“This 16th-century castle – set in one of Scotland’s most historically fascinating areas – is extraordinary”
THE DAILY MAIL
Explore on foot
Kilmartin Museum has a welcoming café with friendly faces and a steady supply of delicious cakes.
For a pub with a great atmosphere in the evenings, head to the tiny Kilmartin Hotel, only a three-minute walk. The food is homely, and there are monthly guest ales and single malts.
At Kilmartin Church, a collection of sculptured stones ranging in date from around 900 to the 1600s call the graveyard home.
Discover an extraordinary part of Scotland.
Kilmartin Glen proudly shouts about its rich history. Standing stones and burial cairns were erected here, some nearly 5,000 years ago.
Kilmartin Museum is a great place to find out more about the Glen and even maybe sign up to help on an archaeological dig.
Kilmartin Museum, having just received a grant for £6m to expand, will be under refurbishment from winter 2020 for 2-years. The cafe and their tremendous cakes will be temporarily moving to another building. Phew!
Climb to the top of the ancient Kingdom of Dal Riata.
There are a number of rewards once you get there. An Iron Age fort with a footprint in the rock marks the inaugural spot where the Gaelic kings were symbolically married to the land they were to rule. This is the birthplace of Scotland and the Scotti people.
There are magnificent views of the West Coast!
Visit a ruin
When the Rector Of Kilmartin, John Carswell, was given the title ‘Bishop Of The Isles’, he moved from Kilmartin Castle to Carnasserie Castle and instructed the Campbell stonemasons to get to work on a European inspired renaissance makeover. That was around 1565. Now a ruin, there are super views from the top.
Visit an outdoor gallery.
A mysterious stone age site discovered by pure chance! In 2008 storms blew over a group of trees. Only then was the 5000-year-old rock art of Achnabreck found. Random cup-marks and spirals, many connected by lines cut into the rock create one of the most excellent examples of prehistoric rock art in Scotland. This site stands as a real reminder of how much there still is to uncover.
Take a bike ride along the prettiest shortcut in Britain.
Crinan canal starts in Ardrishaig on Loch Fyne and ends at Crinan on the Sound of Jura, nine miles away. Fifteen loch gates stand between the West Coast and the Clyde Estuary, allowing sailors to avoid the long way around the south end of the Kintyre peninsula, and us to watch as they do so.
Head to our nearest ‘big’ town.
Pronounced Loch-Gilp-Head, simply meaning: The Head of Loch Gilp. The village has a thriving high street with local crafts & gift shops, a butcher, a family-run fresh fish shop, an excellent deli, grocers, bicycle hire, a sweet boutique shop, art supplies store, a chemist, and the list goes on.
There is also a supermarket for essentials. The Smiddy Bistro is tucked away behind the main street and offers delicious food, including vegetarian and vegan.
Order the local catch of the day.
The Tayvallich Inn overlooks the beautiful natural harbour of Tayvallich bay. They specialise in fresh, locally caught seafood, much of which is landed on their doorstep. They source locally wherever possible. Tucked behind the general store, the Tayvallich Cafe is a hidden gem with excellent food and stunning views. On the drive from Kilmartin to Tayvallich you’re likely to see barn owls and deer, so keep an eye out.
Spend the day in a village.
If traveling to Kilmartin from Glasgow, you will inevitably pass through Inveraray on the way. There are a number of café’s to stop off at for a bite to eat. Stepping into the George Hotel, dating back to 1770, is like stepping back in time. Think big flagstones, roaring fires, and good quality pub grub.
Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, and most recently famous for being the Scottish family home of Lady Rose MacClare, in the television show Downton Abbey. The castle was built between 1745 and 1760 and is open to the public, as is the Inverary Jail.
If you are keen to add an Aran sweater to your collection, Inveraray main street is the place to do it. It’s also a great place to pick up some very nice wellies.
Go Island hopping.
If the sun is shining, an island trip is a must. Jura and Islay being the famous ones. However, much closer to Kilmartin is the lesser-known, community-owned, Isle of Gigha. Only seven miles long and a mile and a half wide, it is breathtaking with silver beaches and clear green seas.
The ferry departs from Tayinloan on the west coast of the Kintyre peninsula, which is an hour’s drive from Kilmartin. The ferry crossing only takes 20 minutes. Find the ferry terminal location and sailing times here. We always head over there without and walk the few minutes along the beach to The Boathouse which has been listed in the Michelin Guide.
Discover how whisky is made.
The largest town in Argyll and the Isles, the gateway to the Hebrides, and also known as the seafood capital of Scotland. Oban is a beautiful 45-minute drive from Kilmartin.
Oban Distillery tours let you see how one of Scotland’s oldest sources of single malt scotch whisky is made. They also let you try some at the end of your tour!