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Why Kintyre is a gateway to the isles.

Why Kintyre is a gateway to the isles.
With miles of sandy beaches, ancient woodlands and a fascinating history, you could spend many a happy holiday discovering the delights of Kintyre. This beautiful Argyll peninsula is packed with great things to see and do, from whisky distilleries to world-class golf courses. Walk the Kintyre Way, visit ruined castles, head to hills with a mountain bike, catch some waves on the surfing beach of Westport and feast on seafood: the options are endless. Kintyre is also a great base from which to explore some of Argyll’s islands, with ferry connections to the southern Hebridean islands of Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Gigha. Isn’t it time you discovered Kintyre, gateway to the isles?

Go to Gigha
Sitting three miles west of Kintyre, community-owned Gigha is gem of an island and a fabulous day trip destination. From Tayinloan in Kintyre it’s a short CalMac ferry journey to Gigha. Just seven miles long by a mile and a half wide, this peaceful island has sandy beaches, a nine-hole golf course and a host of rare plants in the Achamore Gardens. The ‘Walk Gigha’ booklet (available from Gigha Stores or the Gigha Hotel) describes some lovely off-road walks on the island. Fancy some lunch? The Boathouse at Ardminish Bay is a wonderful restaurant serving up exceptional local seafood right on the beach.

Discover Islay, Jura & Colonsay
The Atlantic islands of Islay, Jura and Colonsay are easily reached from Kintyre. Enjoy a taste of island life with achingly beautiful beaches, soaring eagles, peaty malts and welcoming hotels. The Calmac ferry runs from Kennacraig on Kintyre to Port Ellen and Port Askaig on Islay. The route is a stunner, with views of Gigha and the majestic Paps of Jura. If you’re heading to Port Ellen, you’ll get to spot three of Islay’s most famous distilleries, Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Once on Islay, you have so much to see including seven whisky distilleries, two RSPB nature reserves and many stunning beaches.

From Islay it’s just a short hop across the water to Jura. The islands are separated by the Sound of Islay, a half-mile wide stretch of water. The ferry runs from Port Askaig on Islay to Feolin on Jura and takes just 10 minutes. Mountainous, wild and sparsely populated, Jura has a rugged and remote appeal and is very different from Islay. The island’s distinctive peaks, the Paps of Jura, offer fantastic hillwalking, and intrepid hikers can explore the uninhabited west coast. The Isle of Jura distillery is well worth a visit too.

You can also visit the tiny island of Colonsay from Islay. In the summer season, CalMac sails on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Kennacraig to Oban, calling at Port Askaig and Colonsay. That same ferry returns from Oban in the afternoon. This is a great option for day tripping to Colonsay from Islay, giving you six hours to explore the island. Travel on to Oban and you’ll find even more opportunities for island hopping, with an extensive ferry service to the Inner and Outer Hebrides including Mull, Iona, Coll and Tiree.

Explore Arran
You can catch a Calmac ferry from Claonaig on the east coast of Kintyre to Lochranza at the north end of Arran. The journey takes around 30 minutes. In winter, the ferry from Kintyre leaves from Tarbert (Loch Fyne),Arran has a bit of everything: mountains, forests, beaches and glens. If you’re fit, you can cycle round the island in a day and catch the ferry back to Kintyre.

And beyond…
It’s not just islands that are easily accessible from Kintyre. Ferries link Cowal, Ayrshire and even Northern Ireland to Kintyre. The Calmac Ardrossan to Campbeltown service operates throughout the summer. Kintyre Express also operates in the summer, connecting Campbeltown to Ballycastle in Northern Island, as well as running trips to Islay. It’s passenger only and bikes go free. And why not take the short crossing from Tarbert at the north of Kintyre to Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula? Discover Argyll’s Secret Coast, where you can catch a ferry to the island of Bute.

Find out more about things to see and do in Kintyre & Gigha.

Header image: Colonsay
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