Arts and Crafts

Christine Russell Sea and Landscape Painting 

The incredible scenery of Kintyre, with its beautiful beaches, wild waves and ever-changing sky, provides endless inspiration for Christine’s oil paintings. Most of her works focus on a specific location and many are created through direct commissions.

The paintings are sold in art galleries throughout Argyll but there is also a small gallery located in An Ceardach, the beautiful five-acre garden in Peninver, which is open for visitors from spring to autumn. Facebook

Beaches

As you might imagine, there is a wonderful selection of beautiful beaches to enjoy in East Kintyre.

Carradale Bay

Protected by the rock, grass and heather outcrop of Carradale Point to the east, this long sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, watersports or simply taking a leisurely stroll and enjoying the sea air.

Carradale Point is itself a fine scramble of a walk and it’s worth bringing binoculars to spot a variety of wildlife out at sea, including dolphins, otters and porpoises.

Look out, too, for the local feral goats!

Port Righ

Close to Carradale Bay is the small and sheltered strip of beach at Port Righ. If you like to enjoy peace and quiet, go for a swim or simply gaze out over the water to the island of Arran, this is the perfect spot for you.

Visitors with limited mobility should take note that direct access down to the beach is via a steep set of stairs. An alternative route can be taken through the golf course, following the trail down to the water’s edge.

Torrisdale Bay

A popular spot for a brave band of locals who enjoy wild swimming, this is a short beach of mixed sand and shingle. As well as the resident seals and otter, bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises are often sighted.

Saddell Bay

Made famous by Paul and Linda McCartney and their Wings video for Mull of Kintyre, this Bay boasts a long and white sandy beach and now has a new VIP – an Anthony Gormley sculpture, commemorating 50 years of the Landmark Trust. The lone figure stands near Saddell Castle, stoically facing out to sea and braving the wind and waves. 

Peninver

This long, white sandy beach on Ardnacross Bay is one of the few places in Scotland where you can still spot creelers launch their fishing boats from a beach – you might also spy seals, dolphins and porpoises.

When the wind is in the west swimmers can enjoy a refreshing dip in the clean, clear waters.

Local facilities include ample car parking space, a popular caravan park and a cosy pub with a bijou beer garden boasting beautiful sea views.

Grogport

A perfect match to this wonderfully compact hamlet is the small, white sandy beach.

The picnic spot nearby is ideal for al fresco dining and enjoying wonderful views across Kilbrannan Sound to the island of Arran.

You might also be lucky enough to spot the local wildlife, including seals, porpoises, otters and dolphins.

Cycling

Carradale Bikes and Buggies

With a selection of mountain bikes to hire that suit all ages and abilities, this is the go-to place for visitors who want to explore East Kintyre on two wheels.

You can also get expert local advice on the best trails and routes.

And for those who are less able or mobile, you can join with family and friends and explore Carradale’s forest tracks and trails by hiring all-terrain electric buggies.

In East Kintyre the beautiful countryside is accessible to all!  Carradale Bikes and Buggies

Gardens

An Ceardach 

You can always be sure of surprises at An Ceardach, as these five acres of gardens have been designed to offer something new at different times of the year. In spring there may be mellow yellow meadows of daffodils and multi-coloured explosions of wildflowers, while moving into summer vast carpets of bluebells come alive. Next come not one but several hundred examples of rhododendron shrubs.

Located just three miles from Campbeltown, the former blacksmith’s smiddy also offers visitors magnificent view out across the sea to the island of Arran.

As well as the wonderful flowers, there’s a bountiful vegetable garden and water features, such as streams, fountains and ponds. Youngsters should look out for sculptures and fairy doors.

The garden can be viewed seven days a week from April until October between 10am-4pm – all in return for a small donation to charity.

Golf

Carradale Golf Course 

With breathtaking panoramas across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran, Ailsa Craig and on a fine day to Ayrshire, Carradale Golf Course  has something to offer every ability of golfer.  

It may only be nine holes but it also presents enough of a challenge for even the most experienced players.

But don’t just take our word for it. Former professional and now TV commentator Ken Brown described it as “Golf at its purest, small greens in great condition and a setting to rival any”.

Visitors can simply fill in a form and use the honesty box.

Historical Sites

Carradale Heritage Centre

Our ancient and modern history is most often kept alive in the telling of stories and the Carradale Heritage Centre is devoted to the story of Carradale.

Look beyond the wonderful wooden wheelhouse that once belonged on a local fishing boat, and the heritage centre is on your right with a bright red roof.

Check out the Carradale Heritage Centre page on this website to find out what is happening.

If all of this history builds up a hunger and thirst, next door you’ll find the Network Bistro – the perfect place to enjoy homecooking.

Saddell Castle

A rock-hewn sentinel on Saddell Bay’s beach and at the river’s edge, Saddell Castle has lasted since 1508 when it was built for the Bishop of Argyll.

Back then it was described as ‘a fayre pyle and a stronge’ but from 1600 – and for the next 400 years – it was taken over and owned by the Campbells.

Completely restored by the Landmark Trust, today the four-floor building with its battlemented wall-walk on its roof can be rented for short-term holidays.

Guests pass through an ancient gateway that leads into a courtyard, push open a massive wooden door then climb the wide spiral staircase to discover the delights of each room.

Saddell Abbey

Much of the ancient abbey’s history is shrouded in mystery but we do know it is connected to the arrival in East Kintyre of monks from St Malachy’s Cistercian abbey at Mellifont in Ireland.

Somerled, the Thane of Argyll who freed the highlands and islands from Norse influence and was the first King of the Isles, is believed to have awarded them the land and that the building was finally completed by his son Raghnall.

The abbey was made up of a church and three ranges of buildings around a cloister. Today little remains but for some low walls, an archway and headstones.

Nearby, however, is a wooden building that is home to a collection of medieval carved gravestones: life-sized effigies of knights wearing distinctive West Highland armour.

Some final words of warning: some say the ruins of the abbey are haunted by a huge black spectral hand!

The Sailor’s Grave

In the village of Grogport history buffs can find the ruins of a Bronze Age Cist. It’s believed this stone burial chamber, which measures 1.2m by 0.74m and is built of thin stone slabs, dates all the way back to approximately 2000BC.

The Priest’s Chair

Another must-see antiquity near Grogport is the peculiarly shaped and cup-marked boulder, which has been mysteriously named The Priest’s Chair. You can find this on the hillside about 350 yards north-west of North Crossaig farm.

Kildonan Dun

The ruins of this traditional Scottish dun – a fortified farmstead – are about 50 yards east of the B842 at a point midway between Campbeltown and Carradale.

Located across the road from a Forestry Commission car park, you can gain access via a wooden stile from the road. Carefully follow a path that leads through the grass and bracken (sometimes this can be taller than visitors!) and you’ll soon come to the spot.

It’s also the perfect vantage point for amazing views out over Kilbrannan Sound.

The Vitrified Fort

Climb to the summit of Carradale Point, avoiding the beady-eyed gaze of the local feral goats, and you will come the remains of an oval-shaped and heavily vitrified fort.

As well as a 4.5m thick bank of rubble that incorporates large masses of vitrified wall core, there are also fragments of walls still visible blocking natural gullies.

This is considered a wonderful example of the type of 60 such vitrified forts in Scotland that were constructed more than 2000 years ago.

They’re all notable for one unique feature. Their rock walls were fused together into a solid surface through a process called vitrification: the astonishing transformation of rocks into glass.

Some historians have claimed some sort of ancient superweapon was used to melt the stones. However, in 2018 archaeologists from Forest Enterprise Scotland working with Stirling University used tests to show a timber superstructure supported by the ramparts may have been set alight, with the fire burning down on the stones and heating them up like an oven.

Airds Castle

Visitors to the village of Carradale could be forgiven for overlooking Airds Castle altogether. Hidden away in a beautiful spot beyond the golf course, on a small summit above the shoreline, the ruins are now almost overgrown with grass and bracken.

It’s believed the fortification was once held by the Lord of the Isles until the late 1400s before falling into the ownership of King James IV of Scotland.

In 1498 the king awarded the castle to Ayrshire landholder Sir Adam Reid of Stairquhite and Barskimming.

By the mid-Sixteenth Century, however, the lands and castle had changed hands again, becoming part of the barony of Bar, held by the MacDonalds of Dunnyveg.

But those were the days of castle swap and by 1605 lands and monument were back in the possession of the Reids of Barskimming.

In 1972 it was designated a scheduled ancient monument . . . and so today, so long as you can find it, Airds Castle is open to everyone.

Playparks

East Kintyre has two fun playparks to entertain youngsters. A newly refurbished facility, complete with zip slide, can be found next to the Cricket Club and playing fields in Carradale, while the second is in the popular seaside village of Peninver. 

Pony Trekking

Crosshill Pony Trekking

If your youngsters would prefer to get in the saddle while in East Kintyre, Crosshill Pony Trekking in Peninver offers kiddies’ rides. There are also half-hour outings along the village’s country road and one-hour beach rides for all abilities aged from three years old and up.

Walking

Carradale Forest Walks

Setting off from the harbour and along Shore Road to Port na Cuil or using Port na Storm car park opposite the primary school as your base camp, there are a number of waymarked forestry tracks surrounding Carradale.

These can take you – by foot or by bike – deep into the hills behind the village and all offer incredible views, especially on a clear day.

Maps are available from hotels and B&Bs, the Network Heritage Centre and Bikes & Buggies, as well as the temporary local shop.

The Kintyre Way

This 100-mile walk from Tarbert to Machrihanish is one of Scotland’s newest long-distance routes and meanders down the Kintyre peninsula, connecting villages and showing off the landscape at its very best.

Heading south offers views on the left out over the Firth of Clyde to Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast. On the right are views to Islay, Jura and Gigha and, on a clear day, even as far as Rathlin Island and the coast of Northern Ireland.

There are stretches for serious hikers and gentler routes for ramblers, but every mile offers the opportunity to really appreciate first-hand the beautiful world of Kintyre. The Kintyre Way

Torrisdale Estate 

No matter the weather, the beautiful estate of Torrisdale Castle offers sheltered strolls, thanks to its leafy walking routes. In fact, the grounds offer excellent opportunities for all ages and abilities, and in 2015, to commemorate the 200th birthday of the Castle, the bicentennial walk was launched. This is a leisurely one-mile stroll through the estate, marked by blue arrow markers on posts.

Wildlife watching is a must – in particular, look out for the resident golden eagle!

Dogs are very welcome, too, and don’t forget to call in on the Beinn An Tuirc distillery for a tour and tasting.

Wildlife

East Kintyre is a true haven for Scottish wildlife and, whether you love to hike across the hills or simply stroll along the shoreline, there is always plenty to see . . . so have your binoculars at the ready.

Looking out to sea there’s every chance of spotting seals, otters, basking sharks, mink whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Birdwatchers will love the regular sightings of cormorants, gannets, geese, mallards, ducks, swans, guillemots, great northern divers, heron, kittiwakes, gulls, ravens and cuckoos. There are even records of super-shy peregrine falcons, gargantuan golden eagles and a rare white tailed sea eagle.

In the woodlands and up on the hills keep your eyes peeled for red deer, sika deer, foxes and badgers.

We have it on good authority you may even spy an incredibly rare Scottish wild cat!

Check out the Carradale Natural History Forum for info and photos of local natural history.

Tours & Trips

Beinn an Tuirc Distillers - Kintyre Gin 

You don’t have to be a gin lover to enjoy the tour at Beinn an Tuirc Distillers . . . but it helps!

The makers of Kintyre Gin run regular one-hour tours at their distillery in Torrisdale Estate. Guests at the bespoke visitor centre have the chance to learn all about the story of one of Scotland’s newest and most successful gins, including the origins of the distillery itself – which is run using its own renewable energy from the small hydro-electric scheme – as well as the history of the estate and Torrisdale Castle.

Enjoy the journey of gin through the ages and use your newfound knowledge to enjoy the tasting session.

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