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Discover Argyll’s Secret Coast

Tucked away in a remote corner of Scotland, Argyll's Secret Coast feels like a world away. Tranquillity and peace await the intrepid visitor who chooses to take life in the slow lane, where fabulous seafood, friendly pubs, charming holiday accommodation and some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes make visiting here a pleasure.

Tighnabruaich. Image by Andrew Buchanan

The villages of Tighnabruaich and Kames offer fine hotels and B & B accommodation. Both are popular weekend cruising destinations, or stopovers on the way to the west Highlands via the Crinan Canal. A favourite past time here is hanging out on the patio at Royal an Lochan in Tighnabruaich enjoying a locally brewed ale and the sea views- don’t be surprised if a musician or two show up for a tune. Favourite anchorages include Caladh Harbour at the top of the Narrows and moorings at the Kames and Tighnabruaich piers, where a pint and a hearty meal await at several friendly pubs. The Kyles of Bute Sailing Club organises racing and children’s activities and the Tighnabruaich Sailing School offers dinghy sailing and wind surfing classes. If you are feeling more adventurous, try your sea legs at the sailing school.Catch a céilidh- that’s the Gaelic word for a dance party- at the Kames Village Hall, and lift those knees with the friendly locals.


The Secret Coast of Scotland is all about the outdoors- from woodland trails to coastal paths brimming with wildlife such as otters, golden eagles and red squirrels, some of the country’s best walks are here. For those looking to miss the crowds and enjoy nature at its best, Ostell Bay boasts one of the prettiest beaches in Argyll. Visitors can park at the lay by and take the 15 minute walk across the machair to the beach, which is fringed in wildflowers in spring and summer. Paddling, sunbathing and picnicking in the bay are great ways to pass a sunny day.


Catch the Calmac ferry in Tighnabruaich (it’s best to make reservations) and head to Tarbert. Spend some time in this delightful fishing village, where any summer weekend you may find yourself at one of Tarbert’s many festivals, celebrating everything from seafood to boats to Vikings. Otherwise, it’s a sleepy wee place with welcoming locals, interesting shops and several eateries from which to choose for lunch. Enjoy an award winning seafood dinner at Dunvalanree Restaurant, which sits at the end of The long and winding Road” that inspired Paul McCartney’s song- truly a memorable spot and a bucket list item for any Beatles fan visiting Scotland.



Portavadie is one of Britain’s most modern marinas, featuring sheltered deep-water berthing and renowned purpose-built marina facilities. Portavadie is the gateway to some of the west coast’s best sailing waters, with islands, harbours, anchorages and excellent shore-side facilities readily available, including the entrance to the Crinan Canal at nearby Ardrishaig. A fabulous spa proffers a range of pampering treatments. Award-winning restaurants, pubs, salons and accommodation make Portavadie a popular stopping off or launching point.


Getting there: Take the A82 along Loch Lomond to Tarbet, then the A83 towards Inveraray and Campbeltown. At Cairndow, turn left on to the A815, then at Strachur turn right on to the A886, signposted Glendaruel and Colintraive. Just after Glendaruel then right on A8003 towards Tighnabruaich.

Or take the A8 to Gourock, then Western Ferries from McInroy’s Point to Hunter’s Quay near Dunoon. Turn right on to A815, then shortly after leaving the 40mph area, turn right on B836, a single track road with passing places. After about 17 miles, turn right on A886, then left on A8003 towards Tighnabruaich.


Cowal


Known as the land of beautiful contrasts, a holiday on the peninsula of Cowal can be both tranquil and exhilarating. Just a ferry trip across the Firth of Clyde to Dunoon, the mountains frame the sea lochs for a postcard-perfect welcome. Or, alternatively, it can be reached on a scenic two-hour drive via A82 by Loch Lomond side- either way, it’s not far from the central belt to a world apart.


Unspoiled land and seascapes provide a haven for red squirrels, deer, dolphins and basking sharks, along with many other species of birds and mammals. Argyll Forest Park and Loch Lomond and Trossach National Park offer some of the most wild and stunning vistas in Scotland, while the Arrochar Alps, which straddle both areas, are popular with hill walkers.


Castle House Museum in Dunoon features displays on life in Cowal from the Stone Age to the present, and the Old Manse Museum near Colintraive is dedicated to the history of the Lamont clan. The Strachur Smiddy, which dates to the 1790’s, is a fascinating look at one of the most important jobs in the village for centuries- the blacksmith- with demonstrations on offer throughout the summer.


On the scenic shores of Loch Fyne, Ardkinglas House and Gardens, home of Britain’s tallest tree, can be toured. Dating to the 1300’s, the gloomy ruins of Castle Lachlan near Strathlachlan are currently undergoing restoration, but the grounds are lovely to explore. At Inveryne and Balliemore and Glendaruel, standing stones and cairns are memorials to those who lived here over 3,000 years ago.


The exceptional landscape and ever changing light of Cowal inspire many artists, musicians and craftspeople who have chosen to locate here. Open studios invite visitors to see artists and work, and perhaps even get a chance at the palette themselves- painting holidays are very popular in Cowal. Whether it’s a day trip or an extended holiday, Cowal has something for everyone.


Getting there: By road from Glasgow take the A82 towards Arochar, then the A83 south towards Dunoon. Ferries run regularly between Gourock, and Dunoon.



 

An Oban Walking Tour is the perfect way to learn about this charming town on the bay, from its history to life today. Imagine Alba's certified Oban tour guide Michelle will entertain you with stories of Celtic giants, cave men, Norse warlords and powerful clans and will answer your questions about modern life in Scotland. Looking for things to do? A walking tour in Oban is the best way to start your visit!



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