Revered for its stunning scenery, idyllic islands and inspiring landscapes, there are no shortages of reasons to visit Argyll and Bute.

Aside from the area's natural beauty, there are some fantastic businesses and visitor-friendly spots that are not to be missed. From a festival to tourist sites, craft brewers to gallerys, here we bring some hidden gems in Argyll and Bute that are well worth a visit. 

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ButeFest

ButeFest is a boutique family orientated festival on the sandy shores of Ettrick Bay on the Isle of Bute and this year runs from 26th-28th July. Only 90 mins from Glasgow and with two different ferry routes to get to the island it couldn’t be closer to get to this cracking festival.

Now in its fifth year, the festival has gone from strength to strength with some amazing musical acts and a whole host of family events running all throughout the weekend. In fact the family fringe events are the key to the entire weekend, from arts and crafts to yoga and theatre productions there really is something for all ages. The music lined up for the three day festival ranges from Scottish up and coming bands to some cracking headline acts which this year include Big Country, Space, Louis Berry and X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan. 

The festival provides a bus service from the main ferry port to the festival and back and there are a whole host of food and drink options when you get there to keep you merry all weekend long. 

Accommodation-wise you can camp at the festival site, which is highly recommended to immerse yourself in all the goings on but the island also has lots of hotel, B&B and holiday rentals for you choose from.

This year's two new additions are the aptly named ‘isle of Bute Gin’ VIP area, which gives those who want a bit more luxury the perfect place to relax and meet friends and hopefully some of the headline bands as they take advantage of the secluded area with its own bar and toilets.

HeraldScotland:

The second addition this year is the all new ButeFest app which was sponsored by Clydesdale Bank and provides all the details you need to know about the festival, including who’s on, how to buy tickets and travel arrangement ideas. 

The festival's main sponsors this year are the Isle of Bute Gin company, Mount Stuart (the charitable organisation and historic house) and Calmac ferries, with a number of local businesses also taking part in the sponsorship to ensure that this great local festival is able to provide as much entertainment over the weekend as possible.

In addition to the music and family fringe there are also lots of food and drink providers and stalls, not only ones selling products but also ones for charities and local groups as well as first aid and welfare both in the festival site and in the camping area (which is only a few mins walk from the main Arena). 

HeraldScotland:

Where else in Scotland could you eat breakfast on the beach, get a balloon animal, watch some cracking local bands play, eat wonderful local produce and spend time with your friends and family?

Tickets can be purchased from skiddle directly or though the ButeFest website or App and start from £100 for a weekend ticket or £50 for a day ticket for adults. 

Visit the website for more information. 

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Fyne Ales

Down a narrow lane at the head of Scotland’s longest sea loch, nestled between a lazily flowing river and a range of dramatic peat-rich hills, sits a small cluster of farm buildings which house the Fyne Ales brewery. The estate, owned by the founders’ family dating back six generations, may be a little isolated and a little rustic, but it’s here you’ll find the friendly faces of our team, the freshest Fyne Ales beers and the chance to see for yourself how they’re made.

HeraldScotland:

Each year, Fyne Ales brews over seventy different beers – some are modern classics brewed every single week; some are small-batch one-offs based on a spark of inspiration that are only available for a couple of weeks, and some might take years between brewing and appearing on shelves, having been tucked away to mature and develop.

Whatever the beer, and in whatever format you choose to enjoy it, be assured that if it’s carrying the Fyne Ales logo, the beer you’ve chosen has been brewed to the highest possible standards of quality and flavour.

HeraldScotland:

Fyne Ales operates two breweries on the Achadunan Estate at the head of Loch Fyne – both housed in a converted farm buildings originally erected by our founder’s ancestors.

The taproom is open 7 days a week 10am-6pm
Visitors are welcome to the brewery estate seven days a week and the team hope to see you in the glen soon.

Find out more on the website or Facebook page. 


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Ardminish Stores and Yurt Experience

Located on the charming Isle of Gigha, the Ardminish Stores and Yurt Experience is a family venture offering unique accommodation and a well-stocked store.  

The traditional handmade yurt is set within a private garden and kitted out with comfortable beds and a cosy wood burning stove. Surrounded by owner Joe and his family’s chickens, herbs and vegetables, blue sea and white sandy beaches, the yurt offers the perfect escape from busy lives. The yurt can accommodate four people or five including infants.

As the only accommodation of its type on the island, the yurt offers a unique experience for visitors who want to get away from it all in a comfortable setting.

Home to unique goods, the general store sells all manner of food and drinks. From tableware and craft spirits, to fruit and veg and ice-creams, they stock a wide array of products. They are also the only stockists of Marley coffee in Scotland - the brainchild of Bob Marley’s son, Rohan Marley - which can be bought to-go or enjoyed in the recently added seating area in the store. With an adjoining fuel station, Ardminish Stores is a one-stop shop for locals and visitor’s needs.

Home to 160 people the seven-mile-long, one-mile wide Isle of Gigha is the southernmost inhabited Hebridean island. Located off the west coast of Kintyre, the island has its own microclimate, often enjoying milder weather with higher than average sunshine hours compared to the mainland.

To find out more and book your stay in the yurt, call 01583 505251 or visit the AirBnB page.

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Colquhoun's Restaurant

Set on the banks of the expansive Loch Lomond, Colquhoun’s Waterfront Restaurant is embracing an exciting new phase.

Colquhoun's Restaurant is located within The Lodge on Loch Lomond Hotel and enjoys wonderful panoramic views of Luss beach and Loch Lomond.

Food & Beverage Director Johnny Aitken’s wealth of hospitality experience has aided in the restaurant’s efforts to adopt a menu that caters towards tradition whilst giving the classics just enough back spin to turn heads as they come out of the kitchen.

HeraldScotland:

Frameless glass windows have been installed which improves on those unrivalled views. The windows slide and open fully, providing that outside dining feel. Fabulous new automatic blinds act as a sunshade and fly screen and stunning new furnishings complete the look. You will now find a modern, spacious and welcoming dining space.

The menus boast a delicious variety to suit any tastes and diet. All meals are prepared to a high-quality using some of the finest local ingredients. The restaurant has been recognised with two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence by The AA Hotel & Hospitality Services.

They have also been accredited the VisitScotland’s Taste Our Best, which recognises businesses that provide and promote quality Scottish food and drink.

HeraldScotland:

For a taste of Scotland and for picture postcard views over the stunning Loch and Ben Lomond, the Colquhoun’s Waterfront Restaurant is the place to experience it all.

Roasted duck breast, delicious dry aged Scottish sirloin steak, succulent supreme of Ayrshire chicken, gourmet salad starters and mouth-watering desserts are on offer.

Open seven days a week, visitors can enjoy dinner from 6pm to 9.30pm Monday to Sunday. To book a table visit the website www.loch-lomond.co.uk/dining or call 01436 647189.

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All Saints Inverary: The Church and Bell-Tower

The Bell-Tower dominates the skyline of Inveraray from the first view around the shores of Loch Shira, the indent on upper Loch Fyne, on which Inveraray lies. It provides a superb vertical foil to the horizontal expanse of the beautiful little town, or Royal Burgh of Inveraray. From the top of the tower, the views can be magnificent, sweeping from the Arrochar Alps, Beinn Ime and the Cobbler above the head of the loch, down to the Firth of Clyde and the western hills of Kintyre. From above, the shape of the geological pressures that created Scotland are laid out impressively. At the foot of the Tower, lies the 18th century planned Royal Burgh.
Climb the Tower (count the steps!), look around, and down. On the way up, visit the bells themselves, fitted like a jig-saw into the space, and see the video display of the bells ringing - an almost frightening sight! On the ground floor is an exhibition of Argyll in the First World War.

HeraldScotland:

The Tower has a poignant history. It was conceived and built by the 10th Duke of Argyll, Duke Niall Diarmid, as a memorial to the dead of the First World War, in particular to the Campbells and the “men of my lands”.  

It was an act of personal piety. Ten bells were commissioned from John Taylor and Company of Loughborough. The ten were cast as a single perfectly matched suite. The Scottish Association of Change-Ringers keeps them perfectly timed, and as the second heaviest set of 10 bells in the UK, they are known and visited by campanologists from around the world, particularly at the bell-ringing festival (26th-27th July 2019). Bells traditionally have names, and these bells are named for the ancient Celtic saints who inhabited the boundaries of the Duke’s possessions: Moluag, Columba, Mund, Brendan, Maelrubha, Blaan, Murdouch, Brigid, Molaise, and Our Lady Stella Maris (Star of the Sea).

The Bells were cast in 1920. First they had to reach Inveraray. The first lorry carrying them broke down in Lancashire. Then the second lorry proved unable to climb the Rest and Be Thankful - like so many other visitors before and after. Two bells and the frame had to be dumped and rescued the next day.

Then the Tower had to be built. The Duke taxed all his friends and visitors for money. The facing stone came from the quarry in Furnace; during winters, the Duke himself collected rubble in his wheel-barrow for the interior of the fabric. The tower was begun in 1921, and finished 10 years later in 1931, and the bells hung. The cost was just over £21,000, approximately £1 million in today’s money. The bells could be heard in St Catherine’s, across the loch.

HeraldScotland:

Before long, the tower was struck by lightning, and with the Second World War, ringing ceased. The Tower became almost ruinous. After the war, Lady Glenkinglas founded the Friends of Inveraray Bell-Tower, and gradually restored the Tower to safety, from where the bells ring proudly today during the summer months for visiting bands.

The House of Argyll traditionally belonged to the Presbyterian party, with its strong links to the Hanoverian monarchy. In the 1880s the then Duke married an Anglican Duchess, and built the church of All Saints for the Scottish Episcopal Church. Duke Niall Diarmid’s spiritual life was centred here, and the holy stillness of the church reflects that tradition. In his spiritual testament, he asked for prayers each All Souls’ Day for “all who died in the War”. A local resident who remembers him avers: ‘For Duke Niall, that would have included the Germans’. A poignant place indeed!

Visit the website to find out more. 

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The Royal an Lochan

Located in Tighnabruaich in Argyll, The Royal an Lochan Hotel boasts stunning views of Kyles of Bute. Less than two hours from Glasgow, the hotel is equipped with 11 individually furnished bedrooms, a restaurant and bar. 

The hotel and restaurant have been owned by Greg and Gill Robson since May 2018. After packing up their lives in Australia, the couple left their jobs, family and friends to live their dream of owning a hotel in Scotland. Greg, Gill, their family and team of staff are dedicated to delivering a first-class service for customers with some of the best seasonal, local produce in Scotland.

With beautiful scenery, Tighnabruaich and wider Argyll is home to a great selection of walking trails, cycle routes, sailing and rock fishing. Visitors to the area can enjoy the peaceful surroundings and then relax in one of the hotel’s tastefully decorated rooms. With double en-suites and twin en-suite rooms to choose from, all including breakfast, the hotel gears to all types of visitors.

Guests can also dine in the Royal an Lochan’s restaurant, known for its outstanding fresh seafood, traditional cuisine and speciality dishes. Their seafood menu is a firm favourite with diners thanks to the team’s insistence on using the best of Scottish seafood. Plump Loch Fyne king scallops, big juicy langoustines from Tarbert, mussels and a variety of fish feature regularly on the menu as the restaurant takes pride using local produce. The Royal an Loch even features on Scotland’s Seafood Trail, which promotes some of the best seafood in the country.

The Royal an Lochan only use the best fish and shellfish and due to their regular pickups of the local Tarbert-landed catch, meaning all their seafood is guaranteed to be as fresh as possible when it hits your plate.

If you fancy an alternative to seafood, they also have a mouth-watering selection of chicken, duck, pork and beef dishes cooked to a very high standard using fresh, local produce wherever possible. This will be accompanied by fresh and seasonal vegetables and they also grow their own herbs in the herb garden.

To find out more and book your next stay, visit the website, email info@theroyalanlochan.co.uk or call 01700 811239.

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Resipole Studios and Fine Art Gallery


Visit one of Scotland’s leading contemporary art venues, located in one of the most remote and breathtaking parts of the UK – the Ardnamurchan peninsula. This award-winning fine art gallery, located just thirty miles from Fort William, boasts four unique exhibition spaces and is host to a regularly changing programme of exhibitions and events.

Take the scenic road from the Corran ferry, past the village of Strontian, to the foothills of Beinn Resipol, on the edge of Loch Sunart, where you will find this converted 19th century barn and now gallery.
Since its launch in 2004, Resipole Studios has gained merit both for its roster of award-winning artists and high-calibre contemporary Scottish art, as well as its wild and beautiful setting. With paintings, ceramics, sculpture, woodturning and jewellery on display, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

During the summer months, the gallery will be showcasing new work by Jonathan Shearer, Helen Fryer, Jackie Henderson, Charles Simpson, George Birrell, Sam MacDonald and Rob Fairley, to name but a few, as well as hosting a ceramics show by five of the UK’s leading women ceramicists, later in the year.
The venue’s secluded lochside location, along with its sympathetic restoration and transformation into a gallery space by owner and artist, Andrew Sinclair, has been significant to it becoming a much sought out destination. The surrounding beauty gives Resipole Studios its U.S.P. but its impressive programme of exhibitions, along with its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, is what defines it as one of the leading contemporary galleries that Scotland has to offer!

To find out more visit the website or follow them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

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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 Royand 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

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Kilbride Kirkyard and Historic Lerags Glen

‘A past too rich to have no future’ – that’s the clarion call for the Friends of Kilbride Kirkyard – a beautiful, atmospheric and historically important ruined graveyard tucked away in lovely Lerags Glen – just 3 miles south of Oban town centre.

HeraldScotland:

A visit here is recommended. Start your tour at the Barn Bar (an award winning wee pub/restaurant) at Cologin Country Chalets and Lodges (you could book a couple of nights in the self-catering properties if you want to fully explore the Oban area). Park up (you can even plug in your EV to charge whilst you visit) and walk down through the neighbouring farm field. It’s a pleasant stroll and not very far (if you must you can park at Kilbride Kirkyard instead) and explore the ancient burial ground which has played an important part in Scotland’s history and is connected to figures such as Robert Bruce, Alexander II and Oban’s Clan MacDougall. In 1249 Alexander II “granted the see of Argyll the Parish Church of St Bride the Virgin in Lorn” so this wee place really does have a ‘rich past’.

Find out more about the MacDougall Clan and visit nearby  Dunollie Castle and 1745 House in Oban. You could do this as part of an Oban Walking Tour or just head there yourself as the castle is easy to find sited at the entrance to Oban Bay. The clan has other hidden gems to explore including the isolated and atmospheric ruins of Gylen Castle on the Isle of Kerrera. This beautiful and dramatic castle (a Macdougall stronghold) was built in 1587 and sits high above the waves and rocks. It’s an easy ferry ride from Oban and worth the walk in for the views down the Firth of Lorne.

Back on the mainland, there’s another MacDougall castle to explore – Dunstaffnage – a mighty Clan stronghold built before 1240 on a huge rock above the Firth of Lorn. Captured by Robert the Bruce in 1308, the castle remained in royal hands until 1469 and is linked to Flora Macdonald and Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Plan your trip and find out what else you can see an do in and around Oban with the local tourism alliance: www.oban.org.uk

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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.

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Loch Fyne Gallery

Loch Fyne Gallery is an independent gift and art gallery which overlooks the working harbour in the beautiful coastal village of Tarbert, Loch Fyne. Step inside the distinctive turquoise façade of this beautiful Victorian building into the bright and spacious interior to find a huge selection of gifts, art prints, toiletries, books, jewellery, greetings cards and stationery.

The Gallery team focus on selecting beautiful, interesting, and sometimes quirky items at great prices to suit all occasions. New stock arrives regularly as the team are always looking out for something different to delight customers, and would always recommend making your purchases when you spot that perfect item to avoid disappointment. They believe in the personal touch, and whilst you can browse at your leisure, the knowledgeable staff are happy to assist you with selecting the perfect gift and will make your purchase even more special by gift wrapping free of charge.

The Gallery focuses on products that reflect the surrounding seascape, islands, and hills that characterise Kintyre, Argyll & the Highlands, from the scents of island toiletries, through West Coast artwork, to high quality leather goods featuring local tweed.

The gift & homeware ranges cover all ages & occasions - don’t forget a card to personalise your selection from a huge range of quality greetings cards.

If you want to take home a reminder of your trip to the West Coast you might consider the extensive range of scented candles & room diffusers or toiletries. Perhaps a framed print of Tarbert or the views across to Islay or Jura? If you’re travelling light, you can also purchase prints unframed for easy transport.

The stunning scenery which surrounds Tarbert might even inspire you to try your hand at your own masterpiece. The Gallery stocks a range of art materials and stationery to get you started whether you want to try watercolours, oils or acrylics.

If you’re on holiday & have time to relax with a good book, you can choose from a selection of contemporary titles focussing on the West Coast, local history, or fiction set in Scotland. There is also a great range of paperback fiction and non-fiction titles covering anything from cookery, craft, military history and humour, all at discounted prices.

The jewellery range is extensive and includes great value fashion pieces through to sterling silver by well-known brands including Sheila Fleet, Chris Lewis and Hamilton & Young.

Be sure to visit Loch Fyne Gallery if you’re in the Tarbert area, it’s open seven days from 10am to 5pm (11am – 4pm Sunday) all year round, and free parking can be found easily on Harbour Street.

To find out more visit the website, Facebook page or email info@lochfynegallery.com.