Our top travel destinations
Based in Argyll on Scotlands west coast we are lucky enough to have some of the most breathtaking destinations within driving distance. Since owning our campervans we have been lucky to have visited over half of the Scottish Islands and explored most areas in between.
We have compiled a quick guide of our best bits to inspire your travels.
(Please note the below recommendations are based on our own experiences and we advise when planning a trip of your own to research area policies, campsites, wild camping regulations and read the informal camping code at www.snh.scot)
ISLE OF ARRAN
The most southerly of the Scottish Islands, Arran is dubbed as Scotland in miniature and has a little something for everyone. The ferry is a relaxing 50 minute crossing from the North Ayrshire town of Ardrossan.
On arrival on Arran, Brodick is the main port town with plenty of little shops to explore and cafes and restaurants for a quick bite. Little Rock café is a must for a leisurely lunch with lots of outdoor seating (if the sun happens to shine) and an internal dog friendly area if you’re travelling with your four legged friend.Other eateries on the island worth a visit are, Mara Seafood Deli, The Wineport, Café Thyme, The Old Pier Tearoom, Stags Pavillion and Blackwaterfoot Bakehouse.
The island is renowned for hillwalking and with copious options you’ll never be short of a route and a stunning view along the way. Goatfell, possibly the most well-known, is just shy of a mountain and towers over the island. If you’re a keen walker, it’s definitely worth a shot, but do go prepared with sensible clothing and footwear. Other walks for those looking for a gentler stroll can be found across the island, but some of our favourites are Glen Rosa, Sannox beach, The Kings caves, Machrie Moor standing stones and Lagin Cottage in Lochranza.
For camping spots the island has plenty, Lochranza in the north of the island has a great campsite with affordable pitches, red deer roaming the grounds, a restaurant on site and the distillery across the road so it’s a win win, seal shore to the south is another great site living up to its name with a beach front location
ARGYLL AND BUTE
Argyll, although not one of the islands still comes with charm of its own, packed with things to do and places to see covering a vast expanse of the Scottish west coast. Hiring a van from us puts you in prime location to explore the area with Dunoon being the most populated town in Argyll, surprisingly topping Oban.If you’re looking to get exploring straight away we are lucky to have great activities and sights right on our doorstep. Benmore Botanic Gardens is one of our favourites, with 7 miles of trails and attractions such as the famous Golden Gates and restored Victorian fernery it’s worth a visit. The gardens open March – October with an adult ticket at £6.50 and children go free.
Other areas of interest include Portavadie, a man made marina with a stunning seafront resort, host to restaurants, spa and leisure facilities with heated outdoor infinity pool, whiittt wooo!
Camping close to Portavadie is possible as long as it’s quiet and the van is parked considerably you should be good overnight. Just outside Portavadie follow signs for Ostel Bay, a stunning white sand beach with views overlooking the Isle of Arran. Onwards from Portavadie you can catch a short ferry to Tarbert, home to the yearly seafood festival and fishing fleet.
If you choose a different route from Dunoon follow the A815 alongside Loch Eck, which will lead towards Inverary, famed by its neo-Gothic Castle, still home to the Duke of Argyll has lovely grounds to explore before a bite to eat at the cosy George Hotel.
An hour onwards you can reach Oban, gateway to the islands and home to Scottish seafood.
Oban’s caravan and camping park is a great spot to stay, with pitches at £21 per night including the use of electric hook up if required. The park is a short ten minute drive from the town centre but is worth is for the elevated views over to the Isle of Kerrera.
ISLE OF GIGHA
Leaving from the Kintyre peninsula you can reach the Isle of Gigha via a short 20 minute ferry crossing. The islands by no means big and with one main road you’ll be sure to cover all it has to offer in no time at all.
The main village consisting of a little shop, hotel and gallery greets you on arrival to the island. The shop along with the essentials sells the local ‘Kintyre’ Gin, which is one of my favourites and worth a try if gins your tipple of choice.
Gigha named by the Vikings 'Gudey', The Good Isle or God's Isle due to its stunning beauty sure lives up to its name. If you’re into silver beaches, rolling fields and clear waters well this one will tick all your boxes. During our stay we visited Auchemore Gardens, which is now run by the gardens trust since the community bought out the island back in 2012. With its walled gardens and bamboo maze it’s easy to feel transported to a foreign land, but a short uphill climb will bring you back to Scottish shores with the viewpoint providing an outstanding vista to Islay and Jura.
The islands beaches come in all shapes and sizes complete with soft white sand and turquoise seas, bound to impress. If you fancy hitting the water yourself you can hire kayaks, rowing boats or even paddle boards from the activity centre from March onwards.
Fancy a night off the cooking, the Boathouse restaurant with a menu to make any mouth water it’s definitely the place to be. It’s a pretty busy little spot and booking is recommend. They also offer camping facilities just a stones throw from the ferry terminal.
ISLE OF BARRA
On arrival to the island the epic views continue and welcome you to this little slice of Scottish paradise, after all the island does have the nickname of Barra-dise! The island isn’t the biggest in fact at 8 miles long and 5 miles at its widest point I guess you could class it as ‘wee’, however they do say good things come in small packages.
The beaches of Barra are possibly some of the most beautiful we’ve seen, we were lucky enough to get a rare sunny spell on our visit and it could have been easily confused for a tropical paradise with crystal clear waters and endless white sand stretching all around the island.
Vatersay at the most southerly part of the island is worth a visit, its infact an island of its own connected to Barra by a small causeway, if you’ve the notion for a little exercise or just a bit of fresh air the cycle is short but hilly, if you don’t happen to have your own bikes there are hire facilities in Castlebay.
Barra Airport is a must, it’s not your everyday aviation experience with the world’s only commercial beach landing it makes for great viewing. You can park close to the airport and watch the planes come all the way to a stand and can grab something from the onsight café. However if you fancy parking up and making your own cuppa the road leading to the airport has little spots with perfect views for that impressive beach landing or take-off!
NORTH & SOUTH UIST
Onwards from Barra you can take another ferry crossing to the next northerly island of South Uist (we had bought an island hopping ticket when planning our trip). The ferry departs from Ardmohor to the Isle of Eriskay which is adjoined to South Uist by causeway. On arrival keep an eye out for The Eriskay ponies, a protected breed native to the island.
South Uist provides a wild, barren, yet beautiful landscape looking back across the Atlantic to Barra, the 1750’s Polochar Inn has stunning views with cold pints and outdoor seating for soaking it all in. If your looking for an established campsite there are three across the ‘Uists’ - Kilbride Campsite in the south and Balranald and Moorcroft campsites in the north.
Heading north the landscape remains the same and the Islands all connected have the same sense of being raw and untouched, almost as if you’ve been transported back in time, very relaxing when escaping the everyday.
For those who like local produce and craft, Shoreline Stoneware Pottery in Locheport, North Uist is a lovely stop off. The studio itself boasts stunning views along with handmade pottery treats of which you can take away an affordable fridge magnet or splash some cash on a larger piece to treasure. Similar to Shoreline Stone wear unique shops and cafes are dotted across the islands.
If you happen to be catching the ferry North again the Cal Mac service runs from Berneray to Leverburgh, Harris.