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Why Tighnabruaich is the Secret Coast’s best kept secret!

Why Tighnabruaich is the Secret Coast’s best kept secret!
Argyll’s Secret Coast is a hidden gem tucked away on the south-west tip of the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll. Bordered by two beautiful stretches of water, the Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne, it’s an area of stunning natural beauty, with hills, glens, a rugged coastline, sandy beaches, clear waters and oak woodlands. You won’t find crowds of tourists here. What you will find is fantastic seafood, welcoming pubs, a wide range of holiday accommodation, a vibrant arts scene, breathtaking scenery, ancient sites and loads of outdoor activities.

But, guess what! The secret might just be out. Tighnabruaich, the village at the heart of Argyll’s Secret Coast, was recently featured on Penelope Keith’s ‘Hidden Villages’ TV show. Tighnabruaich is certainly a scenic place, with its villas, Victorian pier (still visited by the PS Waverley during the summer), palm trees and glorious views of the Kyles of Bute. The village also has a bustling Main Street with an art gallery, shops and cafés, including the wonderful Botanica which features locally sourced and foraged food.

Tighnabruaich is a village of two sports. It’s home to Kyles Athletic, one of Scotland’s most successful shinty clubs. If you’re here during the shinty season, try and catch one of their games – it’s a fast and furious sporting spectacle. Tighnabruaich is also steeped in sailing history. It was a boat building centre in the early 20th century. Local men, Chester and Duncan Currie, skippered and crewed J-Class yachts including Endeavour and Velsheda, built in the 1930s and still racing today.

Today Tighnabruaich remains a popular sailing destination, with world-class sailing waters and marine facilities. The local hotels all have dedicated visitors' moorings and Portavadie, with its ‘Five Gold Anchor’ award-winning marina, is just around the coast. Tighnabruaich also has a new pontoon for dinghy and tenders, so sailors can come ashore and enjoy everything the village has to offer. And if you fancy learning the ropes, the long-established Tighnabruaich Sailing School runs dinghy sailing courses for all levels. You can also take a boat trip to see the local wildlife with DC Marine.

If you’d rather keep your feet feet firmly on shore, one of the best ways to enjoy the scenery of Argyll’s Secret Coast is on foot, and there are some lovely marked coastal and forest walks. The most famous is the long-distance Cowal Way. The quiet country roads and forest tracks are great for cycling and mountain biking too. The coastline itself is rugged and varied. You can while away many a happy hour pottering around the shore, exploring rock pools and beach combing. It’s well worth making a special trip to Ostel Bay, a huge crescent-shaped sweep of sand. Another glorious spot is Otter Bay, which must have one of the best sun-set views in the west. Here, the wonderful Oystercatcher sits right on the beach and is ideal for watching birdlife with a chilled beer.

Argyll’s Secret Coast is as rich in culture as it is in nature. The landscape and light has inspired generations of artists and there’s a thriving artistic scene. Tighnabruaich Gallery, with its ever-changing exhibitions of Scottish art, is a ‘must visit’ for art lovers. Don't miss the ceramics and textiles at the The Dairy Gallery at Carry Farm.

You’ll find fabulous restaurants and cafés too. Try the Royal An Lochan for mussels, langoustines and scallops plucked straight from the loch. And for fine dining in truly stunning surroundings, head to Portavadie, which is also home to the stunning new Spa & Leisure Experience. Wellpark Hotel, Kilfinan Hotel and Kames Hotel are all great places to enjoy local produce cooked to perfection. And if you fancy staying over, there’s holiday accommodation on Argyll’s Secret Coast to suit all budgets and tastes, from camping on the beach to five-star luxury apartments.

The secret’s out. Well, it’s hard to keep a secret, especially when the secret’s this good! So if you want to avoid the tourist crowds and see some of the most stunning scenery on the west coast of Scotland, make a break for Argyll’s Secret Coast. Just don’t tell everyone…
Explore like a local
Iain Johnston Iain
Kintyre & Gigha
Clive & Donna Rumbold Clive
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Spa & leisure at Portavadie Tighnabruaich Sailing SchoolOtter Bay
Tighnabruaich Main StreetOstel BayDC Marine
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