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The best ways to travel around Argyll and the Isles!

The best ways to travel around Argyll and the Isles!
As well as being one of Scotland’s most beautiful regions, Argyll is one of its more interesting when it comes to transport. With mountains, lochs and glens aplenty, not to mention a coastline the same length as that of France, direct routes through Argyll are relatively few and far between. And that makes travelling around Argyll all the more exciting! The roads may be winding, but they take you through breath-taking scenery. The transport network is comprehensive, with ferries connecting Argyll’s islands and peninsulas, buses criss-crossing the region and trains travelling up and down the famous West Highland Line.

So how best to get around Argyll to make the most of what the region has to offer? There are some excellent deals to be had, some of which involve linking more than one transport provider. For example, Argyll Ferries offers a cheap day return between Glasgow and Dunoon for £14.25 combining ferry and rail ticket in one.

By bus
If you fancy getting further into the heart of Argyll from Dunoon, West Coast Motors provides a network of bus services covering the Cowal peninsula and the island of Bute. Indeed, this historic bus operator, established in Campbeltown way back in 1919, covers the whole of Argyll. A direct service from Glasgow to Campbeltown means there are plenty of options for stopping off in the likes of Arrochar, Inveraray and Tarbert, with connections up to Oban and the island of Mull. And what better way to enjoy the splendour of Argyll than on a comfortable scheduled coach service? If you’re heading up to Mull, West Coast Motors also has a tour company, West Coast Tours, which operates in conjunction with CalMac to offer a variety of island tours taking in Mull, Staffa, Iona and the Treshnish Isles all as day trips. These tours, which operate from March to October, really are an amazing way to see this magical part of Argyll and you can even give them as gift vouchers for friends and loved ones. Now wouldn’t that make a great Christmas present?

By boat
On the subject of ferries, nothing says ‘west coast transport’ more than CalMac, which has been serving Argyll and beyond for over 165 years. Some crossings are very short; the one from Colintraive in Cowal to Rhubodach on Bute takes just five minutes! You’ll be longer aboard getting to the likes of Islay or Colonsay, but that gives you time to look out for the wildlife that inhabits the waters around Argyll. You’ve every chance of spotting seals, oyster catchers and heron. With a bit of luck you might even see minke whales, basking sharks, porpoises, dolphins, golden and sea eagles and the perennially shy otter might put in an appearance. CalMac’s Hopscotch is a brilliant way to explore Argyll’s islands. A range of island hopping tickets allow you to plan your own trip and visit the islands at your own pace. Western Ferries is another long-established ferry company. It offers a fast and frequent car and passenger service between Gourock and Dunoon.

By train
Despite its rugged mountainous terrain, Argyll is well served by the rail network thanks to the stunning West Highland Line. The direct line from Glasgow to Oban is quite a feat of engineering and takes in some spectacular mountain scenery. After passing through Helensburgh it follows in turn the Gare Loch and Loch Long before stopping at Arrochar where you can alight to head for the Arrochar Alps or connect with bus services to Cowal. The line continues to Crianlarich where it splits; one line heads west to Oban and the other north to Mallaig. Take the line west to Oban and you’ll travel through Glen Orchy, alongside Loch Awe and have a chance to see the striking sight of Kilchurn Castle. There’s a range of travel passes and special offers from ScotRail including the Spirit of Scotland Travelpass, Highland Rover, Kids Go Free, Railcards and combined Rail and Ferry tickets

By plane
Flying is a great way to travel to Argyll’s islands. Loganair flies from Glasgow Airport to Campbelltown, Tiree and Islay – what a way to arrive in Argyll! Flights from Oban to Coll, Tiree, Colonsay and Islay are available with Hebridean Air Services. Hebridean Air Services, Fly Scenic Scotland and Loch Lomond Seaplanes also offer scenic day trips over the region.

How ever you choose to travel in Argyll & the Isles, you’ll find stunning vistas around every corner. Drink in those panoramas, look out for that wild life and enjoy the landscape transitions from coast to mountain to glen. You’ll soon find that navigating your way around Argyll is a joy in itself.

Header image: West Highland Line, Loch Awe courtesy of ScotRail
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