Back in September we were looking for a few days away and after some recommendations we packed up the car and headed to Portavadie Marina. Portavadie is situated on the Cowal Pennisula on the West coast in what is often referred to as Argyll’s Secret Coast. Looking at the map there are two ways to get to Portavadie, one being the traditional route for heading to that part of the world – via Inverary. Or, as we did drive over to Glasgow and down to Gourock and catch the ferry across the Clyde to Dunoon. Portavadie is about a 45 min drive from Dunoon on the west coast of the Cowal Peninsula across from Tarbert.
The drive from Dunoon, whilst a bit grey and misty was rather stunning, and we came across many corncrakes and pheasants lining the roads as we drove, as well as many great views.
Portavadie Marina just sits on the edge Loch Fyne and comprises of 2 ‘complexes’. The first building you come across is the Lodge where we stayed. This comprises of B&B rooms and small studio spaces along with a bistro and lounge area. We dined here one evening and it was really good, we also had breakfast here each morning which was a plentiful spread!
Following the road round you come to the ‘Marina’ itself where there are luxury apartments, the marina and also a fantastic restaurant and bar – perfect spot for sipping a nice chilled glass of wine while watching the sunset! We dined here the rest of the time as the food (especially the desserts!) was so good!
Having not really investigated the area before we left we didn’t know too much about what there was to do, however near the Lodge we found the beginnings of a walk along the edge of Loch Fyne, which was a nice start, the path was narrow and there was a lot of ducking to avoid low hanging trees! So we definitely worked off our breakfast!
We also discovered that in Dunoon there was the Benmore Botanic Gardens which is affiliated with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Though these gardens are very different as they are built on the side of a hill! We started off with some warming soup before heading out to explore the gardens. I won’t bore you with all the details of the gardens, but they were lovely with great views, here are some snaps from our walk around.
As with all good walks this one ended with a creamy hot chocolate!
If you want to explore further afield or get out of the rain, it is possible to head to Campbeltown to visit the distillery. As I have mentioned once (or maybe twice!) before we both are whisky fans, so this was an obvious choice for us! It did mean an early start as to make the 10am tour you need to catch the 8:30am ferry from Portavadie to Tarbert. Luckily the ferry port is right beside the Lodge! We were however greeted with a very misty morning, the boat journey was like sailing into the abyss! Campbeltown is at the tip of Kintyre about a 1 hour drive from Tarbert. To be honest there isn’t a lot to do here other than the distillery! We spent a good few hours there and finished up with a nice lunch at the G10 Bistro on Long Row, before heading back up to Tarbert to catch the ferry back. You can read all about our tour of the Campbeltown distilleries here on our whisky blog!
Portavadie Marina was a good spot for a cheap few nights away from it all (though there is free wifi so not that away from things!). If you aren’t a fan of the great outdoors be warned it may not be the place for you, as there isn’t much else going on in these parts! I am looking forward to a return visit this year – in better weather hopefully!