There is an established network of walking trails in the local area – both around Skipness and on Arran.
OS Explorer Maps:
Arran – 361
North Kintyre – 357
South Kintyre – 356
The highest peak around is Goatfell on Arran, at 874m (2,866ft) it is just short of being a Munro, so falls into the next category of Scottish Hills – the Corbetts. The easiest route starts from Brodick Castle and follow a well maintained path until the final section which is a bit more of a scramble. After admiring the stunning views you can either follow the same path back down or take a left fork to Corrie. For the more adventurous there are three other Corbetts which can be claimed. WalkHighlands.co.uk – Goatfell, Arran
Another popular route is the Kintyre Way – 161km (100miles) taking in the whole peninsula from Tarbert to Machrihanish. The first section heads up from Tarbert Castle and then drops down behind the Village Shop. The 9mile route is a mixture of forestry road and muddy path but is fairly easy going and well signposted. A good excursion is catching the local bus into Tarbert and then walking home!
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There are sandy bays for bathing and plenty of coves for rock pooling. There are endless opportunities for exploration and exciting expeditions. Ferries to the islands of Islay, Jura, Gigha and Arran mean there are many further areas to explore nearby. The Gulf Stream washes past the west coast of Scotland and its gentle nurturing accounts for the soft mild climate and the luxuriant and exotic species that are to be found in these parts. Seals, basking sharks, dolphins and porpoises are regularly seen in the waters around Skipness. Otters are becoming a common sight in Skipness especially at Port a Chro and on the coastal road to Skipness village.
Just an hour’s drive from Skipness, a trip to the Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale Forest provides a fun family day out. The Beaver Detective Trail, a two hour (three mile) circular walk which follows the natural terrain around the Dubh Loch and Loch Collie Bharr, supplies the opportunity to be a beaver detective and spot the signs of beaver activity in one of the most stunning parts of Scotland. Dawn or dust trips give the best opportunity for Beaver spotting.
The local flora and fauna is rich and diverse. It is possible to spot a number of marine animals such as dolphins, porpoises, otters, basking sharks and seals. In the woods there are several species of deer that can glimpsed including sika, roe and red. For botanists, the gardens at Crarea are spectacular as are the ones to be found on the island of Gigha and those at Brodick Castle on Arran.
The Estate was once home to a number of illicit Whisky stills, well hidden from the view of the revenue men who patrolled the seas looking for the tell-tale whisps of smoke rising from the fires heating the stills. For those seeking to see how the process has moved on in recent times there are several distilleries that can be visited:
Isle of Arran Whisky Distillery www.arranwhisky.com
Campbeltown has 2 distilleries: Springbank www.springbankwhisky.com and Glen Scotia www.glenscotia.com
Islay can be visited in a day trip from Skipness. This island has 8 distilleries (including Ardbeg, Bowmore and Laphroaig) producing some of the finest Malt Whiskies in the world. www.islayinfo.com
Golf is available at the nine hole links in Tarbert, in Carradale and on the islands of Gigha and Arran, as well as the two eighteen hole rounds at the renowned Machrihanish courses.
Fishing and sea tours
Scotland has some of the best fishing the United Kingdom has to offer. The salmon and sea trout fishing is exceptional and the summer mackerel fishing can be extremely successful as well as being excellent to eat. There are a number of companies which offer marine wildlife tours. A number are based around Oban – the unofficial capital of Argyll – which is a scenic 1.5-2hour drive from Skipness.
Sealife Adventures, Oban – www.sealife-adventures.com
Seafari, Oban – www.seafari.co.uk/oban
Mull of Kintyre Seatours, Campbelltown – www.mull-of-kintyre.co.uk
Fishing Charters from Oban – http://www.argyll-seatours.co.uk/
One hours drive from Skipness in the beautiful port town of Ardfern. From here it is possible to book guided wildlife boat trips and private charters from Ardfern to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool (the third largest whirlpool in the world) and several other islands on the purpose built catamaran Sea Leopard II.
Argyll has passed through the hands of many ancient rulers. It is possible to see evidence from prehistoric occupation in the rich archaeological remains at Kilmartin Glen – with the accompanying museum providing further insight. Nearby by is the ancient hill fort of Dunadd which served as the capital of the Kingdom of Dalriada, dating from 500 AD.
After a brief period in the hands of the Norse, it was the time of the Scottish Clans. There are a number of castles, both ruined and still standing, that are symbolic of the struggle to emerge as the “Lord of the Isles”.
A more recent piece of Scottish history can be seen at Inveraray Jail which served Argyll for most of the 19th century. It has been well-maintained and it is possible to take tours of the original cells and courtroom.
Surfing is available at Westport Beach near Campbeltown. www.liveontheedge.co.uk Boards can be hired and lessons available from qualified instructors.
Arran Adventure offers a wide variety of activities including mountain biking, abseiling and kayaking. http://auchrannie.co.uk/pamper-play/adventure.html
There is a wealth of information available both on the internet and in guidebooks such as the “Lonely Planet Guide to Scotland’s Highland and Islands” and the “Rough Guide to Argyll”
Skipness is just over 100 miles from Glasgow, taking about 3 hours by car. The journey takes you alongside Loch Lomand, over ‘Rest and be Thankful’ mountain pass and down Loch Fyne; breathtaking Scottish scenery.
*PETROL & DIESEL – We advise filling up your tank in Dumbarton or Lochgilpead – there is no longer a petrol station in Tarbert.
The No. 926 coach service between Glasgow (Buchanan Station) and Campbeltown stops in Tarbert, where you can change for the local bus service No. 448 between Lochgilpead and Skipness, this drops you right in front of the Castle gates.
Skipness is within 30 mins drive of 4 ferry terminals (Cloanaig, Kennacraig, Tarbert, Tayinloan) linking Skipness to the Isle of Arran, Islay, Cowal peninsula and Isle of Gigha. From Glasgow there is an opportunity to island hop via Arran to Skipness (Ardrossan-Brodick, Lochranza-Claonaig). From Lochranza on Arran there is a 30min crossing to Cloanaig (Summer) or an 1h25min crossing to Tarbert (Winter). From Portavadie on Cowal there is a 25min crossing to Tarbert. From Port Ellen (2h) or Port Askaig (2h15min) on Islay there are crossings to Kennacraig. From Tayinloan (20min crossing) you can visit the Isle of Gigha. Caledonian Macbrayne (CalMac) run all the major ferry routes on the West Coast of Scotland. We recommend CalMac’s Hopscotch tickets for journeys using more than one ferry route.