PLACES TO VISIT - DAY TRIPS OUT
The Airds is the perfect place from which to explore Argyll, Lochaber and Islands such as Mull and Iona. Below we have listed a wide range of itinerary ideas to make the most of your time with us.
Oban - Gateway to the Isles
Get the feel of a typically Scottish town. Oban has a respected whisky distillery offering tours, many boat trips and is the major car ferry terminal for the majority of the islands (for ferry timetables and online reservations visit the Caledonian MacBrayne website or email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 08705 650000).
It also has McCaig's Tower, a coliseum like structure built to keep masonry workers busy in the winter. The views from here are magnificent. In times of poor weather, Oban also offers a leisure centre and of course, plenty of gift shops.
We would also be pleased to advise you on the best places to eat (30 minute drive from the hotel).
The most famous Highland Glen in Scotland is 35 minutes drive away. Visit the modern Visitor Centre before adventuring into the main glen where truly spectacular scenery surrounds you. You can view where scenes from the second Harry Potter film were set and venture onto some beautiful hiking paths (the Lost Valley walk is particularly worthwhile if you are reasonably fit) or perhaps simply watch one of the many impressive waterfalls. You can even take a ride on the chairlift up to the ski fields (weather permitting) and admire the views through Glencoe and across Rannoch Moor.
The Glencoe Visitor Centre provides a comprehensive events programme throughout most of the year. The full list is far too long to run through here, however, they provide full details on their excellent website. The events range from guided hikes to Land Rover safaris and special events for children.
Jacobite Steam Train
Described as one of the great railway journeys of the world this 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes. Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain's most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig. The train stops en route to Mallaig at the village of Glenfinnan and passes through the now legendary Glenfinnan viaduct featured in Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express. On a clear day you can see out as far as Rum, Eigg and Muck.
Ben Nevis and gondola
Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, is 50 minutes drive from The Airds Hotel. The drive there takes you through Kentallen (15 minutes) and Ballachulish (20 minutes) which not only offer spectacular views but are also the setting for the famous Robert Louis Stevenson novel, Kidnapped.
Take a 15 minute gondola ride up Aanoch Mor to the Nevis ski range and the top of the World Cup mountain biking course. There are several walking trails from here and the views are superb. There is also a cafe at the top serving a wide range of dishes. If you are not keen on walking back down (2 hours) you can take the gondola.
While in the Fort William area, stop at Neptune's Staircase which is a set of 8 locks on the Caledonian Canal and is a real feat of 19th century engineering.
Isle of Mull
A beautiful 45 minute ferry ride, an impressive castle and the pretty town of Tobermory (setting for the TV programme 'Balamory') added to the generally spectacular scenery all around the island make this trip a high priority on any itinerary. Mull is also the link for trips to Iona, the island where Christianity first arrived in Scotland and where a beautifully restored abbey stands amongst many ancient Celtic crosses. This is also the base for trips to the island of Staffa with its impressive and rare geological formations which are the subject of the famous piece of classical music called Fingal's Cave and Staffa is also the seasonal home to a colony of puffins. It is advisable, especially in high season, to book the ferry to ensure you get the best sailing times and we will be happy to do this on your behalf. For ferry timetables and online reservations visit the website or email email@example.com or telephone 08705 650000.
Isle of Lismore
On our doorstep and providing an enjoyable excursion, this is a small, secluded and beautiful island. Reached by regular and frequent foot passenger ferry (will also take bicycles) Lismore is ideal for walking and cycling (hire available) as it offers stunning 360 degree views from the centre of Loch Linnhe. In sunny conditions you should be able to view twelve munro's (peaks over 3000 feet) following the line of the loch and finishing with Ben Nevis. For keen botanists the island is unusual in that there are several species of plant found nowhere else in the UK. On a nice day a perfect trip is to take the ferry over to Lismore with a bike, a packed lunch and perhaps a bottle of wine(!) and have a leisurely cycle round the island. There is only one single track road and not much traffic!
Be sure to visit the Heritage Centre (about 3 miles from the passenger ferry) which also has a café. There are also three ruined castles on Lismore and picturesque Port Ramsey.
This trip will take less than half a day. Five minutes along the road from the hotel, this small 13th century castle stands on its own little island only marginally bigger than the castle itself. The castle is privately owned and was restored back in the 1960's and 70's as a family holiday home. As with all Scottish castles it has had its share of history and the owners usually relay a number of interesting anecdotes on their tours. Tours have to be booked in advance and are dependent on the owners being available. To get to the castle requires a two minute journey in a small open motor boat and tours last about an hour. The castle is open on set days of the year, please visit their website for annual opening days.
This large sea loch forms the artery that provides the livelihood for much of the area and is impressive in its own right. At the north end (Fort William) it narrows to form the Great Glen and the Caledonian Canal (accessed via the twelve consecutive lochs known as Neptune's Ladder) whilst it's southern end widens to hold many of the beautiful islands on the west coast. The whole length in between provides for some magnificent scenery and acts as an enormous playground offering something for everyone. It is possible to take a cruise down Loch Linnhe from Fort William (see website link) or alternatively we could certainly arrange a private boat tour for you.
A pretty harbour town on Loch Fyne, the two major attractions are the castle (home to the Duke and Duchess of Argyll) and the Jail with its 19th century court room and cells. The Loch Fyne Oyster Bar (further along the loch) is also well worth a stop for lunch (1 1/2 hours drive from the hotel). Inveraray has a lot to offer the day visitor and the castle and town are an easy walk from each other. On the way back to Port Appin look out for Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe.
Eilean Donan Castle
Arguably, Scotland's most romantic castle and without doubt, it's most photographed (excepting Edinburgh). This small and intimate fully restored castle, set on its own island and connected by a small bridge, is open to the public and the excellent visitor centre serves food all day. (2 1/2 hour drive from the hotel). It is a very scenic drive from Port Appin to the castle with many beautiful photo stops on the way.
This is where the miniature Crinan Canal meets the Atlantic. Watch sailing boats moor up waiting for the last loch to open. The views are impressive from the hill behind and you can walk the full length of the canal. The canal itself has to offer one of the most beautiful canal journeys in the UK. The cafe serves snacks most of the day. (1 1/2 hour drive from the hotel). Port Appin to Crinan is 55 miles.
Oban (35 minutes drive from the hotel) is the gateway to virtually all the islands off the west coast. Each island is different and they are all worth visiting, although some are too far for a day trip. However, many of our guests stay with us as part of a journey up and down the west coast to include some of the islands and if you would like recommendations on places to stay on the islands we will be pleased to oblige. For guests who are not very familiar with the West Coast we recommend that you talk to us before booking ferries so that we can advise you of travelling times. For ferry timetables and online reservations visit the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 08705 650000.
Beautiful gardens on the shores of Loch Linnhe. It is best known for its rhododendrons and is at its peak in April and May (1 hour drive from the hotel).
Larger than Arduaine and also very impressive with its burn, bridges, gorge and cascades. Although it takes two hours to drive there, the route is very scenic and you may wish to combine this with a visit to Inveraray.
For further information on local beauty spots and scenic drives please e-mail us or telephone. Do not forget to look at our 'Activities' page to see what else you can do in the area.
Oban Whisky Distillery
Nestling beneath the steep cliff that overlooks Oban, one of Scotland's oldest sources of single malt whisky is but a stone's throw from the sea. This coastal location is accurately reflected by the character of the Oban 14 year old single malt whisky. At Oban Distillery you can see the distillers at work crafting a rich, sweet malt whisky with a subtle hint of sea salt and peaty smokiness. Children under 8 years are welcome but are not admitted to the production areas.
Last Tour: 1 hour 15 mins before above closing times. In the winter or when travelling any distance it is advisable to book tours in advance.
Oban Sea Life Centre
Scotland's leading marine conservation experience with over 40 displays from seahorses to sharks, otters to seals. They operate a seal pup rehabilitation program and several interactive demonstrations throughout the day including feeding the seals (15 minutes drive from hotel).
Cruachan Power Station
Built on the edge of Loch Awe, guided coach tours take you into the heart of the mountain to see the hub of the power station in action (1 1/4 hour drive from the hotel).