Explore the Hidden Gems of Campbeltown, Scotland

Campbeltown Scotland central square

Campbeltown in Scottish Kintyre Peninsula is such a great destination for a weekend! This part of Scotland is well-known for its beautiful coastal scenery and awesome farming opportunities. The area here is perfect for exploring by bike with its single-line road and passing places. If you cut inland, you’ll see sheep and cows grazing on the side of the road, where, patches of mist roll in from the sea.

 

Campbeltown is a historic town in the Kintyre Peninsula, which is well known for its whisky distilleries. It’s a place that has been attracting visitors for decades, but it’s still not as popular as Oban or Pitlochry

The town, originally known as Kinlochkilkerran, was renamed in the 1600s by the then Earl of Argyll, the Chief of the Clan Campbel became one of Scotland’s most important ports.

The harbour was built to carry whisky down to London and the English markets generated economic strength over the following two hundred years. 

Campbeltown Scotland is such a captivating town! It has magnificent views of both hillsides and the sea. There are some great Victorian buildings showcasing the heritage from the golden times of the shipping and mining industry. 

 

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Campbeltown Scotland the shore

Campbeltown Scotland the shore

 

 

The Best Way to Explore Campbeltown Scotland  

If you are looking for a weekend break trip from Glasgow, this town is the perfect destination. Campbeltown is located about 60 miles south of Glasgow, so it can be reached in less than two hours by car. 

The best way to explore Campbeltown Scotland is to start your day at Campbeltown Heritage Centre. You can explore the town’s rich heritage of over 300 years of modern social history from the creation of Campbeltown to the present.  

The centre is located in the church known as Tartan Kirk named because of its distinctive coloured stonework. This exhibition space is packed full of interesting details associated with the heritage of whisky production and coal mining, farming, and fishing.

Campbeltown Picture House is one of Scotland’s earliest purpose-built cinemas, it opened its doors in May 1913.

Designed by Albert V Gardner of Glasgow in Glasgow School of Art Nouveau style. Today, it is the oldest cinema in Scotland still showing films.

Next, there is a Campbeltown Museum and Library free to all visitors, that tells the story of Kintyre through its collection of archaeology, fine art, natural sciences, and social history. 

 

Linda McCartney Memorial

Memorial garden of Linda McCartney late wife of Paul McCartney on the Kintyre Peninsula.

 

Here in the garden, Kintyre Trust placed the Linda McCartney Memorial Garden 

Paul McCartney bought High Farm while he visited Kintyre on Mull of Kintyre in 1966 as a retreat from the stresses of his musical lifestyle. 

In 1969 he married Linda, a famous NY photographer, who was also involved in the production of the video to Mull of Kintyre, one of his best-loved songs.

After the break-up of the Beatles, the farm in the Mull of Kintyre became a sanctuary for Paul and Linda. With time they also brought their children and were regular visitors and supporters to the local area. 

When Linda died in 1998, the local community decided to create a garden in her memory. 

 

Visit Davaar Island Destination for Pilgrims and Walkers

A popular place for the day trip from Campbeltown Scotland is Davaar Island is linked to the Kintyre Peninsula by an exposed tide-way twice a day. 

In 1854, a lighthouse was built on the north of the island by Scottish lighthouse engineers.

There are a few sea caves on the south side of the island worth exploring, but the most special one is the one with the painting of Jesus on the cross. 

It was painted secretly by local art teacher Archibald Mackinnon (1887) after he had a vision dream inspiring him to do so.

 

Davaar island at low tide

Davaar Island at low tide. 

 

The painting was vandalized by a red and black image of Che Guevara in July 2006. It has been restored many times by the locals since.

The shingle causeway is only exposed to the outside world for 3 hours every day. If you intend to visit, please plan ahead and most importantly, find out when the tide times are HERE before you try it. Allow at least an hour one way.

The stunning views back to the Kintyre coastline and out to sea make the trip rewarding. However, this is a challenging walk, so allow sufficient time to explore the island. Suitable boots should be worn.

This path is not suitable for sandals. It can be wet and rocky underfoot and is not suitable for very young children. 

There have been two dog fatalities in the last few years as a result of chasing goats and sheep over the cliffs- so please keep dogs strictly on a lead.

 

Campbeltown Scotland: Meet the “Whisky Town” 

Campbeltown is a must-visit for whisky enthusiasts as one of four major production areas. The Kintyre peninsula is rich with the ingredients needed for distilling: freshwater, local barley, fuel, and peat.

The town’s distilleries were founded in 1817 and by 1837, Campbeltown Scotland was producing more than two-thirds of all the malt whisky in Scotland.

But long before (in 1601) Campbeltown became a centre for whisky smuggling and the illegal production of whisky. In the 19th century, whisky production in the town boomed, with 34 distilleries operating. 

The close proximity to Glasgow allowed provisions to be smuggled in from there. The town went on to be declared “Scotland’s Whisky Town” as it had been home to so many distilleries over the years.

Unfortunately, after WW1, mainly because of the Depression and Prohibition, there was a steady decline in whisky production in Campbeltown and by 1975, there were only two distilleries left in Campbeltown and both shut their doors in 1983. 

2000 saw the resurrection of whisky production in Campbeltown Scotland, with the town once again becoming a significant contributor to the region’s production. It now has 3 distilleries that produce some of the finest whisky in the world.

Glen Scotia, is one of Scotland’s best single malt whisky distilleries since 1832. It now has a brand-new visitor centre and tours are offered regularly.

 

Glen Scotia Distillery, Campbeltown Scotland

Photo@ Glen Scotia Distillery

 

Springbank is the oldest family-owned distillery in Scotland and they are unique among scotch distillers. They produce all of their whisky on a single site, from the process of malting barley to bottling. 

There is a range of tours to take, each with a small (or more) dram to taste and enjoy.

The Mitchell family also owns Glengyle Distillery, where they produce Kilkerran single malt. The original Glengyle Distillery first opened in 1872 and closed in 1925 after 79 years of operation. In 2004, the Mitchells re-established the distillery with their company Glengyle Ltd.

Malt whisky festival Distillers and visitors from all over the world convene on the streets of this beautiful Scottish town. 

The festival takes place in May each year and is a celebration of all that is unique and special surrounding Campbeltown, its whisky-making heritage, and its neighbouring

 

Take a Trek to Mull of Kintyre

“Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea

my desire is always to be here

oh, Mull of Kintyre” (lyrics by Paul McCartney/Denny Laine)

 

This end of the headland is where you will find Scotland’s second lighthouse, which was built in 1788. Immortalised in a song by Paul McCartney, the lighthouse experience (or perhaps we should say the trek to the lighthouse) is an immersive one. 

So if you’re looking for a different coastal experience and don’t mind getting wet and gasping for breath, then go there! 

To get there you have to take a narrow, steep road with sharp bends. It’s not the best place to visit with a big car. 

The walk from the car park to the lighthouse offers a beautiful trek. The view is breathtaking and you can even see Ireland from up here. 

It’s just 12 miles away, although unfortunately in bad weather it might be hard to see the mountains and glens of Antrim, Fair Head, Malin Head and Rathlin Island.

If you have time, don’t forget to admire the views on the walk down. Mull of Kintyre lighthouse is not open to visitors so do not expect any sort of facilities 

The walk down was much easier than the climb back up. Although many people will disagree, I like the unpredictability of the weather here. 

It makes it very special and you really got the feeling that you’re at the end of the world. This can’t be a coincidence as Paul McCartney was inspired by this to create the ‘mists rolling in from the sea’ lyric though!

 

St Columba’s Footprints: A Spiritual Journey

Although St. Columba was an early associate of the founding site, it doesn’t have a reliable history prior to the 1400s. Saint Columba is believed by many to have been in this area, but there is no proof. 

What we do know for certain is that there was an earlier catholic church/chapel on the site.

St Columba’s Chapel was granted to the Whithorn Priory in that century. A little further on, tucked away beneath some bushes, is St Columba’s holly well.  

The well is surrounded by an old cemetery, a ruined 13th-century church and the ‘footprint’ left by St Columba when he came ashore on a nearby beach to convert the Picts to Christianity. 

There are two St Columba’s Footprints, but despite the one in the front being the oldest, the other one was actually carved by a local stonemason in 1856.

Nearby are Keil Caves, where on the rocks you can sometimes see a plethora of seals basking in the sunshine. 

To follow St Columba, drive through the village of Southend, past the graveyard and you will come to a gate leading to St Columba’s Footprints and Well.

 

Celebrate a Hidden Gem of Musical Festivals.

if you’re a music lover, the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival is a must-visit. it’s an annual live music festival that opens its doors every year in Campbeltown Scotland  

Since 1993, this fabulous event has grown stronger each year. The festival features over 150 artists and attracts around 9,000 attendees. The Mull of Kintyre Music Festival has a fantastic mix of concerts, workshops and events. So whatever your musical taste you’re bound to love it here. 

The Festival is filled with talented musicians and the best music from all around the world. If you’re into it then there’s nowhere better to be!

 

Extraordinary Hotels in Campbeltown Scotland

There is a wide range of accommodation options across the Kintyre Peninsula. In Campbeltown, we suggest staying in bespoke properties like those listed below. Or if you have an open mind and heart with a lighthouse by the sea to explore. There’s something for everyone!

Looking for the itinerary?

Escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Slow down and breathe in nature by escaping to Scotland’s uncrowded landscapes of Kintyre and Cowal peninsula

 

Visit Kintyre itinerary

Visit Kintyre itinerary

About me
kasia

My name is Kate and I created Scotland Itinerary Planning to give you those life-changing experiences right in the beautiful country I call home.

I’m proud to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of the world’s most beautiful capital cities. Living in Edinburgh has provided me a base to explore extensively around this magical little country.

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