Making your way to Loch Melfort can be as much of an experience as your stay here. The road to Arduaine from the North or the South is a truly stunning one, with miles of beautiful lochs and hills, gentle valleys, plenty of historical sites to visit and tantalising glimpses of the sea and the isles beyond.So hop aboard and join us on on a road trip along the Argyll Coastal Route to Arduaine.
We are starting this trip at the northern end of the coastal road. The North-South Argyll Coastal Road starts more or less past Fort William along Loch Linnhe. The views along this sea loch are exceptional, framed by the tall and proud mountains of the Great Glen Fault Line (fantastic walking territory around there!). At the southern tip of Loch Linnhe lies the Isle of Lismore, nicknamed the “fertile island”, and fertile it is with vast expanses of green land and cultivated fields. A ferry can take you over the island for a day trip as well as offer you fantastic views of the Sound of Mull.
As Loch Linnhe joins Loch Laich to the South, you are in for a treat with your first glimpse of Castle Stalker. Alone on an island in the loch, surrounded by mud flats, this lone castle sits. Castle Stalker (from the gaelic for falconer or hunter) was first built in 1320 by the Clan MacDougall then rebuilt in the 15th century by the Stewarts of Lorn family. It remained there until lost in a drunken bet to the Campbells (don’t ever bet your castle whilst drinking would be the moral of this story!). Today, it can be visited by prior appointment and boardwalks allow you to reach the castle on foot at low tide.
If you haven’t booked ahead, you can stop off at the Castle Stalker View Cafe & Gift Shop which has a prime view of the castle and the loch as well as offering some very yummy baked goods, coffee, tea and a lovely gift shop. On a clear day, it is a joy to sit there and admire the view whilst you ponder as to the currents that have created the incredible mud flat swirls along the loch coast and around the castle.
The coastal road carries on down past Port Appin towards Oban. You won’t be short of things to do along the way. If you fancy exploring in the woods, Glasdrum Wood, a National Nature Reserve, is the perfect place to go for a wander in between the ash and oak trees, marvelling at the great wood and the flowers which attract many butterflies. Otters are also known to hang about near Loch Crechan. Walking around the reserve is a peaceful and calming experience, so breathe deeply and just enjoy the moment.
For another kind of forest adventure, Sutherland Grove, managed by the Forestry Commission, is only a few miles away, with plenty of lovely forest trails and enchanting walks by waterfalls, bridges and rivers. You can enjoy great views of the Firth of Lorne and nearby islands by exploring further to Glen Dubh reservoir which is accessible both on foot and by bike.
Back in the car and further up along Loch Creran, you will come across the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary where young and old can come into contact with seals, otters and generally have a great little adventure by the side of the loch.
All this activity can be rounded off by a trip to the Argyll Pottery shop, a few miles away, with its fantastic range of hand-turned crockery and decorative items. With simple and elegant items to browse, it is a pleasure to spend time in this shop and chat to the potter who will happily share his passion with visitors. We dare you to resist buying anything. There is also a cafe next door (great name of Twisted Wheel cafe!).
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the road trip next week, as we get to the Connal Bridge and make our way down to Oban.