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The Great Outdoors: Three historic locations that make Argyll a real stronghold for visitors

© Shutterstock / travellightKilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, UK.
Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, UK.

Argyll is blessed with so many stunning historic locations, and perhaps none more so than its fantastic castles, monuments and towers. These ancient architectural marvels are places of great significance. Some are in a better state than others, but all are worth a visit.

The seat of Clan Fletcher from 1746, Dunans Castle in Glendaruel is in the process of being restored.

“The stunning location and landscape makes Dunans Castle so special,” says Lara-Marie Ehmler from tourism co-operative Wild About Argyll. “It is set in 16 acres of ground including a heritage woodland garden and ravine walk. The walk takes you through ancient woodland and past a waterfall, a marshland boardwalk through a wildflower meadow, and an excellent collection of exotic rhododendron, azalea, ancient limes and trees.”

Visitors can book into Dunans to take part in special Laird and Lady Tours of the castle and woodland. They cost between £5 and £10 – but are free to those who become a decorative Laird or Lady by donating to the restoration. There is plenty more fun in the grounds and beyond too.

“With wild swimming, fishing trips and spa days up to guided sea kayaking – a day out at Dunans Castle will never be boring!”

Next up is McCaig’s Tower, one of Oban’s most prominent landmarks. “McCaig’s Tower is the ideal place to take in the spectacular view across Oban Bay to the Atlantic islands while enjoying a bit of peace and quiet,” says Lara.

The tower is a B-listed monument and was designed by local man John Stuart McCaig as a tribute to his family, with work beginning in 1897. McCaig was an admirer of Greek and Italian architecture and, Lara says, “he wanted to create Scotland’s version of Rome’s famous Colosseum”.

You can reach it by climbing the 144 steps of Jacob’s Ladder from Argyll Street, or via the car park on Battery Hill. Inside the tower is a beautiful garden packed with flower and fauna.

Another castle worthy of a visit lies on the shores of Loch Awe. Awesome by name and by nature, Kilchurn Castle is a truly inspiring site.

“Kilchurn’s dramatic situation – at the head of the loch with the peak of Ben Cruachan visible behind – makes it one the most photographed castles in Scotland” says Lara.

This 15th-Century castle is now looked after by Historic Environment Scotland and, alongside Inveraray Castle, was one of the seats of Clan Campbell. Kilchurn held troops after the first Jacobite Rising in 1689 and was a garrison in the Jacobite Rising in 1745.

“Visitors love the spectacular views over Loch Awe,” Lara says. “Why not switch it up and take your bike from the small village of Loch Awe to the castle?”

Of all the amazing places to visit in Argyll & Bute, these are just three favourites. For history buffs, Dunans Castle, McCaig’s Tower and Kilchurn Castle are not to be missed.

Wild About Argyll: