This cruise will give a fuller flavour of Scottish west coast cruising, circumnavigating Arran and visiting some of the villages on the Kintyre peninsula.
Choose your route and direction of travel according to whim and the weather forecasts – the route we’ve suggested here involves an anti-clockwise rounding of Bute, Arran and the Cumbrae islands.
Day one/two: start with a leisurely cruise up through the Kyles of Bute. If the wind suits, maybe pick up a visitor mooring off the Colintraive Hotel, whether for lunch or an overnight stay. For a longer first day’s sail, press on through the West Kyle and then into Loch Fyne, heading for the classic west coast haunt of Tarbert. A traditional fishing village, Tarbert still has a working fleet, the boats supplying direct to local restaurants. Berth in the marina then take your pick of the bars and eateries – one of our favourites is Scotts, behind the old fish quay. Spend the day pottering around Tarbert and perhaps head back across Loch Fyne to spend the night at Portavadie, a new and very modern marina destination offering excellent dining, walking and shore-side accommodation.
Day two/three: south to Loch Ranza. The most northerly of Arran’s three main anchorages, Loch Ranza is a small village where you’re likely to (nearly) rub shoulders with some of the native deer herd, which often grazes the shoreline by the historic castle. Give the reef off the north end of the loch a suitably wide berth, then anchor or pick up a visitor mooring, as you prefer. In addition to its hotel, restaurant, and shop – one of each at the last count - Loch Ranza’s main claims to fame are as a fantastic base from which to roam Arran’s northern mountain range; as the place to catch the ferry to Kintryre; and as home to the excellent Arran distillery – a visit to which is highly recommended, not just to sample the local produce but also to enjoy one of their excellent distillery tours.
Day three/four: Carradale and/or Campbeltown. Head down the Kilbrannan sound and if the weather suits, anchor off the tree-lined beach in the beautiful bay that lies about a mile South of the village of Carradale. A leisurely walk from here brings you to the old village and on to its tiny fishing boat harbour – not recommended for yacht berthing but worth a look from the landward side. Pressing on to Campbeltown, at the head of its famous loch you’ll find the town and the visitor pontoons beside the harbour. Among its attractions, another two distilleries await you here…
Day four/five: Round Arran to Lamlash. Round the South end of Arran and the Pladda lighthouse, then on up to Lamlash, bounded by the Holy Isle and one of Scotland’s finest natural harbours. If time permits pick up a visitor mooring off Whiting Bay en route and go ashore for a stroll; or for the more energetic, take a few hours out to walk around and over the Holy Isle, enjoying fantastic views across Lamlash Bay, Arran and much of the Clyde – from above the Pillar Rock lighthouse, we once watched three 60-foot whales meander northwards with the tide – they made the nearby basking sharks look small!
Day five/six: back to Largs, passing Brodick Castle, Goat Fell and the Wee Cumbrae lighthouse on the way. If time allows, stop off at Millport village on Great Cumbrae island – ideal for a walk ashore and an ice cream!
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