Lochgilphead is a town of 2,300 people (2020) at the head of Loch Gilp, an inlet of Loch Fyne; it's the administrative centre for the county of Argyll and Bute on the west coast of Scotland. It's not scenic, but it's worth spending a day or two to see the megaliths at Kilmartin, the Crinan Canal, and the scenic Tayvallich peninsula.
By bus: Scottish Citylink Bus 926 runs 5 or 6 times a day from Glasgow Buchanan via Dumbarton, Luss, Tarbet and Inveraray taking 2 hr 30 min to Lochgilphead, and continuing south to Tarbert (Loch Fyne) and Campbeltown. 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 by Bus 449 between Lochgilphead, Tarbert and Campbeltown.
The inter-city 1 bus stop in Lochgilphead is on Lochnell Street, the main road.
By boat: see Tarbert (Loch Fyne) for ferries to Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Cowal and Arran.
April-Sept the Jura Passenger Ferry, for foot passengers only, sails from Tayvallich to Craighouse on Jura. There are two sailings Monday and Wednesday-Saturday, one on Sunday, none on Tuesday. The crossing takes 45-60 min in a bouncy Rib, which has a cabin so you stay dry. Fares are £20 each way, bikes & dogs free, advance booking needed (☏ +44 7768 450000). A day-trip gives you 6 hours on Jura.
West Coast Bus 425/426 runs from Lochgilphead to Tayvallich, with 5 per day Monday-Friday.
Bus 423 / 23 runs from Oban via Kilmartin to Lochgilphead. There are five buses on school days, and three on Saturdays and school holiday weekdays.
Bus 448 runs from Lochgilphead to Tarbert, Kennacraig, Claonaig and Skipness, three M-Sat.
- Crinan Canal, opened in 1801, stretches for nine miles between Ardrishaig 1.5 miles south of Lochgilphead, and 1 Crinan on the Atlantic coast. It was built to create a shortcut for small craft, especially the "Clyde Puffers", avoiding the stormy Mull of Kintyre. It remains navigable and there's a good towpath for walking or cycling.
- 2 Kilmartin Museum (Kilmartin House Museum), PA31 8RQ, ☏ +44 1546 510278. Mar-Oct: daily 10:00-17:30, Nov-Dec: daily 11:00-16:00. Start here to understand the structures of Kilmartin Glen and the prehistoric peoples who made them. With cafe and gift shop. Adult £7.
- Kilmartin Parish Church (Kilmartin Stones), PA31 8RN (next to museum). Daily 09:30-16:00. Built in 1835 in neo-Gothic style, this is the Church of Scotland parish church. It has a notable collection of medieval carved gravestones, and a 9th-century cross. Free.
- 3 Kilmartin Glen, south of the village and west of the main road, has a remarkable complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age remains, the best in Scotland. The linear cemetery is a line of five burial cairns: Glebe Cairn, Nether Largie North, Mid and South Cairns, and Ri Cruin. Standing stones are grouped at Nether Largie South, Ballymeanoch (next to Dunchraigaig Cairn) and Temple Wood.
- Moine Mhor means "big bog" - a raised bog, once common but becoming rare, and now a National Nature Reserve. Access is a mile south of Kilmartin on B8025.
- 4 Dunadd Fort (3 miles south of Kilmartin). Open all year. Remains of an Iron Age hilltop fort, some 2000 years old. Free.
- 5 Carnasserie Castle (One mile north of Kilmartin). Always open. Tower House built in 1565, ruined after 1685 when the Earl of Argyll backed the winning side too soon. His rebellion in Scotland combined with the Monmouth rebellion in England to try to overthrow King James II/VII. James crushed both rebellions and executed the rebels; but he was ousted in 1688 by the Hanoverian dynasty and his "Jacobite" cause was now on the wrong side of history. Free.
- 6 Keills Chapel, Tayvallich PA31 8PQ (five miles south of Tayvallich). Always open. Small chapel dating from 11th century with some very early crosses and grave slabs, including the Keills Cross from 8th century. The chapel has been re-roofed and most of the stones are now inside. Free.
- 7 Kilmory Castle Gardens. Kilmory Castle was built in the 1830s is the main office of Argyll and Bute Council. The castle grounds are open as a park and have some rare rhododendrons.
- Lots of walks, e.g., along the canal. The 39 Steps is a gentle ascent through woodland above Ardrishaig; Richard Hannay never fled from any enemy agents here.
- The Coop in Lochgilphead on Oban Road is open daily 07:00-22:00.
- Smiddy Bistro in Lochgilphead is a small place with a wide selection of good food. It's open M-Sa 10:00-17:00.
- Oriental choices in Lochgilphead are Coriander, Taj Mahal and Lee Garden takeaway.
- Tayvallich Inn is a seafood restaurant open daily 12:00-14:30 and 17:30-21:00.
- The Victoria in Lochgilphead is on Argyll St, open daily from 11:00 to around midnight.
- Lochgilphead Caravan Park is by the junction of A83 and A816. Very clean and well run with hook-ups, static caravans and campsite, tel +44 1546 602003.
- Empire Lodge is a small B&B on Union St Lochgilphead, one block back from the main road. Clean and welcoming, tel +44 1546 602381.
- Corran B&B[dead link] is by the A83 / A816 junction, tel +44 1546 603866.
- Kilmory House is on Paterson St Lochgilphead, hospitable place, tel +44 1546 603658.
- 1 Kilmartin Hotel, Kilmartin PA31 8RQ, ☏ +44 1546 510250. Family-run hotel in a 19th-century building. The hotel has a bar offering meals. B&B double £85.
- Old Manse Bed & Breakfast, Kilmartin PA31 8RQ (next to museum), ☏ +44 1546 510202. Friendly well-run B&B open all year, with 3 doubles, one twin and one single. B&B £45 ppn.
- Crinan Hotel, Crinan PA31 8SR (by canal basin), ☏ +44 1546 830261. Dog-friendly hotel, open all year, with good restaurant B&B double from £110.
As of June 2023, Lochgilphead has 4G from all UK carriers, but coverage along its approach highways is very patchy. 5G has not reached this area.
- South to Tarbert on Loch Fyne, perhaps via the loop of lane along Knapdale west coast, then to Campbeltown and the Mull of Kintyre.
- North past Ardfern and Arduaine Gardens, with a turn-off at Kilninver for Seil, Luing and Easdale islands, and onwards to Oban.
- East through Inveraray towards Tarbet on Loch Lomond.
|Routes through Lochgilphead|
|Campbeltown ← Tarbert (Loch Fyne) ←||SW NE||→ Inveraray → Glasgow|