Find your way around Campbeltown, Tarbert, Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead and Inveraray
FIRST THINGS FIRST! The best way of finding your away around the towns and main villages of Kintyre and Mid Argyll is to purchase a copy of Ronald P A Smith's Campbeltown/Lochgilphead Street Plan, available from the publisher. First published in 2003, the coloured map covers Campbeltown, Lochgilphead, Ardrishaig, Inveraray and Tarbert at the large scale of 8 inches to 1 mile (1:7500), considerably larger than any other similar series of maps available, and consequently the most detailed town map of its kind, aimed at walkers/pedestrians as well as motorists and commercial drivers. It forms part of the only series of Scottish street maps with comprehensive indexes and locations of antiquities and places of interest; leisure facilities; schools and colleges; places of worship; health and welfare facilities; and other information including the locations of industrial estates, emergency services, etc. Also available is the Oban Street Plan, providing detailed coverage of Oban, Connel and Dunbeg, not to mention our other 90+ street maps currently available.
To order by post direct from the publisher, please click on the 'Map Ordering' button at the top of this web page.
ROYAL BURGH OF CAMPBELTOWN
Campbeltown is one of Scotland's most remote mainland towns, being situated 89 miles south of Oban and 134 long miles by road from Glasgow. It is attractively situated on the shores of the sheltered anchorage of Campbeltown Loch, near the southern end of the Kintyre peninsula. The town (2001 resident population: 5,144) received its Royal Burgh charter in 1700 from King William III, having previously been created a burgh of barony in 1667 (in favour of Archibald, 9th Earl of Argyll). Before the Campbells held sway, the settlement was known as Kilkerran, named after St Ciaran, a Celtic missionary from Ireland.
Campbeltown has had many industries over the years, including fishing (there were 646 boats a century ago), coal mining and shipbuilding. Once there were 34 distilleries within the burgh and many were until recently, employed in the manufacture of clothing. Promises in the late 1970s of an oil platform construction yard by Davaar Island, perhaps fortunately, never came to fruition, but, despite the overall fall in industrial activity over the years, the town shows remarkably few physical signs of economic decline.
Today, Campbeltown, with its well manicured lawns, neat flower-beds and lights strung along the lochside, has much the atmosphere of a holiday town - and there is much to explore in Campbeltown. There is a good selection of locally-run shops (as well as some multiple outlets) in and around the Main Street (picture above), as well as the several places of historical interest outlined below. The town also makes an excellent touring centre for the scenic Kintyre peninsula. As well as road access, Campbeltown has its own airport at Machrihanish, while there is a ferry terminal from which it is hoped that direct ferry services to Ireland, only 25 miles away, will soon be resumed.
Antiquities and Places of Interest
Campbeltown Cross - Prominently situated on an attractively laid-out roundabout in the centre of the town is the Campbeltown Cross, a tall, slender Celtic cross thought to date from the late 14th century. The stone from which the cross was made originates from the area of Loch Sween, many miles to the north, and the carving includes elaborate leaf scroll decoration although several figures were erased from the monument probably at the time of the Reformation.
Town House - One of Scotland's finest civic buildings, Campbeltown Town House (right) is the main architectural focus in the town's Main Street. Constructed by 1760, it replaced an earlier tolbooth. Its multi-faceted steeple replaced a timber structure which lasted only the first twenty years!
Campbeltown Heritage Centre - Housed in the former Lorne Street Church, locally known as the Tartan Kirk because of the different stone colours used in its construction, the locally-run Campbeltown Heritage Centre has very interesting displays on the town's history and former industries, as well as the canal and railway which once ran westwards towards Machrihanish and the coalfields.
Cross Street - The photograph on the left shows one of the more pleasant corners of Campbeltown, complete with second-hand bookshop. In the distance can be seen the tall steeple of the classical Lorne and Lowland Parish Church, a prominent feature for miles around. Also in this part of the town is Springbank, the town's sole remaining distillery.
Campbeltown Museum and Cinema - The town's museum in Hall Street houses a fascinating selection of archaeological exhibits; on the outside are carved panels portraying past and present occupations in the town - coal mining, fishing, shipbuilding, flax, education, distilling, cooperage and construction. Close by is the town's cinema, a rare survival dating from 1913 and recently restored.
St Ciaran's Church and Kilkerran Castle - In ancient times, the centre of the town was probably located at the present-day suburb of Kilkerran. Here is a large cemetery including the remains of St Ciaran's Church, established by the 13th century, an early Christian Cross, a 15th-century cross shaft and various interesting tombstones, the inscriptions on which tell in many ways the recent history of the town. Little if any survives of the nearby Kilkerran Castle, said to have been built in 1498 by James IV. There was a later castle in the centre of the town, long since disappeared and replaced by the Castlehill Church, now attractively refurbished as flats.
At the far northern end of Kintyre, 38 miles north of Campbeltown, is the village of Tarbert (2001 population - 1,338), situated on the narrow isthmus between East Loch Tarbert (pictured on the left) and West Loch Tarbert. The village is beautifully situated around the loch, a popular haven for the yachting fraternity. Today, it has tourism as its main industry, but it has a long history, having been a royal burgh between the 14th and 17th centuries and more recently the centre of the Loch Fyne herring industry. Prominently situated, overlooking the harbour, are the remains of Tarbert's ancient castle, built or greatly extended by Robert the Bruce.
Nearly all the town's commercial businesses overlook the loch, and here is the Tourist Information Centre where detailed local information (including publications) and assistance with travel accommodation can be obtained.
Situated on Loch Gilp at the eastern end of the Crinan Canal is the village of Ardrishaig (2001 population - 1,283). Before the coming of the canal, it was a Loch Fyne herring port and, today, with its pleasant outlook eastwards over the sea-loch, it is largely a dormitory community for nearby Lochgilphead with its hospitals and public administration offices.
Burgh of Lochgilphead
The town of Lochgilphead is strategically positioned at the head of Loch Gilp, a small sea arm off Loch Fyne. It originated as a fishing village and became a burgh in 1858. Over the years, it has developed as an administrative and service centre (2001 population - 2,326), and many years ago took over from Inveraray as the county town of Argyll. Here, at Kilmory Castle, are the headquarters of Argyll & Bute Council, the grounds of which include an extensive woodland park, well worth a visit. Other places of interest include the well-known Highbank Pottery, while, in the centre of the town are a good range of shops in the streets around Colchester Square (picture on the right). On the foreshore is an attractive public park known as the Front Green - here in the summer is a popular putting green.
Royal Burgh of Inveraray
Once the county town of Argyll and the seat of the Sheriff Court, Inveraray is a planned town of the early 19th century, beautifully situated on a headland jutting into Loch Fyne, having been relocated from its original site close by the present (and former) Inveraray Castle. The town became a burgh of barony in 1474 and was made a royal burgh in 1648 by King Charles I. The castle itself is the seat of the Dukes of Argyll; both it and its extensive grounds are open to the public.
Inveraray never grew to any size, owing to the lack of a large agricultural hinterland and, even today, only has around 500 inhabitants. The main industry is undoubtedly tourism and there is a good range of tourist attractions, all within easy walking distance - not only the castle but the Inveraray Jail, the Inveraray Maritime Museum and the tall belltower adjacent to All Saints Episcopal Church, the top of the latter being an excellent viewpoint. These, taken together with its spectacular natural setting, make Inveraray an excellent place for a day out or as a base for a holiday.
We hope that this information on Campbeltown, Tarbert, Ardrishaig, Lochgilphead and Inveraray has whetted your appetite for a visit to Kintyre and Mid Argyll - and remember to buy R P A Smith's Campbeltown/Inveraray Street Plan to find your way around!