About the Area
Argyll and the Islands is a region of contrasts, offering many delights for country lovers and sailors, it is essentially an out-door place and the first thing that strikes you is the space. There are tranquil spots and busy touristy ones, each have there own appeal.
Barr a' challtuin or Hazel Knoll is fortunate to have its own castle. (You wouldn't get planning permission for it now). Built on the instructions of Black Duncan (Campbell) work commenced in 1579 and was finished in 1609. The Black Castle has of course the obligatory ghost in the form of a lady in blue. It also has links with the Glencoe massacre.
In 1709 Red Patrick 4th Campbell of Barcaldine, finding the castle rather draughty (just think of the heating bills) decided to build a new house on the delta of the river Dergan on Dalfure Dail Fuar or cold plain. In 1836 the last of the Campbell occupants ran out of cash and had to leave the house. The estate was subsequently split-up and sold. The walled garden was turned into a Camping and Caravanning Club site. The old boathouse has been rebuilt by us and is now part Lochside Lodges.
Walking and Rambling
Barcaldine forest has several waymarked tracks which are simple to follow or you can venture further into the hills where eagles and red deer are very often seen. There are also several interesting drove roads, including the old Coffin Route from Barcaldine to Achnaba on Loch Etive side, most are classed as easy, all you need are strong shoes, a picnic and a pair of binoculars. Some interesting local walks can be found at Walk Highlands.
Have you tried Geocaching? If you have a GPS or smart phone with GPS it is interesting and not too energetic. Click here to see the local map. Montemlife.com is an American site which gives a good idea of what it is all about and lots of useful tips.
Glen Coe with its more strenuous walks is about 25 miles by car or can be reached on foot from Loch Etive, although this route is recommended only for the experienced. If you have a mountain to climb, Ben Nevis is a good start at 1344m!
Waiting for the ferry to Lismore
Barcaldine is fast becoming a really good area for cycling. Sustrans has now completed much of the Oban to Fort William National Cycle Network Route 78. It is certainly possible to cycle from Barcaldine to Appin and on to Ballachulish. For the more energetic there are several waymarked tracks in and around Barcaldine Forest or if you care to take your cycles further afield we can recommend the Scottish Canals towpath and road between the Crinan Basin and Ardrishaig or further North there are several tracks near Fort William including the dramatic Caledonian Canal. Taking a bike across on the passenger ferry (bikes go free) from Port Appin to Lismore and cycling on this beautiful island for the day has been highly recommended. If you don't want to bring your own bike they can be hired from Oban Cycle Shop and Appin Electric Bikes,
We have electric bikes ourselves and can recommend them as a really good way to enjoy the local cycle routes which do have a few steep gradients Both of the above have electric bikes for hire.
If you decide to bring your own bikes we have a locked store.
Ardmaddy Castle & Gardens
The Victorians where great plant gatherers throughout the world and many of the gardens that surround large houses reflect this with their collections of rare trees and plants, especially rhododendrons and azaleas. Within a radius of 12 miles or so there several historic gardens open to the public. We suggest that you look at Glorious Gardens of Argyll.
If you enjoy watching wildlife check out these web sites
Daily boat tours and wildlife tours to the Isles of Iona, Tobermory, Staffa, Treshnish, Mull and the famous Fingal's Cave.
Some guests went on a wildlife photography course and thoroughly enjoyed themselves at The Loch Visions Experience
The wide diversity of habitat within the area, woodland, moorland, seashore and fresh and salt water lochs, makes birding a most pleasurable activity. Within a mile of the lodges there are many species to be seen. Wrens, thrushes and dunnocks are resident in the garden and along the seashore oyster catchers, herons, curlews and in summer ringed plovers abound. In spring and early summer the woods behind us resound with the rattle of woodpeckers and the harsh calls of ravens and jays. Each year the sand martins return to build their cave dwellings in a closed quarry just behind the nearby boatyard. The raptors, apart from buzzards, are more elusive but a pair of eagles are often seen drifting on the thermals above the hill behind us or a sparrow hawk will dash through the garden scattering small birds everywhere. Great rafts of eider ducks float cooing round the moorings in spring and in summer a female will quite often raise her youngsters within the safety of the yachts. Walk along the shore to the river and there is nearly always a dipper.
...is famous. Oh yes! Lurking beneath its surface are serpulid worms.
No! they may not be quite as big as Loch Ness's monster but these beasties think that the pure waters of our loch are ideal for getting together to form "coral like" reefs which are almost unique much to the delight of Heriot-Watt University's marine biologists. Due to the international conservation importance of the reefs the loch is now a Special Area of Conservation. (SAC)
Across the water The islands of Mull, Staffa, Iona and the Treshnish Isles are perhaps the most visited. The Caledonian MacBrayne ferries run from Oban to Mull. Either take your car or choose from several excellent day excursions.
But small islands always hold a great fascination.
Lismore, well known for its wild flowers is reached by taking the passenger ferry from the picturesque and historic village of Port Appin (well worth a visit in its own right.) The northern end of the island is a delight to explore on foot. Cycles can be hired from Appin and taken over on the ferry. (Cycles go free) With so little traffic the whole island can be covered in a day.
Kerrera, in Oban Bay is accessed by a small passenger ferry where a six mile circular walk takes you past many historic sites including a 16th Century castle.
Both of these islands are definitely worth exploring.
Would you like to try scuba diving or are you an experienced diver? The water round this area is well known for it's clarity and although you may not see huge fish the underwater life is truly exceptional. Try visiting Puffin Dive Centre in Oban.
In fact there are just too many places of interest for us to list.