The local area provides an enormous range of activities to choose from for all interests and ages. Beaches, castles, fishing villages, islands… there’s just so much to see and do.
Kintyre’s main community in the south is Campbeltown which lies 4 miles away from Davaar Island. Once known as Kinlochkilkerran, it was renamed by the Earl of Argyll (a Campbell) during the 17th century, and two centuries later the town enjoyed great prosperity, when shipbuilding and fishing industries were booming, and when over 30 whisky distilleries specialised in the production of Scotland’s famous amber-coloured liquid. There are still distilleries in operation today – Glen Scotia and Springbank, with the both offering visitor’s tours by appointment.
Further attractions to be found in Campbeltown include the Campbeltown Cross situated on the quayside. Campbeltown is also home to the country’s oldest working cinema, an Art Deco treasure, on Hall Street, and affectionately referred to as The Wee Picture House. The Picture House was restored to it’s former glory in 2018 and has a fantastic selection of showings and cultural events – see more on their website.
Campbeltown Heritage Centre is a fascinating way to learn about the cultural, natural and industrial development of Kintyre.
Aquilbirium contains the public library, a 25 metre swimming pool, fitness facilities, a crèche, changing facilities for yachtsmen and the Mussel Ebb bistro.
The harbour is busy with leisure craft and is home to a number of fishing boats plus the impressive Campbeltown RNLI Lifeboat.
15 minutes north of Campbeltown is the village of Glenbarr with a wonderful coffee shop and also Glenbarr Abbey.
To the north lies the pretty harbour town of Tarbert. Tarbert Castle, overlooking the bay, dates from the 13th Century. Network Carradale Visitor Centre relates local history, while north again is Skipness, with its 13th Century Castle.
Heading north on the easterly side, there is the pretty village of Carradale. Carradale Bay offers a wide sweeping sandy beach stretching out towards Carradale Point. It is overlooked by Torrisdale Castle, home to Kintyre Gin with their tours and shop including sheepskin rugs from their organic tannery. Four miles south of Carradale the road dips steeply into the valley of the Saddell Water, and here you can visit the remains of Saddell Abbey. These are fascinating in their own right, and are also home to a remarkable collection of medieval grave slabs and effigies.
Ten miles south of Campbeltown lies Southend and the very attractive Dunaverty Bay. Nearby is the spot where in AD563 St Columba first landed in Scotland after being exiled from Ireland, a journey that took him onwards to Iona. St Columba’s Footprints carved in the rock at Keil Head are said to mark his visit, and the nearby St Columba’s Chapel also commemorates him.
Carskeiy Bay and Macharioch Bay both have appealing beaches overlooking Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde. Beyond Keil, the road continues to the most southwesterly point of the peninsula, and the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse. There has been a lighthouse at this remote end of the road beyond Southend since 1788. Cars must be left at the top of the hill before walking down the road for two miles or so (not for the very young or infirm). The road passes the memorial to the helicopter tragedy. From here, Ireland, only 12 miles away, is clearly visible.
Kintyre is home to some of the most pristine sandy beaches in Scotland. The white sandy beaches of Macrihanish, Saddell, Southend, Carradale are all within 15 minutes drive. Carskey Bay and Macharioch Bay both have appealing beaches overlooking Ailsa Craig in the Firth of Clyde.
Ideally positioned for exploring Kintyre, the cottages are also within reach of the Western Isles – ferries to Gigha, Islay and Arran can be taken from the mainland.
Gigha – Gigha lies just 3 miles off the coast of Kintyre, and is a very productive and fertile island. Along with its distinctive goat’s cheese, over a quarter of a million gallons of Gigha Milk is produced each year by its Ayrshire cattle. Together with the island’s white sandy beaches, the Achamore Gardens there provide the main attraction for visitors.
Islay – the most southerly of the Western Isles and famous for its single malt whiskies. There are no fewer than eight distilleries in operation on the island. The island also provides a good habitat for birdlife, and is the place where scores of white-fronted and barnacle geese spend the winter months.
Arran, being the most southerly island is also the most easily accessible and its geology and golf are the main crowd-pullers. Boasting seven golf courses, enthusiasts can enjoy three 18-hole and a unique 12-hole course at Shiskine, near Blackwater.
The Mull of Kintyre Music Festival is held annually in Campbeltown in the 3rd week of August – see www.mokfest.com for further information.
Further afield in Islay, during late May and early June, the Islay Festival takes place, when whisky sampling, pipe bands and folk dancing accompanies the general celebration of the island’s Gaelic roots.
Campbeltown Brass and Campbeltown Pipe Band are thriving bands who have enjoyed significant success over the years. Argyll FM, the local independent radio station, strongly features music in its broadcasts along with magazine programs (106.5 107.1 107.7).
Birdlife is abundant and varied and the range recorded in the area now stands at just over 200 species including regular rarities such as Leach’s Petrel, Balearic Shearwater, Grey Phalarope and Sabine’s Gull. There is a bird observatory at Usaid Point at Machrihanish. This is the first landfall for many migratory birds and seals are often to be found here. See www.machrihanishbirds.org.uk for further information.
Sea Fishing is readily available right off the shore on Davaar and the surrounding area.
Enjoyable walks for all levels are right on the doorstep – from an easy stroll along the coast to more challenging walks further inland. Trees include ash, birch, elm, hazel, rowan, and willow as well as spruce and pine. Wildlife you are likely to see include roe deer, grouse and hen harriers. Also see www.kintyreway.com for further information on local walks.
Kintyre is home to 5 golf courses – the most famous is the championship course at Machrihanish, with its stunning and infamous first hole, authoritatively voted the best opening hole in the world. All of our cottages are a 10 minute drive from 3 18 hole golf courses – Machrihanish, the new Machrihanish Dunes and Southend. There are also 2 excellent 9 hole courses in Carradale and Tarbet. Please see www.kintyregolf.com for further information.
Campbeltown’s whisky distilleries have enjoyed something of a revolution in recent years. In 1996 the old Glen Scotia distillery began production of the first Glen Scotia for many years in the first distilling season of the new millennium. Maintaining Campbeltown’s whisky-making traditions, Springbank Distillery (www.springbankwhisky.com), founded in 1828 by the Mitchell family – and still in their hands today – retains the old distilling methods and welcomes visitors, provided you phone beforehand. Springbank Distillery is producing a second distinct malt in its existing distillery, called Longrow: and a third, Hazelburn, has been distilled every year since 1997. In 2004 Springbank reopened production in a near neighbour, Glengyle Distillery, in which they distil Kilkerran single malt Scotch whisky.
Also worth a visit is Eaglesome’s shop in Campbeltown which has a spectacular variety of whisky and wide range of old Scottish ales.
For seafood lovers, see The Seafood Trail – Its meandering route, through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery Scotland has to offer, enables sea foodies to sample, share and enjoy seafood and shellfish from a wide variety of waterfront establishments. From the freshest of crab rolls served with a squeeze of lemon and some home-made mayonnaise, to Michelin rated menus that feature a wide range of timestakingly prepared dishes, visitors to the Seafood Trail are assured a warm welcome and an eating experience that values freshness and flair above all else.
There are a number of establishments that have a good reputation locally. Among them are;
The Ardsheil, Campbeltown 01586 552133
The Craigard Hotel, Campbeltown 01586 554 242
Dunvanlanree, Caradale 01583 431226
The Old Clubhouse, Machrahanish 01586 810000 www.machrihanishdunes.com
Further afield there are the following renowned restaurants;
Kilberry Inn near Tarbert, 01880 770 223
Crinan Hotel, by Lochgilphead 01546 830261
Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, by Clachan, Cairndow 01499 600264
The shoreline around Davaar Island provides a good base for a variety of watersports including windsurfing, dingy sailing and kayaking.
Macrihanish has become something of a surfer’s paradise in recent years. Lessons are available and kit including boards can be rented from Pete’s Surf School at Westport (northern end of Machrihanish beach)
Explore the Mull of Kintyre, the new Forestry Commission ‘Wee Toon Trail’ on Beinn Ghuilean and the challenging Fire Tower Trail at Lochgilphead by mountain bike. Bikes are available in our Activities Shed.
Riding of all disciplines can be enjoyed in the beautiful Kintyre countryside, with centres at Tarbert and Glenbarr. Highland Horse Riding specialise in sightseeing & wildlife watching treks, riding Scotland`s versatile Highland Ponies from their base near Tarbert. (www.highlandhorseriding.com)
Sub-tropical & temperate gardens abound in Kintyre –for gardening enthusiasts there are a few `must visits` including Crarae, Arduaine, Jura House, Gigha and Stonefield. There are also a few plant nurseries that are well worth visiting – Glenbarr Nursery in the village of Glenbarr 15 miles north of Campbeltown and also Skipness Plants which can be reached from a track to the left of the road down to the castle.