Set at the top of the spectacular Kintyre Peninsula West Loch Hotel overlooks the sea loch from which it takes its name a perfect base from which to explore Kintyre itself, the islands of Arran, Islay, Gigha, and Jura and miles of stunning coastline in this beautiful part of Scotland.
The road to Kintyre offers plenty of interest. Crinan, Canal, used by the 19th-century Loch Fyne herring fleet, is now almost exclusively recreational. It marks the boundary of Knapdale, with gentle scenery, mediaeval stone carvings and Castle Sween. Beyond Tarbert, the road down the peninsula to Campbeltown boasts views west to Islay, Gigha and Jura.
Ferry, ferry close!
The West Loch Hotel is easily accessible to ferries for Islay at Kennecraig, Arran at Claonaig and Gigha at Tayinloan. www.calmac.co.uk
The soft airs of Argyll benefit local gardeners and there is a big choice of gardens to visit, from sheltered woodlands where camellias thrive at Achamore House in Gigha, to the rhododendron rich gardens at Arduaine and Crarae.
The Whisky Coast
The Western Isles are home to some of the classic whisky distilleries whose distinctive peaty flavour are world renowned. Here is an abbreviated list and a wee dram of history from Islay, Arran & Jura.
Islay's seven distilleries enjoy the most scenically stunning settings and are full of character and history. Islay also offers the unique opportunity to visit several of Scotland's most impressive distilleries in one day, and their distinctive peaty malts are considered to be among the finest.
Laphroaig (pronounced 'la-froyg') meaning "The beautiful hollow by the broad bay" in Gaelic. According to many this is the ultimate in malt whisky and is at its best after dinner.
Lagavulin (pronounced 'laga-voolin') Their 16-year-old single malt is one of the classics and also makes the ideal after-dinner tipple.
Ardbeg is a robust and powerful single malt.
Bowmore is the oldest distillery on Islay and still uses all the old traditional methods to produce its fine single malt, also at its best after dinner.
Caol Ila (pronounced 'coal-eela') Unlike most of its island peers, this single malt is best before dinner.
Bunnahabhain (pronounced 'bun a havan') is the most northerly of the distilleries, set in a secluded bay with great views across to Jura.
Origin is the 10 year old that started the Jura journey. It carries the traditional Celtic symbol for birth, beginning and the forces of nature. It tells of a passion rekindled, a distillery reborn and a remarkable whisky forged by turbulent seas and windswept landscapes. It holds a special place in the heart of all Diurachs. For the people of Jura, Origin is the water of life. For more information about Islay and Jura visit www.visitislayjura.com
Arran is a unique island known as 'Scotland in Miniature', for it has all of the scenery of Scotland, with mountains and lowlands, glens, lochs and royal castles (including one at Lochranza). Early in the 19th century there were more than 50 whisky distilleries on Arran, most of them illegal and carefully hidden from the eyes of the taxmen. The malt from Arran was shipped to the mainland and enjoyed by the gentry who regularly "took the Arran waters". It was acclaimed at the time as the best in Scotland, only rivalled by those from the 'Glen of Livet'. For more information about Arran visit www.arranonline.com.
Campbeltown sits on the Mull of Kintyre and the single malt whiskies from the region reflect this with a slight coastal character. They are known for their dryness and often for their pungency. There are also a few peated releases, for example Longrow, which is produced at the Springbank distillery. For more information about Campbeltown visit www.campbeltown.org.uk