Morag's Fairy Glen was gifted to the Argyll town of Dunoon by Bailie George Jones and immortalised in a song extolling its beauty by Victorian schoolmaster William Cameron. The Berry Burn meanders through its lush greenery. There are waterfalls and pools, picnic spots and peaceful paths, making it a popular spot with dog walkers and those out for a gentle stroll. But, for a week from 28 April, any local who wanders unwittingly into the glen may feel a tad overdressed, as there will also be rather a large number of people there wearing absolutely nothing at all.
A naked walk through the glen is just one of the activities on offer for British Naturism's annual gathering, an occasion which has been growing in popularity since the inaugural event held in the seaside town in 2013. This year is anticipated to be its most successful yet, with some 120 naturists expected for an entire week, enjoying such distractions as a clothes-free boat trip along the Kyles of Bute, a naked disco and ceilidh, an unclothed trek through the community forest at Tighnabruaich and a 'Burns in the Buff' supper – tartan bow ties for the gents and sashes for the ladies are the only required attire.
The Glenmorag Hotel, which is hosting the week, has direct access into Morag's Fairy Glen and Ivan Gill of British Naturism believes it is the first time naturists have had the opportunity to stay for seven days in a UK hotel 'au naturel'. 'Hopefully, this will be the first of many textile hotels to see the benefits of our patronage,' he says, adding: 'There aren't any other events where you can walk straight out of a hotel in the buff and go directly into a lovely scenic glen.'
The event has the backing of national tourism body VisitScotland, which has written to the organisation, expressing the hope that the gathering is successful. 'We have been buoyed by this backing,' says Mr Gill. 'So far we haven't encountered any resistance or bad feeling. There seems to be a growing respect for our lifestyle.'
Certainly Argyll and Bute council has also been keen to extend an invitation to group members, offering private access to the town's swimming pool, sauna and steam room. The organisers have also secured the support of local police and forestry officials, which means that the biggest problem the naturists will face will be less-than-clement April weather. It's even too early in the season for the midgies to be nibbling on the nudists. A spokesman for the Glenmorag Hotel says the naturists are 'a very good crowd', while Ivan Hill adds: 'Most of us are over 60 so you can't expect us to be too rebellious.'
But while Dunoon prepares to fete its nudist influx, spare a thought for Stephen Gough. The former royal marine and ex-lorry driver, best known as the Naked Rambler, walked from Land's End to John O'Groats in 2003-4 and 2005-6, wearing only boots, socks, a rucksack and sometimes
a hat. He was arrested twice in England, but almost immediately released. In Scotland, however, he was arrested more than 20 times, serving sentences in Saughton, Barlinnie and Perth prisons.
In a 2015 article in the Times, Daniel Finkelstein wrote: 'Our standards of modesty and decency have changed so much and so rapidly that it is hard to believe they won't change further, making complete nudity perfectly normal. In anticipating this, Stephen Gough is not dotty, he is just slightly ahead of the rest of us.'
Perhaps the Dunoon naturist gathering should consider making him their guest of honour.