Dunchraigaig B&B

Things to see and do

This is only a rough introduction to our wonderful part of Scotland. While there is a lot of information here, it only scratches the surface of the variety of activities you can do during your trip!

Explore The Kilmartin Glen

  • Visit the Kilmartin Museum (helps you to interpret the glen and also good for lunch).
  • Visit the Kilmartin Churchyard to see carved stones from the Poltalloch Estate
  • Explore the many cairns, standing stones and henges (climb inside the Nether Largie cairn if you dare!)  Guided walks through the glen are available at the Museum on Wednesdays through the summer season.  See their website for details: Kilmartin Museum
  • Climb Dunadd Fort (ancient settlement of Dalriada) - see if your foot fits the inaugeration stone!)
  • Visit the rock art sites at Achnabreck (decide what the markings mean - everyone has a theory!)
  • Visit Carnasserie Castle
Nether Largie Standing Stones in the Kilmartin Glen

Nether Largie Standing Stones in the Kilmartin Glen

Visit the Corryvrekan whirlpools and see wildlife by boat.

  • There is no better way to experience the West Coast than from the sea.  Craignish Crusies  operate a boat trip from Ardfern to the Northern tip of Jura where the Corryvreckan (one of the largest whirlpools in the world) can be viewed.
  • the trip offers opportunities to seevariety of wildlife e.g. seals, porpoises, dolphins, minke whales, wild goats, otters and deer. 
  • You are very likely to see a pair of sea eagles tending their young in the summer months
The Corryvreckan whirlpool

The Corryvreckan whirlpool

Crinan and the Crinan Canal

  • At just 9 miles long this is a comfortable cycle ride (bike hire at Lochgilphead) or walk the most scenic half between Crinan & Cairnbaan
  • Pop in to see a demonstration at Fraser McIver's Printing Wagon
  • Relax at Crinan as you watch the boats pass through the locks. 
  • The VIC32 (the last true working Clyde Puffer) is usually moored here at weekends and occasionally short trips are available 
The Crinan Canal

The Crinan Canal

Visit the Knapdale forest & Taynish Nature Reserve

  • The Taynish Nature Reserve provides varied terrain for an interesting walk (not too strenuous) taking in young and mature woodland, open moorland an old mill and beaches.  Wonderful views if you climb the hill (an optional addition to your walk) and Loch Sween is a good place to spot otters. The Old Mill and The Old Piggery are interesting to look around and are often used to display outdoor art exhibitions.
  • You may enjoy lunch at the Tayvallich Inn
  • On route you could stop off at the Arichonan township in the Knapdale forest - a village targetted during the clearings - offering fine views over Loch Sween
  • Visit the site of the Scottish Beaver Trial - look for signs of beaver activity and if you are lucky spot a beaver! 
Taynish Nature Reserve

Taynish Nature Reserve

Visit at least oneof the Magnificent Argyll Gardens

  • Arduaine  - Wonderful any time of the year - magnificent sea views from the viewpoint
  • Crarae  - Arguably the best rhododendron gardens with some of the Himalayan varieties flowering as early as February
  • Ardkinglass  -  Lesser known woodland gardens worth visiting for the record breaking giant trees that can be seen here (go on- hug a giant tree!)
  • Achamore - Beautiful gardens kept by the community on the Island of Gigha
  • Duntrune - small private gardens on the Duntrune castle Estate
Achamore Gardens

Achamore Gardens

 

Wildlife

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Argyll Wildlife 

The bed and breakfast is situated in front of some unspoiled woodland with a small burn running along the back of our garden. Otters swim up the burn and from the woods we get squirrels and our pine marten who we feed daily. Seeing this rare animal up close is pretty special!

Our Pine Martin

FEATURED ON BBC SPRINGWATCH!

In 2008 we noticed that our bird table was being 'cleared' overnight.  On further investigation we found that a pine marten was visiting the table. We have a male and female that visit regularly, but the female is the most frequent visitor and has visited most days ever since.  

We cannot guarantee that one will visit during your stay (nor guarantee that you will still be up!) but there is a good chance that you may have an opportunity to view this rarely seen creature during your stay.

Duncraigaig pine martin on a birdtable

We have experimented with various foods and so far have found that they like:honey, peanut butter, pine nuts, grapes, raisins, flapjacks and most muffins, but they don't seem to like walnuts, soft fruits e.g. strawberries or raspberries (unless they can pick them fresh from the strawberry plants in the garden!).  They will not eat bread unless it has honey on it!

A quick video of a Pine Marten eating from our bird table.

Some guests have also entered into the spirit and left out some twiglets. We still do not know if they licked the marmite off the twiglets, but they didn't eat the whole twiglet!

Most years the female has had kits which she brings into the garden.  Here is a photo of her with her two sons lined up on the wall waiting for the food to be put out.  Last year she didn't have kits (but she is getting quite old now for a pine marten!) 

In the summer months the female can often be seen at the end of the path hopeful that there is food on the table!

The pine martens grow a beautiful thick coat during the winter (to keep them warm through the cold months.  In early spring they start to lose their winter coat and the darker summer coat starts to appear - but for a while this can look a bit odd - looking almost like a panda for a while!

The BBC Springwatch team visited the area in May 2011 primarily to film the beavers in Knapdale, but they also took a trip to Dunchraigaig House to film the Pine Marten.  Despite a wild storm raging, they still managed to get some good footage of her and Charlie Hamilton James was very excited to see her in the garden.  

Charlie Hamilton James presented the item but this was the real star of the show:

Ray Mears Wild Britain

In 2012 Ray Mears was in Argyll filming an episode for his series 'Wild Britain'.  Having heard about the Dunchraigaig Pine Marten, the team visited and pleased with their footage , Ray himself popped in hoping to get a glimpse of one.  The pine marten didn't play ball that night - but the team had enough footage that they were happy with and so our pine marten made another appearance on STV/ ITV in 2013.

Flora and Fauna

The flora and fauna changes the landscape through the seasons.  Even the historic sites enjoy a face lift when the bluebells are out!  Don't miss Temple Wood in the bluebell season

Red Squirrels

As well as our pine marten we also enjoy regular visits from red squirrels

The Crinan Canal

Deer

We frequently see deer in the paddock or in the forest behind Dunchraigaig

Taynish Nature Reserve

Rabbits and Hare

We love watching hares scampering around the field at the front of Dunchraigaig House

Achamore Gardens

Beaver

In the nearby Knapdale Forest (home to the Scottish Beaver Trial) we are lucky to have viewing spots where the beavers can be seen as they emerge from their lodge on a summers evening

Beaver at Duncraigaig

Seals

The Argyll coast provides many opportunities to spot seals and otters (we sometimes see an otter in the burn in our garden - but this is not good news for our hens!).  We can suggest good places to look for these.

Seal_at_Duncraigaig

Birds

If you are looking for bird life, again Argyll does not disappoint. we have golden eagles, white tailed sea eagles, ospreys and hen harriers.  At night we often hear owls calling in the forest behind, and in spring the call of the cuckoo is a joy.

Eagle at Duncrraigaig

The coast provides us with an abundance of sea birds.

We also have a whole host of smaller birds: warblers, finches, tits - bring your binoculars and enjoy!   This is a yellow hammer visiting the garden

Yellow Hammer at Duncraigaig
 

History

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History

The Kilmartin Glen is without doubt a very special place and there is evidence to suggest that it has been a very special place for many thousands of years.  Within a 6 mile radius of the village of Kilmartin well over 350 prehistoric and historic monuments have been recorded.  The variety and particular kinds of monuments (cairns, standing stones, stone circles and rock art suggest that was an area of ritual significance in prehistory.

The hill fort: Dunadd Fort is significant in its own right, being the home of the Kings of Dal Riata, a kingdom that played a significant role in the creation of the Scottish nation.

The Kilmartin Glen is unique in having a linear avenue of 6 cairns. You can explore each of them - starting at Glebe Cairn, a single chamber cairn at the North of the glen.  

The South Cairn is the oldest of the cairns in the glen.  It is a chambered cairn which you can explore inside (if you dare!) 

Dunchraigaig Cairn is the Southern most cairn in the glen, a few hundred yards from Dunchraigaig House.

At Temple Wood there is evidence of an older Wooden Circle having been created before stone circle that can be seen today.  We do not know the purpose of the stone circles - whether for ritual or maybe party time!

If you look carefully (and in the right light) you can see this spiral carving in one of the stones. 

As Dunchraigaig House is directly opposite the 6 Ballymeanoch stones, these are of course our favourites!  The widest of the stones has many cup and ring marks when caught in the right light.

Ballymeanoch Stones

Whilst you may spot cup and ring marks carved into some of the standing stones in the glen, the most intricate patterns can be seen in the large slabs of rock art within the glen.  At Achnabreck and Ormaig some of the best examples can be found.

Achnabreck Carvings

Achnabreck Carvings

Ormaig carvings

Ormaig carvings

There are lots more reasons to stay a while longer!

Walking and cycling

There are walks and cycle routes to suit all abilities in the area from gentle forest, river or coastal strolls to more demanding hill climbs.   Achnabreck offers mountain cycle routes to challenge the hardiest!  We have a range of suggested routes and maps that you can borrow during your stay.

Drives

Use us as a base to explore the whole of beautiful Argyll and the Kintyre peninsular or take a ferry across to the Cowal peninsular from Tarbert .  We can suggest many varied 1 day drives from Dunchraigaig House, including some less well signed drives such as the Forest Drive between Loch Awe and Loch Fyne.

Hop over to an Island for a day to

  • Gigha (car ferry every hour from Taylinloan and bike hire available on Gigha)
  • Arran (car ferry hourly from Claonaig to Lochranza)
  • Islay (car ferry from Kennacraig)
  • Jura (Summer passenger ferry from Tayvallich - bicycle hire on Jura).
  • Mull (car ferry from Oban with bus link to Tobermory if you prefer not to take the car)
  • Kerrera (passenger & bicycle ferry from Oban)
  • Seil or Luing (local boat / ferry service)

Tourist attractions:

We are centrally placed for day trips to 

  • Oban (Visit McCaigs Tower, the distillery or just watch the ferrys come and go)
  • Inveraray (Visit the jail, the castle and the Auchindrain Township)
  • Tarbert (Picturesque Fishing Village with harbourside cafes and galleries)
  • Campbeltown (and maybe venture further down to the famous Mull of Kintyre)

Art & Craft

There are may artists and crafts people in the area who will be happy to invite you into their workshops or galleries.  Take a look at the 'Artmap' website for details of individual artists and information of the annual 'Artmap Weekend' when all of the artists arrange an 'open house' for visitors.

You may also like to take a look at the 'Kilvaree Croft' website - a working croft producing crafts from materials produced on the croft.  Many of these items are also on sale in the Kilmartin House Museum shop.

Kayaking

Explore the Argyll Coast from the water with easy access via the new Kayak Trail.  Bring your own kayak (we have safe storage) or hire equipment locally - guides also available.

Golf

Golf courses at nearby at Lochgilphead and Tarbert and further afield at Oban, Machrihanish, Inveraray or on Gigha

Horse Riding

The Lunga Riding Stables (about 12 miles north of Dunchraigaig) offer a varirty of rides from 1 to 4 hours.  The rides include spectacular views and sometimes include beach riding.  They also offer pub and picnic rides.  To book ahead or just find out a bit more visit their website: Lunga Riding Stables

Or just stay enroute...

If you are travelling between the Islands of Arran, Mull or Islay we are centrally placed between Oban,  Kennacraig and Claonaig. Treat yourself to a stay in the glen between islands and explore what is on offer in the very heart of Argyll.

In Kilmartin village (about a mile up the road) the local serves bar & restaurant meals

Kilmartin House Museum provides lunches & snacks throughout the day..

Lochgilphead has several restaurants and cafes and there are several country pubs and restaurants just a short drive away

YOU MAY FIND THE FOLLOWING LINKS USEFUL TO HELP YOU FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE LOCAL AREA

http://www.heartofargyll.com   (Official Local Tourism Group Guide)

http://www.exploreargyll.co.uk

Things to do in Kilmartin

Guide to Kilmartin

Guide To Lochgilphead

Kilmartin Museum

Gigha

Corryvreckan Whirlpool (boat trips run by Craignish Cruises) 

Bed and Breakfast Directory

Simonseeks (the story of a guests cycling trip around Loch Awe)

www.scottishbeavers.org.uk

Walk Highland (Plan your walking routes)