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Discover Islay & Kintyre

Explore the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, from the hidden gem delights of Kintyre to the famous whiskies of Islay

Explore the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, visiting the island of Islay, with a chance to hop across to the neighbouring Isle of Jura.  The Kintyre peninsula is often overlooked; it’s an area rich with history and superb, empty beaches, just waiting to be discovered – including the Mull of Kintyre, made world-famous by Sir Paul McCartney. It is now a little easier to access, with a direct ferry route from the Ayrshire coast.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Apr - Oct

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Day One – Kintyre

From May to September you can travel direct to Campbeltown on the recently introduced ferry service from Ardrossan in Ayrshire. Departures are mostly in the late afternoon, with an evening arrival in Kintyre.

Your destination is towards the southern end of the peninsula, just a few miles drive from the ferry port, in the village of Machrihanish, famous for its golf courses and five miles of sandy  beach; your base for the next three nights.

Your Hotel

This historic hotel was once regarded as the pinnacle of luxury  accommodation in the west of Scotland and regularly welcomed captains of  industry and their families, who descended on Machrihanish for summer holidays with their steamer trunks and visions of relaxing times on the  beach and golf links. Now fully restored, with just 22 rooms and suites,  it brings sophistication to the area once again. Imagine waking up in the morning to views of the sparkling Atlantic across to the isles of  Islay and Jura, enjoying a hearty Scottish breakfast, and then heading  out for a day’s exploring.   And when it’s time to kick back, the hotel will satisfy discerning visitors with its world-class malt whisky bar, steak house and state-of-the-art Spa.

Days Two & Three

Included within this holiday is a day return trip to the ‘wee’ island of Gigha. We recommend leaving the car behind at the ferry port and simply walking or cycling, enabling you to soak up the island atmosphere. The community-run hotel is the perfect spot for lunch and refreshing drinks. There is much more to see and do, depending on your interests, and we will tailor recommendations for you. Known by the Vikings as ‘the Good Isle’ – and later as ‘God’s island’ – Gigha, the most southerly of the Hebrides, is a place of complete escape. Walkers can take in stunning panoramic views from wildflower-strewn hillsides and cyclists will discover perfect picnic spots on tiny beaches of pure white sand. The island’s history makes fascinating reading – especially the community buy-out, ensuring Gigha’s future for islanders and visitors alike. The locals’ passion for their island is apparent as you quiz them on the ancient Bronze Age burial cairns, the spectacular banks of rhododendrons in Achamore Gardens (not to be missed!) the 13th century church of Kilchattan – or the best place to watch the sun rise over Kintyre.

Back on Kintyre, you’ll have plenty of time to discover the dramatic scenery,  rich history and deserted beaches of our favourite Scottish peninsula.  You must make the journey to the Mull of Kintyre itself, along a  meandering and bumpy single track road.  You’ll feel you’ve reached the  edge of the world when you come to the end of the road and, you never know, the mist might just roll in from the sea! The energetic can walk down the track to the lighthouse while everyone can enjoy – in less  misty weather – views to Ireland, just 12 miles away. In nearby Southend stop to watch for seals and otters and visit the spot where St Columba first landed after leaving Ireland on his way to Iona. Campbeltown, the main settlement, is home to Springbank whisky,  famous for its traditional production methods and still run by members  of the family that founded it in 1828.

Day  Four

A short drive north  this morning will take you to the ferry port for the crossing to Islay, where your hotel awaits on the shores of Loch Indaal.

The island

Once the ancestral seat of the Lords of the Isles, Islay is a fertile island of low heather-clad hills, attractive beaches, numerous historical sites and more whisky distilleries than any other Scottish island! (We can help and advise on arranging tours of any which are of interest.)

A haven for hill-walkers and bird-watchers, it is home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its’ vast numbers of migrating geese.  In the island capital of Bowmore, you can visit the unusual Round Church (no corners for the devil to hide in!) or, if history is your thing, the Museum of Island Life in Port Charlotte is well worth a visit – as are the ruins of Finlaggan Castle, home of the Macdonald chiefs, and Kildalton Chapel with its early Christian cross.  Easily accessible for day-trips are the neighbouring islands of Jura, where you can enjoy its rugged scenery, wandered by herds of red deer, and enjoy a dram at its very own distillery.

Your Guesthouse

Your accommodation on Islay is a recently refurbished gem of a property,  set just back from the waterfront of Loch Indaal. With only three sumptuous rooms, two with fabulous loch views, and comfortable guest lounge and garden, you’ll feel an immediate sense of calm, while receiving the warmest of welcomes from your charming host. The distillery at Bruichladdich, with its terrific visitor centre, is just 10 minutes’ walk along the shore.

Day Seven – return home

By ferry back to the mainland, then onwards to Glasgow. Your route will bring you through  the picture postcard village of Inveraray, where you might choose to  stop off and visit the castle – still home to the Duke of Argyll – or  stretch your legs at Crarae Gardens, featuring wonderful species of  rhododendron and azalea, before crossing the aptly named “Rest and Be Thankful pass”.


This holiday covers the Kintyre peninsula and the Isle of Islay with a day trip to Gigha. You start with the ferry service from Ardrossan direct to Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre.


£690 per person for April & October, £780 per person for May to September.

Prices are based on 2 people sharing a room for 6 nights on a bed & breakfast basis in 4 star small hotels, and include ferry travel for car and passengers in one direction to Campbeltown from Ardrossan, and return to Islay, as well as a day return trip to Gigha.

For holidays in April & October the boat trip will be replaced with a distillery tour and tasting, and travel to Kintyre will be by road rather than ferry.

All our touring holidays include a map of Scotland with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.


Check availability for Discover Islay & Kintyre

This holiday, as described can start on a Thursday, Friday or Sunday. Subject to availability it may be offered in reverse order, starting on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday from April to October.

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest-houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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