Stonefield Castle Hotel

The Kintyre peninsula is about 40 miles west from Glasgow – if you’re a bird. Because of the numerous sea-lochs on Scotland’s west coast, you have to drive north then drop back south making a journey of over 2 hours. In November, we spent a couple of nights at the Stonefield Castle Hotel, just outside Tarbert in Kintyre.

Stonefield is a Scottish Baronial manor house designed by William Henry Playfair and built in 1837 for the Campbell family who owned it till 1948. It became a hotel in the 1950s and was extended in the 1970s – one of the extensions being the glass-sided dining room you can see above and below.

It was too dark to see anything at dinner, but at breakfast the view was wonderful. In the evening, the cosy bar was enjoyable too.

There are 60 acres of grounds at Stonefield, so on our first morning we had a walk around after breakfast.

Then we drove down to Tarbert itself, with its lovely harbour. You might remember that we stayed in a place called Tarbert in Harris last summer. There are several Tarberts in Scotland (sometimes Tarbet) – in Gaelic, an tairbeart means the isthmus. In this case, Tarbert village lies on the east of the narrow strip of land which prevents Kintyre from being an island.

Some of the pictures in the gallery above were taken on the climb up to the castle. The earliest fortifications on this hill date to the 13th century, but the most noticeable remains are of the 16th century tower house.

I had my first fall of the day at the castle – the weather was lovely and bright, but it followed a period of heavy rain so the grass was very slippery and I slid down a slope onto my bottom. Fortunately, no harm was done apart from a muddy patch on the back of my coat and the damage to my dignity! So it was on to Tarbert Sculpture Walk where we met some pretty black sheep.

Next stop (by car) was Skipness, with another 13th century castle overlooking the Kilbrannan Sound.

Close by, as you can just about make out in the last shot above, is the ruined Kilbrannan Chapel, dedicated to St Brendan and dating from the late 13th or early 14th century. It had an interesting graveyard attached which I enjoyed looking around.

As usual, I grieved at the graves testifying to the terrible rate of infant mortality. Anne McLellan lost three children in infancy, her husband in 1895 and a son in the First World War. Unimaginable. The black gravestone commemorating Emma Berrington also intrigued me – how did someone who was born in West Virginia and died in Wales end up here? Maybe her son lived in Kintyre? The stone gives no clue.

The current church was back near where we had parked. This was November 10th and a couple had just arrived with a car full of flowers to decorate the church for the following day’s Remembrance Service, so we didn’t look inside. The war memorial looked unusual to me with its clock – note my square shot. At this point I imagined I was going to take part in Becky’s daily #timesquare project in December. The thought was there at least …

There is also an iron age fort nearby – we set off through the woods to find it, but the rough path with treacherous tree roots and protruding stones hidden by a combination of mud and fallen leaves resulted in my second fall of the day. This time I came down with a heavy thump, banging my shoulder and ripping the elbow out of my coat. Walking was abandoned for the day!

Back in the car, we continued down the east coast of the peninsula to Saddell. The bay here is where the pipers marched in the video for Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre, but we didn’t visit – we looked at the ruins of the Cistercian Abbey (active 1160 to 1507) and its magnificent medieval grave slabs. Apparently, the abbey is haunted by a huge black spectral hand, but we were lucky to miss that …

We then drove on towards Campbeltown, the biggest settlement on Kintyre. By this time, the light was fading – and can you see the hint of a rainbow in the first picture?

In Cambeltown itself, we visited the Linda McCartney memorial garden (hmm, not sure about the merits of that statue) and had coffee in the recently restored art deco cinema. You might also spot another potential #timesquare that went unused!

By this time, it really was dark and not worth continuing to the Mull of Kintyre itself. That will have to wait for another visit.

70 thoughts on “Kintyre

  1. Heyjude February 19, 2019 / 10:44

    Tarbert looks so picturesque – made me think of Kirkcudbright with the reflections on the water. I think I would love to spend time in this area and I thank you for introducing it to me. Hope you weren’t too bruised from the falls, I have a habit of going over on my ankle which can be a nuisance. If only I had the time when I was young and fit to explore, instead of being too busy running a household. I could do with that energy and suppleness now!


    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter February 19, 2019 / 12:05

      It’s a lot smaller than Kirkcudbright (which I also like). The falls were a temporary inconvenience, i’ve done a lot worse to myself. Yes, I would like my younger body back – but with my older wisdom (might be flattering myself there) and confidence!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. rosemaylily2014 February 19, 2019 / 06:45

    A beautiful set of photos Anabel and the hotel looks a gorgeous place to stay. Do hope you recovered from the falls without any ongoing issues apart from needing a new coat?!


  3. restlessjo February 18, 2019 / 20:30

    Black sheep, indeed! 🙂 🙂 We had a lovely trip to this corner of the world when James was small. But not this weather… Beautiful scenes!


  4. shazza February 17, 2019 / 11:17

    What a lovely trip!
    When I was small my dad always took us caravaning for a week every May. It was always May and always Scotland and it was our only holiday as he was a farmer. We would stop somewhere different every night and I do remember a campsite in Campbeltown , with a very pebbley rocky beach full of rock pools and oyster catchers. Happy memories.X


  5. David Alcock February 15, 2019 / 19:43

    I too like Campeltown. I once took the bus from there and walked the Kintyre Way from Machrihanish to Southend, which was far more spectacular than I had expected.


  6. BeckyB February 15, 2019 / 07:20

    I so enjoyed this . . .I want to visit!


  7. Jonno February 14, 2019 / 19:14

    What a wonderful trip. I can never get over Scotland and how much history there is at every single turn. Can’t wait to return this year.


    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter February 14, 2019 / 07:45

      It is lovely, and not an area I knew that well before. I’m a bit of a serial offender at falling, though twice in one day is a bit much!


  8. Jessica (Diverting Journeys) February 13, 2019 / 13:34

    I think a spectral disembodied hand is scarier than a full-body ghost. Maybe because you can’t see its face, so you don’t know what its intentions are, but let’s face it, they’re probably not good! What kind of horrible things would someone have to have done in life to only come back as a giant hand?! I’m enjoying speculating about it, but I think you had a lucky escape! And you’re right, that Linda McCartney statue is…interesting…


    • Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter February 13, 2019 / 14:07

      I am not surprised you honed in on the spectral hand! So glad not to have met that. As for the statue, another commenter suggested I google Lucille Ball statue and now I look on Linda McCartney’s a bit more favourably.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. bob February 13, 2019 / 00:42

    That Tarbert is one of only a handful of Scottish villages that are truly outstanding picture postcard pretty from any angle as your photos show. Even in a car travelling through it without stopping it looks special. Probably due to location and great use of house colours to show it off. The Jewel of Kintyre. Amazing to think that Campbeltown may have been easier to reach by regular paddle steamer a century ago than today by road. Lovely reflections.


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