At the beginning of April, we took a long weekend off work and spent it in Kintyre. For those of you who aren’t sure where this overlooked county of Scotland is, it’s the long peninsula at the very end of the A83 road through Argyll and Bute. Home to Campbeltown, a lot of farms and a few whisky distilleries, its wilderness is well worth exploring.
Here’s a few places where we stopped off on our three-day tour of the area. Feel free to share your favourites below in the comments!
We chose this twee village as the base for our Kintyre road trip (we stayed here). Machrihanish is best known for its surfing and golf, so — if you’re not into either of those — the beach and pub are your best bet. The long stretch of pebbles and sand isn’t quite as clean as Westport (further along the coast) but it nevertheless lets you have a good wander before you shack up at the pub for your evening meal.
Where to eat: Head to the Old Clubhouse Pub at Machrihanish. Part of the neighbouring hotel, it’s set in a beautiful building with tons of character. And seriously, it’s a meal and a half. The portions are ginormous and probably the tastiest pub grub I’ve had since last summer’s stint in Donegal. An example? Half a roast chicken on a ‘dune’ of mash (see what they did there?) with mixed vegetables. Enough to feed a small family… But you’re on holiday, right?
The name of this hamlet of houses speaks for itself. Southend is where the road stops at the very bottom of Kintyre. Although there’s not much there apart from a caravan site and a haunting abandoned hotel (once a wartime hospital) there’s a beautiful beach with a very impressive rock formation beside it. This is Dunaverty Bay, formerly the site of a castle and slaughter of over 300 MacDonalds in the seventeenth century. There’s little left of the castle now, but the slipway and angular house by the cliff are incredibly picturesque.
Where to eat: There’s a little tearoom hidden within the Muneroy Store village shop just as you leave Southend. It’s a bit of a bizarre setup… You have to weave through the newsagents before you reach the cafe, and the tearoom’s decor is… interesting. Rabbit statues, anyone? But as we all should remember, appearance isn’t everything. The cakes are the real attraction: chocolate cream sponge, peanut butter cream sponge, Victoria sponge… The baking list is repeated like a mantra by the waitresses and after I left, I was repeating it too. Because these cakes are literally the lightest sponges I’ve ever tasted. You’d be mad to drive past this place.
Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse
This lighthouse — on an exposed southwestern headland — has stunning views over to Ireland and back up the Kintyre coast… If it’s not raining, of course. When we went, the cloud was so low we struggled to see the road ahead and — thanks to my unusual lack of research — we hadn’t realised the walk down to the lighthouse was over a mile. So be prepared for a scenic stroll down (if you can see anything) and a super steep climb back up.
The Isle of Gigha
The highlight of our Kintyre tour, the small but perfectly formed Isle of Gigha is a quick sail from Tayinloan on the mainland. I’ve written a full post about the island here, but it’s well worth planning a day trip if you’re down in Kintyre anyway. Achamore Gardens are at the heart of the island and — although abandoned — it’s fascinating to see nature reclaiming the once beautiful botanic estate. For food, head to the Boathouse for fresh seafood and a fantastic seaside setting.
How to get there
Kintyre is around three and a half hours from Glasgow via the scenic A83. If you’re heading that way, why not stop off en route at Inveraray?