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Your first tiny island is reached by a short ferry from the Kintyre peninsula around 3 hours’ drive from Glasgow.
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. As you cross the Sound of Gigha on the ferry from Tayinloan, you feel as though you are leaving the pace of everyday life far behind. 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.
Your comfortable and extremely welcoming hotel exudes Hebridean charm and, in its position a few minutes walk from the ferry terminal, is very much the social hub of this tiny island. A favourite haunt for locals, the bar features fascinating old photographs which give the visitor a flavour of the island’s history – the ideal place to enjoy a few drams of single malt and listen to tales of Gigha life which have been handed down through the generations. Practically every room in this comfortable and simple hotel offers stunning views, either of the island’s gently undulating landscape or over the wide sweep of Ardminish Bay, where colourful yachts and ferry boats ply back and forth to the Kintyre peninsula on the mainland. The lively dining room serves an array of local produce: keep an eye out for the halibut, which is farmed in the waters around the island.
Return to the mainland and short drive will take you to the next ferry port and the longer crossing to Islay, where your hotel is on the shores of Loch Indaal.
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’s home to the huge Loch Gruinart bird sanctuary and its vast numbers of migrating geese. In the island capital, 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.
Your accommodation on Islay is a recently refurbished gem of a property, 30 minutes’ drive from the airport and 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.
Once a week, on Wednesdays, there is a direct connection from Islay to Colonsay, the most perfect of Hebridean islands.
One of the remotest of the captivating Hebrides, Colonsay offers the quintessential Scottish island experience. As your ferry docks, you will see residents and visitors alike descending from all corners to meet and greet the new arrivals. Then slowly, as the hustle and bustle dies down, the more pervading atmosphere of peace and tranquillity is restored. Gently rolling, heather-clad hills stretch into the distance, dotted with just the occasional cottage or farm building and a few white flecks of sheep. Single track roads and footpaths enable you to meander across this beautiful landscape, frequently stopping to admire dramatic views across to Mull and back to Jura. Whether you choose to walk or cycle (do leave the car behind!) your efforts will be amply rewarded: from the glorious sweep of sand and sea at stunning locations such as Kiloran Bay, to the discovery of intricately-carved ancient stones at the ruins of Oronsay priory.
Standing just up the road from the ferry quay, the hotel dates from the 17th century, and the original white-washed style, peppered with multi-pane windows sharply outlined in black, has been carefully maintained in later additions. The interior is calm and welcoming, using sea greens and blues appropriate to the island setting, with painted wooden floors and plenty of comfy sofas in the public areas. Rooms are equally tasteful and come in a range of quirky shapes and sizes. The restaurant menu offers a perfect combination of superb, fresh produce and simple preparation so you taste the natural flavours at every bite, while a more traditional menu is available in the popular bar. Here you will no doubt be encouraged to share stories of your adventures of the day over a wee dram or locally-brewed beer.
By ferry to Oban then onwards
This holiday includes the Scottish west coast islands of Gigha, Islay and Colonsay
£720 per person for March, £735 for April & October, £755 for May to September.
Prices are based on 2 people sharing, for 7 nights on a bed & breakfast basis and include ferry travel for car and passengers throughout. The order of the holiday may be reversed due to availability.
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.
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.
Pleased that we left the organisation of ferries and hotels to you rather than tackling ourselves.John & Anne, Aberdeen
This holiday is available from late March to the end of October. You can start on a Friday to Gigha, or, in reverse order, on a Sunday afternoon to Colonsay.
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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