The Loveliest Little Spot in the Arse End of Nowhere

Tayvallich, Argyle, Scotland
4-9-16
Quartz running through the rock over in Carsaig
Quartz running through the rock over in Carsaig

A nice little three hour drive out of Edinburgh, after a lazy Saturday start with a coffee and a breakfast (with a side of breakfast) in Stockbridge, we got into the little AirBnB in Tayvallich on the Sound of Jura in Argyle. It’s a little town with a pub, a shop (apparently) and a T-junction, and not a lot else.

It’s the kind of place that makes you’ve been away from home for weeks, even though we’re barely 24 hours in. We spent last night having a quick one in the pub before dinner – that turned into five or six…then today got up and went for a wander to the other side of the peninsula to Carsaig, and even smaller little ‘village’ of a handful of houses and a harbour with a few boats moored.

Boats in Tavvallich harbour in the evening calm
Boats in Tavvallich harbour in the evening calm

It turned into one of those gorgeous Scottish days that no-one actually believes exist – sunny, warm and blue skies. Looking out into the Sound, the water was completely still – to the point that looking straight down at the minnows and scallop shells, it was hard to tell there was even any water there! We pottered along and around the bay to a point through one of the locals’ pasture (with two horses and a pony) and sat and looked out for a bit before the wander back into town.

I don’t think that there’s all that much more to see around here within walking distance. There’s the Taynish Nature Reserve just down the road, but other than that it’s a peaceful few days of reading, resting, the occasional pint and losing at Monopoly lined up for me ahead.

A jellyfish caught upside down in the glass-like water (on the way to the pub!)
A jellyfish caught upside down in the glass-like water (on the way to the pub!)


A few days on and the little spot on one of the downwared hangs of Argyll remained just as pleasant. Sunday did indeed involve a bit of losing at Monopoly for me, but gin and general laziness more than made up for that! The next day (after a slightly boozy start) we headed away from Tayvallich to the Taynish Nature Reserve, a small peninsula jutting off of the peninsula, maybe two miles long and a total world away from the rolling grassy hills just a few minutes walk away.

Down over the browning ferns to the bottom of Loch Sween and the sea
Down over the browning ferns to the bottom of Loch Sween and the sea

We wandered down the main road, into what is apparently one of the oldest remaining oak forests in Britain, on what can only be described as an unnecesarily humid day. The ‘car park’ is a small clearing about halfway along the headland, which acts as a sort of trailhead – there are only three trails from there: two ends of a loop to the tip and the road back to the top. There’s also another trail that comes off of the loop and then heads back up to meet the road further up which climbs to the highest points on the jut of land. We went for that one.

It’s a relatively short hike but the humidity (and the fact I could smell the booze sweating out of me) made it a tricky one, but once we got to the top with views down Loch Sween and across the Sound of Jura, all over the top of ferns just starting to tint into auburn as the summer comes to a close, it was well worth it.

A frog atop Barr Mor in the Taynish Nature Reserve
A frog atop Barr Mor in the Taynish Nature Reserve

We finished off Monday with a lazy afternoon and then dinner at the only pub in town (the Tayvallich Inn) – it’s front door is covered in Tripadvisor awards, and it definitely lived up to them, with plenty of fresh seafood from around the area. Tuesday morning we got up and cleaned the place before leaving, and then stopped at the tennis courts in town for an hour or so of whack-about. Then it was the drive back, and for me at least, a few more lazy days off of not doing a whole lot in Edinburgh – with some time to start thinking about the next couple of trips: to Munich in December, to the US a week later, and then next year…but where to go next year?

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