TIGHNABRUAICH is one of those place names that must scare the pants off foreigners, including those south of the border.
Hard to spell – it has taken me days to be able to do it without looking –and even harder to pronounce, the actual place is well worth seeking out.
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Part of Argyll's so-called secret coast, which extends along the scenic east side of Loch Fyne and into the Kyles of Bute, Tighnabruaich's pier – which receives the Waverley paddle steamer in summer and is now officially a listed building – is one of the few surviving working wooden piers in the Firth of Clyde still used for its original purpose.
The fact visitors so often overlook this idyllic spot is perhaps one of the reasons for its popularity with the rich and famous. Robert Carlyle and Billy Connolly have both had holiday houses here and it is highly rated for holiday and retirement homes.
Tighnabruaich is a pretty place with lovely walks, cycle paths, a wonderful shoreline and plenty of shinty. It is home to Kyles Athletic, one of only four Scottish teams to have won the sport's premier prize, the Camanachd Cup, three times in a row.
The local property market is predictably diverse, with holiday homes, B&B/guest houses, one-off conversions and individually designed properties, including two homes currently for sale that are notable for very different reasons.
Converted in 2001, the aptly named Wee Free in the adjoining village of Kames was formerly a Free Presbyterian church and was originally conceived as a very basic, no-frills building with simple windows and a grey-harled exterior.
However, inside is a very different picture. Designed by award-winning architects Crichton Associates and completed by local craftsmen, the lofty space has been transformed into a beautiful home with original features and a mature enclosed garden.
Arched doors open into a double-height hallway and an open-tread staircase leads to an mezzanine gallery.
The ground floor comprises a spacious double-height living/dining area with exposed rafters and a wood-burning stove, a large breakfasting kitchen with access to a raised rear deck, two double bedrooms and large bathroom.
The original pine flooring has been stripped and waxed, and the kitchen units are also wood, as are the worktops. Offers over £220,000 are invited by Clyde Property's Helensburgh office.
Tighnabruaich House is a property on a much grander scale, a Victorian Arts and Crafts country house in red sandstone and grey whinstone designed by William Leiper, which stands in around 16 acres of garden grounds and mature woodland.
Completed in 1903 for a wealthy Glasgow shipping merchant, the interior has Kauri pine panelling in the hall, reception rooms and staircase.
Other features include gables and bays, mullioned and transomed windows with leaded glass, exposed timber beam-and-joist ceilings, pink sandstone window surrounds and archways, red-brick chimney stacks and a sun lounge.
The accommodation, over three floors, includes a drawing room, dining room, library, kitchen, seven bedrooms (two with en-suite bathrooms), billiards room and bar, two further bathrooms and shower room, plus a top-floor bedroom/dayroom/library and a spa room with sauna and shower.
Outside, the setting provides stunning views over the Kyles of Bute, and the gardens are home to a wide variety of specimen trees and rhododendrons, formal lawns, shrubs and flower borders.
It also features a rockery garden with a stream running down to the sea, numerous outbuildings, a boat stand and garage. Subject to planning consent there may be potential for further residential development.
Rettie & Co's Edinburgh office is marketing the property at offers over £975,000.