I recently set off from the bustling city centre of Glasgow on a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon to enjoy a relaxing bank holiday weekend and experience island life on the Isle of Gigha.
Even the drive to the ferry port was spectacular. By the time I hit Loch Lomond, the weather had turned in true Scottish fashion. The majestic scenery was blanketed in a layer of stunning low cloud, turning the journey into a beautiful and dramatic drive! I travelled on through picturesque towns, such as Tarbet and Arrochar, before reaching my personal favourite, Inverary. With a ferry to catch I tore myself away from the stunning spot, making plans to visit properly on the return trip.
As I made my way towards Tayinloan ferry port the sun broke back through the clouds. I pulled in with enough time to enjoy a quick bite to eat and a refreshing beverage from the family-run cafe close to the dock. I wandered down the pier and was greeted by a white sandy beach with crystal clear water. The view had me almost believing that I was on an exotic island in the Caribbean!
The ferry journey takes around 20 minutes and once disembarking, my hotel for the next two nights was a short two-minute drive from the port. After a simple check in, I went upstairs to my large double room to the front of the hotel, which had breath-taking views over the Sound of Gigha. That evening I enjoyed a delicious dinner including some locally caught seafood, and made my way to the bar for a night cap and to get to know some of the Gigha locals. However, tonight called for an early night as I prepared to explore the next day.
I awoke to another glorious day and tucked into a hearty full Scottish breakfast. I then drove to the South Pier at the southernmost point of the island, where there are some beautiful secluded beaches and more stunning views of mainland Scotland across the water.
Along the way I stopped off at the spectacular Achamore Gardens. These 54-acre gardens host many notable and unusual plants and trees from around the world. Then I continued to the north of the island, and the small bay with its twin apple-core beaches and views out west to the isles of Jura and Islay.
By the late afternoon I had worked up an appetite so made my way to my lunch reservation at the island’s local eatery, located near the ferry port. All I can say is this was a taste sensation and I had some of the best seafood I have ever eaten anywhere; not to mention the views from the table! The staff were also outstanding, all locals who were never too busy to discuss the island and its rich history.
After my lunch I dropped the car off and went exploring on foot, discovering the local church and golf course. Gigha is a quaint island – the locals are very welcoming and I am very much looking forward to returning.
The next day I was up early to set sail for the Kintyre penninsulaon the first ferry of the day, and quickly found myself heading back north towards Inverary. Here I stopped for a coffee and fresh croissant in one of the many cafes. The town even in the early hours is alive and bustling with visitors! I found myself at the castle and spent some time there taking in the scenery. My next stop was Loch Fyne where I treated myself to some oysters and chowder at the loch front. I even had time to drop into the local Loch Fyne brewery to buy some craft beer samples to enjoy that evening after getting home.
The weather stayed perfect the whole way back to Glasgow as I ended my trip. The island was beautiful, peaceful and the ideal getaway from the city living. Gigha is definitely a perfect place to relax and unwind!
Words & Images by Chris Stewart @ McKinlay Kidd