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Argyll and Bute

Note: A number of islands in the Inner Hebrides—Islay, Colonsay, Seil, Luing, Lismore, Oronsay, Mull, Iona, Staffa, Coll, Tiree, and Jura—are governed by the Argyll and Bute council. For the traveler their geographic location is of more importance than their political one, and therefore they are included in the Inner and Outer Hebrides tour.

Loch Lomond by Barbara Ballard The rest of this area is made up of the Kintyre peninsula, the island of Bute and the mainland stretching from Alexandria in the south to Creagan in the north to Loch Lomond in the east. Peninsulas of land punctuated by long sea lochs are characteristic of this western area, much attuned to the sea. Settlement is mainly along the coast with vast areas of empty wilderness inland punctuated by the occasional road.

Rothesay by Barbara Ballard Rothesay is the main town on the isle of Bute. On the island are two buildings of note. Rothesay castle is 13th century, circular in plan, with 16th century work. Now ruined, it was a favourite residence of the Stuart Kings. The Bute Museum at Rothesay contains information on the archaeology, history and geology of the island.

Mt Stuart by Barbara Ballard Mount Stuart was the ancestral home of Marquesses of Bute. Built in the high Victorian Gothic style of deep red Corsehill sandstone, it has a four storey central block. Architectural detail is found in carved decorations and vaulted ceilings. The central hall reaches 60 feet in height and is decorated with marble columns and stained glass windows. A chapel is lined in white Carrara marble. The home was the first in Scotland to contain a heated pool and to be lit by electricity. Among the collections are 18th century portraits, clocks and furniture. Mount Stuart is set in 300 acres of beautiful woodland with an arboretum and gardens.

St Blane’s Church at the southern end of the island dates from the 12th century. The Romanesque chapel was part of a Celtic monastery. A chapel, St Mary’s, is of medieval origin.

Loch Fyne courtesy Dannie Calder Geograph Britain and Ireland North of the island of Bute and much indented by the sea is the large Cowal peninsula lying between the huge Loch Fyne and Loch Long. Settlements hang on the coastline with only a couple of roads traversing the wild mountainous and forested interior.

Argyll Forest Park arboretum entrance courtesy Gordon McKinley Geograph Britain and Ireland In the far northern part of the peninsula is the Argyll Forest Park. At the head of Loch Fyne is the Ardkinglas Estate. The woodland gardens are of horticultural value and contain fine specimen trees.

The Younger Botanic Gardens at Benmore are an outstation of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. Magnificent collection of rhododendrons, avenue of tall redwoods, trails and hillside woodlands with scenic overlooks make it worth a visit.

Hill House courtesy National Trust for Scotland Hill House in Helensburgh was built in 1902-4 and is considered to be the best example of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s domestic architecture. He designed all the details, including the furniture.

Balloch Pier, Loch Lomond by Barbara Ballard On the eastern border of Argyll lies 22 mile long Loch Lomond, well known from the song of the same name. The western shore and southern part of the lake is busy with tourists and boats. For a more peaceful experience visit the northern part of the loch or walk the eastern shore in Stirlingshire.

Inveraray from Dun na Cuaiche courtesy Paul Chapman Geograph Britain and Ireland Inveraray Castle courtesy Kenneth Mallard Geograph Britain and Ireland Moving northward brings into focus an area where many woods and peaks are on offer for sightseeing and walking. Inveraray is a village with a castle built by the Duke of Argyll and headquarters of Clan Campbell (a genealogy room is available). Built in the mid 1700s, it’s an example of Gothic revival architecture. It was partially burned in an 1877 fire and was repaired with some alterations to its style. On show are a great hall, a state dining room with plasterwork ceiling, an old kitchen and a collection of armoury. There are elaborately painted rooms, gilded chairs and tapestries.

Inveraray Harbour by Barbara Ballard Inveraray Jail exercise room by Barbara Ballard

Also in Inveraray is a 19th century jail where life-like figures are dressed in appropriate costumes. Exhibitions add interest. A maritime museum has a 1911 schooner, one of the world’s last iron sailing ships, displays on the maritime history of the area and on Highlands Clearances. Videos help with information.

Auchindrain township courtesy Auchindrain Southwest of Inveraray is the interesting Auchindrain Township, an open-air folk life museum of the West Highlands. Its history dates back over 1000 years. It includes a display centre, houses, barns and byres.

Nether Largie standing stone courtesy E Gammie Geograph Britain and Ireland Those interested in prehistoric remains won’t want to miss Kilmartin Glen, replete with examples. The Ballgowan Cup and Ring Marks are on natural rock faces. Dunchraigaig Cairn is from the Bronze Age and contains three burial chambers. Glebe Cairn is an early Bronze Age burial cairn with two chambers. Nether Largie is a collection of a Neolithic cairn and two Bronze Age ones while Ri Cruin has three large burial chambers. Temple Wood stone circles date to about BC 3000.

Kilmartin also offers Celtic crosses in the church and a centre for archaeology with numerous artifacts. Just out of the village is Carnassarie Castle, a combined tower house and hall with fine architectural details of the late 16th century.

Loch Awe courtesy Visit Britain Loch Awe, on the road to Oban, on the north-west coast of Argyll, is Scotland’s longest at more than 25 miles and one of its most beautiful. At its north end is Kilchurn castle, a square tower built about 1550 and enlarged in late 1600s. On the southeastern slopes of Ben Cruachan at the loch is St Conan’s church with elaborate carvings.

Oban view by Barbara Ballard Oban is a busy tourist town with all amenities. It’s the jumping off point for the ferry to Mull and Iona. The Oban distillery offers tours of its facilities, and Caithness glass has one of its workshops here.

North of Oban by Loch Etive is 13th century Dunstaffnage Castle with its views from the great curtain wall. Ardchattan Priory is on the shore of the lake in a garden. Founded about 1230, it is Scotland’s second oldest inhabited religious house. Parts of the church and domestic buildings remain. At Taynuilt, the Bonawe Iron Furnace, founded in 1753, is the most complete remaining charcoal fueled ironworks in Britain. A display shows the process of iron making. Loch Etive is worth a visit for its mountain scenery.

Arduaine Gardens by Barbara Ballard Arduaine Garden, on the main road south of Oban, has a collection of rhododendrons and azaleas. Magnolias, Tibetan poppies, Himalayan lilies and other temperate zone plants are also on display.

Further south is the barely settled Knapdale peninsula. Castle Sween sits on the east shore of Loch Sween. It is one of Scotland’s earliest stone castles, possibly of the mid 12th century, with a later tower house and angle tower.

Tarbet by Barbara Ballard Barely connected to Knapdale is the 40-mile long Kintyre peninsula. The village of Tarbert sits at this point and is the gateway to the Kintyre. There’s a local heritage centre with interpretive display on natural history and a woodland trail.

Skipness Castle on Kintyre’s east coast is an early 13th century castle with a chapel. The Glenbarr Abbey Visitor Centre is an 18th century house with a collection of thimbles, china and clothing. The Network Heritage Centre in an old schoolhouse in Carradale has displays on the fishing, forestry and farming of the Kintyre area.

Argyll and Bute Visitor Information Centres

Argyll and Bute VIC
Ardgartan, by Arrochar, G83 7AR
Tel. 0 8707 200 606
Open: April-May, daily, 10am-5pm; June, Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm, Sat and Sun from 11am-4pm; July-Aug, Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm, Sat and Sun from 11am-4pm; Sep-Oct, daily, 10am-5pm

Ballachulish Visitor Centre
Albert Rd
Ballachulish, PH49 4JR
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: March-April: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 10am-5pm; May-Sep: daily 9am-6pm

Bowmore VIC
The Square
Bowmore, Islay, PA43 7JP
Tel. 0 8707 200 617
Open: April-May, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun from 2-5pm; June-Aug, Mon-Sat, 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun from 2-5pm; Sep-Oct, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm

Campbelton VIC
Mackinnon House, The Pier
Campbeltown, PA28 6EF
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: April, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm; May-June, Mon-Sat, 9am-5pm, Sun from noon-5pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm, Sun from 11am-5pm; Sep-Oct, Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun from noon-4pm; Nov-march, Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm

The Pier
Craignure, Isle of Mull, PA65 6AY
Phone: 0 8452 255 121
Open: April-mid June: Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.15pm, Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10.30am-5.15pm; mid-end June: Mon-Thu 8.30am-7pm, Fri 8.30am-5.15pm, Sat 9am-6.30pm, Sun 10am-5.30pm; Jul-Aug: Mon-Thu 8.30am-7.30pm, Fri 8.30am-7.30pm, Sat 9am-6.30pm, Sun 10am-7pm; early-mid Sep: Mon-Fri 8.30am-7.30pm, Sat 9am-6.30pm, Sun 10am-5.30pm; mid-Sep-mid Oct Mon-Fri, 8.30am-5.15pm, Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 9am-5.30pm; mid Oct-end Mar 9am-5pm Mon-Sat, Sun from 10.30am-noon and 3.30-5pm

7 Alexandra Parade
Dunoon, PA23 8AB
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Apr-Sep: Mon-Fri 9am-5.30pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm; Oct-Mar: Mon-Thu 9am-5pm, Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm

The Clock Tower
Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, G84 7PA
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Apr-Jun & Sep: daily, 10am-5pm; Jul-Aug: Mon, Thu 10am-6pm, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat 10am-5pm;
Oct: daily, 10am-4.30pm

Inveraray VIC
Front Street
Inveraray, PA32 8UY
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Apr and Sep-Oct: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm; May-Jun: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm; Jul-Aug: Mon-Sun 9am-6pm; Nov-Mar: 10am-3pm

Isle of Bute VIC
The Winter Garden
Victoria Street, Rothesay, PA20 0AH
Tel. 0 8707 200 619
E-Mail: Rothesay Information
Open: April, Jun and early-late Sep: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; July-Aug: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9.30am-5pm; late Sep-mid-Oct: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm; mid-Oct-Mar: Mon-Fri 10am-4pm, Sat-Sun 11am-4pm

Kilchoan VIC
Pier Rd
Kilchoan, Acharacle, Argyll, PH36 4LH
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Mon-Fri, 10am-4.3-pm, Sat 10am-3.30pm

Lochgilphead VIC
Lochnell Street
Lochgilphead, PA31 8JL
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: April: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun noon-5pm; May and June: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm

Calmac Ferry Terminal
Tel. 0 1631 563 122
Open: Apr-Jun: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-5pm; July-Aug: Mon-Sun 9am-7pm; Sep-Oct: daily 10am-5pm; Nov-March: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun noon-5pm

Harbour Street
Tarbert, PA29 6UD
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: early-mid Apr and Sep-Oct: weekdays 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-noon; May-Jun: Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm; Jul-Aug: Mon-Sat 9.30am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm

The Pier, Tobermory, PA75 6NU
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: early-late April and Sep-Oct: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm, Sat-Sun noon-5pm; late Apr-late Jun: Mon-Sat 9am-5pm;, Sun 11am-5pm; late Jun-Aug: Mon-Sat 9am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm

Main St
Tyndrum, FK20 8RY
Tel. 0 8452 255 121
Open: Apr-Jun: daily 10am-5pm; Jul-Aug: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm; Sep-Oct: daily 10.30am-5pm

Argyll and Bute Attractions

For full details of attractions see the Attractions section of our website.
Achnabreck Cup and Ring Marks
1.5 miles (2.4km) north-west of Lochgilphead, Argyll
On the A83/A816 (signposted)

Ardchattan Priory
On shore of Loch Etive, off the A828
7 miles (11.3km) east of Oban, Argyll
In Ardchattan Garden

Ardkinglas Estate: House, Woodland Garden, and Woodland Walks
Cairndow, on the shores of Loch Fyne
On the A83 between Inveraray and Loch Lomond
Tel. 0 1499 600 261
Web: Ardkinglas

Argyll Forest Park
On the Cowan peninsula in Argyll; walks and mountain views

Auchindrain Township
On the A83, 6 miles (10km) south-west of Inveraray, Argyll
Tel. 0 1499 500 235
Web: Auchindrain Township

Ballgowan Cup and Ring Marks
1 mile (1.6km) southwest of Kilmartin, Argyll
On the A816

Benmore Botanic Garden
Benmore, Dunoon, off the A815
Tel. 0 1369 706 261

Bonawe Iron Furnace
Taynuilt, Argyll
Off the A85/B845 at head of Loch Etive
Tel. 0 1866 822 432

Bute Museum
Rothesay, Isle of Bute, on the A844
Tel. 0 1700 505 067

Carnassarie Castle
On the A816, two miles (3km) north of Kilmartin, Argyll

Carrick Castle
On the Cowal peninsula on a minor road off the B839

Castle Stalker
25 miles north of Oban on A828; access boathouse via old railway track; specific directions on website
Tel. 0 1631 740 315 or 0 1631 730 354 or 07789 597 442
Web: Castle Stalker

Castle Sween
10 miles down a minor road off the B841, on the east shore of Loch Sween, in Knapdale, Argyll

Crarae Garden
Crarae, Inveraray
Tel. 0 1546 886 614

Dunchraigaig Cairn
1.25 miles (1.6km) south of Kilmartin, Argyll
Off the A816

Dunstaffnage Castle
3.5 miles (5.6km) north of Oban by Loch Etive, Argyll
Off the A85
Tel. 0 1631 562 465

Geilston Garden
Tel. 0 1389 849 187

Glebe Cairn
At Kilmartin Glebe, Argyll, off the A816

Glenbarr Abbey Visitor Centre
Glenbarr, on the Kintyre peninsula, Argyll
On the A83
Tel. 0 1583 421 247

Hill House
Upper Colquhoun St, Helensburgh, Argyll
Off the B832 between the A82 and A814
Tel. 0 1436 673 900

Inveraray Castle
.75 mile (1.2km) northeast of town of Inveraray, Argyll
On the A819
Tel. 0 1499 302 203
Web: Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Jail
Church Square, Inveraray, Argyll, on the A83
Tel. 0 1499 302 381

Inveraray Maritime Museum
Inveraray, Argyll, on the A83
Tel. 0 1499 302 213

Kilchurn Castle
2.5 miles (3.8km) west of Dalmally, Argyll
On the A85
Tel. 0 1786 431 323

Kilmartin House Museum
Kilmartin, Argyll
Tel. 0 1546 510 278
Web: Kilmartin Museum

Kilmichael Glassary Cup and Ring Marks
Kilmichael, Argyll
Near the schoolhouse on the A816

Loch Awe
On the B840, Argyll and an unclassified road

Loch Fyne
On the A83/A815/B8000

Loch Lomond
Located in both Argyll and Stirling on the A82; also off the B837 by unclassified road

McCaig’s Folly
Oban, Argyll, on the A85

Mount Stuart
5.5 miles (9km) south of Rothesay, Pierhead On Isle of Bute
Tel. 0 1700 503 877
Web: Mount Stuart
For photos and more on the gardens see our article Mt Stuart Gardens and grounds

Mull Museum
Main St, Tobermory
Island of Mull, Inner Hebrides

Nether Largie Cairns
Between Nether Largie and Kilmartin, Argyll
Off the A816

Network Heritage Centre
Carradale, on the B879, on the Kintyre peninsula, Argyll
Tel. 0 1586 431 1296

Ri Cruin Cairn
1 mile (1.6km) south-west of Kilmartin, Argyll
Off the A816

Rothesay Castle
Rothesay, Isle of Bute
On the A844; catch ferry at Wemyss Bay on A78
Tel. 0 1700 502 691

Skipness Castle
Skipness village, on B8001, on east coast of Kintyre, Argyll

St Blane’s Church
At the south end of Isle of Bute

St Conan’s Church
On south-eastern slopes of Ben Cruachan
On A85 at Loch Awe, Argyll

St Mary’s Chapel
Rothesay, Isle of Bute

Temple Wood Stone Circles
.25 miles south-west of Nether Largie
South of Kilmartin, Argyll on A816

Younger Botanic Gardens
Benmore, 7 miles (11km) north of Dunoon, Argyll

Photos by Barbara Ballard and
Hill House courtesy National Trust Scotland
Loch Awe courtesy Visit Britain

Other photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Inveraray Castle courtesy Kenneth Mallard
Inveraray town from Dun na Cuaiche courtesy Paul Chapman
Loch Fyne courtesy Dannie Calder
Argyll Forest Park arboretum entrance Gordon McKinley
Nether Largie standing stone courtesy E Gammie

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