In and Around Taynuilt
The village of Taynuilt has a wonderful tea room (www.robinsnesttearoom.co.uk), a golf course, a post office, well-stocked village store and tennis courts. Unfortunately the excellent Taynuilt Inn is temporarily closed due to a fire but the Kilchrenan Inn (www.kilchrenaninn.co.uk) a few miles away provides excellent food and service. The village has a train station on the Oban to Glasgow line, and is on the main Oban-Glasgow bus route.
There are plenty of opportunities for walking, cycling and orienteering in the surrounding area. Half a mile away is Fearnoch Forest, a Forestry Commission managed area with marked walking and cycling trails. Also nearby is the Nant Glen National Nature Reserve with lovely marked walks. The back road from Sithean to Oban is a stunning cycle ride. Cycle hire is available from RCS Cycles, who offer free delivery of hired bikes to Sithean.
From Taynuilt Loch Etive Cruises run boat tours up and down Loch Etive towards Glen Etive at the head of the Loch – contact 01866 822430.
Five minutes from Taynuilt is the Inverawe Smokehouse, a family run business producing traditionally smoked fish with a shop, exhibition, woodland walk and fishing ponds where you can take fly fishing lessons.
Near Taynuilt Pier is Bonawe Iron Furnace, a fascinating and beautiful historical site; between 1753 and 1876 hundreds of tons of iron were produced here.
Kelly’s Pier in Taynuilt provides a scenic wild swimming spot, if the tide is right you may see otters there.
A few miles along the A85 towards Crianlarich, the Cruachan hydro-electric power station has a visitor centre and runs tours into the heart of Ben Cruachan mountain.
For tours encompassing the area’s history, gardens, or other attractions, Lord Gray can tailor excursions to fit your interests. See the Tailored Tours website for futher information.
Tom Bonniwell can provide bespoke fishing experiences throughout the area (email@example.com).
The Islands: From Oban you can catch ferries to the islands of Lismore, Kerrera, Mull and Tiree which all provide fabulous days out. On a day trip from Oban to Mull it is possible to also visit the beautiful island of Iona and its Abbey, or Staffa and the Treshnish Isles which have breeding colonies of puffins and other seabirds. Regular buses also run to Tobermory in the North of Mull, the setting of the children’s television programme ‘Balamory’.
See the Calmac Ferries website for services and timetables. The ferry to Kerrera is also run by Calmac, and runs several times daily. Kerrera is a beautiful island, just a five minute ferry trip away, with wonderful walking, views, and a great tea room (www.kerrerabunkhouse.co.uk).
To the South of Oban is the ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ to Seil Island with its ferry to Easdale Island – a tiny car-free island where the wheelbarrow is the official mode of transport.
Kilmartin Glen, famous for its rich historical legacy is about 40 minutes drive South of Oban. Here there are around 150 prehistoric monuments including burial cairns, rock carvings and standing stones, as well as the remains of the fortress of the Scots at Dunadd.
There are eye catching castles in the area such as Castle Stalker to the North of Oban, sited on an islet and surrounded by sea water, and Kilchurn Castle, an extremely romantic and picturesque ruined castle at the head of Loch Awe. Also nearby are Dunstaffnage and Dunollie Castles, and Gylen Castle on the island of Kerrera.
Glorious Gardens of Argyll
Argyll is home to a range of informal, formal and woodland gardens, filled with exotic plants and flowers collected from many temperate parts of the world. Each garden is different, depending on the terrain and local conditions, and many have tearooms, shops or plant sales.
Angus’ Garden – famous for its collection of hybrid rhododendrons and azaleas, this woodland garden borders Loch Angus and was created by Martin’s grandmother, Betty MacDonald, in memory of her son Angus who died tragically young.
Ardchattan Priory – a garden has existed here since the thirteenth century, features include a wildflower meadow, lawns, herbaceous and rose beds and the ruins of the chapel. The gardens are only open on Wednesdays, the ruins are accessible from the pier every day.
Arduaine – overlooking the Sound of Jura, this garden is home to a diversity of plants from all over the world.
Benmore Botanic Garden – a specialist garden of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Benmore is a magnificent woodland garden surrounded by the mountains of the Cowal Peninsula. An avenue of Giant Redwood trees greets you at the entrance, leading to formal and woodland gardens with stunning views. Visitor centre.
Crarae – rare trees and exotic shrubs from around the world provide colour from spring to autumn. There are woodland walkways, a spectacular gorge and a visitor centre.
For information on these and other Argyll gardens, visit the Glorious Gardens of Argyll website.
Bird and Wildlife-Watcher’s Paradise
Argyll is a haven for birdwatchers, with a wide range of habitats and environments – mountain, coast, loch, woodland and islands. The Argyll Bird Club can provide information about birdwatching in the area and a regularly updated local bird report. Loch Visions offer wildlife and photographic experiences and activities with local award winning wildlife photographer Philip Price.
For the adventurous, Sea.fari, based on Easdale Island, run boat trips to the Gulf of Corryvreckan and other sites of interest where you may see sea birds, otters, seals, porpoises and whales.
The underwater world around the West coast of Scotland is as varied and beautiful as the terrestrial landscape, to try a dive or rent dive equipment, visit Puffin Dive Centre a mile or so from Oban.
There are also plenty of opportunities locally for sea, river or loch fishing, sailing and horse riding.