There are always opportunities for refreshment as we make our stops en route, whether for coffee, a wonderful lunch of west coast seafood or traditional afternoon tea. Alternatively, I can provide a picnic hamper with the finest local smoked salmon & other delicacies.
Inveraray & Lochaweside
This trip encompasses the Clan Campbell heartlands. There is a contrast between the striking ruins of the 15th Century Kilchurn Castle at the head of Loch Awe and the stately home of the Dukes of Argyll: Inveraray Castle. Loch Awe itself is one of the biggest of Scotland’s inland lochs and it is possible to follow 20 miles and more of single track roads along its shores. In the village of Loch Awe is St. Conan’s Kirk which is an unusual mix of architectural styles. Driving to Inveraray from here the route climbs quite noticeably and one can look back and see the dam in a corrie on Ben Cruachan – part of the hydro-electric scheme with its power station inside the mountain. Our route reaches sea level again at the shores of Loch Fyne as we enter Inveraray. The town and its castle were planned and built in the time of the 3rd Duke of Argyll in the late 18th century. The Clan chiefs, who became Earls then Dukes of Argyll, moved from Loch Awe to Inveraray at the end of the 15th century. I will take you on a guided tour of the castle’s fine rooms and displays. Refreshment and a wander is on offer in the town itself.
With a starting point in Oban we drive south weaving in and out of coastal inlets till we reach the secluded setting of Ardmaddy Castle with its huge walled gardens and gentle woodland walk. Then we head back to the main road south to Loch Melfort, where we find the Scottish National Trust gardens at Arduaine. Here there are huge mature trees, magnolia, a water garden and hothouse. After our visit we will have refreshment at the nearby Loch Melfort hotel. Following our break, the route in the afternoon brings us back via Oban and east to the village of Taynuilt, to the beautifully tranquil and wild surroundings of Angus’s Garden in Glen Lonan.
Mull & Iona
A trip to the islands. This is a full day excursion and requires a punctual start to be on board the sailing from Oban to Mull. After the 45 minute crossing to the small harbour at Craignure we drive down the southern end of Mull through stunning glens till the view opens out to the Ross of Mull. On arrival at Fionnphort we abandon the car for the 5-minute ferry trip over to the sacred island of Iona. There is a short walk up through the village to the Abbey. Founded by St. Columba in 563 A.D. this is a fascinating glimpse at the history of Christianity’s arrival in Scotland. There is time for a wander on some stunning beaches and some lunch before the return drive across Mull to catch the ferry back to the mainland.
The Ancient Scots In Argyll
In the 6th Century when Eric’s son Fergus and his kinsmen sailed across from their homelands in Ulster they settled in Mid-Argyll and established the Kingdom of Dalriada. We can walk up to the remains of the fort at Dunadd with its ancient footprints and cup and ring marks then on into Kilmartin glen with majestic standing stones and burial cairns. The Kilmartin House museum is well worth the visit – as is its tearoom with great soups and home baking! Travelling north via Oban we are in the heart of Lorn and there is an chance to see a relic of later times, the 12th century ruins of Dunstaffnage Castle, ancient seat of the MacDougalls of Lorne, forfeited then to the Campbells.
Clans of Argyll
Son of a Carpenter. Traditionally thought to be a branch of Clan Donald. They are recorded in several quite different parts of Scotland but have a strong documented connection with Argyll. One of the most notable figures was Duncan Ban MacIntyre, the Gaelic poet of the 18th Century, born in Glen Orchy in 1724. His monument can be seen up behind the village of Dalmally. Another place of interest is Glen Noe (not to be confused with the nearby Glen Coe), where a commemorative cairn has been erected by the shores of Loch Etive – MacIntyres owned this land for some 500 years