Rugged beauty awaits at Tarbert
The picturesque village of Tarbert, set below the ruins of a 13th century castle, is a gateway to the Kintyre peninsula. The wooded hills above the village offer panoramic views over the pretty harbour and across Loch Fyne to the Cowal peninsula.
Choose from two scenic trails from the castle, taking you up to the rocky hillside and the high moors beyond. You can also join the first leg of the Kintyre Way at Tarbert, which heads over the hills to the small village of Skipness.
Parking for the Tarbert trails
There is no formal car park for the trails here, but plenty of parking in the village. The trails start from the castle, which you access via stone steps leading off the pavement across the road from the harbour, not far from the Visitor Information Centre.
There are public toilets and plenty of places to eat, drink and shop in Tarbert. There’s also a Visitor Information Centre beside the harbour.
Tarbert Castle Trail
A charming stroll through bracken and heather with great views over East Loch Tarbert and legendary Tarbert Castle.
Wide, uneven grassy surface with sections that may be muddy. Includes some steep slopes and a narrow kissing gate.
1 miles / 1.6 km Allow ¾ hours
Climb across the craggy heath high above Tarbert to Barr Reamhar and the Millennium Cairn. There are fabulous views across Kintyre and Loch Fyne.
Long and very steep slopes. Uneven gravel surface, with some grassy and rough rocky sections. Occasional patches may be muddy. Includes several bridges and some narrow chicanes and kissing gates.
2 ½ miles / 4.2 km Allow 2 hours
Look out for roe and sika deer amongst the trees as you climb, and watch the skies for glimpses of golden eagles.
Mountain biking trails
Long distance trails
Tarbert is the start of the 100 mile (161km) Kintyre Way, a waymarked long distance trail that criss-crosses the lovely Kintyre peninsula to Dunaverty in the south. Take on the full challenge on foot or by bike over several days or, from Tarbert, sample the first section: a 9 mile (14.5km) trail over the hill to the village of Skipness, where you can catch the ferry to Arran.
You can also explore the Kintyre peninsula following National Cycle Network route 78, which you can join from Tarbert. This major route links Campbeltown in the south of Kintyre to Inverness via Oban, Fort William and Fort Augustus.
A royal refuge
Tarbert Castle is at least 800 years old and is famous for its royal connections with Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. From its hillside vantage point, the castle stood guard over the anchorage in the bay below and controlled the land link between the East and West Tarbert Lochs. Today the ruins are cared for by Tarbert & Skipness Community Trust.
The nine-mile forest
The forest stretches for 9 miles (14.5km) from Tarbert over the hills to the small village of Skipness, which looks out across the Kilbrannan Sound to Arran.
How to get here
Tarbert stands at the head of the Kintyre peninsula. Take the A83 from Inverary and Lochgilphead to reach Tarbert by road, or catch the ferry from Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula.
There is no specific car park for the trails but plenty of parking in Tarbert village. Once parked, head for the Visitor Information Centre on Harbour Street. Find the path up to the castle about 100 yards (100 metres) farther along the street at grid reference NR 866 687, where a well-marked path leads you up some stone steps between the houses. The trails start from the castle.
PA29 6UD is the nearest postcode, on Harbour Street.
There are regular buses between Glasgow and Campbeltown via Lochgilphead that stop at Tarbert. Find details at Traveline Scotland.
Discover these other varied woodland sites as you explore Kintyre:
Torinturk – discover ancient burial sites and a ruined fort in these West Loch Tarbert woods and enjoy lovely views towards the hills of Arran and Islay.
Carradale – a range of trails to enjoy wonderful woodland wildlife and sweeping sea views from a wooded hilltop.
Our guide to the forests of Mid Argyll and Kintyre will help you explore more wonderful woodlands.
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