One of the wonderful things about Kintyre is its proximity to many of the Scottish Islands. As you drive up you can see the wonderful island of Arran. Then on the A83 you see Islay and Jura which we have visited before and would also recommend as a great place to holiday on the west coast of Scotland. Also on the A83 you pass by Gigha which is an island we have never been to but both my husband and I have always wanted to go to.
I must admit one of the attractions for me in booking Kintyre was that we could visit the islands. There is something special to me about an Island. I love staying on Islands and especially love night-time when the ferry leaves and you are completely cut off from the mainland. We counted that between us we have visited 13 of the Scottish Islands including our childhood haunt of Arran. But in order to make it a nice even 14 islands. And as we wanted to check it out for future holidays we decided a trip to Gigha was in order.
So after an abortive attempt on the Friday of our first week when we were all set to go then my poor daughter woke up with my son’s tummy bug. We finally got away on the Sunday and set back down the A83 to Tayinloan.
Part of the attraction for me of islands is the ferry trip and for me nothing beats a trip on a Cal Mac ferry there is something magical in it. There is a special smell to Cal Mac which is all west coast and I just love it. So I think my husband and I were as excited as the kids as we walked on as passengers to the Gigha ferry and set off on a new adventure. The only person who wasn’t so keen was the dog but then again he had never been on a ferry before!
I have a theory about places and it holds especially true about islands. I think if you first visit an island in the sun you are far more likely to love it than if you first greet it in the pouring rain. I have tried out this theory many times with people who have visited Arran. Those that saw it first in great weather are hooked on Arran for life and those who didn’t are less keen.
So as we sailed across the sea to Gigha in sunny weather I had a feeling that we were going to like Gigha a lot and as soon as we got off the ferry I just knew that we were. There is something unique and special about Scottish islands each one is different but they all are bound by stunning colours, sandy beaches and local characters.
My son unlike my husband, daughter and I who were just content to wander round and take it all in. Had one thing in mind and one thing only and that was he was getting lunch out and he was going to make sure that he got that lunch as soon as possible. So as soon as he saw the Gigha Hotel he was through the gate and into the hotel before the rest of us had any say in the matter.
The Gigha Hotel like the rest of the island is run by the Gigha community. As you may know Gigha was the first community buy out of an island and has been very successful in running it. Another reason to visit Gigha to see how this works in practice.
As we had the dog with us we sat outside in the beer garden of the Gigha Hotel and the dog was very grateful for the bowl of water which was provided for dogs.
In order to order though we had to go into the hotel and as soon as we entered it made me smile as it had the look and smell of many Scottish Island Hotels but it especially reminded me of a favourite hotel from my childhood The Corrie Hotel on Arran.
We ordered and my son as mission was now accomplished let us sit down in the beer garden and enjoy the view. I always enjoy eating out in Spain but for me eating out in the UK when it’s sunny and warm is an even greater treat. As we looked from Gigha back over to Kintyre and saw the boats sailing and watched people on Gigha go about their business. I wanted to be nowhere else in that moment. Then where we were.
After lunch we took a wander through the village to the gardens of Achamore which are well worth a visit in themselves. We really enjoyed wandering around seeing plants that we have in our garden but usually bigger and bushier than ours which allowed us to imagine what our garden might be like in the future. As well as seeing plants that were new to us including one plant which reminded me of a Triffid for those of you old enough to remember that BBC series.
As many people say in Scotland if you don’t like the weather don’t worry a new batch will be around the corner. So it was to be and my son felt quite justified in demanding an early lunch for the heavens did indeed open and we got torrential rain. We were fortunate in the gardens as we were able to hid underneath the trees and watch and again smell the changing weather.
After half an hour or so though we realised that it was not perhaps the short shower of rain that we had originally thought and made our way back to the village. Very wet and wanting some shelter led us to the community centre where my husband was delighted to discover there was a John Lowrie Morrison exhibition of his Gigha paintings. John Lowrie Morrison is one of our favourite painters as he paints the west coast and brings alive the colours that make the west coast what it is. In another life we would have been very tempted to buy though the problem would have been in deciding which one. But for now we were content to look at his view on the beautiful island of Gigha.
By this time we only had the time to buy some ice lollies as we meandered back to get the last ferry of the day. By now as it seemed to be the norm in these parts the sun had fought back against the rain and won and the sky had cleared. We sailed away from Gigha now dry again as the heat of the sun had quickly dried our clothes and even the dog no longer resembled a drowned rat! After waving goodbye to Gigha and seeing it fade into the distance I spent the remainder of the journey with my face to the sun and took in its heat. Reflecting that it had been a great day trip, Gigha is well worth a visit and a serious contender for a future holiday and that I love Cal Mac ferries! Some love cruise ships some yachts but for me give me a trip on a Cal Mac ferry and you will make my day!
For more information on Gigha see this web link http://www.gigha.org.uk/home/news/index.php?newsid=323&PHPSESSID=3253dbae42ad692a7505434ec7126b2f