Outdoors in Argyll

19 October 2017

kerrera

Photo: Kerrera in Winter by Sea Kayak Oban via CC

Popular centres such as Aviemore and Fort William grab most of the headlines when it comes to outdoor activities but the coast of Argyll is the place to stay if you want some wild and natural outdoor adventures this autumn. Glorious scenery, no crowds and fabulous accommodation await you.

Mountaineering on Mull

Ben More is the only island Munro outside Skye. It is a grand, rocky mountain and from the summit you can get fantastic panoramic across the varied islands of the Inner Hebrides, and on a good day see as far as Ireland. The path is good but it’s a long committing day so best suited for those with a bit of experience. It’s only a 20 minute drive from Kellan Mill to the start of the walk which means you can make the most of your time without having to hurry. It’s a day to be savoured not rushed and Kellan Mill is the ideal place to retire to after a long day out, you can even look back over to the the summit when you are sitting down to dinner at night.

Cycling on Cowal

Over the last few years Cowal has been slowly establishing itself as the premier cycling destination in Scotland, for those in the know. With quiet roads, spectacular coastal scenery, options for family-friendly routes or hard-core mountain passes and cake-stop opportunities galore, this really is two wheeled paradise. For off-road enthusiasts then recent improvements to the Cowal Way and the replacement of stiles with swing gates means that up to 95% of the route is now possible by bike, with only a short section of pushing required along the beach between Tighnabruaich and Glendaruel. Kilfinan House sits right on the west coast of the peninsula and is cosy as well as luxurious, the hot tub is a brilliant way to relax those aching muscles after a long day in the saddle.

Kayaking around Kerrera

Kerrera is the island that sits just offshore from Oban. Its proximity to the sea kayak rental shops and instructors, based around Oban, has meant that it has become one of the most popular kayak trips in the area. The crossing is mostly sheltered and manageable by those with limited experience as long as they are accompanied by a guide. It is also the venue for the annual Oban Sea Kayak Race which is a spectacular event for spectators but is also open to all with the relevant experience. For a less demanding excursion you could launch a kayak from just outside Rhunacairn, the loch here is largely protected from the elements and makes for a gentle days paddling. Those who are feeling strong enough and after a longer day out could venture all the way out to sea from here and round the coast to Oban itself, a journey that is even possible in the middle of winter.

Kitesurfing on Kintyre

Macrihanish Beach on the west coast of Kintyre faces right out on to the Atlantic. This often results in near perfect conditions for kitesurfing. With miles of golden sands and a choice of breaks it offers plenty of space for you to find the perfect spot. Tuition is available locally for beginners and when the wind dies down you can also try your hand at traditional surfing. The beach is one of the most famous in Scotland but due to its relatively inaccessible location, hidden away in a seldom visited corner of Argyll then visiting retains a sense of exploration and adventure. Kirkland House is a short drive away, an oasis of luxury on the wild Atlantic coast and walking distance to the nearest beach.

Swimming in the Slate islands

The legacy of the slate industry in the 19th century is a series of sheltered pools that can be found all-round the coast of the islands. A freak storm in 1881 flooded many of the quarries, some are incredibly deep and now suitable for diving into (take the usual precautions), some are connected to the sea while still being sheltered from the elements and others feel like perfect natural outdoor swimming pools, where the water temperature is always higher than the ocean. Ardlarach Lodge has a commanding location looking down the sound of Luing. It is right in the heart of the Slate Islands but still only a 30 minute drive from Oban and is a luxurious spot for a hot shower after a refreshing Atlantic dip.