On the western shore of Loch Fyne lies the town of Inveraray, with a population of just 603. But don’t let its small stature fool you – the former royal burgh is quite the bustling hub.
It is one of the top spots in a tour of Argyll & Bute, and there is a wealth of history around every corner.
Inveraray Jail is a great place to start for a family visit. Don’t worry, no one is getting locked up – at least not permanently! This prison and courthouse originally opened in 1820 to house the area’s criminals and now operates as a museum.
The jail is split into four separate sections, starting with the Torture, Death and Damnation exhibition. This details various punishment and execution methods and is not one for the squeamish.
The Old Prison is next – this cramped and dingy place is nobody’s idea of fun. Luckily, you’re only in for an informational visit, with lots of prisoner stories to keep you enthralled. Then, head over to the courthouse, where you’ll sit in on re-enactments of real trials, and the New Prison, built in 1848. With costumed characters and plenty of gruesome educational fun to be had, this is a must-visit attraction.
From prison life to grand luxury – make your next stop Inveraray Castle. It reopens in April and there’s never been a better time to visit. Sitting on stunning Loch Fyne, this 18th-century castle is home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, chiefs of Clan Campbell.
“The family have been key players in Scottish and British history, including being brother-in-law and close friend of Robert the Bruce, to signatories on the Act of Union and marriage to Queen Victoria’s daughter Louise,” says Eleanor Campbell, Duchess of Argyll.
The neo-Gothic castle is an A-listed building and welcomes visitors from April to October, allowing guests to discover generations of family history within the castle and the luscious gardens.
“Visitors love that it’s a family home as it’s a part of a living history,” says the Duchess, “they enjoy the Armoury Hall with its 21-metre-high ceiling and amazing weapons display, and the tearoom with its homemade cakes.”
The castle has been used in filming Downton Abbey and the recent series A Very British Scandal, but watch out for the resident ghosts said to roam the grand halls…
For a breath of fresh air and spectacular views across the town and castle, walk up to the tower atop Dun na Cuaiche. The hill can be reached on a scenic stroll from the castle and once you reach the manageable 248 metres (813 feet) summit, it’s time to head into the watchtower.
Built in 1756, the tower’s purpose is to look over the town and you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the views.
Once you’ve explored these fantastic locations, it’s time to head into town for a bite to eat. Luckily, you’re spoilt for choice. Seafood lovers need look no further than Samphire Restaurant.
The town is also home to plenty of wee cafes, restaurants and even an artisan chocolate shop, The Chocolate Shop of Inveraray.
A town with so much history and plenty of hidden gems, a day out in Inveraray deserves to be one of your first stops on an Argyll tour. You will not be disappointed.
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