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Scenic Journeys of Argyll and Bute

From £995.00
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Departing by Rail
Duration 5 Days
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The railway line from Glasgow to Oban is one of the most scenic in Scotland, and unjustly receives less attention than the more famous routes such as Fort William to Mallaig and Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh. Yet there are many visual delights to enjoys, such as the views over Loch Long and Loch Lomond, the remote Glen Douglas, Glen Falloch and Glen Lochy and the much-photographed ruins of Kilchurn Castle.

As well as traversing this historic railway line we have other splendidly scenic excursions to enjoy, including two island gems. The first of these is little Gigha, home to the Achamore Gardens, whose slightly faded glory still has the power to amaze, and the second is the isle of Bute, where we find one of the most extravagant stately homes in the British Isles. We also visit Inveraray Castle, home to the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, as well as two fine gardens at Ardkinglas and Arduaine. After a farewell lunch with stunning views over Loch Melfort we sit back and watch the scenery unfold as we take the train back to Glasgow.

What You’ll Love

  • Scenic railway journey from Glasgow to the West Highlands
  • Visit to Achamore Gardens on Gigha
  • Tour of dazzling Mount Stuart
  • Visits to Arduaine and Ardkinglas gardens
  • Lunch with a view at Loch Melfort
  • Accommodation
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Meals – as per the itinerary

Please note this tour begins and ends in Glasgow. Departure time will be approximately 12.30 and return time will be approximately 19.30. Single Supplements apply. Subject to availability.

Itinerary

Day 1

Travel independently to Glasgow and assemble at Queen Street Station where we board the lunchtime train to Oban. This is a particularly scenic journey though it begins in darkness as our train powers up the steep incline in the tunnel out of the station. Before long we are running along the shores of the Firth of Clyde, followed by views over Gareloch and Loch Long on our left and Loch Lomond on our right. The line continues through Glen Falloch before diverging from the Fort William line at Crianlarich and joining the former Callander and Oban metals. The route to takes us through the wilds of Glen Lochy to Dalmally, where we will leave the train and continue by coach to our hotel in Inveraray on the shores of Loch Fyne.

Day 2

Today we depart on excursion to the little Hebridean island of Gigha.  Nestling close to the mainland just off the Kintyre peninsula, this is a gem of an island often overlooked by the island hopper. After taking the ferry from Tayinloan there will be an opportunity for lunch at the Gigha Hotel (not included) before we depart for a visit to Achamore Gardens, the former home of the Horlick family. Sir James Horlick (of bedtime drink fame) came here in 1944 and started to create a woodland garden.  The mild climate combined with high levels of rainfall means that there is always something in bloom.

We take the ferry back to the mainland and return to our hotel.

Day 3

This morning we will drive around the head of Loch Fyne and south to Colintraive, from where we take the short ferry crossing to Rhubodach on the Isle of Bute. Here we visit the spectacular house and gardens of Mount Stuart, which is one of the largest, most spectacular High Victorian Gothic houses in Britain and yet one of the least known. The gardens were only opened to the general public for the first time in June 1995. These 300 acres of stunning woodlands and gardens are a real treasure trove for the garden enthusiast. The temperate effect of the Gulf Stream on Bute ensures that there are always many exotic plants, palm trees and Mediterranean blooms to be seen here. There is a pavilion glasshouse in the grounds which nurtures rare species from the tropical rain forests of south-east Asia while native British plants thrive in the fertile soils and mild climate.

We take the ferry back to the mainland and return to our hotel.

Day 4

We return to the head of Loch Fyne this morning for a visit to Ardkinglas, considered to be one of architect Sir Robert Lorimer’s masterpieces. Following a private tour of the house there will be time to look around the Woodland Gardens. Here huge conifers planted in the nineteenth century provide a high canopy for rhododendrons and other shrubs. Highlights include five of Britain’s tallest or largest conifers.

This afternoon we have a guided tour of Inveraray Castle, which has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the Clan Campbell, since the 17th century. The house is a mostly mid-18th century neo-Gothic design. Designers who worked on the house include Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt and Robert Adam; the interior includes a number of neoclassical rooms created for the 5th Duke by Robert Mylne.

Day 5

This morning we will visit the National Trust for Scotland’s garden at Arduaine.  The garden here was started in 1897 by James Arthur Campbell, a tea planter, and a friend of Osgood MacKenzie, the maker of Inverewe.  It is a splendid site, full of the most magnificent plants.  It is most rewarding to keep going to the viewpoint which gives an exquisite panorama of the calm waters of Loch Melfort below.

After a farewell lunch at the adjacent Loch Melfort Hotel we drive north to Oban and take the afternoon train back to Glasgow Queen Street. This will give us the opportunity to enjoy the section of track between Oban and Dalmally, which takes us along the shores of Loch Etive and Loch Awe, at the head of which lies the much-photographed Kilchurn Castle, before re-tracing our route back to Glasgow.


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