Welcome to the picturesque realm of Argyllshire, situated in the western Highlands of Scotland, with dramatic landscapes and coastline. Bordered by the sea on three sides, Argyllshire is an area of significant natural beauty; unspoiled mountains, glens, and lochs form an undulating canvas of charm.

In our area guide, we unpack this tranquil county, as we encounter serene village life against a backdrop of the bustling cruise destination that is Oban. We further explore what it's really like to live in this awe-inspiring location, taking into account elements like the local schools, transport links and housing market trends, amongst others.

History of Argyllshire

Argyllshire's storied past echoes far back into the depths of time. Once home to early Scot tribes and Viking settlers, this region became the ancient kingdom of Dal Riada in the 6th century. Following the unification of Scottish tribes, Argyllshire was at the centre of many power struggles, notably during the Jacobite uprisings. The region’s history is preserved in the standing stones and castles that grace the landscape, silently whispering tales of the past.

Argyllshire’s economic history was written through agriculture, fishing, whisky distilling, and tourism. Evidence of Scottish feudal society is still visible in the baronies and clans that lend character to this scenic region.

Landmarks in Argyllshire

Argyllshire is home to significant landmarks, most notably Inveraray Castle, an 18th-century gothic revival landmark that stands as a testimony to Argyllshire’s affluent past. Another iconic attraction is McCaig's tower in Oban, a colossal Roman-inspired structure offering panoramic views of the city and the Isles. Furthermore, the iconic Loch Lomond, part of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, serves as a natural oasis away from the hustle, and is a favourite among locals and tourists alike.

Landmarks we love

  • Duart Castle, Isle of Mull: Overlooking the Sound of Mull, this imposing 13th-century fortress is the familial seat of Clan Maclean.
  • Iona Abbey: Known as a Christian pilgrimage spot, this historic abbey embodies spiritual calm and tranquillity.
  • Kilchurn Castle, Loch Awe: Kilchurn Castle’s ruins, remarkably picturesque, offer perfect photo opportunities with dramatic mountains as the backdrop.
  • Skipness Castle: This sea-facing medieval castle with a chapel on its grounds exhibits a unique blend of history and natural beauty.
  • Glen Coe: This deep, sweeping valley shows off Scotland's highland scenery at its most dramatic, leaving visitors awestruck.

Top 10 things to do in Argyllshire

  • Hit the Beach: Explore the sandy expanses of Argyllshire's coastal region, marked by stunning beaches like Kiloran Bay and Machir Bay.
  • Visit a Distillery: Visit one of the numerous whisky distilleries in the area, such as the Oban Distillery, for a tour and tasting.
  • Take a boat trip: Enjoy a boat ride from Oban towards the Isle of Staffa, famous for its naturally formed basalt columns.
  • Hiking: Embark on a hiking expedition to conquer Argyllshire's Eight Munros, featuring panoramic vistas that command attention.
  • Visit the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary: Witness a great variety of marine life at the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary in Oban.
  • Explore Oban: Explore Oban's bustling streets, quirky shops, and numerous seafood restaurants.
  • Walk through Arduaine Garden: Take in the colours and fragrances at Arduaine Garden, a haven for plant enthusiasts.
  • Visit the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Centre: Get up close to nature and learn about local wildlife at this fantastic centre near Lochgilphead.
  • Visit Inveraray Jail: Experience life as an 18th-century prisoner at the Inveraray Jail and County Court.
  • Explore the standing stones and burial grounds: Tick off the standing stones at Kilmartin Glen and explore ancient burial grounds for a step back in time.

Our recommended areas to live in Argyllshire

  • Oban: Not just a transportation hub but a cultural one too, Oban offers seaside charm, a range of amenities, and a melting pot of diverse cultures. Ideal for those wanting a balance between serenity and sociability.
  • Inveraray: Home to the iconic Inveraray castle, this town delivers period charm and a sense of community; perfect for families and history buffs.
  • Isle of Mull: The second largest island in the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Mull promises unspoilt beauty and a slower pace of life, exceptional for those seeking tranquillity and rejuvenation.
  • Lochgilphead: Lochgilphead, with its art deco buildings and lovely waterside location, is best suited to those who aspire to a quiet, secure, and friendly community.
  • Helensburgh: This vibrant town is ideal for commuters craving the tranquillity of countryside living without compromising accessibility to Glasgow.

Best schools in Argyllshire

Education in Argyllshire offers a blend of local and internationally recognised curricula. State academia includes Oban High School and Campbeltown Grammar School, both lauded for their excellent performance records. These establishments provide ample opportunities for students to excel academically and in extracurricular activities. For younger children, Dalintober Primary and Dunbeg Primary School are popular choices.

As for independent education, prestigious institutions like Lomond School and Ardvreck School offer day and boarding facilities, along with a wide range of academic and co-curricular activities. These particular schools hold an excellent academic record and ensure a well-rounded education rooted in intellectual, artistic, and physical growth. Furthermore, remote learning options, such as the Argyll and Bute's Distance Learning Centre, cater to geographically dispersed students, ensuring access to quality education for everyone in the county.

Transport links in Argyllshire

Argyllshire’s transport system efficiently deals with its challenging topography. A network of A-roads crisscross the mainland, including the A83, A85 and A816. There are frequent, reliable bus services that connect the towns and cities within the county and beyond. Oban, known as the gateway to the Isles, operates ferries to a number of Hebridean islands. Bute, Gigha, Islay, Colonsay, Mull, Tiree, Coll, and Lismore are among the island destinations from Oban, operated by Caledonian MacBrayne. Argyllshire also has numerous small airports, such as Oban, Coll, Colonsay, and Glenforsa Airfield, catering to both private and scheduled flights.

In conclusion, Argyll and Bute provide a mesmerising blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and cultural experiences, making it an appealing option for peaceful living paired with convenient amenities. Whether you're an outdoors enthusiast, a parent after good schools or somebody seeking a peaceful retirement, this region caters to divergent lifestyles. Enjoy the tranquillity of the countryside, the allure of the sea, or the cultural vibrancy of towns. There truly is something for everyone in Argyllshire, a region that seamlessly combines modernity and rich history within Scotland's romantic highland landscape.

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