Kintyre is a gorgeous retreat no matter the season.
Scotland is blessed with so many beautiful places, but few top the Kintyre peninsula.
From the moment the breathtaking scenery reveals itself you can’t help but let life slow down.
This remote paradise is only a few hours from Glasgow and getting there is a major part of its charm.
The drive, up along Loch Lomond, Loch Long and Loch Fyne through Inverary, is stunning.
Yet it’s nothing compared to the majestic coastal road from Tarbert down to Campbeltown.
You can’t help but take your time and enjoy the spectacular views.
The Kintyre peninsula is renowned for its dramatic beauty.
It may only be a 40-mile stretch of land but it offers unrivalled coastal views and great walking routes, including the 87-mile Kintyre Way.
It feels like being on an island but Kintyre is connected by a sliver of land at picture postcard Tarbert itself, a safe port for sailors and the perfect place to stop for a bite en route.
From Tarbert the road winds along the coast offering stunning Atlantic views, the highlight being the Paps of Jura, the island’s distinctive mountain tops.
Its charm unveils itself in every twist and turn, showcasing wonderful beaches, rugged rocks, and waves to inspire every surfer.
On a clear day you can see out to Islay between the Sound of Jura and Loch Fyne.
This is a land and seascape that changes with the seasons, offering different perspectives in all weathers, but always appealing.
There are many beaches, castles and gardens to explore.
No wonder it attracts tourists, walkers, artists and photographers all seeking to capture its magic and fascinating history.
The Gulf Stream runs the length of the west coast of the peninsula, offering a climate often a lot kinder, drier and warmer.
Although the weather has been lovely on my many journeys there, it doesn’t matter if it’s howling wind and rain.
Part of the escape is the bracing walks along the beaches or just watching the waves crash off the rocks.
My destination was the village of Machrihanish, five miles west of Campbeltown at the southern end of the three miles of magnificent sand and dunes that line Machrihanish Bay.
To get to it you go past the small airport accommodating the growing number of travellers and golfers taking advantage of cheap Flybe flights from Glasgow.
I stayed in one of the lovely luxury cottages, part of the fabulous Ugadale Hotel.
The complex, with spa offering massages and treatments, was built to cater for golfers for the impressive new Machrihanish Dunes course nearby.
The pub and restaurant offer great food, service and a warm, friendly atmosphere.
Golf Tourism Scotland named it the Resort of the Year for 2013, and the readers of Bunkered Magazine named it Scotland’s Best Experience. It often runs great stay-and-play deals.
However, you don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the location with its rocky headlands and expanse of beach.
Within walking distance is the Seabird and Wildlife Observatory, which is open to visitors.
Head due west and you encounter nothing but open ocean until you reach Newfoundland.
The harbour-town of Campbeltown is rich in heritage and home to Springbank Whisky which has been distilled locally since 1828. Here,
the Royal Hotel has been renovated beautifully and offers great food and lovely rooms with views across the harbour and loch.
Ten miles from the town is Mull of Kintyre, the area immortalised by the 1977 hit song by Kintyre resident Paul McCartney and his band Wings.
This is the southwesternmost tip and on a calm and clear day you can see the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland just 12 miles away.
The historic lighthouse is well worth hiking down the path to, but be prepared for the uphill slog on the way back!
The Mull is reached via a single-track road beyond the southernmost village of the peninsula, Southend.
There is a beautiful sandy beach and rocks to explore here and a great wee golf course in Dunaverty.
Explore the Keil caves and follow in the footsteps of St Columba who landed here in early 563 at the start of his exile from Ireland.
On top of a rocky outcrop at Keil Point, a mile or so west, are St Columba’s Footprints, to the east is St Columba’s Chapel, while in the hillside nearby is a rock-cut well.
At almost every turn there is much new to see and explore across the peninsula.
It’s captivating and a journey that you’ll want to make again and again.
For the Ugadale And Royal Hotel, phone 0800 151 3701, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit machrihanishdunes.com.