We often plan long trips to places up in the very north of Scotland or across to the islands. But the truth is, you don’t need to travel that far to be blown away by Scotland and its natural landscape.
We recently enjoyed a long staycation weekend in Argyll & Bute, exploring the Cowal Peninsula around Dunoon. It’s a place that offers everything from mountain forest walks to wild loch swimming and everything in between.
Here’s our tips for where to stay, what to do and how to make the most of a holiday in Argyll.
How to get to Argyll?
Argyll & Bute is easily reached by car from Edinburgh or Glasgow. If you’re heading to Dunoon, the quickest route is to take the car across on a short 15-minute ferry from Gourock. Luckily, these run frequently.
Where to stay in Argyll?
Covering such a big area, there’s plenty of places to stay here. If you are looking to explore the things we mention in this blog, there’s few better spots than Hunter’s Quay in Dunoon.
One of several sites in the area is owned by the family-run Argyll Holidays. We were lucky enough to be invited to stay in one of their incredible hot tub lodges, which overlooked the banks of the Holy Loch.
Ideal for groups of friends or family, it truly has everything you could ever need (if you can drag yourself out of the hot tub that is). It has on-site activities, a gym, swimming pool, bar and restaurant. In fact, if you wanted to just stay in one place, this would be the place to do it. That said, it’s the surrounding area which made this stay even more special.
What do in Argyll?
Away from the holiday park itself, a short walk down the hill from Hunter’s Quay is the shores of Holy Loch. Surrounded by trees and mountains and at three miles long, there’s few better places to have a go at some wild swimming. In the summer months, the water was quite refreshing – even if you only dip a toe in!
A short drive along the loch and into the surrounding forests will take you to Benmore Botanic Gardens. Having visited many botanic gardens all over the world, this is up there with the very best. From its giant redwood trees to its array of rhododendrons and conifers, we spent five unforgettable hours wandering around its paths and themed gardens. If you are patient, you may even spot a few red squirrels.
Very close to Benmore is another stunning place to spend a few hours – Pucks Glen. Arguably a match for the likes of the Fairy Glen in Skye, or The Devil’s Pulpit near Glasgow – this woodland gorge is truly epic. The path through the gorge meanders past waterfalls and over bridges. Throughout all of your walk, you’ll find yourself covered by a canopy of green. If you are into forest bathing (go check this out if you don’t know what it means) – we can’t think of a better place to do it.
Where to eat in Argyll?
With Dunoon being so close to Loch Fyne it’s worth planning a slightly longer drive (45 minutes or so) to visit one of the internationally renowned restaurants here. We managed to get a table at Inver – a remote restaurant that has built quite the reputation in the area.
Set inside a restored croft, the menu here is inspired by local ingredients (which means plenty of fresh prawns, mussels and crab). Unsurprisingly, it was some of the best we’ve eaten in Scotland. Make sure to ask for the homemade sourdough bread!
If comfort food is more what you are after, then the quirky Sheila’s Diner is well worth checking out or stay closer to home and enjoy the food at Hunter’s Bar & Grill.
For more staycation inspiration, visit our Guides.
If you have any questions about the area, or would like any more tips please let us know in the comments below or get in touch via Instagram (@TravelTwo_)
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