Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you want to learn something new, take on a challenge or just spend some more time in the great outdoors. Argyll’s inspiring landscape of hills, glens and coastline make it the perfect setting for a host of outdoor adventures and challenges. There are all sorts of unique experiences to be had across Scotland’s Adventure Coast from close encounters with rare wildlife to magical music festivals on remote islands. Here’s a list of New Year’s resolutions, each one with an Argyll twist!
Thread the needle
Explore the Arrochar Alps and climb The Cobbler, one of Scotland’s most enticing and iconic peaks. At 884 metres (2,900ft) in height, The Cobbler is only a Corbett, but it still has an impressive summit with incredible views. The true summit can be reached by ‘threading the needle’, which involves crawling through a gap (known as the needle) in the summit rock formation from the north side to the south. You’ll need good scrambling skills and a lot of nerve.
Swim with sharks
Argyll & the Isles is known world-wide as a basking shark hotspot. During the summer months these fantastic creatures migrate from their winter feeding grounds to Scotland. Take a trip with Oban-based Basking Shark Scotland and you can get in the water and dive, swim or snorkel alongside these magnificent, but harmless, creatures.
Learn to surf
Head to the ‘Hawaii of the north’ and catch some waves! Tiree, the most westerly Inner Hebridean island, is a mecca for surfers and home to some fantastic surfing schools - Suds Surf, Wild Diamond and Blackhouse Watersports. The island is fringed by beautiful sandy beaches and is perfectly placed to catch the swell from the North Atlantic. The west coast of Kintyre is another of Argyll’s top surfing spots. Pete’s Surf School on Westport beach offers tuition for all levels.
Bag an island Munro
Ben More is the only Munro on an inner Hebridean island. Situated in the south of the island of Mull, it's a magnificent, rocky mountain and a fantastic viewpoint for scores of islands dotted around the Minches. Make it to the summit on a sunny day and you’ll be treated to spectacular views across the Sound of Mull to Staffa, Ulva, the Ross of Mull and Iona in the distance.
Take on the Paps
Jura’s three impressive peaks – known as the Paps of Jura – dominate the island’s landscape. They make for fantastic hillwalking. But for a real challenge, you can take part in the Isle of Jura Fell Race. It’s one of the toughest events in British hill racing at this distance across punishing terrain. Entries for 2019 open on 1st January and will fill up quickly.
Argyll is famed for its whiskies, producing some of the most popular and unique single malts in the world. Fifteen world-class distilleries dot what’s known as the ‘whisky coast’. Most of these historic distilleries offer guided tours ending with a large dram. It’s a great way to discover how the history, culture and landscapes of the region have shaped its distinctive whiskies. There are some new ways to experience whisky in Argyll too. Laphroaig’s Water to Whisky Experience includes a visit to Laphroaig’s water source and a chance to cut peat at the peat beds.
Delve deeper into Scottish history
Kilmartin Glen in mid Argyll is one of Scotland’s richest and most important prehistoric landscapes. Within six miles of Kilmartin village there are over 800 historic monuments, cairns, standing stones, stone circles and rock art dating back over 5000 years have been recorded within this area. Walk up the rocky outcrop of Dunadd, the capital of the Ancient Kingdom of Dalriada. Legend has it that the first Kings of Scotland were crowned here.
Cycle the serpentine
Serpentine Hill, a town road in Rothesay on the island of Bute, offers one of Scotland’s most technical hill climb challenges. With 14 hairpin bends that come in quick succession and a 10 per cent average gradient, this is a lung-busting cycle that’s not for the faint (or weak!) of heart. The record is 1 minute 57 seconds but you can be proud of any time under three minutes. The Serpentine Hill Race is part of the annual Bute Weekend of Cycling.
Go to an island music festival
Make your way to an Argyll island for a magical musical adventure. Argyll’s idyllic islands host a number of fantastic music festivals, all of them in the most stunning coastal locations. From the famous Tiree Music Festival to the traditional Jura Music festival, there’s something for all tastes.
Walk a long-distance route
Argyll is home to some awe-inspiring great trails that traverse its landscape. Weave your way along these trails and explore glens, climb hills and discover an intricate coastline with myriad islands. Many of the the great trails link up, so you can connect them up for an epic route. Try the Loch Lomond & Cowal Way, Kintyre Way, Three Lochs Way, West Island Way, and John Muir Way.
See starry skies
With no street lights and its geographic isolation, the island of Coll is one of the best places in the UK for star gazing. Coll is the first official Dark Sky island in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK. Check out the Coll & The Cosmos star gazing breaks.