Argyll has always held a special place in my heart. My mum was born in Dunoon and I spent a lot of my childhood in this spellbinding land of rugged mountains, epic lochs and big skies. Over the years as a writer I’ve explored many corners of Argyll.
I’ve stayed at loads of places across Argyll and handily some of my favourites are operated by the same company, Argyll Holidays, who are celebrating their 50th birthday this year. I love that their accommodations offer the freedom of self-catering, but also have plenty of facilities to keep guests of all ages occupied. We’re talking everything from lodges with hot tub and spa treatments, through to on site archery and live entertainment at night.
Argyll Holidays’ holiday parks are also handily spread around Argyll. There is Hunter’s Quay Holiday Village by Dunoon, where my connection with the region began and also Lock Eck Country Lodges and Stratheck Holiday Park just to the north of Dunoon in the glorious Argyll Forest Park. They also have a great escape, Loch Lomond Holiday Park, at the heart of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Also within the national park lies Drimsynie Estate Holiday Village. Finally their Loch Awe Holiday Park is in a great location by Scotland’s longest loch.
Join me now as I reveal 7 great things to see and do in Argyll!
Cruise Loch Lomond
Scotland’s largest loch sits on the eastern fringes of Argyll. You can hike in the hills around Loch Lomond, or chill on its beaches. Another fun activity is taking a boat trip out on the loch. There are a number of operators. I recommend Cruise Loch Lomond, who offer a variety of cruises, most of them from Tarbert on the western shores of this remarkable loch.
Check out Dunoon
Before the advent of cheap jet travel many Scots main holiday was ‘doon the water’ on a Clyde ferry to Dunoon. The largest settlement on the Cowal Peninsula still retains enticing remnants of its Victorian-era charm such as the old ferry pier. I recommend taking a walk up to the castle hill that lends Dunoon its name. There is a statue up here to Highland Mary, one of Robert Burns’ most famous lovers. Dunoon also has some interesting wee shops such as the appropriately named Doon the Watter. Here you can pick up some great souvenirs.
Hug a Tree
If you are a fan of trees then you won’t want to miss the Benmore Botanic Garden. The trees here really are mind-blowing – some are over 150 years old. Think about that for a moment – they lived through Queen Victoria’s reign and then both World Wars! The garden’s most dramatic sight is the grand avenue of Giant Sequoias near the entrance. It dates back to 1863 and the tallest of these monsters reaches almost 50m into the Argyll skies.
Walk the Cowal Way
You don’t have to hike all 57 miles of this glorious long distance walking trail, which stretches from Portavadie on Loch Fyne right across to the banks of Loch Lomond. The Cowal Way somewhat immodestly markets itself as ‘Scotland’s Best Walk’, but it really is superb as it sweeps from the southern tip of the Cowal Peninsula, taking in a smorgasbord of Argyll forests, hills, lochs and villages on its dramatic way.
Explore Argyll’s Hollow Mountain
Ben Cruachan is not just another striking Munro. As its nickname suggests this mountain on the banks of Loch Awe is hollow. It’s part of a massive hydroelectric plant, the first in the world to use slack times in electricity demand to buy electricity back from the National Grid and pump the water back up to its source lochs up the steep mountain slopes. The Cruachan Visitor Centre is excellent. I recommend taking a guided trip where a bus takes you right inside the mountains. It’s all very James Bond in there!
Savour One of the Best Views in Scotland
The view from the viewpoint near Tighnabruaich over the Kyles of Bute is jaw-dropping and one of the finest I’ve seen anywhere in Scotland. It’s a truly spectacular drive from Dunoon and there are some good places to enjoy lunch too in Tighnabruaich, as well as at the lovely old dame that is the Colintraive Hotel.
Superb Argyll Produce
Argyllshire these days overflows with world-class local produce, with an increasing range of venues for sampling the glorious fruits of land and sea. Argyll Smokery in Dunoon are one of the best smokeries in Scotland. The highlight for me is their delicious salmon, both standard smoked and hot smoked. The local Argyll waters dish up a rich bounty of seafood, from wee clams I like to dig up with my kids for dinner on the local beaches, through to plump oysters and langoustines. Look out too for the lovely Fyne Ales you find all over Argyll. The craft beer from Loch Lomond Brewery has also become more renowned.
*This blog comes in association with Argyll Holidays
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