This former county in western Scotland is known by the Gaelic name of Earra-Ghàidheal, which means “Coasts of the Gaels.” Yet the presence of numerous standing stones attest to the fact that other cultures were here long before the Gaels. Inverary is the region's main town and is still the residence of the Duke of Argyll, the head of the Campbell clan. With a population density of 20 people per square kilometer, most inhabitants live in the towns of Oban, Cambeltown and Inverary. The rest of the region is virtually uninhabited and work must be found elsewhere. These remote islands and peninsulas are ideal if you are looking for the solitude and quietness of the open country.
Abandoned monasteries and castle ruins
This highly recommendable excursion to the Inner Hebrides begins at the harbor in Oban. A ferry will take you to the Isle of Mull, where you will be given a short bus tour before moving on to Iona. A particular highlight is Fingal's Cave on Staffa. On the way, you will be rewarded with amazing views, including a view of Duart Castle. Ben Nevis is visible to the east and various islands keep coming into view on all sides. Day trips can be arranged with Staffa Tours.
Two-hundred-year-old canal with hand-operated locks
This man-made canal connects the Sound of Jura in the west with Loch Gilp, a tributary of the Firth of Clyde. Construction began in 1794 and lasted seven years. The Crinan Canal was an important extension of the Caledonian Canal farther north, since then it was possible to avoid a long detour around the Kintyre Peninsula and the Mull of Kintyre. The canal's fifteen locks are still operated by hand.
Ruins and monasteries on the fairy tale lake
The 37 km long, but only about one km wide freshwater lake is the third largest and at the same time one of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland. It lies in a deep valley that is partly wooded. On several islands, lonely ruins of castles and monasteries bear witness to an eventful history. The most famous castle, Kilchurn Castle, stands on the northern shore of the lake.
Quiet fjord off the beaten track
Loch Fyne is situated in the southwest Highlands a little off the beaten track. The tranquil fiord is surrounded by wooded hills that provide enchanting views of Argyll and the sea beyond. Inverary Castle, seat of the Dukes of Argyll, is just a short distance away near the village of the same name. The picturesque castle and immense grounds are open to the public.
Base for the Western Highlands
Oban is an ideal base for travelers wishing to explore the Western Highlands. The little town south of Fort William boasts a harbor and a yacht club. Most of the shops and restaurants are clustered around the small train station. Ganavan Sands is the best place to swim. The Oban whisky distillery, built in 1794, is known for its malt Scotch. Boat trips can be taken to the Hebrides west of Orban, while the sparsely populated country east of the city offers spectacular mountain landscapes. Some of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland, such as Loch Tay, Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond, are only a 30 minutes' drive away.