About Loch Fyne
Loch Fyne is located within Argyll & Bute in Scotland and is home to the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Campbell clan. It’s a beautiful and historic area of Scotland that is often overlooked. With exceptional food, culture, and heritage, Loch Fyne attracts many locals for weekend holidays. This little area of the Highlands is quite the hidden gem.
I’ve compiled a list of things to see and do in the area on a day trip, with the help of a local bed & breakfast owner. Catriona is a regional tourism expert and owns the best place to stay in Helensburgh, Scotland. This trip to Loch Fyne is based on a day trip we did from the town on our last stay.
On our way to Loch Fyne from Helensburgh along the A83, we stopped at the Rest and Be Thankful Commemorative Stone. Soldiers put the original stone there while creating a military pass in the 1750s, but it has since been replaced. The road and pass are one of the most scenic in Scotland.
While you don’t actually get to drive on the original road, it’s a great place to take a minute and imagine the soldiers, post Jacobite rebellion, working away on this mountain pass.
Inveraray is the main town on Loch Fyne, complete with Inveraray castle. Its beautiful Georgian buildings stand white-washed to this day. Central to the Highlands and Islands, it was and is the seat of the powerful clan Campbell.
Although we didn’t make it to the jail and courthouse, it’s a worthwhile stop if you’re in town a bit longer. The jail is now an award-winning museum, showcasing life as a Scottish prisoner throughout the centuries.
The whisky shop is also worth a look, if you’re an enthusiast like me.
The town has an excellent local tourism board, and they put on many events throughout the year. You can check out the local website here.
My favourite stop along Loch Fyne was Inveraray Castle.
Half of the castle is open to the public, and half is home to the Duke of Argyll and family. The gardens surrounding the estate are also available to explore.
While a castle has stood here on Loch Fyne since the 15th century, this particular building is from the 18th, and was added on to in the 19th century after a fire.
Surprisingly extravagant, the dining room was designed in the latest French style. The same goes for the drawing room filled with Parisian tapestries. In my opinion, Inveraray is one of the best living castles in Scotland.
Just off the drawing room is a wonderful collection of the most delicate china in what was originally supposed to be a library. It’s a hidden room, so make sure not to miss it!
The armoury stands in the centre of the house in between the intended front entrance at the south of the house and at the actual entrance to the north. My boyfriend found it very impressive. The feel of the room is quite different to the formal French-style rooms preceding it.
Upstairs is mostly themed rooms, tributing to different elements of the family’s (and clan’s) history.
No castle is complete without its share of ghost stories. This bed belonged to an Irish harpist who was murdered in 1644. When they brought the four-poster to the new castle, the boy’s ghost remained with the bed. It is said that the harpist predicts any deaths in the family, playing his harp before anyone takes their last breath.
In this beautifully papered room, the modern life of the Duke of Argyll and his family is shared. There are photographs of the three children, and of the Duke’s marriage to Eleanor Cadbury (yes, of Cadbury chocolate). Torquhil Campbell is the 13th Duke of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell, but he has more than those two titles.
In the basement, Inveraray castle has a beautiful display of copper pots, as well as an assortment of traditional cooking tools. It’s easy to imagine a bustling castle kitchen (just like in Downton Abbey!).
Speaking of Downton Abbey, the show’s 2012 Christmas episode was shot here. In the special, the castle was referred to as Duneagle Castle, home to the Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire. The episode makes full use of Inveraray Castle and grounds, particularly showcasing the South Entrance pictured below.
The South Entrance opens to the gardens. Inveraray’s gardens are well-maintained, and are supposed to be beautiful any time of year. We were lucky to go in May, when a lot of the flowers were in bloom.
There’s also a Tearoom and many places to wander over the sixteen acres. Inveraray is the best place to spend a day on Loch Fyne.
The best view of the castle is from this bridge, over Loch Fyne. The architecture and history is a true gem. I would say it’s a must-see when in the Highlands.
You can check out their website and purchase tickets in advance here.
Another place my boyfriend and I stopped along Loch Fyne is Crarae Garden. They are open to the public year round, and are home to many interesting plant species.
My boyfriend and I love gardens of any kind, that’s why we decided to go. I personally wouldn’t recommend them to any Scotland first-timer’s, as they’re really nothing too spectacular. They definitely do not reflect the native forests or plant species of Scotland.
Where to Eat
As per our B&B host’s recommendation, we stopped for lunch at Loch Fyne Oyster Bar Restaurant.
Although it’s a chain throughout the UK, this particular location on Loch Fyne is the original restaurant. Its also the best. They use fresh Scottish seafood and have an aesthetic that just can’t be replicated in chains.
We had the best baked clams ever, as well as some pretty delicious mussels to share.
Loch Fyne Oysters is also a Deli, where you can purchase local seafood and meats.
Where to Stay
Our favorite place to stay in the Argyll & Bute area is at this sweet little B&B in Helensburgh. I’ve written a couple of posts on it, check them out!