There is so much to entertain you, your friends and family when you stay at Argyll Backpackers. From grandparents to toddlers, teenagers to parents, there is something for everybody. Including the dog!
You’ll be spoiled for choice when you book a mini break adventure at Argyll Backpackers. Our family and dog friendly accommodation is located on the shores of Loch Fyne on the scenic route to Mull, at the heart of Argyll. We have just completed alterations so that all rooms are now en suite. There are double, twin and triple rooms, as well as bunk rooms for 4 and 6 guests.
If you decide you want to do more than appreciate the fabulous views from the hostel then the selection of activities here which will help you plan your stay with us. We do encourage you to get in touch for more details.
Fresh Air and Exercise
There’s so much scope for cycling from our hostel. One of our favourites is the challenging ‘Kilberry Loop’. The highlight is 30 miles of scenic single track road hugging the coast on the Knapdale peninsula between the hostel and Tarbert. A leisurely pace will see you back at the hostel, allowing time to appreciate deserted beaches, hidden coves and a fascinating array of wildlife. You might even decide to stop for a fabulous lunch or a tea/coffee break at the Port Ban cafe .
Mountain bikers should get a healthy dose of adrenalin at the Fire Tower Trail near Lochgilphead. If a leisurely trip is more to your liking, then 9 miles on the canal towpath starting just 2 miles south of the hostel leads straight to the popular Crinan coffee shop
LOCAL LINKS! Guests may be able to borrow bikes from The Ardrishaig Bothy subject to availability and identity checks.
Walking & Hill Walking:
There’s enough terrain for everyone. There are easy strolls on flat, well made surfaces along the Crinan Canal or the harbour promenade in Tarbert. If you are looking for a little more of an adventure, you will find forest, woodland or coastal meanders on paths and trails. For the serious hill walkers there are strenuous hikes with astounding hill top or coastal views, including the challenging Kintyre Way and Knapdale Hills. Whatever type of walking you fancy – you won’t be disappointed! But there’s still more, the 20km Dalriada Heritage Trail has interpretation boards, leaflets and podcasts to enhance your trip and we’re delighted to promote a new long distance route, the Kintyre 66 due for launch next year. You’ll never be too far from a great cafe or restaurant and we’re always happy to point you to the best ones along your chosen route.
LOCAL LINKS! Guests may be able to arrange guided walks with our local contact at Heathery Heights
Whether you bring your kayak, surfboard, windsurfer or SUP, you can start and finish from the tidal burn that runs alongside the hostel and into Loch Fyne. Or you might prefer wild swimming. We’re in the midst of the Argyll Sea Kayak Trail which is 93 miles long and offers some of the best sea kayaking in Europe. This summer we watched a group of SUP paddling in the loch within shouting distance of the hostel. They couldn’t believe their luck as they enjoyed the acrobatics of a pod of dolphins, happy to play and entertain us all for several hours!
Of course there are many other ways to enjoy the seascape, whether its fishing from the beach, joining a diving group based in nearby Tarbert or booking a boat trip to the spectacular Corryvreckan whirlpool with one of our local boat charters. For a more relaxed voyage you can hop aboard the world famous last seagoing paddle steamer the Waverly on her weekly sails from Tarbert, Loch Fyne during the summer months.
LOCAL LINKS: Kayak gear can be sourced locally at Karitek . Wildlife boat trips can be arranged with Craignish Cruises and Venture West. There’s also a local surf school and hire centre operating during the season, details on request.
Scotland has more than its share of castles and Argyll has some hidden gems. Our favourite is Tarbert Castle which was fortified and enlarged by Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland in around 1325. It’s in a great location close to the village, with excellent family picnic spots and lovely walks further up the hillside, all with great views and photo opportunities along the way.
If you’re keen to see more castles within easy travelling distance of the hostel why not make a day of it? We’d suggest; Castle Dounie (11 miles from hostel), Carnasserie (14 miles from hostel), Skipness Castle (21 miles from hostel) and Inveraray Castle (29 miles from hostel).
Standing Stones + More:
Fans of Outlander have been flocking to appreciate a more authentic experience at Kilmartin Glen, just 8 miles from the hostel. In fact this area has one of the richest concentrations of prehistoric monuments and historical sites in Scotland. There are over 800 monuments, including ring & cup markings and burial cairns.
Kilmartin Museum is well worth a visit and if you feel the need for refreshment, the in-house cafe serves great meals and snacks. As well as Kilmartin, you can explore more ring & cup markings at Cairnbaan (6 miles from hostel) and at Achnabreac (7 miles from hostel). This ‘rock art’ at Acnabreac is thought to be over 4000 years old.
No visit to the area would be complete without standing in the foot prints of kings at Dunadd Fort, an Iron Age and later hill fort. It is believed to be the capital of the ancient kingdom of Dal Riata (Dalriada) and stronghold of the ‘Scotti’. Legend has it to be the site where the ancient Kings of Scotland were crowned. The rock footprint at the top of the hill is thought to have formed part of the royal coronation ritual.
LOCAL LINKS: To find out about guided walks and other activities around Kilmartin Glen you can make an enquiry to Kilmartin Museum
Nature & Wildlife
We are very fortunate at Argyll Backpackers to be able to watch the antics of seals, otters and dolphins from the hostel lounge.
A little further afield you’ll see red squirrels in the walled garden at Kilmory Woodland Park (near Lochgilphead, 5 miles from the hostel). Our top recommendation is to spend a day at the Argyll Beaver Centre, only 10 miles from the hostel. Set in a tranquil spot, it offers a mix of easy walking trails, a cycling trail, peaceful lochs and wonderful wildlife. The highlight of the visit, however, has to be the resident beavers. The best time to see them is dawn or dusk, but even if you’re not lucky enough to spot one, you will certainly see some of their handiwork. Look out for their lodge homes, felled trees, ingenious dams and the flooded woodland they’ve engineered. The centre also provides a Ranger service within Knapdale and its surrounding area offering wildlife guided walks and themed events throughout the season.
Other wildlife favourites nearby include;
- Moine Mhor (11 miles from hostel) is home to dragonflies, hen harriers, curlews and other moorland and wetland species.
- Crinan Wood (11 miles from hostel) is as close as you’ll come to temperate rainforest in the UK. Trees are mainly oak and silver birch and there’s also a great variety of ferns and lichens. The main entrance is only a few minutes walk across the canal basin at Crinan. There’s a way-marked trail and there are information boards at the main entrances.
- Taynish just south of Tayvallich (17 miless from hostel) is one of the largest remaining oak forests in Britain. The woodland, grassland, heath, saltmarsh and shoreline are home to an amazing variety of wildlife.
Within easy reach of the hostel you can enjoy the delights of forest trails at Kilmichael, Knapdale, Port Ann, Tarbert and Ardcastle – there are hundreds of miles to explore! A local favourite is at Torinturk (12 miles from hostel) near Tarbert where you’ll discover a Bronze Age Giant’s Grave and you can climb up to an ancient Dun with views across West Loch Tarbert to the isles of Arran and Jura.
If you believe that life’s a beach then we’ve picked out a few which you should enjoy –
- Our beach at the hostel: where you can watch the seals at play, as well as a diverse range of sea birds. We have regular visits from otters and sometimes even dolphins.
- A little further away we recommend the beach at Achahoish (6 miles from hostel).
- Crinan Ferry is a sheltered sandy bay (12 miles from hostel) at the mouth of the River Add. It has lovely views across to Duntrune Castle and is a great spot for children to play. There is a car park 100m before the beach.
- The beaches at Loch Stornoway and Ormsary and just south of Kilberry are all worth a visit. Follow the signs for the Coves on foot to find a secluded sandy spot (19 miles from hostel)
- Kilmory Beach: a single track road takes you to this wonderful sandy bay (23 miles from hostel), where you can relax and unwind on the beach, swim in the crystal clear waters and enjoy views out across the Sound of Jura.
- Westport Beach: if you don’t mind travelling 40 miles south of the hostel you’ll find one of the finest beaches on the West Coast of Scotland. Stretching for over six miles to the golfing mecca of Machrihanish, Westport Beach has huge sand dunes providing shelter on a windy day. This is a favourite with families, surfers and dog walkers.
LOCAL LINKS: For Beaver spotting and wildlife tours in Knapdale, contact Pete or Olly at Argyll Beaver Centre. A guide to forest trails in Mid Argyll and Kintyre is available in pdf format at Forestry and Land Scotland.