White sandy beaches, 18 hole golf courses, island hopping, water sports, whisky tours, castles… the Mull of Kintyre provides a wealth of interesting things to see and do.
Kintyre’s main community in the south is Campbeltown which lies 4 miles away from Kintyre Cottages. 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 two distilleries in operation today – Glen Scotia and Springbank, with the latter offering visitor’s tours by appointment (see whisky). For visitors Campbeltown Heritage Centre is a fascinating way to learn about the cultural, natural and industrial development of Kintyre.
Attractions in the town include Aquilbirium which contains the public library, a 25 metre swimming pool, fitness facilities, a crèche, changing facilities for yachtsmen and the Mussel Ebb bistro. Further attractions to be found at Campbeltown include the Campbeltown Cross situated on the quayside.
Campbeltown is 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 harbour is busy with leisure craft (see Activities section) and is home to a number of fishing boats.
Useful Telephone Numbers
Health Centre (Doctors) +44 (0) 1586 552105
Hospital +44 (0) 1586 552224
Emergency Services 999
Fire Service +44 (0) 1586 552222
Police Office +44 (0) 1586 862200
Harbour Master +44 (0) 1586 552552
Marine VHF Radio Channels 12, 13, 16
Argyll FM (106.5 107.1 107.7) +44 (0) 1586 551800
Campbeltown Flights +44 (0) 1586 552571
Campbeltown Airport +44 (0) 1586 553797
Tourist Information Centre +44 (0) 1586 552056 fax 553291
Library +44 (0) 1586 552366
Argyll & Bute Council +44 (0) 1586 553313
Post Office (Co-op, Longrow) +44 (0) 1586 554721
Please contact Campbeltown Tourist Information Centre on 01586 552056 for further information
15 minutes north of Campbeltown is the village of Glenbarr with a wonderful coffee shop and also Glenbarr Abbey – a 18th century Gothic mansion and visitor centre, offering a fascinating glimpse of family life in years gone by.
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 an 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.
Unique to the area is the Organic Tannery at Torrisdale. Elsewhere all tanning is done with chemicals in large factories. Torrisdale uses an ancient method of making leather which was brought back into production about thirty years ago, with help from an old book. Tanning started at Grogport, and during subsequent years methods of handling have evolved and you can now see all this in action at Torrisdale Castle Tannery. Sheepskin and deerskin rugs of exceptional quality are produced on here and there are other items for sale at both tanneries.
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.
Carskey 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 a mile or so. 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. Within the immediate local area is the Island of Davaar and Sanda.
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 milk are 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.
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).
Mull of Kintyre Sea Tours, based at the old pier in Campbeltown, offers exhilarating and memorable fast marine trips to the spectacular scenery of the Mull of Kintyre or Ailsa Craig as well as being available for private charter. www.mull-of-kintyre.co.uk
Kintyre is home to five 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 three 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 Kintyre Golf for further information.
The shoreline along Kildalloig Estate and into Campbeltown Loch provides a good base for a variety of waters ports 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 Breaks Surf Shop in Campbeltown.
Sea Fishing is readily available right off the shore on Kildalloig Estate. There are plenty of opportunities for sea angling and fresh-water fly fishing locally – see Flyfishing In Kintyre for further information.
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, Helmets, locks and puncture repair kits are all available for rent from Breaks Surf Shop in Campbeltown.
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.
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 Machrihanish Seabird and Wildlife Observatory for further information.
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 Kintyre Way for further information on local walks.
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. Bill McHugh offers a mail order service and has a catalogue of unusual plants.
The Picture House in Campbeltown is community owned and run and is the oldest continuously run, purpose-built cinema in Scotland still showing films. Open 6 days a week – see website for opening times and films showing.
Scottish Owl Centre
The Scottish Owl Centre is a 4 star Visit Scotland rated Wildlife Experience in Campbeltown. Scotland’s only owl centre gives you a unique opportunity to get close to these awesome birds and has the largest collection of owls in Scotland with birds from all over the world.
Now you can meet face to to face birds that you’ve only heard as a distant twit twoo. You’ll discover many varieties from the giant Eurasian Eagle Owl, the magnificent Great Grey Owl, to the tiny Scops Owl. There is an exhilarating flying display daily at 2:30pm.
Swimming Pool & Fitness Centre – The Aqualibrium
Situated on Kinloch Green in Campbeltown and offering spectacular views of Campbeltown Bay, this state of the art, multi-functional leisure complex – Aqualibrium – opened its doors to the public in 2006.
Home to a 25 metre, six lane swimming pool, the £7.5million building also houses a fitness suite; a relaxation suite; a child care facility and café/restaurant area. The inclusion of a library and conference facilities make the venue a thriving community hub for leisure, business and life-long learning activities.
Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse
Visit the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse – accessible from a steep path.
Signposted from the Campbeltown to Southend road. Worth a visit for the spectacular views. Read the history of the lighthouse on the website
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, 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.
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
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
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.