A Guide to Loch Awe - A Refreshing Find

If you’re looking to escape this season then seek out Loch Awe. Whether you’re local and using your home as a base or you’ve never been before - there’s so much to discover.

Nestled in the heart of beautiful Argyll and only a two-hour journey by car or rail from Glasgow, Loch Awe is Scotland’s longest freshwater loch spanning 41km of unspoilt, rugged and magical beauty.

Characterised by heavily wooded hillsides, exposed hill tops, rocky shores, uninhabited islands, ruined castles and a handful of charming villages dotted around its shores, it is steeped in history and culture and was once regarded as a Victorian hot-spot due to the gentry and number of mansions built in the area.

The Loch Awe railway hotel was in fact built to accommodate the tourist boom at the time, with the West Highland railway line welcoming visitors since the late 1900s when a saloon steamer plied the loch and the hotel welcomed many famous and titled guests.

Today, the area is going through a tourism renaissance and encouraging travellers who tend to stick to the main road and head for nearby Oban and Inveraray - to consider the area as a destination worth visiting.

The A85 and Oban to Glasgow railway cut along the top of the loch, but the rest is surrounded by single track roads, creating a continuous journey around its shores. With endless views, it truly is the perfect setting for adventure enthusiasts, nature lovers or those looking for peace and tranquillity to explore on foot or by bike.

And if you have your own kit, you can easily enjoy a perfect break without the need to overly plan your daily activities. ‘Your carriage awaits’, with the UK’s first active travel carriage now in operation twice daily on the Oban line. This reinvigorates the area’s rich railway heritage together with Dalmally station that is now an artistic hub with accommodation.

Load up your bike, pack up your tent, dig out your wet suit, treat yourself to that new inflatable paddleboard… and get ready to start making memories.

THINGS TO DO

The area is steeped in history and heritage that’s second to none. Home to Kilchurn Castle, one of Scotland’s most photographed castles, the area also boasts the 140 year old unique St Conan’s Kirk, which hosts regular cultural events and was voted by the public as one of Scotland’s top 10 buildings in 2016. Not to be missed is the lush Glen Nant National Nature Reserve and the nearby Bonawe Iron Furnace visitor attraction near Taynuilt.

For adventure seekers, Loch Awe is a cyclist’s paradise - on or off road - and the place to be for those who want to take to the water with their paddleboard or kayak. Head for the hills to explore Ben Cruachan or the numerous forest trails or reconnect by taking a dip into wild swimming.

The area also hosts the 87-mile long Oban Sportive which circuits the loch and passes under the shadow of Ben Cruachan, the "Hollow Mountain". Elsewhere, amateur and experienced cyclists alike can explore Scotland’s classic scenic cycling route the Caledonia Way, which runs up the west shore side connecting Campbeltown to Inverness.

If it’s relaxation and unwinding that’s top of your list, then the stunning views at the Falls of Avich waterfall are the perfect therapy, or enjoy a spot of fishing where the biggest ever brown trout in the UK was hooked - the third time a British record has been set at the loch.

Nature lovers - have your camera ready to capture the local wildlife or take a trip to Kintail Birds of Prey Centre, where you’ll meet the tiny Little Owl and the magnificent Golden Eagle. Further up the road you can get up close to Scotland's iconic Highland Cattle for a tour.

No trip is complete without sampling some local delicacies, and there’s plenty choice at the many local cafés and inns, serving the most delicious locally sourced food and drink with magnificent views over the loch.

Meet the enterprising locals at Dalavich or try the quirky ‘Cakes in the Call Box’ where a local baker has placed an honesty box in return for freshly baked cakes, jams, and preserves. Similarly, at Black Rock Curries just north of Dalavich you can buy authentic takeaway curries to heat up later.

Loch Awe is the perfect escapism to enjoy with family and friends or for the solo traveller, and so much more than just a day trip. Whether you’re responsibly setting up camp, escaping to a self-catering retreat, staying at one of the area’s boutique hotels or cosy inns, there is something to suit everyone.



Getting there is part of the fun

The loch is accessed from four train stations along its northern edge: Dalmally, Lochawe village, Falls of Cruachan and Taynuilt. Whether from Oban or Glasgow, let the train take the strain with custom designed racks to accommodate bikes, sporting equipment and large items of luggage. Check out Scotrail's Highland Explorer for rail and trail links >

With its breathtaking beauty and diverse opportunities for adventure seekers, Loch Awe is the perfect place to be in awe, for travellers getting away this season and beyond.

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