The First House Inveraray
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Sitting on the western shore of Loch Fyne is the dreamy little town of Inveraray (www.inveraray-argyll.com, www.visit-inveraray.co.uk). First impressions of the white washed pristine little town are always to fall in love with it, particularly on calm days with the buildings dappled reflections in the loch. Looking across to the Cowal Peninsula , the town is a classic example of the Scottish Georgian style of architecture. Inveraray Castle is the home of the Duke of Argyll (head of Clan Campbell) and was built between 1741 and 1758. The castle has a chateau feel to it and inside has an excellent armoury hall as well as a shop, tea rooms and woodland walks.
Inveraray Jail (the living 19th century prison) is open all year round and has beautifully restored buildings and features warders and prisoners in period dress recreating the past.
The jail was closed in the 1930's and now offers several exhibitions including a courtroom trial, the grim Old Prison and the ‘modern' new prison.
The Bell Tower contains Scotland's finest bells and is a mecca for campanologists worldwide. The Bell Tower, for those not interested in bell ringing offers amazing views of Loch Fyne and the town.
The town features many interesting shops including Inveraray Woollen Mill and the Loch Fyne Whisky Shop . Moored in the harbour is the Arctic Penguin , a three-masted schooner that serves as a floating museum which relates to the traumatic conditions experienced and endured by transported convicts.
The outdoor life reigns here with walking trails, horse riding and more at the Argyll Adventure three miles south of the town.
Auchindrain Township and Folk Museum is situated five miles south of Inveraray on the A83.It features a West Highland Township of around 20 dwellings which convey life around the 1700's. There is a Visitor centre with an information bureau.
Crarae Garden is ten miles south of Inveraray on the A83 and is open all year. Set in a superb natural gorge with many waterfalls and walks. There is a visitor centre with plant sales and a craft shop.
Lochgilphead is a small town with an attractive location at the head of Loch Gilp, 25 miles south of Inveraray. A mile east of lochgilphead is Kilmory Woodland Park which has an interesting variety of walks including Kilmory Gardens which blazes with the colour of rhododendrons in early summer. Kilmory Loch adds tranquility to the park and is an excellent picnic site.
The southern terminus of the Crinan Canal can be seen at Ardrishaig , a village a few miles south of Lochgilphead. North of Lochgilphead is Kilmartin Glen , the centre of Argyll's finest array of standing stones and burial mounds. This site of the ancient kingdom of Dalriada has superb scenery of lochs, mountains and rivers.
Kilmartin Museum , skillfully encompasses Scotland's historic culture and history through audio visual presentations. Close by is Dunadd , hilltop capital of Dalriada, the first kingdom of the Scots., is reached from the A816. Running through glorious hill, coast and forest scenery, the same road heads north past Craobh Haven a marina resort with causeways linking a series of islands and the hillside gardens of Arduaine . North is Loch Awe which lies in a narrow tree lined glen some 25 miles long. There are extensive forests (with walks and trails) on either side of the narrow ribbon of water, each side offering beautiful wooded views of the other.
The Loch stops in the north against the impressive Ben Cruachan and it is here that Scottish Power have excavated an underground site for the power station and have given birth to the Hollow Mountain attraction. The Power Station at Cruachan Mountain is some 15 miles east of Inveraray on the A85 and has fascinating trips into the heart of Ben Cruachan to view the underground power station. Also featured are a Visitors centre and a picnic area overlooking Loch Awe.
Driving in the area reveals beautiful views with mountain backdrops, all in a superb serenity,. There are some boat trips on the Loch, some crossing to the spectacular ruins of Castle Campbell.
At the head of Loch Fyne is Cairndow , a tiny village nestling beneath the steep hills looking over the loch. At Clachan, Cairndow on the A83 Ardkinglas Woodland Garden is open all year except January.