Scottish Tour Guide
Tailored Tours with Lord Gray
Guided tours of West coast Scotland by the 23rd Lord Gray.
Gardens, castles and interesting places in Argyll.
Tailored Tours with Lord Gray
Airds Bay House
On this page:
- TOUR A: Northbound Garden Tour
- TOUR B: Middle Garden Tour
- TOUR C: Southbound Garden Tour
- TOUR D: The Inveraray Round Trip
- TOUR E: Oban, Lochgilphead, Ancient History
- TOUR F: The Castle Tour
- TOUR G: North to Glen Coe and Ben Nevis
- Large detailed Map, Prices and Enquiries
The tours as described below are taken with my starting point at home on the shores of Loch Etive. They would ideally suit anyone staying in the Loch Awe area or the environs of either Oban or Inveraray. Shorter excursions are easily arranged and none of the suggested routes are set in stone. Essentially the tours are bespoke - tailored to what you would like to do and see.
I am happy to collect you from airports, stations and ferry terminals and take you to where you are staying for your holiday in Argyll. If you have specific ideas on places you would like to visit I shall be delighted to arrange a trip accordingly.
Current rates for tours and transfers to and from points of embarkation are available on request. My address for enquiries is at the bottom of the page.
I am fairly fluent in German and have conversational French.
We set out for the north shore of Loch Etive crossing the Falls of Lora over the Connel Bridge. Driving along a pretty single track road by the loch we make a visit to Ardchattan Priory gardens with its formal borders and ancient chapel. Heading on north round to the head of Loch Creran, after a coffee stop, our next garden is at Druimnavuic. This has lovely views through its woodland and a large walled garden. We travel on to Port Appin for a late lunch at the Pier House restaurant (excellent seafood ). In the afternoon there is a very different setting at Angus's Garden near Taynuilt with extensive open woods, mature rhododendrons and a loch with swans.
Leaving the shores of Loch Awe behind we travel first to Inveraray and its fine castle all laid out in the mid 18th Century and home to the Dukes of Argyll. I will show you round the state rooms then a private tour of the formal gardens will be arranged. Driving a little way down Loch Fyne we then stop at Crarae, the renowned National Trust gardens with fantastic species of rhododendrons and mature trees. Following a lunch stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar we continue east on the far side of Inveraray as far as Ardkinglas, another beautiful woodland garden from where young plants are cultivated for selling at their tree shop next to the Oyster Bar.
Starting out on the south side of Loch Etive this trip takes us to the gardens at Achnacloich ("field of stones") where the fine baronial house stands on a point high above the water. After this we drive south through the port of Oban down to the shores of Loch Feochan. Heading west on narrow roads via the only "Bridge over the Atlantic" we stop at the secluded Ardmaddy Castle which boasts a staggeringly large walled garden, all beautifully kept. Retracing our route to the main road we then have lunch at the Loch Melfort hotel offering stunning views. To work up an appetite for dinner, we walk just down the path beside the hotel into the wonderful Arduaine ("green point") National Trust gardens. It has gentle woodland, hothouses, ornamental ponds and borders with countless variety.
Setting out on this trip we are on Lochaweside and very much in Campbell country. We see Kilchurn Castle ruins (photograph, left) at the head of the loch. Climbing steadily away from Loch Awe then down again through Glen Aray we regain sea level and reach the Royal Burgh of Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne. The finely laid out town and its castle were largely planned in the mid-18th Century. This is the Clan Campbell stronghold, seat of its chiefs, now the Dukes of Argyll. I will take you on a personal tour of the splendid state rooms and show you around the town. Our lunch break is at the George Hotel in the town. If we are feeling fit afterwards we can climb 126 feet up the Bell Tower.
Amongst other things, this is a chance to visit two of the main towns in this part of Argyll. To begin with we drive to the port of Oban, much of the town nestling in arc around the lovely bay. After taking a panoramic view from the top of Pulpit Hill we head southwards down through Kilmelford and onto Kilmartin: here we stop at the museum / visitor centre with its brilliant display on the archaeological sites in this immediate area. Kilmartin Glen has a remarkable number of early burial cairns, stone circles and other features. Travelling on through the Crinan Moss we reach the Crinan Canal and stop for lunch at Lock 16. After lunch before we leave the early Scots behind we walk out to the ancient fortress of Dunadd. Our afternoon journey takes us then to Lochgilpead, the municipal capital of Agyll. Following a look round we then drive back right up the north shore of Loch Fyne, maybe stopping off at the farm township museum at Auchindrain before returning to Inveraray.
A few miles East of Oban a green finger of land juts out into the Firth Lorne on which stands Dunstaffnage Castle, built on a large lump of volcanic rock around 1220 by Duncan MacDougall, Lord of Lorne. One can see some of alterations that have been carried out over subsequent centuries, when the Campbells gained possession of this site. Next we head north over Connel Bridge and the mouth of Loch Etive driving up around Loch Creran. As we reach the village of Appin and approach the shores of Loch Linnhe there sits the striking Castle Stalker on its rocky outcrop. Tours of the castle may occasionally be arranged in June and July. It is accessible only by boat! There is a great cafe for light snacks and coffee at the viewpoint for Castle Stalker or we can drive to Port Appin for a wonderful seafood lunch at the Pierhouse. In the afternoon we head back over Connel bridge and into Oban where a short climb takes us up to the ruins of Dunollie Castle, another MacDougall stronghold.
A stay in this part of the West Highlands really must include seeing Glen Coe. Heading out in the morning we cross the Falls of Lora at Connel Bridge. Our route northwards finds us following the coast along Loch Linnhe with views over to the Ardamurchan peninsula. Going over another striking bridge at Ballachulish, we keep on north and cross in to the Highland Region just before we reach Fort William. After a look around the town and some lunch we can catch a view of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak and visit the Nevis Range exhibition. Starting southwards we turn off at Ballachulish and soon notice the change as we head into the bleak but beautiful surroundings of Glen Coe. The landscape is certainly dramatic with big peaks and the expanse of Rannoch Moor. Not a place to get stuck in winter! Finally we reach civilisation again at Tyndrum.
To enquire or to book:
Prices are based on £35 an hour. This includes transport in the my car and excludes any entrance fees and meals.
Current rates for tours and transfers to and from points of embarkation are available on request.
Please tell Andrew you discovered his tours through About Scotland!
(Photographs courtesy of Andrew Gray)