Wild About Argyll Trail 2 – Tarbert to Oban

Section 2 – Tarbert to Oban

  • Total ascent: 4,549 m (14,925 feet)
  • Length: 222 km (138 miles)
  • Max elevation: 450 m (1,476 feet)
  • Min elevation: 0 m (0 feet)

From the ferry terminal the Wild About Argyll Trail takes you through the busy and picturesque fishing port of Tarbert onto the Kintyre Way and across to the historic village of Skipness. Tarbert offers a great choice of places to stay and eat. Passing Tarbert Castle the first climb is very steep, but you will be rewarded with a nice forest road and a great downhill to the coast. After great views on the quiet road along the coast south from Skipness, the route joins the Caledonia Way in Claonaig. This section on the single track road at the eastern side of the Kintyre Peninsula makes up for the steep climbs with great views across to Arran, and soon after the Caledonia Way heads inland after Grogport, the Wild About Argyll Trail leaves the tarmac and climbs on a very good gravel track towards the Deucheran Hill wind farm.

In Killean the route joins the A83 towards Tayinloan, which offers places to eat and stay, and provides the opportunity to hop on a ferry to the Isle of Gigha. The section on the A83 can be busy, but a short detour on a quiet side road at Clachan is perfect to soak in the views over to Islay and Jura. The route continues on the A83 to Kennacraig, which is the main terminal for ferries to the Isle of Islay and onwards to Jura and Colonsay. Here the route joins the Caledonia Way again to head on the A83 back to Tarbert, a good place to stock up on food or to stay.

The section north of Tarbert on the A83 travels along the beautiful coast, before leaving the road at Stronchullin Burn to climb on a gravel road towards Allt Dearg wind farm and the highest point of the route at 450m above sea level. The views towards the Firth of Clyde in the east and Loch Caolisport in the west are breath-taking and worth the long climb, and after a fast descent the Caledonia Way is again joined briefly to Achahoish. The cycle on a very quiet road past St. Columba’s Cave to Ellary House offers more great views, running right on the shore of the loch. From here the private Ellary Road climbs steeply to the top and becomes a track, which joins the East Loch Sween Road near Kilmory. A wild and remote spot with white sands and great views across to the Paps of Jura, this is one of Argyll’s special beaches. Nearby the 13th century Kilmory Knap Chapel with its medieval sculptures is worth exploring.

The route continues along the shores of Loch Sween past Castle Sween to Achnamara. Shortly afterwards the route leaves the road to follow the Lochan Buic Cycle Trail to the Crinan Canal. This is where the Scottish Beaver Trial took place, leading to the landmark decision in 2016 to formally reintroduce them. The visitor centre on the Achnamara Road is a worthwhile detour. The Wild About Argyll Trail crosses the B841 and the picturesque Crinan Canal at lock 9, to continue along the Caledonia Way westbound to Bellanoch. A detour along the towpath to Crinan is recommended. The Wild About Argyll Trail continues on the Caledonia Way north to Kilmartin, passing Dunadd Fort, where the ancient kings of Scotland were crowned. Kilmartin Glen is one of the world’s most significant archaeological landscapes, with unique archaeological remains along the route. Shortly after Carnaserrie Castle the route joins the A816 until Loch Craignish, where the quieter B8002 takes you to Ardfern and over a gravel road across the hill to Croabh Haven. After a section on a track along the shores of Loch Shuna the route re-joins the A816 north to Kilmelford, and continues on a windy single track road to the start of the Bealach na Gaoithe, the ‘pass of the winds’. This a great remote section from the Degnish Peninsula to Ardmaddy Bay, passing the Wishing Tree in a wooden enclosure along the way. From Ardmaddy a short detour takes you the to the Clachan Bridge, a simple, single-arched, hump-backed, masonry bridge spanning the Clachan Sound. Because the Clachan Sound connects at both ends to the Atlantic Ocean, and the bridge crosses to the Isle of Seil, the bridge came to be known as the Bridge over the Atlantic.

Near Kilninver the route re-joins the A816 to Kilmore, where a quieter road takes you past the tranquil Loch Neil and over open moorland to the Glencruitten Road, where the Wild About Argyll Trail joins the Caledonia Way once again to the ferry terminal in Oban. Surrounded by miles of dramatic coast and beautiful countryside, the seaside town is also known as the Gateway to the Isles, as a number of ferries depart from its main port and travel to the islands of the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Oban is well connected to Glasgow by train, and provides an alternative start and finish point for the Wild About Argyll Trail. The town has good shops and several places to stay and eat, including many seafood cafes and restaurants serving up the local catch. For whisky lovers Oban Distillery is both, one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland and one of the smallest with just two pot stills. The Oban Bay Brewery, named aptly for its location, is tucked away in a purpose built area at the rear of the Cuan Mor Restaurant Bar, which overlooks the dramatic Oban Bay.

Further information:

Kintyre Way

Kintyre

Caledonia Way

Islay & Jura

Loch Sween & Knapdale

Scottish Beaver Centre

Kilmartin Glen

Oban & Lorn

Oban Bay Brewery

Oban Distillery