Scotland's Islands & Highlands Tour Diary
Day 1 : Glasgow to Campbeltown
The waterfront in
Day 1 takes us from
Glasgow, along Loch Lomond, and then into progressively less
and less populated areas, culminating upon arrival in
Campbeltown at the foot of the Kintyre Peninsula.
of an 11 day/page trip diary - click the links on the right
hand side for the other days in this diary.
Jeanette and her husband Ken
were on our 2010 Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour, and
Jeanette kept a detailed day by day diary of the tour.
She has very graciously allowed
it to be re-published here, so as to allow you an unvarnished
view into what the tour was all about.
The text is hers, which I've
respected and not changed apart from a few subheadings and extra paragraph
breaks and some Americanizations of her English spelling (they
are from New Zealand).
I've sourced the pictures and
their captions are also from me, not Jeanette.
You can follow along with her
narration by tracking the tour on this
itinerary page and the linked Google maps.
I hope this will encourage you
to come on our
2011 Scotland's Islands and Highlands Tour.
Day 1 – Monday June 14th
2010 – Glasgow to Campbeltown, Scotland
[Note - We had an
optional pre-tour night at Culcreuch Castle which Jeanette and
Ken did not
join us for, due to staying with friends.]
Google Touring Map for the Day
We spent last night at David
& Genevieve's home in Beith, near Glasgow. We had met them on a
Panama Canal Cruise from Galveston, Texas in November 2004.
There were a lot of heavy rain showers on our drive north
yesterday but it is dry this morning although quite cold and
dark clouds threaten rain.
Our coach for the next ten days.
We left Beith at 11:30am and
arrived at the Central Railway Station in Glasgow just after
midday so we were in plenty of time for our coach departure at
1pm. As we had a 36 seater coach for 24 passengers there was
plenty of room to spread around. We were all aboard by 1pm with
our driver, Jay and Tour Manager David, even with a bicycle in
the luggage section.
David told us that Glasgow,
which means “The Dear Green Park”, is the largest city in
Scotland while Edinburgh is the capital. The Vikings were here
in this area until 1000AD. There were no National Parks until
the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park was formed in 2002
and the Cairngorm National Park (the largest in Britain) formed
in 2003. The Scots have a special word “Munro” for mountains
that are higher than 3000ft (914 m). They are named after Sir
Hugh Munro who produced the first list of such mountains in
1891. As of 2009 there are 283 Munro's with Ben Nevis being the
highest with an altitude of 4,409 ft (1,344 m).
Our journey this afternoon
took us across the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde River then
north to Inverary before crossing to the Kintyre Peninsular and
away down South to Campbeltown. We drove along the shore of Loch
Lomond (in the Loch Lomond National Park) with a good view of
Ben Lomond (a Munro of 3,195 ft/974 m). Our driver Jay told us
that he once climbed Ben Lomond in a day and my research tells
me that it is one of the most popular Munro's to climb, it even
has a 'tourist route' to the summit. We were surprised to learn
that the lake has 36 islands although we could not see many from
the road. There were lots of large Rhododendron trees in full
flower with lovely purple flowers.
We drove over the hill to
Loch Long where the British Navy used to test torpedoes in World
War II. This is a sea loch with open access to the sea which
surprised me as I had thought a 'loch' was Scottish for a 'lake'
but now know it also includes an arm of the sea when narrow or
partially landlocked. By 2pm we were driving over a high pass
known as the 'Rest and Be Thankful Pass', so named by soldiers
who built the original Military road in 1753 because the climb
out of the valley is so long and steep at the end that it was
traditional to rest at the top, and be thankful that you had got
to the highest point.
Over the top we left the National Park and
traveled along very rugged cliffs with little streams tumbling
down the valleys. Then down into the next valley to Loch Fyne
where we saw many fishermen along the shore.
Loch Fyne Whiskies in Inverary - David said this is
an excellent whisky shop with a huge range of rare and
unusual whiskies. Many of the people in our group took
advantage of their time to sample - and buy - some whisky.
At 2:30pm the coach stopped
at Inverary where Ken and I walked to the gates of Inverary
Castle, the home of the Duke of Argyll, to get some lovely
photos. We visited a woollen mill shop and the information shop.
The Bell Tower dominates the town and contains the 2nd heaviest
ring of ten bells in the world. It was a lovely picturesque town
on the lake shore.
We started to drive away at 3:15pm (as
planned) without 2 people. David had warned us that punctuality
was most important and that the coach would leave at the defined
time, whether we were all onboard or not. Fortunately Peter and
the other person were walking along the main street towards us so we picked
them up on our way out of the town.
David said they were not
left behind as Peter had provided a defibrillator for the tour
in case anyone suffered a heart attack, but that he would not be
so lenient with the next late passenger.
We had a beautiful drive
along Loch Fyne, passing a number of Oyster farms in this sea
loch, the longest of the sea lochs in Scotland. By 4:15pm we had
arrived in the fishing port of Tarbert, a popular mooring for
yachts. David persuaded Jay to drive to Campbeltown down the
eastern coast of the Kintyre peninsula along a single track
This made for an exciting ride with passing bays at
frequent intervals to allow oncoming traffic to pass. At one
point we slowly followed 2 sheep along the road until they took
a sudden dive to the right to let us pass. We had great views of
Ailsa Craig, an island in the outer Firth of Clyde where blue
hone granite is quarried to make Curling stones. The now
uninhabited island is formed from the volcanic plug of an
extinct volcano. It was a haven for Catholics during the
Scottish Reformation in the 16th century, but is now a bird
sanctuary for gannets and puffins.
After a while the road
improved to a 2 lane road but was still very bumpy and twisty.
The Argyll Arms Hotel in Campbeltown - a typical
smaller town Scottish hotel.
We arrived in Campbeltown at
5:40pm and checked in at the Argyll Arms Hotel (room 22). I had
time to shower and wash my hair before meeting everyone for
dinner at 7pm in the hotel dining room. This was our welcome
dinner provided by our Travel Manager, David Rowell, the owner
of the web site and travel newsletter
We sat with Billy Jo and Jeannette (with 2 n's) both from Texas,
Malcolm and Ieva from Toronto Canada, David from Seattle
(formerly from NZ) and our driver Jay from the Glasgow area.
Ken and I both started with
Argyll Prawn Cocktail with Marie Rose sauce which was very nice.
The main course we chose was local salmon with lemon parsley
sauce and vegetables (carrots, potatoes – boiled and roasted,
cauliflower and broccoli). The salmon was delicious and very
fresh. Ken had chocolate fudge cake with ice-cream for dessert
while I had a trio of ice-cream. We finished with a nice hot
chocolate. There was great conversation and plenty of laughter
which made the evening go very fast.
We found out that Ieva and
Malcolm had a small software company, similar to our own.
Malcolm had written a software package to help Ieva provide
comparative statistics to her staff in a healthcare management
department. This was so successful that they had made a business
of it which they have just closed down now that they have both
retired, Malcolm just last month.
After dinner, about 9pm, we
went for a short walk down to the waterfront to see a little of
the town and get some exercise. It was a lovely clear evening
but getting cool. We settled in our room to watch the TV news
before lights out about 10:30pm. An early night as there is no
Internet access in this hotel.
Read more in the rest of
See the links to each day
of the eleven day tour/trip diary at the top
right of this page.
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7 Jan 2011, last update
28 Nov 2012
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