Argyll and the Isles is a glorious coastal region of western Scotland. Known for its glittering sea lochs, wild islands, hills and glens, it is perfect for exploring on foot.
While the scenery of Argyll is outstanding, the ancient heritage, abundant wildlife and whisky distilleries are equally appealing. This fascinating itinerary takes you on a journey through the Argyll peninsula and several of its islands, including the whisky island of Islay and the hard-to-reach Isle of Jura.
The daily guided hikes link prehistoric sites, nature reserves and whisky distilleries, all set against the backdrop of green hills and the rolling Atlantic. We finish the trip with two nights on the Isle of Islay – a wild and beautiful island on the very western fringe of Scotland – known for its eight whisky distilleries, prolific birdlife and stunning coastal landscapes.
We meet in Oban late morning, coinciding with the arrival of the train from Glasgow. After introductions, we head straight to our first island – Kerrera. Just south of Oban, we take a small boat across the strait to this small island, which has about 100 residents. We enjoy a superb hike which takes a circular route covering the southern half of the island. On the way, we pass the ruined outpost of Gylen Castle, once a stronghold for the MacDougall clan. The views are wonderful and will whet the appetite for the week ahead! After hopping back across to the mainland, we transfer 30 minutes south to our hotel. Set in a fantastic coastal location, all rooms benefit from sea views. We enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. (L, D)
Walk details: 10km/ 6 miles | 300m/ 980 ft of ascent | approx. 4-5 hours
The tiny island of Gigha is an overlooked gem of the Inner Hebrides. A 20 minute ferry ride takes us onto the island named ‘Gudey’ by the Vikings, which translates to ‘God’s Isle’ or ‘The Good Isle’ – either way, it’s a strong endorsement! We’ll have a flexible approach today, so may hike to the north end of the island and climb Creag Bhan, its highest peak at just 101m but with views better than many a higher mountain. Or we can explore the southern shores, with the famous Achmore Gardens and tranquil rural scenery. Wherever we venture, we’ll experience life on this gorgeous island of white sandy beaches, wonderful seascapes and friendly people. (B, L)
Walk details: Up to 10km/ 6 miles | 100m/ 320 ft of ascent | approx. 4-5 hours
Picturesque Kilmartin Glen is one of the richest sites in Europe for prehistoric remains. Our morning walk takes us on a circular route through some of the most interesting sites, including Celtic crosses, medieval grave slabs, Bronze Age chambered cairns and standing stones. In the afternoon, we visit Dunadd, possibly the birthplace of Scotland. We enjoy a short woodland walk, and perhaps also along the nearby Crinan Canal before returning to our hotel. (B, L)
Walk details: 8km/ 5 miles | 50m/ 160 ft of ascent | approx. 3-4 hours
With a privately chartered boat at our disposal, this day is sure to be a highlight of the trip. We’ll venture, with a flexible approach, to the rarely-visited Isle of Jura to enjoy some wild hiking. We may land in West Loch Tarbert and hike coast to coast, being collected by our boat on the eastern shores. Or we may hike point to point along the east coast, passing George Orwell’s cottage and enjoying fantastic views back to Argyll. Whatever hike we undertake, our boat will detour to the Corryvreckan Whirlpool, so we can appreciate the power of Scotland’s largest tidal whirlpool – from a safe distance! (B, L)
Walk details: 11km/ 7 miles | 350m/ 1150 ft of ascent | approx. 4-5 hours
After an early breakfast, we transfer 1 hour south to Kennacraig, where we catch the 9.45am ferry across to Islay. On arrival, we drive to Loch Gruinart Nature Reserve where we enjoy lunch as we look for birds such as cuckoos, corncrakes and hen harriers. Afterwards, we enjoy a hike which explores the shoreline of Loch Gruinart and Killinallan Point, visiting beautiful beaches and offering views north to the islands of Colonsay and Mull. (B, L)
Walk details: 10km/ 6 miles | 50m/ 160 ft of ascent | approx. 4-5 hours
Our walk today explores the Oa Peninsula in the far south of Islay. We hike up to the American Monument, which commemorates the loss of two troops ships in 1918. We then follow a dramatic cliff-top trail past an Iron Age fort to reach the summit of Beinn Mhor. Although just 200m high, this is a superb viewpoint – on a clear day, the coast of Northern Ireland can be seen! After the hike we recover by visiting one of Islay’s whisky distilleries before returning to the hotel, perhaps making a short detour on the way to enjoy a late afternoon stroll at Machir Bay before our farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
Walk details: 9km/ 6 miles | 250m/ 820 ft of ascent | approx. 4-5 hours
After breakfast, we take the morning ferry back onto the Argyll mainland, keeping a lookout for wildlife and admiring the views as we sail. Once back in Kennacraig, it’s a 90-minute transfer back to Oban. We should arrive by 2pm. Trains south to Glasgow depart at approx 2.30pm. (B, L)
We spend our nights in welcoming and friendly country house hotels: the first four nights at Loch Melfort, south of Oban, and the final two nights at Bridgend on the Isle of Islay. Accommodation is in twin or double rooms with en-suite bathroom facilities. Please note that we can offer a maximum of two single rooms on this itinerary.
Both accommodations are owner-managed and a warm welcome is assured. You can relax and enjoy their tranquil locations, indulging in wonderful meals and perhaps tasting a local whisky or two.
Dinner is included on the first and last nights. All days include breakfast and lunch.
This trip is especially good for food and all our meals are prepared from the best local produce. We’ll enjoy wonderful home-cooked meals each evening, with good, healthy portions. Naturally, vegetarians and other dietary requirements are willingly catered by simply letting us know at the time of booking.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE
You will be met by your Wilderness Scotland Guide in the centre of Oban Railway Station at 11:30am on Day 1 of your trip. We aim to return to Oban by 2:00pm on the last day.
Pick your dates and add them to the enquiry form above.
To confirm your booking you are required to pay a non-refundable deposit of 25% of the trip price. Your balance must be paid by the due date shown on your invoice or in correspondence and failure to do so may result in the cost being increased or ultimately cancellation. Any cancellation must be notified in writing by the person who made the booking. If you cancel your holiday: More than 56 days prior to the start of your holiday, you will only be charged your deposit; Between 56 and 30 days, you will be charged 50% of the holiday cost; 30 days or less before the start of your holiday, or on or after the commencement of the holiday, you must pay the full holiday price. We appreciate that wholly unforeseen events may result in cancellation. We therefore strongly advise you to take out travel insurance. We may cancel the trip and refund your money for reasons such as too-few reservations. It is a fundamental booking condition that you accept the hazards involved in this sort of trip and you accept that in visiting remote and mountainous regions there is an element of on-tour flexibility. The itinerary stated in the trip dossier is indicative only and not a guarantee that a particular route will be followed or place reached. Accommodation is usually in twin or double rooms unless stated otherwise and we request that clients who book individually share a twin room. Where a single room is requested, we will try to accommodate this but a single supplement will often apply. If you are affected by an illness or medical condition which may affect your or other people’s enjoyment of the holiday, you must advise this at the time of booking or in advance of travel (if you did not have the illness or condition at the time of booking). Similarly, you must advise us of dietary requirements at the time of booking. Failure to disclose a medical condition that could affect you during the trip could place you at risk.