If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that we aim to bring you inspiring holiday ideas and highlight lesser-known sights and attractions. To give you tips on some of Argyll’s hidden gems, we spoke to one of the highly commended winners of our Real Scotland Photography Competition – adventurer, blogger and photographer Will Copestake. Will has explored the nooks and crannies of the Argyll coast having completed a solo sea kayak around Scotland and so we asked him to share his favourite hidden gems. Take a look below for his tips and some truly beautiful photographs.
Guest post by Will Copestake
Whenever I am asked about Argyll and Bute I always find myself returning to the seaside. Journeying into the region by sea it is the doorway to the real west coast. There is a rugged beauty through wind scoured bays unmatched elsewhere in Scotland. My first hidden gem at Garroch Head also happened to be my first camp in the district as I journeyed by kayak around Scotland.
I must admit, after two hours fighting strong wind and tall fetch I was very relieved to find a sheltered bay at Dunagoil Fort. The small sandy inlet made fantastic camping not to mention the interesting fort above the shore. Known for the nearby monastery and St Blane’s Church, it is easy to miss out one of the most beautiful vantage points in South Bute. Less than 1km from the nearest road St. Blane’s Hill stands 123m above sea level. From its summit, views south to Ayr are as beautiful as those across to Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.
This brings me to my next favourite place in Argyll – Machrihanish Bay. On the west coast of the Mull of Kintyre the shoreline is exposed to the full fury of the Scottish elements. Machrihanish is the result of years of blasting by waves and wind, it is a long beautiful sandy bay and a perfect place to camp. On the horizon the Paps of Jura dominate the horizon behind rolling swell. If you are feeling adventurous it is a great place to try your hand at surfing.
I could not talk about Argyll and Bute and not mention an outer Island. When I was at University I and a few friends would pick at random a ticket in the Oban ferry terminal, this leading to an adventure on the Island Tiree. We did not know anything about the island and soon found ourselves setting out on the whim of a local to find The Ringing-Stone. Like a grey egg upon a spoon the boulder stands alone on the north of the island (NM 028,468). Featuring cup shaped markings associated with Megalithic Builders the rock rings with a glassy chime when tapped with a pebble.
Travel by car is possible on the island but I would recommend going on foot or by bike. The small community and narrow single tracks are far more pleasant to experience in the open air. The journey to find the stone was a great adventure in itself. Golden beaches, crystal rock pools and the chance to see basking sharks feeding offshore added the the excitement, not to mention tremendous swell breaking on the rocks.
To end our short explore in Argyll and Bute why not have a pint in the Tigh an Truish Inn (house of the trousers) on the Isle of Seil. Standing right beside ‘The Bridge over the Atlantic’ the inn is named after its original purpose. To change from kilts into trousers before reaching the mainland is a hallmark of the historical kilt ban.
All images courtesy of Will Copestake ©. The solo sea kayak is part of Will’s ‘Machair to Munro’ adventure – he is currently on a quest to climb all the Munros and is biking between them. Follow Will’s adventures at www.willcopestakemedia.com. You can also find Will on Twitter @WillCopestake and on Facebook.