Locales > Scotland
I had never met anyone who had been to Campbeltown. So we decided to go visit. I found a hotel which sounded as though it might be OK. It was Stonefield Hotel, Tarbert. The reviews were mixed but it was suitably expensive and frankly if we were going to go then it was the only place around that had even pretensions to be nice.
We caught a plane to Glasgow on Monday the 11th of June, 2018 and then hired a rather nice Mercedes C class car and motored towards the hotel. The video script below tells the rest of that tale.
We stayed overnight at the hotel. The views from the restaurant were stunning. However the midges were fierce and they were plastered all over the room and, especially the bathroom. I cleared them up and sprayed and sprayed the fly killer around the room. The midges meant that window had to stay as firmly shut as possible (which wasn't very) which in it's turn meant the room was roasting. However we survived and set off for the final leg of the journey to Campbeltown.
The road was stunning and the seas gorgeous and we arrived at Campbeltown before driving onward to Southend. As we drove into Campbeltown the outskirts are depressing but I was challenged on this view and put up a video on this which is also below. This is the end of the peninsula and the views were epic. We'd booked a rib trip and you can see that below as well. We then spent some time wandering around Campbeltow. They have just restored an art nouveau cinema and we spent our time drinking tea there before heading back to the hotel and the midges.
We had decided to visit the island of Gigha (pronounced Geea) on the Wednesday and I made another video which you can see below. On the way back we took a drive to the east coast of the island out toward Skipness Castle. The roads are single track, the views gorgeous but we are talking serious isolation here.
Finally on the Thursday it was time to head back to Glasgow. There was a storm called Hector blasting away at us as we drove northward. We arrived at Inverraray Castle and surprise, surprise I made a video of that as well. Eventually Flybe sent a big jet to pick us up and we arrived safe and sound in Brum.
This is the script of the video that is below
Everything I had heard about the A83 was that it was special, especially long and dramatic. You could even catch a plane from Glasgow to Campbeltown to avoid it. So now I had to drive it. So in early June 2018 I drove to Birmingham Airport, caught a plane to Glasgow. Hired a rather nice c class Mercedes and by lunch time I was rolling out of Glasgow and we were on our way. So lets look at the map and here you can see the route we are going to take. Lets get going You join us on the A82 by the Tarbet hotel.
This is the start of the A83. Normally we turn right to go off down to Oban on the A82 however this time we are headed all the way down the A83. As we climb out of Tarbet we passed the sign which confirms that it is 99 miles to Campbelltown. We've just driven up along the banks of Loch Lomond and now we're heading to the head of Loch Long. Now we are seriously on our way .
We are arriving in Arrochar which overlooks the head of loch long Until 1980 it had the torpedo testing station where they fired torpedoes down the loch. We stop for provisions and then we are driving around the loch Before we know it we are climbing up to the strangely named Rest and Be Thankful pass -it links Glen Kinglas with Glen Croe .
There are 2 roads the old military one which was completed in 1750 when a seat was erected inviting the traveller to rest and be thankful – hence the name which has stuck. The views are fantastic but the road can be closed by bad weather and rock falls when the single track military road is still used. It was used as a race track, at least in the 1950’s. There are now plans to erect a racing museum to commemorate the events. Because we can, lets take a quick aerial view across the pass. It is magnificent.
We need to press on and we are headed on towards Inveraray, which is at the head of Loch Fyne and it’s fairytale castle. There is a full video on it –below. For now we’ll just take a quick aerial spin before heading through the village and onward. The village was moved here by the Duke of Argyll to complement his castle. Today it is a tribute to his taste and design. We drive on to Auchindrain – we have now been driving for just on an hour on the A83 and we have covered just 30 miles.
We press on through small hamlets called Furnace, Birdfeld and Lochgair, as the road hugs the west bank of Loch Fyne, We pass through Lochgilphead. This is the administrative centre for the county of Argylle and Bute. With a population of around 2,300. The village lies at the end of Loch Gilp and lies on the banks of the Crinan Canal. We actually cross the swing bridge of the Crinan canal. The canal allows boats to cut through the Kyntire peninsula making it possible to go from the Hebrides to Glasgow by a far shorter route. The canal was built around 1801 and runs for some 9 miles from Crinan to this sea loch gate at Ardrishaig. Boats following the route linger to enjoy the scenery taking up to 4 days to complete the transit but it costs maybe £200 – although apparently each transit uses 300,000 litres of water. There are 15 locks to negotiate.
As we drive on we approach Tarbert where we have booked a hotel for the night and so it is the next day before we actually drive into Tarbert to carry on. Tabet where the a83 starts to Tarbert where it crosses to the Atlantic seaboard is just on 60 miles and it has taken 2 elapsed hours of driving to get here. The first thing we do as we enter Tarbert is to stop and buy midge repellent. The midges are fierce around here.
Then we are rising up out of Tarbert for the final 40 or so miles to Campbeltown and beyond. The most dramatic scenery is still ahead of us as we follow the coast southward. We watch the Calmac ferry from Kennacraig on the West Loch Tarbert bound for Islay as it ploughs through the still calm waters.
So now the traffic thins, the pace slows and we can take the time to enjoy the magnificent sweep of the road. (piece to camera)
The road continues to run on to Campbeltown with epic Atlantic and coastal views as we linger to enjoy the last few miles. The entrance to the town is between grim and drab buildings and estates in total contrast to the beauty we have enjoyed. But soon enough we break through to the harbour and suddenly without any ceremony that’s it, we’ve driven the full length of the A83 from end to end – from Tarbet to Campbeltown.
At one time, Campbeltown around 1900 had the highest per capita income for any town in Scotland. Its success was based on the herring fishing industry, coal, shipbuilding, agriculture, and of course – whisky! Those days are long since gone but there is still lots to explore. We decide to take a trip out on a rib – but that’s another video.
So a huge thanks for watching and I hope you enjoyed it.
These are the outskirts of Cambeltown. I told you they were grotty.
The blurb says "Get close to basking seals and watch puffins (during the breeding season) fly around the boat on our core wildlife trip around Sanda Island off the Mull of Kintyre. Sanda is home to a host of seabirds, with porpoises and dolphins seen frequently on our journey. "
We saw some sea birds - no dolphins.
I wasn't that impressed with the outing, if I'm honest - we couldn't hear most of the commentary and the guide spent most of the trip chatting with one of the guests. We never got close enough to the see the seals or the birds.
It appears that the rib was sold on the 27th of June 2018 - we went on the 12th of June - so this was one of the last trips.