Places to visit
The cottage on Loch Fyne is surrounded by ancient castles, impressive ruins and fascinating pieces of history. Closest to the cottage (11miles) is the town and castle of Inveraray. The castle was built as the ancestral seat for the Dukes of Argyll, and is still occupied today by Torquhil Ian Campbell, 13th Duke of Argyll. The town of Inveraray was moved to its present location by order of the 3rd Duke and between 1753 and 1777 the new town was built as the capital of Argyll, to support the castle.
The modern Inveraray Castle seems a cross between Dracula’s castle and a French chateau. Built after the last great Scottish rebellion in 1745 the castle was designed more for show than practical defence. It was completed in 1789 and features extravagant decoration, vast ceilings and a full panoply of 18th Century weapons. It was designed to impress, and is certainly well worth a visit.
If time is at a premium I would recommend spending half a day at the castle, with the other half in the town where there are a number of additional Inveraray attractions.
Bute & Mount Stuart
If you were impressed by Inveraray Castle then another must-see is on the Island of Bute where Mount Stuart, the Marquess of Bute’s family seat, is almost over the top!
Having made a fortune from Welsh coal and Cardiff docks, the 3rd Marquess of Bute spent lavishly but in 1877 his house was destroyed by fire. A new house arose from the ashes of the old – “a Gothic palace which fused powerful architecture with intricate details and lavish designs”. Yet the house was never finished, much only being completed in an ambitious restoration programme begun by the late 6th Marquess in the 1980s, a programme which continues to this day.
The trip to Mount Stuart will effectively take all day: driving to Colintraive, crossing by car ferry, and then driving on and around the Isle of Bute. Again, one could spend half a day in the house, and half a day exploring Bute.
If you have a hankering to visit the isles then a number of whole day options are also within reach. Oban is about 1½ hrs away and the 0950 ferry from Oban will get you to Mull by 1036. Alternatively, for the connoisseurs of fine Scotch, one could drive down the Mull of Kintyre, catch the 0945 ferry from Kennacraig (1½ hrs by car) to Port Ellen, Islay which is right next door to Laphroaig and Lagavulin! For detailed planning see ferry timetables , or call 08000 665000.
For those who like the bright lights of the city, Glasgow city centre is approximately 1½ hrs away, and the M8 takes you right to the heart of the town. Apart from the shops (try Buchanan Galleries), the Clyde (try a walk along the banks), the architecture, the nightlife and restaurants, also consider visiting some of the National Trust properties there and locally.
For example, “Hill House” is considered to be Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. Sitting high above the Clyde, it is home to original Mackintosh furniture and interior design and also has attractive formal gardens designed recognisably in the Mackintosh style”
On the way to Glasgow is the famous “Loch Lomond Shores”, complete with aquarium, boat trips, restaurants and, of course, excellent shops. (Turn East at the “Flying Birds” roundabout, towards Alexandria, then follow the signs into the car parks.)
Of course, Edinburgh is also within easy reach (2hr), and one could easily spend several days in this beautiful city.
Visit Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood House, the new parliament and, of course, the shops!
For those of a botanical bent, there are several fascinating gardens within easy reach. Of these, Crarae Gardens is just beyond Inveraray, and Benmore Gardens, on the way to Dunoon are particularly recommended. An excellent view of the Benmore gardens can be found at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s website
There are so many places to visit that you will never be short of fascinating places to go; indeed, from comments in our Visitors’ Book it is clear that I have only given the merest taste of what’s available. Suffice it to say there is more than enough for everyone in and around the local area.