COVERING almost nine per cent of the country, Argyll and Bute is a gem in itself. With stunning scenery, rugged islands, and a great local culture, the area is scattered with fantastic things to see and do. Argyll and Bute truly comes alive in the summer time, with plenty of activities, products, and places waiting to be experienced. Here are nine prime examples…

Paddle Steamer Waverley

Join Waverley this summer for a magical journey. Bring back memories or create new ones aboard the last sea going Paddle Steamer in the World.

Magnificently restored with towering funnels, timber decks, gleaming varnish and brass, see and hear the mighty engines turn the ships famous paddles.

Take a trip to the seaside resorts of Dunoon or Rothesay, spend time ashore in Tighnabruaich or Tarbert or sail amid the dramatic scenery of the Clyde ‘Fjords’ of Loch Long and Loch Goil or even sail through the Kyles of Bute.

HeraldScotland:

In 1974, Waverley was famously bought for £1 and began a second career as a tourist attraction. Since then, she has been in operational preservation and has carried over five million passengers from more than 60 ports around the UK. A major restoration project returned Waverley to the original 1940s style in which she was built.

Step aboard and you can relax in the sun on deck or eat, drink and relax in one of the period lounges and take in mountain panoramas as you cruise amidst dramatic loch scenery. Enjoy a great day out with friends and family – young and old – for a trip to remember aboard Waverley.

The Waverly sails until August 26th, visit www.waverleyexcursions.co.uk

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fynewood

The Argyll based FyneWood are skilled craftsmen in their ability to transform wood into a range of beautiful and useful products.

Log cabins, bespoke furniture, engraved wooden signs and log structures are just some of the company’s specialities.

The professionals at FyneWood have been working with wood in Argyll for over 25 years.

Originally based in Tarbert (Loch Fyne) they can now be found in Dunoon (on the Firth of Clyde).

HeraldScotland:

At FyneWood you will also find an in-house gallery that accommodates the team’s large display of woods and products. Not only this, but the gallery also showcases other local makers work- promoting fellow craftsmen throughout the Argyll wide area.

The team of three source and process local hardwoods (Elm, Yew, Oak). Using their own sawmill, they produce timber for use ‘in house’ as well as for sale to other craftsman and manufacturers.

Creating natural wood furniture, home accessories, engraved signage and a range of gifts which can be personalized if required, all finished products are unique and made to a high-standard.

Using local larch, FyneWood make products for outdoor use, including picnic tables, pergolas, gates, log stores, sheds and outbuildings. They also sell this timber locally as posts, rails, boards etc.

Their attractive log cabins are designed using traditional methods and hand-crafted log structures; proving popular within the area.

The sawmill and fully equipped workshop, including a CNC machine, enables them to create a wide variety of articles.

For more information on FyneWood visit www.fynewood.co.uk

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Helensburgh Golf Club

Golfers have been enjoying the beautiful moorland course above Helensburgh town since 1893. Now, in their 125th year, Helensburgh Golf Club invites you to take advantage of some great offers and help them celebrate this significant milestone.

Despite being only 20 miles from Glasgow, the course is in a relaxing and tranquil setting with stunning views over the Clyde Estuary to the South and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park to the North.

The gently undulating terrain and varied layout is playable for all but a challenge for the best. To score well you will need to plot your way round and master the fast and true putting surfaces.

The club is easily accessible from the A82 and is an ideal stop if you are visiting the many attractions of the surrounding area or heading out to explore Scotland’s wonderful west coast.

The Professional shop offers a comprehensive range of products from leading manufacturers and can ensure you have any rental items you may require to enhance your experience.

HeraldScotland:

Before and after your round you can order from a menu of freshly prepared dishes, choose from a great range of drinks and barista coffees or even sample a local Loch Lomond malt whisky.

Tee off time bookings can be made on-line or by calling the Pro Shop on 01436 675505.

They promise a warm welcome, great greens and great service and look forward to welcoming you to the club.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Glenbarr

With an Award Winning café & Garden Centre, shop, and a unique Bed & Breakfast, Glenbarr Stores is a popular spot for visitors and locals alike. Located in the village of Glenbarr, 30 minutes south of Tarbert & 15 minutes north of Campbeltown, it provides a delightful place to visit for a day or overnight stay.

Find a wide selection of Local products and gifts to peruse at Glenbarr Stores. From the daily paper to something a little special, they support local businesses to bring the best products from Scotland. Wander through the shop and out into an oasis of plants and birds into the Visit Scotland 4 Star Garden Centre, where a wide choice of plants, trees, shrubs and garden equipment can be found. 

HeraldScotland:

After working up an appetite, head to the café where customers can choose from delicious home baked cakes and scones, fresh hot foods and a popular Afternoon Tea. 

Those wishing to stay longer and explore the Kintyre Peninsula can use the House as a base, making the most of the bed and breakfast accommodation that boasts four bedrooms set in unusual surroundings.

Summer workshops will be taking place over the coming weeks, which embrace the talents of the people in Argyll. Teaming up with local artists, visitors will have the chance to learn a new skill and meet new people. Held in the Greenhouse at Glenbarr, a wonderful airy space where you can listen to the sound of the birds outside, each workshop will teach something a little different.

HeraldScotland:

From the Basket Making Workshop to the Hazel Made it Felt Workshop, Art in the Greenhouse to Glass Engraving, there are a wealth of opportunities to learn new skills. 

To find out more about the summer workshops taking place, visit www.glenbarrstores.com. Keep up to date with Glenbarr Stores by following them on Facebook & Instagram 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inveraray Jail 

Discover one of the finest and best-preserved Jail and Courtroom complexes in the world and use the discount code ‘hidden gem’ at www.inverarayjail.co.uk/buy-tickets to obtain 20 per cent discount on entry for all.  Explore this unique collection of historic buildings brought to life by real characters from the Jail’s past with the FREE AUDIO GUIDES AVAILABLE IN SIX LANGUAGES. Step back in time and experience the true stories of what life was like for the men, women and children – some as young as seven – who were tried and locked up here all those years ago.

Torture, Death and Damnation

Your journey starts in the Torture, Death and Damnation exhibition highlighting the many forms of punishment and deterrents used before the days of civilised courts and imprisonment was adopted. Discover how criminals were branded with hot irons or even their ears nailed to a post. Try out the thumbscrews used to twist down and inflict pain.

County Courtroom

Move through time and enter the spectacular courtroom. Take your seat alongside the witnesses and listen to extracts from actual trials held in this room over 150 years ago. Imagine that you were in the dock, facing time in Jail.  Feel the tension as the sentence is passed. Now it is time to make your way down to the prisons…….

Old Prison

Walk the narrow corridors, see the cramped, overcrowded cells and be shocked at the young children in a cell next to the lunatic. Meet and talk to the warder, matron and prisoners and hear their stories.

New Prison

Compare the old prison with the new, built in 1848, a model prison in its day. Try out the hammocks and the wooden beds, get strapped onto the Whipping Table or take a turn on the Crank Wheel. Discover the gripping stories of many of the prisoners held here – from being transported to Australia for trivial crimes to being sentenced to serve time for stealing a turnip! Visit our modern day cell is present day prison life too easy? Uncover amazing facts in every cell.

Airing Yards and Prison Grounds

Explore the prison grounds, meet the highland cow used to provide the milk, get locked up in the Airing Yards used for the prisoners exercise, visit the Jail kitchen and search over 4,000 prisoner records.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Islay Woollen Mill

Producing exquisite woven fabrics, Islay Woollen Mill uses traditional techniques to create their luxury products which have even been used in Hollywood films. Owned and run by Gordon and Sheila Covell, the family-run business is the island’s only mill, using two looms dating from Victorian times. A team of seven, which includes their son Marcus, currently help to produce the rugs, scarves, caps, tweed jackets, handbags, throws, baby blankets, kilts and raw fabrics.

The Mill uses unique and historical machinery and creates the designs before weaving them onto its own looms. The designs have even been featured in blockbusters including Braveheart, Forrest Gump, Rob Roy and Far and Away.

Whether customers are looking for a beautiful Scottish gift or something for themselves, the products have wide appeal. Located near the main Port Askaig at Bridgend, visitors can pop into the shop to browse the range of products, feel the quality and see how the luxury tartan items are produced. Many of the items can be made to measure.

The Mill shop is open from Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm and 10am-5pm on Saturday. They are located at Bridgend, Isle of Islay, PA44 7PG and can be reached on 01496 810563.

To find out more and visit the online shop, head to www.islaywoollenmill.co.uk

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

SGE Argyll Hotel

The SGE Argyll Hotel is a true hidden Gem in the tranquil seaside town of Dunoon. Being only an hour away from Glasgow on the Clyde Coast, Dunoon is easily accessible via boat or round by road. 

HeraldScotland:

Recently awarded the Taste Our Best Visit Scotland award, and with two in house restaurants, you’re sure to find something to suit both adults and the children alike. Catch up with friends or family on the balcony and sample an extensive cocktail menu. 

The 3* hotel boasts stunning panoramic sea views from the Clyde lounge and dining room where you can enjoy a scrumptious bar meal with some traditional Scottish classics on the menu or you can dine in the Rio Ristorante and enjoy the authentic Italian dishes.

HeraldScotland:

Available for private function hire including weddings and themed entertainment weekends – such as Murder Mystery and Tribute nights.

So, why not make a night (or two) of it and stay in one of their 33 beautiful, individually styled bedrooms all equipped to a high standard. Escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and take that long awaited break that you deserve. Relax, enjoy and unwind…

www.sgehotelgroup.com/argyll

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Islay Ales

Since brewing their first pints on 22 March 2004, Islay Ales have gone from four regular ales, with two seasonal ales, to the point now where they are producing ten regular beers with an occasional seasonal one for Christmas and two or three “Specials” for Fèis Ile, the annual Festival of Music and Malt.

At Islay Ales they produce a range of both cask and bottles conditioned beers. The bottled beers are real ale in a bottle. The beer is neither filtered nor pasteurised prior to being bottled and therefore continues to ferment and mature in the bottle. This process produces sediment in the bottom of the bottle.

HeraldScotland:

They have recently started to make use of the fact that many individuals have bottled their own whisky on Islay and are looking for something special to do with the empty cask. They fill these casks with part of a brew and then allow the influences of the whisky and the wood to act on the beer by maturing it for at least six weeks up to almost three months, depending on the requirements of the customer.

This year Islay Ales were delighted to have been asked by WW100 Islay to produce an ale to commemorate the ending of the First World War and to remember those lives lost in the tragic sinking of two troops ships off Islay

Visitors are more than welcome to visit the Brewery, they are happy to show how the beers are brewed in the 4-barrel plant, which produces 1150 pints (640 litres) at a time. Depending on what day you come to the brewery you could see the brewing in action or it might be the casking, bottling or labelling, all of which takes place on site.

Before or after a tour of the brewery you can sample some of the available ales, sometimes Islay Ales might even have some on draught for you to try. You can also purchase bottles of the beers as well as Thistly Cross Cider. If you are looking for presents or something to remember them by, the Brewery shop has a range of clothing, glasses and other items.

HeraldScotland:

The Brewery and shop is open from 10.30 to 5.00 Monday to Saturday during the summer but only to 4.00 in the winter. They generally do not open on Sundays unless a special request has been made.

A large number of establishments on Islay take the ales, either in bottle form or on draught so when you come to visit the island you are sure to be able to find Islay Ales near to where you are staying.

www.islayales.co.uk

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Brander Lodge

Nestled within a scenic and tranquil location, The Brander Lodge offers comfortable and stylish facilities for those looking to relax and explore.

Fully renovated and extended in 2016, the contemporary hotel and bistro extends a warm welcome to all.

A family friendly hotel, they provide the perfect spot to rest and refuel before enjoying the sights and attractions close by. Something for everyone is on offer, from hiking, biking, enjoying a cruise or spotting some wildlife.

When you return after a day of exploring, tuck into food and drinks in the south-facing bistro, which is open to residents, visitors and locals.

For more information about the facilities or to enquire about making a reservation, visit www.branderlodge.com