Argyll tourist route

Argyll Coastal Route


The Argyll Coastal Route is one of the shorter routes set out in Scotland but is full of activities and sights to see. Starting at Tarbet on the banks of Loch Lomond it takes you on a 129 mile journey north along Scotland's coast to Fort William.

It works great as a short three day road trip along this truly stunning area of the West Coast that gives you ample time feeling like you're on mainland Scotland as well as links to the Inner and Outer Hebrides.

Loch lomond viewpoint

Tarbet to Inveraray

Before setting off further down the route there's a purpose built viewpoint that allows you to admire the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond from 8 metres high. It as the final installation in the first phase of the Scottish Scenic Routes pilot project and designed with accessibility in mind with both the steps and the tunnel providing great views of the Arrochar Alps in the West to Ben Lomond and the national park in the middle distance.

A short distance from Tarbet will bring you along the top of Loch Long and then up into the hills where you can stop to see the Rest and Be Thankful pass, a famous beauty spot that lies 803ft above sea level. From there you can see the old valley road which was engineered by General Wade during the subjection of Scotland following the Jacobite Rebellion.

Down into the next valley will take you next to Loch Fyne and the original Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant, a must visit for seafood lovers. In the 1970s they began by farming oysters and selling them in a lay-by to the public and eventually the business grew to what you see today. They still produce high quality seafood from the loch and smoke their own fish on site and the best known of the seafood restaurants in the area.

Driving further along will take you to Inveraray, a small town on the banks of Loch Fyne which was established in 1745. You can wander through the town and admire the Scottish Georgian architecture and visit buildings such as the neoclassical church, and the Jail and Courthouse. The latter is now a museum which is full of the history of prison conditions from medieval times until the 19th century.

Kilmarting len

Inveraray to Oban

Leaving Inveraray and heading south will soon find you arriving at Auchindrain, a preserved township that people lived and worked in from medieval times to the 1960s. There's a shop and tearoom at the centre but you can spend most of your time exploring barns, houses and fields to see how people lived in the the only township to have survived the Clearances of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Another few miles along the road is the village of Furnace which is home to the old iron furnace and gunpowder works. From here you continue south until you begin to drive around and past the top of Loch Gilp to reach Lochgilphead, the gateway to the Kintyre peninsula.

There are several things to see and do in this area including a visit to Knapdale Forest where you have a chance to spot beavers. They were reintroduced to the area in 2009 and are thriving, so if you're patient enough you may be able to see them. There's also a three mile trail around Dubh Loch and Loch Collie Bharr.

Continuing north will bring you to Kilmartin Glen, just an hour's drive from Oban. Here lies one of Britain's most important concentrations of prehistoric and Bronze Age remains. One of the most impressive features of the area is the three mile long linear cemetery which is an arrangement of burial cairns south west of the village.

There's also impressive standing stones with the biggest set being Nether Largie Stone Circle or you could reach the top of what is left of Dunadd Hill Fort to see where the first Kings of Scotland were inaugurated.

You can also visit the Kilmartin Museum for a great insight into the artefacts and monuments around Kilmartin Glen. In 2019 over half of the 22,000 artefacts in their car were awarded Nationally Significant Status by Museums Galleries Scotland and an independent panel of experts.

From Kilmartin you'll drive north again, past the bottom of Loch Awe, and another detour on your road trip can take you to Seafari Adventures on Easdale Island. Here you can take 5 star wildlife watching trips including whale spotting, a tour of a seal colony, and excursions to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool. On any of these trips you could also be treated to sights of dolphins, eagles, and otters too!

Ending this section of your trip is Oban, also known as the Gateway to the Isles as most boats to the islands depart from here.

Mccaigs tower

Oban to Fort William

Oban itself has many things to see and it's a really great place to set up in as a base for a day or two whilst you explore the area.

McCaig's Tower is a monument built in 1897 and allows you to admire stunning views across Oban as well as out to the islands of the Inner Hebrides. You can also visit the Oban Chocolate Company and their café or Oban Distillery, which is one of the oldest and smallest in Scotland and actually predates the town itself. You can take a guided tour to see the traditional craftsmanship of whisky production before finishing with a dram of the 14 year old Oban West Highland Malt.

If you head north from Oban you'll come to the Connel Bridge which allows you to cross Loch Etive where it gets narrower as it approaches the Firth of Lorne and then the open sea further out. It's an unusual bridge in that it had both road and rail traffic at one point in its history. Now, you might be relieved to know, you'll only meet other road traffic.

Castle Stalker, which was built in 1320, is found a few miles along the road and can be viewed from the Castle Stalker View which has a café and gift shop and a newly opened wildlife hub. You can take in panoramic views of the Castle, Loch Linnhe, and Mull with your coffee and then take a gander at all of the more unique items for sale in the gift shop. It's easy to see why King James IV of Scotland loved to visit his cousins and make it his base for hunting and hawking in the 15th century.

Continuing north you'll see Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, standing tall ahead of you, signalling that you're closing in on your final destination. When you reach Ballachulish you can take a detour to Glen Coe, a village located in Lochaber Geopark which is a deep valley in the mountains. The road actually takes you through the heart of an ancient volcano and you might recognise some of the locations you pass from films such as Harry Potter and James Bond.

If you're a snow sports enthusiast you can visit the Mountain Resort for skiing and snowboarding, or if you're looking for slightly less adrenaline you can take numerous walks through the Glen. There's also the eco friendly visitor centre which offers lots of useful information about the area, has a short film that plays three times an hour, and an exhibition about the people who have climbed Glencoe's mountains. There's also the Highland Coo Café which affords amazing panoramic views too!

Your final drive will take you up to Fort William in Lochaber, often described as the Outdoor Capital of the UK. You can set up base whilst you explore the aforementioned Ben Nevis, explore the West Highland Peninsulas, or visit the nearby distilleries that use the nearby clear water to create amazing spirits.

If that's not enough, you'll also get spectacular views of the night sky thanks to the lack of light pollution in the area. Why not set yourself up for some wild camping beneath the stars!

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