THE VIBRANT TOWN CENTRE
Nearby, past the Town Cross in its pleasant garden, is the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Cinema, built c1913, and universally known as 'The Wee Pictures' (as opposed to the 'Big Pictures' – the Rex Cinema - which used to lie further along the front). This is the oldest working cinema in Scotland. Having recently undergone a major refurbishment and technological update, it now has two screens, a cafe and meeting rooms. Films are shown at several times daily. See details in Reception. (Sadly not available under Covid restrictions).
The Heritage Centre, based in a former church, on the route to Machrihanish, provides a very interesting and graphic representation of past life in the town, as well as information on local geology and wildlife. There is also a historic Museum on Hall Street, just along from the Cinema. Known as the Burnet Building, after its architect, the building is also used as the Registry Office and Marriage Room. At the rear of the building is a pleasant garden, home to a statue of Linda McCartney, whose family still own a farm in the area, and whose song ‘Mull of Kintyre’ still inspires the local Pipe Band. The library was also housed there, but was recently relocated to a purpose-built modern edifice at the head of the Loch. The striking Aqualibrium Centre combines a 25m swimming pool with a well-stocked gym and Library.
The many and varied independent shops, such as Coastal Design, The Treehouse, Fresh Connection, Kintyre Larder and The Fish Shop, together with the impressive architecture of the town make for an enjoyable stroll. For Distilleries, see the separate ‘Whisky’ section!
There are various scenic circular drives, eg the Learside coast road to Southend (eastward through the town), past St Columba’s Footsteps and Cave and on to the Mull of Kintyre, and back to Campbeltown, via Stewarton. Stop in at Muneroy Stores and Tea Room in Southend for some of the famous home-baking. Other options, are up the northerly East Coast road to Peninver, Saddell and Carradale; West across to Machrihanish or take the A83 up the West Coast past Westport, and try Glenbarr for lunch or more home baking!
Both Campbeltown and the Kintyre Peninsula have much to offer, whether your choice is simply to admire the scenery and enjoy the scrumptious food, or perhaps you are keen to participate in some of the exciting leisure pursuits on offer...
Kintyre is a quiet haven for golf enthusiasts. A championship course that is not absolutely mobbed with visitors? Look no farther than ten minutes from the hotel! Machrihanish Golf Club: a renowned links course laid out by Old Tom Morris in 1879 with, reputedly, the world's finest first hole, a drive across the Atlantic Ocean.
The views are spectacular and the beautifully kept course is a pleasure. Ranked 46 in the Golf Digest World Top 100 golf Courses (and also Best Value British Course), ranking 56 in Golf Monthly Top UK & Ireland 100. There is also a good value nine hole course, The Pans Course, suitable for children or family play .
www.machgolf.com Tel: 01586 810277
Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club lies immediately to the North of Machrihanish, along the same set of dunes. Completed in 2009, this challenging and Award-winning links course boasts a number of tees and greens adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean. The only course to be built recently on a Site of Special Scientific Interest, considerable difficulties were faced by the Course Architect, David McLay Kidd and his team, but the results have been worth it.
Across the Mull of Kintyre, 25 minutes South from the Hotel, lies
Dunaverty GC, a peaceful natural links course with panoramic
views of Sanda Island, Ailsa Craig and the Northern Irish
coastline. This course offers the golfer a testing challenge, with
ample opportunity to spot wildlife, such as sea otter and other
flora and fauna. It is also tremendous value for money, always
beautifully kept, and with friendly people.
www.dunavertygolfclub.com Tel: 01586 830677
Farther afield, Carradale GC, North East of Cambeltown, is a nine hole course, offering the golfer everything from a challenge to a scenic feast for the eyes. SSS 64, the short course is very welcoming to children, it being possible for the whole family to play together. However, watch your ball – as there are wild goats on this course!
Tarbert Golf Club, at the neck of the peninsula, is another scenic nine hole parkland and woodland course, with some testing holes. Known as 'The Dookers' by Campbeltonians, due to its low-lying holes being prone to flooding! The views over West Loch Tarbert are spectacular, especially from the high holes. Tel: (01880) 820565
Also accessible by nearby ferry, the islands of Gigha, Islay and Arran all have golf courses to enjoy.
∙ Gigha boasts a nine hole course, par 65, for only £15 per day ticket. (01586 505242)
∙ Islay has the more challenging Machrie Golf Links, a classic natural links course completed in 1891 and newly re-opened. (01496 302310)
∙ On Arran, there are seven courses, all with different characteristics:
∙ Lochranza Golf Club (01770 830 273)
∙ Lamlash GC (01770 600 296)
∙ Machrie Bay GC (01770 840 213)
∙ Shiskine G&TC (01770 860 226)
∙ Whiting Bay GC (01770 700 775)
∙ Brodick GC (01770 302 394)
∙ Corrie GC (01770 810 223)
For the youngsters, or those still learning, there is a pitch and putt course on the Esplanade, on the opposite side of Campbeltown Loch to the hotel!
The Kintyre Way offers an opportunity to explore the Kintyre Peninsula from coast to coast and North to South for a total of some 103 miles. Newly created paths, many from areas previously closed to the public, offer everything from a gentle ramble to a serious hike, hillwalk or cycle. The distinctive blue posts mark the way, which runs from Tarbert to Southend, via Machrihanish, with spurs from side to side. See www.kintyreway.com
Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse also offers a challenging walk, as well as wonderful scenic views – both en route by car, and during the trek. From the car park, high on the craggy hill, the path down meanders to the Lighthouse itself, now fully automatic and unmanned. The challenge is in the hilly return journey! But the feeling of standing on the edge of the world is worth it! The view to your left is Northern Ireland, only 12.1 miles away, then traverse right and you can see Islay, Jura and Gigha on a good day.
Davaar Island, which protects Campbeltown Loch, can be reached at low water by a shingle causeway called the Doirlinn. Tide times can be checked at the hotel. Suitable footwear should be worn, as the rocky island is not sandal-friendly! A traverse across the rocks to the right, to the seventh cave will reveal a cave painting of the Crucifixion, painted by local teacher Archibald MacKinnon in 1887, who reputedly followed directions shown to him in a dream. Davaar is also noted for its herd of wild goats, and a lighthouse protecting the shipping lane to the North.
WALKING/JOGGING FOR PLEASURE
Campbeltown Running Club runs a number of annual competitive races, see under Annual Events. A number of suitable routes for running / jogging exist around the hotel.
Some examples are:
● Route 1 - from the hotel turn left to MacCringan's Point, opposite Davaar Island (road, path, beach and back;
● Route 2 - circling Campbeltown Loch and return (road, grass and back);
● Route 3 - stretches along the High Street, then around past Tesco and the Co-op, across Kinloch Green past the Aqualibrium and back (partly circular route, road, grass, road).
The town and surrounding area offer many other opportunities for running, with miles of white sandy beaches to choose from at Machrihanish, Westport and Southend for example.
The quiet and scenic coastal roads offer the cyclist a peaceful journey from place to place, while there are plenty of 'off-road' opportunities – such as the Trans-Kintyre 12 mile route between Ballochgair and Corputechan.
Often the hilly forestry roads provide a challenging cycle route, while some sections of the Kintyre Way are viable for cyclists. Bheinn Ghuilean (the high point opposite the hotel) boasts some interesting and sometimes intimidating Mountain Biking routes.
Campbeltown is also the start (or finish!) of The Caledonia Way, the Sustrans National Cycle Route 78 from Campbeltown to Inverness.
HORSE RIDING AND PONY TREKKING
Ileene Duncan at Highland Horse Riding, Tarbert, offers her Highland Ponies for hacking and trekking over open hills, native woodland and farm tracks. 1:1 or small groups only; Min age 8 years; open seasonally Easter to end October.
Contact Tel: 01880 820583/820333.
FISHING AND HUNTING
Fly Fishing is good sport on either Loch or river in Kintyre. For those of you who are hooked (sorry!) why not try for Brown Trout at Lochs Auchalochy and Ruan, Rainbow Trout at Lussa Loch, or Pike (any legal method), which has now been introduced at Crosshill Loch, to the detriment of the Brown Trout. The Conieglen River is fly only, except when the river is in spate. Anglers have a good chance of Salmon or Sea Trout, particularly after rain.
Permits are available from Kintyre Angling Club (email ) and can be purchased at The Hardware Shop on Longrow.
Salmon and Sea Trout also inhabit the Carradale River, to the North East of Craigard. Details and Permit prices on request from Semple's Garage in Carradale,
Tel: 01583 431 209.
It may be possible to offer fly fishing tuition, as I have found a contact in the town and I will try to put you together!
Landrail Firearms run Machrihanish Gun Club, and they have a 25m range which is open to the public at certain times.
(Sadly not at the moment due to Covid 19) They have competitions and club nights.
The sheltered bay of Campbeltown Loch offers a haven for yachtsmen. With many facilities available, including pier and pontoon in the harbour, there is no excuse to bypass this vibrant seafaring centre. Visitors to Campbeltown are in an ideal position to make onward journeys to Rathlin Island and the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland; the Southern Hebridean Islands of Cara, Gigha, Islay, Jura and Colonsay, and, not for the faint-hearted, perhaps negotiate the infamous Corryvreckan. The picturesque Crinan Canal links the Atlantic Ocean with Loch Gilp at the head of Loch Fyne.
To the East of Campbeltown, The Kilbrannan Sound and The Firth of Clyde offer the options of cruises to Arran, Bute, and The Cumbraes in addition to the Mainland.
Tayinloan Ferry - Cross to Gigha on the ferry from Tayinloan. Achamore Gardens, a golf course, bike trips and more... Daily – various trips see look for Gigha Kintyre Express - Cross to Ballycastle in Northern Island, or Islay on the Kintyre Express Passenger Ferry – an enclosed Fast Rib – www.kintyreexpress.com
Both Westport and Machrihanish beaches offer exceptional surfing opportunities to ride those Atlantic rollers (West facing) - with Southend beach (South facing) also coming into its own in the right wind and weather conditions.
SEA KAYAKING AND CANOEING
Find Dave's website at www.kayakmajik.co.uk He is offering guided sea kayaking and/or canoeing trips throughout Kintyre, Mid-Argyll and Jura.
Windsurfing takes place in various places around the coast of Kintyre, particularly Westport and Machrihanish if conditions are favourable, with Campbeltown Loch offering a wide and sheltered bay, close to the hotel.
A new venture has started up at West Loch Tarbert, offering Windsurfing lessons – see Dave's website at www.kayakmajik.co.uk phone 07891 861 393.
You can easily be up and running in an hour.
Loch Fyne Dive Charters, based in Tarbert, caters for diving parties in the unspoilt waters of Loch Fyne, and also pleasure and educational trips as far as Arran and Bute. Contact Malcolm Goodchild. www.fyne-diving.co.uk
LOCAL SPORTS ACTIVITIES
The Aqualibrium (great name!) offers a three in one: a 25m pool with views down the Loch towards Davaar Island; a well-stocked gym and a library (so you can read while you work out!). There is also an all weather football pitch next door. There are two lawn bowls clubs and a tennis club, open to the public.
ORNITHOLOGY AND WILDLIFE
The coastline around Campbeltown abounds with Oystercatchers and Herons, while wintering ducks and waders are a common sight, as are the Gannet, Arctic and Common Tern. Other seabirds can be viewed from the Machrihanish Seabird Observatory at Usead Point, with the nearby Gauldrens offering a great walk and a vantage point for a variety of wildlife.
Birds spotted in our garden recently include Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Sparrow, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Siskine, Bluetit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Collared Dove, Songthrush,Swallow,Jackdaw, Hooded Crow. Oystercatchers and Herons are always around the shore in front of the hotel, as is a family of Swans adapted to sea water.
There is an excellent chance of spotting basking Seals in the small bay beyond the Golf Course at Machrihanish. You may even be lucky enough to spot an elusive Sea Otter.
Sanda Island Bird Observatory is noted for its colonies of Manx Shearwater, Storm Petrel, Guillemots, Razorbill, Puffin, Gannets, Shag and Gulls. On a boat trip you also have a good chance of spotting Dolphin, Porpoise, Basking Shark, Minke or Pilot Whale.