This summer I was lucky enough to take a family trip to Western Scotland. We stayed just North of Campbeltown in a heritage property.
I’ve been to Scotland every summer that I can remember – my grandparents are Glaswegian. I’ve seen Glasgow and Edinburgh plenty of times to know where I can shop/eat/see culture. I’ve even seen the countryside before – visiting a family friend along Loch Lomond many summers and even attempting to hike the West Highland Way the summer before I left the UK. Most of my memories of Scotland include rainy hiking/ being eaten alive by midges/ spending school holidays here while everyone else appeared to jet off to Barbados (it was probably Benidorm). Yet this trip blew me away entirely.
It was about a 3 or 4 hour drive from Glasgow but we took longer as we stopped along the way to have fish and chips in Tarbet and to explore Skipness castle – . Neither of these were worth going out of your way for but definitely worth a wee look if you’re in the area. Skipness,while tiny, was one of my favourite castles – it was entirely free and deserted plus you could go all the way up onto the roof and pretend to be a conquerer. This drive takes you all the way along Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne (we stopped at the original Loch Fyne restaurant for some of the fanciest and freshest seafood you can find) and is pretty stunning once you’re out of Paisley.
Saddle house itself did not disappoint. My Aunt took us for her 50th trip and found it on the landmark trust – a great site if you’re looking for a unique place to stay and less concerned about budget. It was a grand country house complete with deer in the dining room and a huge kitchen we used to cook in – except our beach BBQ night. It was directly on the beach, and for Scotland we got amazingly good weather (20+ degrees in May! Taps aff!). This property came complete with it’s own beach hut a 5/10 minute walk down the beach which we used on our chill day as a base and a spot for beach bonfires (though our second attempt at this proved futile to midges). I adored staying here and cannot imagine a better way to see a gorgeous area. I imagine in the winter/cold it would be just as impressive as there were fires in most rooms – though you would likely want more reading/game supplies as there is NO WIFI or Phone reception. This house also contained the deepest bath I have ever seen/used.
While we were in Kintyre we also took a few trips out. We really wanted to take a trip out on boats from Campbeltown to go Puffin spotting but sadly it was too windy while we were there – I guess it’s a reason to head back to Scotland! While I wouldn’t particularly recommend spending time in Campbeltown it’s the biggest place nearby so slightly more likely to have phone service (I didn’t have a UK phone anyway) and WiFi (again was unsuccessful for me but my uncle found an ‘old man pub’ which did). We used Campbeltown as our main stop for food and drink (it was terrifying how many bottles of wine/whiskey/beer/champagne a group of scots get through in a few days – especially when Buckfast is included). Plus they had football on in the pubs so don’t feel like you totally lose the real world -though it’s maybe better to.
My Granny used to spend summers working in Machrihanish a bit further West so we were able to go see the beaches out there – it was much windier than our sheltered cove but had very typical Scottish Beach views. This was supposed to be a good spot for watching seals yet we found Torrisdale bay (one or two bays up from Saddell) to be much more reliable and always be teeming with them.
The absolute favourite thing I did on this trip was a day trip to Gigha – it’s 5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide and honestly was super beautiful. I would make sure to bring a lunch/snacks however as it’s so small that finding a place to eat when you want it may be difficult – although a teahouse there even had wifi! We went to the botanical gardens which were rough and wild and stunning in every direction as well as beach hunting. Trust me when I say these were the most Beautiful beaches I have been to ever.
This was what I did while I was there (along with getting through a few books) but even within our largest group different cars did different things so here are a few more options:
- Ferry to Arran – larger Island to drive/hike around
- Mull of Kintyre – at the south end of the peninsula (as a warning it apparently is not that exciting but you can sing while your there so perhaps that’s what you really care about)
- Ferry to Islay – a bit further and longer but you get to go to the inner Hebrides this way
- Whiskey distilleries – from Campbeltown to each of the Islands most have a distillery or two, a few of our family friends had a blast checking these out.
Another thing to keep in mind is weather – we were absurdly lucky with it but it does usually rain!