A tale of twin beaches, sweeping coastlines, beach yoga, amazing seafood and finding favourites ...
Unless a new contender comes along, I officially have a new favourite Scottish island. The Isle of Gigha for me had the perfect combination of everything you could want from this type of wellness break. A dramatic coast swept entrance, an abundance of fresh air, wow beaches, fresh delicious food and lots and lots of wide open space to breathe …
Here’s my top ten tips for visiting –
1. Don’t Go To Maybole
This may sound ridiculous but somehow for the first time in my life I got on the wrong train at Ayr and immediately realised when the train started edging in the direction of Stranraer. Hopped off at Maybole. A bus back in and an outdoor breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled egg at Café 51 while waiting for the next train made it all worthwhile.
2. Throw Those Curtains Wide
Once in Glasgow take the Campbeltown bus to Tayinloan. It takes about 4 hours but it is 4hrs of amazing views so settle in, take drinks & snacks and prepare for some serious window watching. You will make your way past Balloch, Luss, Tarbet, Arrochar, Inverary, Lochgair and more before reaching a quaint little Tayinloan post office where you hop off and walk no more than about ten minutes to the ferry port.
3. Beware The Driver
Our Glasgow bus driver issued a stark warning that if anyone was drinking alcohol on the bus, he would most definitely be evicting them where they could ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ at the roadside! Despite some guilty looks all round and nervous clinking of bottle sounds being hidden we had a very well behaved team!
4. Make A Grand Entrance
The ferry from Tayinloan to Gigha only takes 20 minutes so you barely have time to feel the sun in your hair (on a good day) and the wind on your face before it sweeps into the island. Head up top and enjoy every moment of the weather, the sound of the waves, the view of the picturesque bay and the tranquillity around because these are the moments worth living for.
5. Go To Maybole!
It turned out that this unscheduled plan was a winner. By the time I got there my companion, who was meeting me there via a different island hopping route on motorbike, had already set up the tent. Job done! Leaving me to explore the brand new Gigha Campsite with lovely new facilities including a secret communal campfire spot. The campsite is a hop skip and jump from the ferry and is also directly opposite the hire shop for bikes, e-bikes and SUP and kayak equipment. Everything is so nearby in Gigha!
6. Tin Tin Chin Chin
All that was left to do on the first night was to sit back overlooking the bay and eat our quality camping stove dinner of boiled potatoes, tinned corned beef and beans! Served with wine! Sometimes you just have to appreciate the basics. Food, whatever it is, is so much more of an adventure when you eat it outdoors. (Alert – Early prediction that amazingly there didn’t seem to be midges was a tad premature, but it still wasn’t my worst midge encounter).
7. Own The Land
Our tailored adventure consisted of exploring the nice empty roads by motorbike, yoga on the shoreline, wading (couldn’t quite brace myself any deeper for a swim) in the freezing cold sea, drinks at the Gigha Hotel and a very quick peek at Achamore Gardens. The island isn’t huge so meeting the same people at every location is a possibility. As is a random herd of cows suddenly appearing. But crowds of people on Gigha are definitely not your problem.
8. A Tale of Two Beaches
At the North end of Gigha on the West Coast is Eilean Garbh – Twin Beaches. Wow your way down a grassy field as you catch some glimpses of Bagh Rubha Ruaidh and Bagh Na Doirlinne. These beaches boast clear turquoise water and fine white sand that photos cannot do enough justice. You’ll also be able to view Jura in the distance. Yes, it’s Scotland. Yes, the sea is cold but yes, yes, yes, the beaches are simply stunning! Try tearing yourself away.
9. Book The Boathouse
As someone who often likes to wing it, on this occasion I’m glad I booked ahead. The Boathouse Restaurant is very popular and we watched many having to be turned away. I had booked an outdoors table very close to the beach and the food and setting were perfect. The Nook is also a seafood take away option located next to the little shop. It wasn’t open when we were there but look out for when it throws open its wall hatch for freshly caught goodies!
10. Courie in
At just seven miles long, everything was within reach in Gigha. You definitely don’t need a car but you can easily see the whole island by bike, foot or kayak. We stayed only two nights but an extra couple would have been nice to chill for longer, walk more, bike or SUP. The new campsite was excellent but if you don’t want to camp there are B&B’s or choose from a self-catering croft, stable, barn, byre, yurt or beach view cottage. Gigha is an open-air chilled adventure waiting to happen. A good old slice of island life that for me will be hard to beat!