing to holiday on Islay and stay in Scotland this year.

He continued (controversially): ‘And by the way, Islay is the best Scottish island…fact.’

But his trip home was made more eventful than expected, as he explained on Twitter on Monday August 24: ‘After an amazing holiday on Islay. Someone in Inveraray told the police I’d been drinking beer at the harbour last night before jumping back in my car again. They pulled me over blue lights etc on Loch Lomondside.

Mr Beattie added: ‘The reading was zero. I was using up an alcohol-free bottle with excellent fish and chips. So, back to work today.’

John Beattie posted this photo, with the agreement of the officers, on Twitter