Argyll and Bute

Photo of a CalMac ferry entering port. Photo of a CalMac ferry entering port.

From the rugged Highland peaks in the east to the white sandy beaches of Colonsay in the west, Argyll and Bute has some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. The region is made up of Argyll on the mainland and 23 inhabited islands including Bute, Islay, Jura and Colonsay among others. In addition to its natural beauty, the region is also famous for its whisky, sporting famous distilleries such as Jura and Ardbeg.

Getting there

In a region with so many islands, it’s probably no surprise that the best way to get around is by ferry! Caledonian MacBrayne – known locally as CalMac – run ferries all along the west coast, linking the region’s myriad islands to the mainland across dozens of routes. Road connections to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness wind their way through the Grampian Mountains, taking you through some of the most spectacular main roads in the UK! There’s also a rail link from Oban to Glasgow Queen Street and air services linking Tiree and Campbeltown to Glasgow.

Places to stay

Photo of Port Selma Lodge.

A reviewer favourite in Argyle is the Port Selma Lodge, rated 5 stars by all its reviewers! Port Selma Lodge is a self-catered cottage in the small village of Benderloch. The lodge is a short distance from the beach with views across the Firth of Lorne to Mull. All the guests who reviewed the Lodge complimented the friendly owners, spacious wet room with underfloor heating and path to the beach! One guest had this to say: “The place was immaculate, beautiful views from the verandah. There is a beach just 5 minutes down a path. Access on scooter was easy. The whole experience was WONDERFUL!”. Another guest said: “I thoroughly recommend these lovely, peaceful, lodges - the area is beautiful and there is plenty to see and do whatever your level of mobility”.

Photo of Coll Bunkhouse

If you’re feeling adventurous, why not try staying at a modern, accessible hostel on the Isle of Coll? Coll Bunkhouse has received a 5-star review on Euan’s Guide from a wheelchair user who said that “It was all totally wheelchair accessible, clean and bright”. The bunkhouse has an accessible bedroom, wet room, lounge area, shared kitchen, dining room and a supply of books about the island to help you as you explore! The island has no public transport, but as the island is 10 miles long and 3 miles wide, many visitors choose to walk or, in the case of the reviewer, wheel around the island.

Photo of an accessible bedroom at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel.

For travellers looking for more luxurious accommodation, the Bridge of Orchy Hotel is a 32-room luxury hotel next to the River Orchy. The recently refurbished hotel has a spacious accessible cottage with en-suite wet room and ramp access to all parts of the hotel except for the restaurant. A reviewer commented on the clean, modern interiors and “super helpful”, “brilliant” staff!

Further to the south, the Argyll Hotel in Campbeltown has a 4-star rating on Euan’s Guide. Reviewers love the great seaside views and sunsets you can enjoy from the hotel as well as the comfortable accessible room. A reviewer said this about the views: “the real joy of this hotel is that you can sit in the restaurant, or on the terrace (which is accessible by wheelchair ramp or a few steps), or on the beach and enjoy amazing views and, if you're lucky some beautiful sunsets”.

Things to do: Explore the Isles!

The Inner Hebrides have a range of attractions for you to find and explore, from distillery tours to trips down beaches on all-terrain wheelchairs! Here’s a selection of highly rated attractions in the Inner Hebrides!

Photo of Mount Stuart house.

Mount Stuart is a spectacular stately home on the Isle of Bute. The Victorian mansion faces the east coast of Bute among scenic gardens and its own beach! The interior of the house is suitable for wheelchairs and has “small but effective” lifts available between floors. However, visitors are asked to transfer to one of the chairs they have on-site. Paved and gravel paths allow visitors to explore the grounds down to the beach in a wheelchair. Guide dogs and assistance dogs can enter the house. Written interpretation of exhibits is available for visitors with hearing impairments.

A wheelchair user who visited was happy with the accessibility of the visitor centre as well as the house itself, which they described as being “an amazing mix of Victorian Gothic architecture [and] astronomy” – from the stunning celestial ceilings to the exquisite marble chapel, the house is a splendid showcase of Victorian craftsmanship and architecture.

Photo of a man using a Tiree Ranger wheelchair.

No visit to the Inner Hebrides would be complete without a trip to the beach! The Tiree Ranger Service offers off-road chair loans to visitors free of charge to make your trip to the beach a fun and easy one. Fitted with balloon tyres or off-road tyres and built a wide wheel base, these chairs are designed to make travelling off-road in a wheelchair safe, comfortable and above all, fun!

One visitor who tried them said: “Easy to assemble, they probably require an estate car for easy transportation. We had no problem fitting it into our [Ford] Mondeo estate. This allowed us access to our favourite beach and made the holiday.” Two chairs are available on the island and can be used free of charge.

Places to eat

From village pubs to distillery cafes, reviewers on Euan’s Guide have reviewed a variety of places to eat and drink in the area! Here are some of their favourites:

The Commodore Inn is a seaside Pub and Inn close to Helensburgh town centre. The pub offers a range of real ales, wines and spirits as well as traditional pub food, tea and coffee. One visitor called the pub a “good choice for lunch or a coffee” for its good food, friendly staff, easy entrance, wide bar area and good accessible toilet.

Photo of the Sugar Boat Restaurant in Helensburgh

Another reviewer favourite in Helensburgh is the Sugar Boat Bistro. A “relaxed, informal neighbourhood bistro”, the menu changes with the seasons to match what the restaurant buys from local farmers and fishermen. The bistro also has an extensive range of Scottish gins and whiskies. A reviewer who uses a wheelchair said that “Dishes were well presented, piping hot and beautifully cooked. The flavours were excellent” “We never felt rushed and had a relaxed enjoyable lunch”. The restaurant has step-free access through the side entrance with a wide double door. The accessible toilet has been designed to provide enough space for wheelchair transfers.

For visitors with a sweet tooth, the Jam Jar Café in Rothesay is the place for you! A powerchair user who lives nearby told us that “The views are stunning across Rothesay Bay and the chocolate cake is delicious!”. Need we say more? The café has blue badge parking, an accessible toilet and room to manoeuvre inside the café.

Further north, the Old Kiln Café on Islay offers home-cooked traditional food in a wheelchair-accessible setting. The café is part of the Ardbeg distillery, so you can try some of their whisky along with your meal! There is also a shop on-site if you want to buy a bottle of their award-winning whisky as well as a range of other local products. The café is open from Monday to Friday.

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Last Updated - October 2018