For most visitors to Kintyre their first view is of the small fishing village of Tarbert at the head of the peninsula. Whether arriving by road or by ferry the approaches are quite spectacular with the snug harbour full of the bustle of yachts and fishing boats and brightly painted houses, all dominated by the ruins of Robert the Bruce’s castle high on the hill above the village.
Tarbert is a yachtsman’s paradise with a safe harbour and good food and drink in welcoming Hotels and Restaurants; little wonder that it is such a popular stopping off point for boats heading out to the west coast through the Crinan canal, as well as being host to the Scottish Series, the second largest regatta in the U K. The village also hosts a very successful seafood festival and music festival.
Tarbert hosts several ‘Taste of Scotland’ recommended eating places. (probably more so than in any other small area in Scotland), A Contemporary Arts Centre (An Tairbaert),and outstanding fresh fish, shellfish and venison. Much of the locally caught shellfish is destined for markets in Spain and France.
Stroll round the harbour, past the fish quay and continue on to the slipway for the Tarbert – Portavadie ferry and beyond, to the ‘White Shore’, a beach composed entirely of scallop shells.
Leaving Tarbert on the A83 and heading south takes you on to the beginning of the Kintyre Trail. The heavily wooded road follows the shore of West Loch Tarbert and deer are common on the road here, often appearing suddenly from the trees, so please drive with care. On the right is the terminal for the service to Islay together with a once a week service to Colonsay and on to Oban during the Summer.
Just beyond Kennacraig is the junction with B8001 which marks your decision point, either to turn left on to the B8001 heading for the Carradale coast road (east side of the peninsula) or to continue with the A83 down the Atlantic Seaboard. Either way, you are in for a treat.
Tarbert is approximately 40 minutes by car to Campbeltown, 25 minutes by car to Skipness and 60 minutes by car to Carradale. It is ideally located for regional ferries with the Mull ferry an hour by car in Oban, the Islay ferry just 5 minutes by car south of the village and Portavadie 20 minutes by ferry which departs from the harbourside every hour.
The small linear village of Skipness is most notable for the 13th Century Castle ruin and the stunning views to Arran. The ferry terminal to Arran is just two miles south of the village of Skipness which features a quaint little village store.