Visiting Kintyre? Don’t miss out on a trip to the island of Gigha
The Kintyre peninsula is a long finger of land that stretches south towards Ireland. There’s so much to see and do in this strikingly beautiful and undiscovered part of Argyll, from the fishing village of Tarbert in the north to the Mull of Kintyre in the south. Uncover a fascinating Viking history, go surfing, walk the Kintyre Way, play a round of golf and more. On Kintyre there are limitless discoveries, bringing visitors back time and time again. And did you know that you can catch a ferry from Kintyre to the Hebridean island of Gigha?
If you love Kintyre then you’ll love Gigha.
This enchanting small island sits three miles west of Kintyre and is easily reached by ferry. The island offers fabulous walking and cycling, as well as great beaches and a good dose of history. There’s a gem of a golf course on Gigha too! So if you enjoy visiting Kintyre, then make sure you discover more by making the trip to Gigha.
Kintyre packs in three of Scotland’s best links golf courses within 20 miles: Machrihanish Golf Club, Machrihanish Dunes and Dunaverty Golf Club. At Machrihanish Golf Club you play off the only opening tee in the world that requires you to carry the Atlantic - or at least part of it! This spectacular course has earned its place in the world's top 100. Carradale Golf Club on the east coast of Kintyre and Tarbert at the north are excellent nine-hole courses.
Over on Gigha, there’s a lovely nine-hole golf course with panoramic coastal views.
Stretching from Tarbert in the north to Machrihanish in the south, the Kintyre Way is one of Scotland’s top long distance routes. It criss-crosses the Kintyre peninsula, connecting communities and landscapes, people and produce. You’ll be astounded by the diversity and beauty of the landscape you walk through. The 100-mile route is broken down into seven sections, providing four to seven days’ worth of walking. Or you can try one section at a time.
Over on Gigha, there’s plenty more wonderful walking. Pick up the ‘Walk Gigha’ booklet from Gigha Stores or Gigha Hotel. It describes in detail (with maps) the 12 designated off-road walks. Many of the walks start and end at the centre of the island, not far from where the ferry comes in, so are perfect for foot passengers visiting for a day.
Kintyre offers fantastic on- and off-road cycling. The Caledonia Way starts in Campbeltown and runs up the west coast of Kintyre. Most of the Kintyre Way is cycle friendly, and is an and interesting route for cycle cross and mountain bikers. There are also some good family-friendly mountain bike routes in the forest near Campbeltown.
If you’re on Gigha and don’t have much time to spend there, then cycling is the best way to see the island. There’s just one road leading from one end of the island to the other with small tracks leading off it. The road’s fairly flat and virtually traffic free, so it’s ideal for a gentle cycle that all the family can enjoy. You can hire bikes at the Gigha Boats Activity Centre.
Kintyre is renowned for its fabulous beaches. On the west coast you’ll find numerous deserted sandy beaches which are often pounded by Atlantic breakers. Westport Beach is one of Scotland’s top surfing spots and you can get surfing lessons with Pete’s Surf School. The east coast is more gentle. Carradale Bay is a stunning mile-long, south-facing sandy beach and Saddell Bay looking out across the Kilbrannan Sound to the Isle of Arran is another fabulous spot.
Gigha, meanwhile, is fringed by idyllic white bays lapped by turquoise seas.
Kintyre is packed with great-tasting local produce. You’ll find seafood hauled fresh from the surrounding waters, beef, lamb and cheese from the local farms and a host of artisan products. There are lots of great cafés and restaurants serving up this delicious local fare.
Over on Gigha, you’ll find fabulous flavours too. Gigha Halibut, a small family-run business, has perfected the art of hand-rearing sustainable halibut while the Wee Isle Dairy makes delicious ice-cream. The Boathouse at Ardminish Bay is a wonderful restaurant serving up exceptional local seafood and other foodie delights right on the beach. The Gigha Hotel is another great place to eat.
Kintyre is a must-visit destination for any live music lover, hosting major annual music festivals including Kintyre Songwriters Festival and Mull of Kintyre Music Festival. And music is another reason to catch the ferry to Gigha!
The Isle of Gigha Music Festival is a small traditional music festival which offers a perfectly-formed line-up of ceilidhs, headline concerts, sessions and a musical beach picnic.
Gigha is just a 20-minute CalMac ferry journey from Tayinloan on Kintyre. The ferry drops you at the island's only village, Ardminish, where you'll find the post office, shop and other amenities. There are several accommodation options, including the Gigha Hotel, self-catering cottages, B&Bs and camping.