Most visitors will want to explore the area surrounding Tayvallich. There is a rich choice and we recommend that visitors buy the Ordnance Survey Landranger Map 55 titled Lochgilphead & Surrounding Area to make the most of their explorations.
The first and most obvious ‘must do’ is to walk to Carsaig Bay, less than a mile from Tayvallich itself and which offers a totally contrasting outlook and seascape over The Sound of Jura.
From the North of Carsaig Bay the more energetic can take the track that leads to Crinan some 6 miles to the North. Only a mile or so from Carsaig on this same track, visitors can walk to a small hill, Cnoc na Faire (119 metres) which commands breathtaking views of The Sound, The Paps of Jura and Islay to the South, the Gulf of Corryvrekan separating the islands of Jura and Scarba to the North, and right up to the islands of Luing and Shuna with the mountains of Mull on the far horizon.
View from Cnoc Na Faire
A visit to Crinan, albeit by car, is another ‘must do’ for any visitor to the area, as it offers spectacular views to the North and in summer, a never-ending procession of yachts heading out of the Crinan Canal to the Outer Isles or returning to the busy waters of the Clyde.
The Sea Lock at Crinan
The Crinan Canal was built 200 years ago by Thomas Telford to give small trading ships a safe passage to the West avoiding the sometimes hazardous seas off The Mull of Kintyre to the South. While horses no longer pull boats along the 9 miles of canal from the sea lock in Ardrishaig, the Canal is virtually unchanged since its construction with most of the 15 lock gates and sluices operated manually (or often womanly) by the crews of yachts on passage. The spectacle of boating activity from the bar and lounge of The Crinan Hotel is highly entertaining especially when a virtual armada of yachts are on passage through the Canal during The Tobermory Race on Sunday 15th July, departing Monday 16th and during much of West Highland Week from 29th July through 3rd August. The Crinan Hotel itself has a renowned and award-winning sea food restaurant, serves excellent bar meals almost all year round and operates a coffee shop open mid January through to the end of November. Boat trips can also be arranged from Crinan with Gemini Cruises – you can visit their Website from our Links page. The village also features Crinan Boatyard with a well-stocked chandlery. A gentle walk or cycle ride along the towpath from Crinan to Cairnbaan is another recommended experience with rewarding views of the River Add and the ancient and unspoilt marshlands of Moine Mhor, with the prospect of a coffee or something stronger at the attractive Cairnbaan Hotel, at the conclusion of your walk.
Tayvallich is more than the village itself, as the community includes not just Carsaig but the scattered cottages, houses and farms throughout the Tayvallich Peninsula from Bellanoch on the Crinan Canal, down past Loch Caol Scotnish on the spectacular approach to Tayvallich village, and then down some six miles of unspoilt single track road to Keills and Danna to the South West. The views from Danna and Keils are well worth the journey.
A memorable day out is a trip to Kilmartin Glen. From Bellanoch take the Oban road across the canal bridge and over the Moine Mhor stopping to absorb the atmosphere and the mystery of the ancient standing stones and stone circles by Slockavulin. These are of the era of Stonehenge and are awe-inspiring.
Standing Stones near Kilmartin
What is known of them and other ancient sites in the Glen are extremely well displayed in Kilmartin Glen Museum in the village of Kilmartin – you can visit its Website from our Links page. Three miles South of Kilmartin off the A83 is Dunadd Fort, where the ancient kings of Scotland were crowned. Dunadd has a commanding view over this fertile valley and of Loch Crinan. It is easy to imagine the blood spilt on this place over the centuries and to visualise the battles with the Vikings from Norseland and the boyhood adventures of Sommerled, The Lord of the Isles who it is said, was brought-up here. While in this area another place well worth the visit is the ruin of Carnassarie Castle a mile or so North of Kilmartin.
On the other side of Loch Sween lies the neighbouring village of Achnamara, a delightful place only lacking its own Inn but some six or so miles further South is Castle Sween built a millennia ago, to protect the area from the Viking raiders. The ruins of the castle are well worth a visit and by the adjacent caravan park there is a pub and restaurant open to all from Easter through October.
The nearest town is Lochgilphead, 12 miles from Tayvallich, with a modern supermarket, petrol stations, banks, shops, pubs, a swimming pool, a 9 hole golf course open to visitors, and Highbank Potteries which is well worth a visit. Immediately to the South of Lochgilphead is Ardrishaig and the entrance to the Crinan Canal with additional pubs and restaurants.
Please also click here to see our pages on Woodland Walks Around Tayvallich.
TO THE SOUTH
South of Ardrishaig is Knapdale, and the Kintyre Peninsula. There is one loop road in Knapdale (passing places only) with some wonderful scenery and some ‘interesting’ driving over some 30 miles starting at Inverneil, down past the shores of Loch Caolisport, with at least a pause at Kilberry overlooking the Sound of Jura, and up along the shores of West Loch Tarbert until you reach Tarbert on Loch Fyne. Tarbert is an attractive small town with another natural harbour and a number of pubs and restaurants and a ferry service to Portavadie on the opposite shore of Loch Fyne. The main road South from Tarbert leads to Campbeltown at the South of the Kintyre Peninsula with an 18 hole golf course at nearby Machrihanish. Some 6 miles down this road from Tarbert is Kennacraig, the ferry terminal to the island of Islay with 7 Scotch malt whisky distilleries and thence to Jura – with yet one more distillery. Some 14 miles further South is Tayinloan with a ferry service to Gigha Island. Cycling enthusiasts might consider driving to Tayinloan, leaving their car at the carpark but taking their bikes on board for the 30 minute crossing to this beautiful and untypically flat Hebridean island. With unspoilt sandy beaches, a famous garden and a good hotel this is a good day out. Some 5 miles South East of Kennacraig is a ferry terminal at Claonaig with frequent summer crossings to Lochranza on the Isle of Arran.
TO THE NORTH
About an hour’s drive from Tayvallich is Oban, the unofficial Capital of West Argyll and the gateway to the Inner and Outer Hebrides with frequent ferry services to Mull, Colonsay, Tiree, Coll and South Uist. Oban also has numerous shops, supermarkets, restaurants, pubs and is the home of Oban Single Malt Scotch whisky with an excellent visitors centre at The Oban Distillery, open all year round. Also near Oban is The Rare Breeds Farm Park at New Barran, Kilmore, reopening 24th March and which is very children friendly and where you can see rare animals in their natural habitat. Just to the North of Oban is the Scottish Sealife & Marine Sanctuary on Loch Creran and this is well worth a visit at all times of the year.
Off the main road to Oban there are at least four other places of interest. Heading North, the first is the village of Ardfern at the head of Loch Craignish featuring Ardfern Marina, The Galley of Lorne Hotel, beautiful scenery and a lively community. Just a few miles further North is Croabh Marina and Village, with its own pub and restaurant, and just a little further on is Arduaine Gardens which share magnificent views to the South with the adjacent Loch Melfort Hotel. While a bit of a diversion, the road from Kilninver (just South of Oban) to ‘The Bridge Over The Atlantic” at Clachan-Seil is well worth the time and if you have a little more to spare, at the ferry terminal to Luing, the sight of the fierce tidal rips at the Cuan Sound separating Seil from the Isle of Luing will be memorable.
TO THE EAST
Inverary is about 50 minutes drive from Tayvallich and features Inverary Castle, the ancestral (and present) home of the Dukes of Argyll. The town also features several excellent hotels and pubs and Inverary Jail, a cameo of life in prison 100 years and more ago, and a floating maritime museum on a schooner, the Arctic Penguin. Just to the West of the town is a 9 hole golf course and Argyll Wild Life park. Between Inverary and the village of Furnace is a fascinating museum of crofting life a century and more ago at Auchindrain, and just before Minard on the road back to Lochgilphead are Crarae Gardens.
AND TO THE WEST
The Inner and Outer Hebrides.....