Kirsty Wark visits Tangy Mill

Journalist Kirsty Wark writes about her stay at Tangy Mill, an early 19th-century water mill near the west coast of the Mull of Kintyre.

This article originally appeared in The Herald

A 19th-century water mill a mile from the coast

Tangy Mill is definitely the most unusual, and certainly one of the most enjoyable holiday properties I have ever stayed in. One mile from the coast, six miles north of Campbelltown, the single track road to the mill meanders up a sycamore lined road along the Tangy Burn and finally opens out onto arable land from where the handsome white harled mill with its red cone on top stands out among the green fields.

Built in 1820, possible on the site of an earlier mill, the three storey building was in working order until the beginning of the 1960s, and what workings! What is so marvellous about Tangy Mill is that everything is still there, the wheel, the irons mechanisms, the grinders, the furnace, the wooden drier, and the ropes and hoists all as they were the day the mill sent off its last sack of cattle feed to one of the farms nearby, or maybe much further afield. 

On the wall above the fireplace in the room that is a large comfortable open plan space hangs a large framed black and white photograph of the last mill owner, Mr Neil McConnachie. He is almost in profile, a Homberg on his head, starched white collar and tie and a dark well- fitting overcoat - immaculate, like his mill. His thin long face is elderly, weather beaten and craggy, but he looks as if he was sharp as a tack – proud – and to me, undeniably Scottish. I think he would be tickled to think that holidaymakers sleep on beds on the drying floor, bathe in the attic with the winching gear a few feet away, next to the what is now a beautiful bedroom where the grain was stored.

As I soaked I longed to know how the carefully crafted and calibrated machinery all worked. As the granddaughter of an engineer, I wished there was someone I could ask who would have taken me through the whole process. At the mill there is certainly beauty in utility.

No phone signal and no WiFi

When The Landmark Trust suggested me and my husband Alan Clements experience Tangy Mill it seemed like a wonderful opportunity to explore that part of the Mull of Kintyre, and certainly the beautiful surfing beach Westport, a stone’s throw away, but truthfully we, our two dogs and our four friends would happily have hung around the Mill, so atmospheric was it.

Truly it feels like a special place, not least because without telephone signal or WiFi, with only the sound of wheeling birds, the crackling of the wood fire, homemade food and laughter to break the silence – oh and the popping of the wine cork before we raised a glass to Mr McConnachie – we all relaxed more than we ever could at home. The beds were ridiculously comfortable – sheets and blankets took me back to childhood – and the kitchen was very well equipped – and plenty of space for our many provisions, and this group really loves to cook. Not only that, the added bonus is that it is wild garlic season.

Dog friendly

One of the great draws of Tangy is that it is pet friendly. Yes the dogs were happy in front of the fire but Alan and our younger dog, Stella, ran for miles along the Tangy farm roads and the old one Pepper, could wander along the beach, with only the surfers to admire. 

When we felt like a trip out, Saddell Bay was the destination, and the surprise of seeing Antony Gormley’s solitary man, standing knee deep in the sea looking out to Arran. The statue was commissioned to celebrate fifty years of The Landmark Trust.

But Tangy Mill had just about everything we could have needed. The Burn runs along by the mill, of course and its banks were studded with primroses. There isn’t a garden to speak of, just some rough outside space to sit and contemplate the hills and the sky, but then who needs a garden when you are in the wilds of the Mull of Kintyre.

Tangy Mill sleeps 6 and is available from £346, equivalent to £14.5 per person per night. Click here to book.


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