It’s been a while, a holiday that is and we are back from an epic Argyll and Bute road trip, and we’ve had a glorious time. The video below will show you far better than I can write it besides, I’m increasingly moving to YouTube, it doesn’t go down as often as WordPress does and much less headache, please think about subscribing. The video also lists all the locations, timestamped of course.

We have a reputation at work for “always being on holiday.” Which is ridiculous, we normally only go away 6 times a year with one or two european city breaks thrown in to that mix. Except all that was kiboshed by Corona, kicked by Covid where it hurts. But we’ve finally managed to get a holiday and worth the 7 hour journey.

Our first day though is a complete wash out, “pishing it doon” as the Scots would say. We attempt to spend the day in Oban and get a view from McCaig’s Tower except we can’t see much because the rain is so heavy. Apparently it had been like this for two weeks prior to our arrival. That would explain the flooding we saw. We go the the pub and stay there.

Wild deer at Glen Etive

Our second day is much more hopeful and we venture to Kilmartin. Kilmartin Glen has the largest concentration of ancient neolithic and bronze age and cairns standing stones built over 3000 years ago in mainland Scotland. From the Nether Largie Standing Stones, Temple Wood stone circles and Nether Largie South Cairn, there are stone monuments all over the place and quite literally just a stones throw away. I’d make the joke about Sam being a sucker for big erect stones but I’ve used that before. From there we make our way to Dunadd Fort, the royal centre of power for gaelic kings. At the summit, Sam plants her foot in the carved footprint in the rock that marks the inauguration of gaelic kings. She now thinks she’s in charge. Pfft! Our way back to the Loch Awe, we cross the “Bridge over the Atlantic” and to the island of Seil where we reflect on Sam’s new power over a pint. She decides not to get too power crazy but will make me wash up every day.

Sam at Nether Largie Standing Stones Kilmartin Glen

Glencoe is one place most will have heard of. It’s the perfect place for a pretentious travel blogger or influencer to make as many posed Instagram shots in the 30 seconds that they stay there for, completing a cliched arms out wide shot of the great outdoors where you see the backs of their head and post on Instagram with a bleached out colour filter so all other travel bloggers do the same – even though their brand and uniqueness is exactly like every other influencer which they then post on their blog on 10 reasons to visit Glencoe etc (ever notice how you don’t get many ugly travel bloggers? Except me of course…).

While most visitors will not stray from the main road, they should, especially for the glorious views from the chairlift ride at Glencoe Mountain Resort. Those that do venture down a road will not make it further than the James Bond selfie Skyfall shot in Glen Etive (Guilty, we did that last time we came here). They should continue down this narrow single track road all the way to Loch Etive where we spent a relaxing day kayaking and marvelling at the scenery and how few people there were to spoil it.

Stones, starry skies, sealife, Celts and castles are not in short supply in Argyll and Bute, so we go see some. Kilchurn Castle is on our doorstep at Loch Awe as are the starry skies at night, with the Milky Way high above us and a 20 second exposure is enough to capture Andromeda. Perfect dark skies are priceless. A boat trip around Kerrera island lets us see seals and dolphins. Dunstaffnage Castle near Oban is a quick detour and the one that takes our breath away is Castle Stalker. Castle Stalker may be for familiar to you as the “The Castle of Aaaaarrrrrrggghhh” in the final scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail where Arthur is yet again taunted by French soldiers. This area around Port Appin is a beautifully scenic area and far from the crowds. Our favourite place in the entire week. we’re coming back here.

Scotland, you may have heard, has a few islands, 790 of them. While we’ve explored the tourist trodden oversubscribed Isle of Skye and had our best ever UK holiday in the Orkney Islands, being based near Loch Awe for our holiday, we are exploring a few of the island of the Inner Hebrides. The one that gets out attention though is the one we can see from the beautiful Port Appin area, the Isle of Lismore. Catching the foot ferry from Port Appin we spend a day on Lismore, nearly 10 miles long and nearly 1 mile wide. Hiring bikes from the horse box, it’s a relaxed way of life here, we cycle on the main single track road. It is deserted and perfect. Perfect for Sam, clearly bamboozled at having to press a single lever to change gear go up a slight incline, she forgets to peddle at the same time and comedically falls off her bike. I try to remind her its as easy as riding a bike but….

Milky Way and Andromeda over Loch Awe

Author

Nick Cook. Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it.

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