Gigha (Gaelic: Giogha) is a small island 3 miles off the west coast of Argyll in Scotland. The name is probably from Norse Guðey, “god’s island” or “good island”. It’s about 6 miles north-south by 1½ miles wide. The main attraction is Achamore Gardens.
Like other Hebridean islands Gigha was Norse into the Middle Ages, but the Scottish mainland broke free. King Haakon sailed south to re-establish control but on Gigha he learned that John of the Hebrides was defecting to the Scots. It was not a good prelude to the Battle of Largs of 1263, which scuppered Haakon's campaign, and Norse territory was thereafter ceded to Scotland except for Orkney and Shetland.
A small roro Calmac ferry plies between Tayinloan on the mainland to Gigha, taking 15 min. This sails daily year-round, hourly; April-Oct it’s 09:00-18:00 and Nov-March until around 16:30. Until 30 March 2023, return fares are £16.80 for a car (excludes occupants), £5.80 per adult, £2.90 per child.
1 Tayinloan is the mainland ferry pier, half a mile off the A83 to Campbeltown. The usual approach is via Loch Lomond, Inveraray, Lochgilphead and Tarbert, maybe three hours from Glasgow. Another route is by ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick on the Isle of Arran, then a smaller ferry from Lochranza to Claonaig south of Tarbert, then A83. (Satnav users beware: "Tarbert / Tarbet" is a common Scottish place-name, there's even one on Gigha.) You can leave your car in the free car park at Tayinloan, but Gigha is just about big enough to be worth bringing a car.
Scottish Citylink Bus 926 runs 4 or 5 times daily from Glasgow Buchanan station to Tayinloan (3 hr 30 min) on its way to Campbeltown. The route is via Dumbarton, Tarbet on Loch Lomond, Inveraray, Lochgilphead, Tarbert (Loch Fyne) and Kennacraig (for ferries to Islay). One bus a day runs via Glasgow Airport. Booking is recommended, as this is a busy route connecting with several ferries.
On school days there are a couple of extra runs along A83 by West Coast Bus 449 from Lochgilphead via Tarbert, Kennacraig, Tayinloan and Muasdale to Campbeltown.
On foot, or hire a bike to see the north end.
See and do
- 1 Ardminish is the island's main settlement, straggling along the lane south of the ferry pier.
- Prehistoric remains: there are several standing stones, cairns and duns on the island. The most striking is the Ogham stone near Kilchattan. It’s badly weathered and the inscription can’t be deciphered.
- Achamore House & Gardens (centre of the island). The house, a venerable mansion which has been run as a B&B, is closed and for sale as of June 2019. However in summer you can still see the gardens, open daily 08:00-18:00. The mild climate allows species from Australia, New Zealand and the Andes to thrive here.
- Wildlife includes guillemot and eider. Lots of other ducks, grouse and pheasant, but seldom geese. Gigha lacks many mainland mammals, such as deer, weasels or hares, a bonus for the nesting birds.
- Ireland: climb the highest hill Creag Bhàn (100 m). On a clear day, and Rathlin Island and the hills of Ulster can be seen to the southwest.
- Other small, uninhabited islands close to Gigha are Gigalum then Cara to the south, and Craro to the west. Islay and Jura are prominent to the west.
- Ardminish Stores, PA41 7AA (head of lane from pier), ☏ . Th-Sa, M 09:00-17:00, Su Tu W 09:00-13:00. This is a Post Office and licensed grocers with fuel and bike hire.
Eat and Drink
- 1 Boathouse Restaurant, ☏ . Mar - Sep only. Restaurant specialising in local seafood. Also runs adjacent campsite.
- 1 Gigha Hotel (near the ferry pier at Ardminish.). Open through summer,. Hotel with restaurant. They also run two self-catering cottages.
- Springbank B&B (opposite Achamore House), ☏ . 3-room B&B.
As of April 2022, Gigha has no mobile signal. The mainland approach road A83 has a signal from EE and Three.
- Back to the mainland it must be.
- A short drive north on the mainland takes you to Kennacraig, where you can catch a ferry to Islay.
- Or go south on the mainland to Campbeltown