A private room for two in a Hostel? And only £20 per person ! My husband was unbelieving but it was true. Inveraray Hostel only sleeps 22 people, but it has 10 rooms, meaning that dorms don’t really exist there. We arrived in the afternoon to a mass of daisies and flocks of birds around the well positioned feeder. We’ve been through Inveraray countless times but didn’t know where the hostel was, as despite its very convenient position its tucked away from the main thoroughfare. A welcome cup of tea after 8 hours on the road and we were soon ready for a walk. Nothing strenuous, but a lovely hour up to the Folly above the impressive castle, at Dun na Cuaiche. There are some large redwoods as well as old lime kiln buildings en route, with impressive views down to Loch Fyne and Inveraray from the folly at the summit. If you have more time, the castle and gardens with delightful tea room are an excellent place for a stop. Inveraray Castle has been the seat of the Dukes of Argyll – chiefs of Clan Campbell – for nearly 200 years.
After our walk we strolled around the town, admiring the dilapidated “Vital Spark” named after ￼the fictional Clyde puffer, created by Scottish writer Neil Munro. This was used in the TV series in the 90’s. As its captain, the redoubtable Para Handy, often says: “the smertest boat in the coastin’ tred”. Sadly she doesn’t look that way today.
Inveraray boasts an excellent fish and chip shop, a couple of pubs and restaurants and a good Co-op. We opted for the co-op and cooked our dinner in the immaculate kitchen with large windows looking onto a lovely wildflower garden. Other guests included a couple who were climbing local Munros and some American lasses who were having a relaxing day intending to visit Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Fyne Ales Brewery, both very close.
For anyone interested in gardens I can recommend two very different ones within 10 miles; Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens, and Crarae Himalaya Glen Gardens. These are both inspirational gardens who owe much to the Victorian plant collectors. What more could you ask for? Only an hour from Glasgow, Inveraray Hostel is very accessible and gives a great taste of Argyll for little effort. It’s certainly the best organised hostel I’ve visited, and I have been to quite a few, and the owners clearly take a great deal of pride in looking after it. It’s a strong contender for my sixtieth birthday gathering!
There are many more fabulous independent hostels all over the Scotland why not treat yourself to a tour of this awe-inspiring part of the UK.