There’s so much to do, make sure you stay long enough to see it all!
SIGHT-SEEING IN ARGYLL
The Kintyre Peninsula is about 40 miles long and is almost an island, where it not for the thin strip of land attached to the mainland to the north at Tarbert. The coastal road runs right around the peninsula, taking in some of the most spectacular scenery in Scotland, and giving access to all that there is to do in Argyll, making this an attractive holiday destination indeed.
A trip around the Peninsula from the north...
Tarbert is a fishing village at the head of East Loch Tarbert, at the mouth of Lochfyne. With a population of 1,400 (known locally as Dookers), its main feature is its pretty harbour, regarded by many as Scotland’s greatest natural harbour. In days gone by, the Lochfyne fishing fleet anchored here but these days, the fishing boats are far outnumbered by yachts – indeed, the town hosts the second largest yachting regatta in the UK. The ferry to Portavadie towards Glasgow leaves from a slipway east of the village. The village is extremely beautiful and tranquil, surrounded by rocky cliffs fringed by young firs. Overlooking the harbour are the ruins of a castle built by Robert I of Scotland in 1326. Famous for its seafood, Tarbert hosts a seafood festival every year and is home to some of the best restaurants in Scotland.
Taking the west coast road from Tarbert, you will find yourself spellbound with the views down west loch to the islands of the Inner Hebrides. Ferries can be taken from Kennacraig to the islands of Jura and Islay which are both well worthy of a trip.
The road then drops down to the Atlantic shore, passing Ronachan Point ‘place of the seals’ at the southern entrance to west loch. This is an excellent stopping place, providing frequent observation of the basking seals and in winter, large numbers of migrating geese. Continuing southbound to Killean, rocky coves, miles of sandy beaches and crashing Atlantic rollers form the perfect setting for the outstanding views to the Island of Gigha.
The coastal pass then continues on to the village & port of Tayinloan where a trip to Big Jessie’s tearoom on the pier is a must, whether you then choose to take the ferry to Gigha or not! Killean Estate is passed just south of the village and then you head towards Muasdale, which dates from 1263 when King Haakon of Norway anchored his longships off the coast and named the area. The next village you will fall upon is of Glenbarr, home to the MacAlistairs of Glenbarr. Glenbarr Abbey - is open to the public for guided tours by the laird, from Easter to mid October and there is also a MacAlistair Clan Visitors Centre. You will also find a garden centre with a lovely wee café.
Just south from here at Westport lies a fantastic sweeping sandy bay with crashing waves, perfect for the water-sport fan or beach-lover and this is where the road swings inland and here you will discover an excellent restaurant, the Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy. The road then crosses the Peninsula to Campbeltown, the ‘Wee Toon’. While it is possible to continue northbound at this point up the east coast, it would be a pity not to explore the small roads leading to the spectacular Mull of Kintyre. Stand at the top of the cliffs, looking across the Atlantic to Ireland, barely 11 miles away and you can well understand why Sir Paul McCartney was so captivated. Brimming with an abundance of sea-life, such as seals, whales and seabirds, the area offers boat trips to Sanda Island and its bird observatory.
Once known as the Whisky Capital of the World thanks to its 34 distilleries, the historic Royal Burgh of Campbeltown is a large town with a population of over 5,500, many shops, facilities and thanks to its wartime past, an airport! Visitor attractions include the heritage centre, leisure centre with swimming pool, tourist information centre, the famous art nouveau Wee Picture House, Linda McCartney’s Memorial Garden, the Scottish Owl Centre, the Campbeltown Cross and a museum and library. A whisky distillery tour is offered by Springbank and boat trips to Davaar Island operate from the port to enable viewings there of the cave painting of the Crucifixion.
Continuing northbound, the contrasting eastern coastal road plunges from one river gorge to the next – one moment there is wild moorland, then forest, but all-the-while magnificent views across to the Island of Arran. Wild life is in abundance and you may even be lucky enough to see the eagles over the hills.
Saddell is home to the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey and fully renovated 16th Century Castle which appeared in Paul McCartney's "Mull of Kintyre" music video. There is a gorgeous beach and the remains of an Iron Age fort dating from before 500BC. This area is known to have been a favourite of Linda McCartney, and is where her daughter Stella chose to marry. Close by is the pretty village of Carradale, with a harbour, golf course, tea-room and shop and heritage centre offering exhibitions. With fantastic views over to the Isle of Arran, this is a lovely place to stop for afternoon tea.
At the north-east corner of the Peninsula has the largest surviving castle in Kintyre, dating from the early 13th Century. It is here that you will also find some of the best seafood cuisine in the area….. the renowned Skipness Seafood Shack opens in the summer months and is an absolute must! Nearby Claonaig provides the ferry port to Arran, again another gorgeous island worthy of a trip.
Campbeltown PA28 6EG. Open 8am – 9pm weekdays, 10am-5pm weekends.
Pool, gym, steam room and sauna, child-care facility, library and ‘Mussell Ebb’ bistro.
The bistro is open 9-5pm weekdays and 10-4.30pm weekends.
The Picture House is community owned and run and is the oldest continuously run, purpose-built cinema in Scotland still showing films. Go to their website for more information or call 01586 553899
Tel 01583 421247.
There is a visitor Centre and Lady Glenbarr herself will personally conduct house tours.