Frühling, printemps, primavera, the season of spring sounds good in any language and it generally makes us feel pretty good too! So why not embrace that feeling and come and explore the wonderful and varied attractions of Inveraray and its environs?
The weather is often lovely, the spring flowers are in bloom and many of the visitor attractions have already opened their doors to welcome their first guests of the season. With so much history, scenery, gastronomy, activities of an adrenaline-fuelled and more sedate nature on offer, the question is: what are you waiting for?
Inveraray Jailbreak – Sunday 3rd May
As the warmer weather starts to arrive, it should feel a little easier to get in training for the Inveraray Jailbreak. This 6.7km run, starting out from Inveraray Jail, is a hilly challenge and includes the lung-busting Dun na Cuiche. If you don’t fancy that, then come along and cheer on the runners. The race always draws a big crowd and creates a great atmosphere.
Auchindrain Highland Township
Just up the road from Inveraray, Auchindrain Highland Township brings an original Highland township back to life. Wander at leisure through the longhouses, barns and byres of this unique museum for an unforgettable taste of life in the past. You can visit Auchindrain during the winter months, but from 1st April it’s ‘properly’ open for the season, and you’ll find helpful guides as well as a fascinating visitor centre that houses a lovely tearoom.
Spring is the perfect time to get active with the family. At Argyll Adventure you can try out horse riding, paintballing, laser storm, crossbows, climbing, bungee trampolines and more. It’s located in a beautiful loch-side setting just outside Inveraray.
The iconic Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, opens for the season on 1st April. This romantic castle is set in extensive grounds with a number of marked walks. Daffodils cover the ‘Policies’ (a Scots term for the improved grounds that surround a country house) with various shades of yellow, while in late spring the rhododendrons and azaleas bring blazes of colour. The 1.5 mile Dun na Cuaiche Woodland Walk is a lovely stroll, especially at this time of the year. The views from the top of the hill across Inveraray and Loch Fyne are just breath-taking.
Ardkinglas Woodland Gardens
The wonderful woodlands gardens at Ardkinglas are open all year round, but spring is a particularly enchanting season to visit. The woods are alive with birdsong and spring flowers. In May a vivid blue carpet of fragrant bluebells covers the ground and azaleas are in flower producing their heady perfume. The new Gruffalo Trail has just opened, which is great fun for kids (young and old!).
The Cruachan Power Station
Deep inside Ben Cruachan mountain, unseen by the outside world, lies one of the modern wonders of the Scottish Highlands. The Cruachan Power Station is just a short drive from Inveraray, but the last kilometre entails being driven 1km by coach into the mountain itself, hence Ben Cruachan’s nickname, “the hollow mountain”.
At the end of the kilometre journey lies a massive cavern, tall enough to accommodate the Tower of London! But it’s not an ancient castle that’s to be found there but rather turbines, for this is a pumped storage power station where night-time off-peak electricity pumps water to a storage dam high up the mountain. The water is released to drive the turbines in the massive turbine hall – viewed through a gallery window – in order to generate peak time electricity. It’s a family trip that may not occupy an entire day, but with a visitor centre and well stocked café serving hot food, it’s definitely an option worth exploring, especially if the weather is not cooperating!
Loch Fyne Food Fair, 16th and 17th May
This feast of local food takes place at the head of Loch Fyne next to the iconic Loch Fyne Oyster Bar & Restaurant, which is just up the road from Inveraray. It’s a great day out for foodies and families alike, with a food tent full of local goodies, live music throughout the day and children’s activities galore. At the heart of the festival is the bustling Food Tent where you can sample oysters, mussels and salmon from the nearby loch, Scottish langoustines, venison and game from the surrounding glens, local ales, lots of lovely home baking and more. It’s a glorious loch-side setting. Once you’ve eaten your fill, sit back with a Fyne Ale in the spring sunshine and enjoy the views.
Bluebell Festival, 29th, 30th, 31st May.
Enjoy three days of great music, food, ales and company at Inveraray’s Bluebell Festival. This three-day annual free event is held at The George Hotel, a wonderfully characterful old inn in the centre of Inveraray. The festival is held in association with the Cottage Residential Music Studio, and you can expect a mix of fantastic local bands playing music that will appeal to all ages. Accommodation in Inveraray does get booked up over the festival weekend, so book ahead if you plan to stay over.
Kilmartin Glen, just a short drive from Inveraray, is considered to be the most important archaeological landscape on the Scottish mainland. The glen is the location of more than 800 internationally significant prehistoric and early historic sites and monuments. This early evidence of human activity in Scotland dates back over 5000 years, with monuments including rock art, standing stones, Neolithic and Bronze Age burial cairns and Dunadd Hill Fort, home to the earliest Kings of Scotland. There is a fascinating museum where visitors are able to enjoy and learn about archaeological objects that have been found, by chance or excavation in Argyll. After visiting the museum you can step outside into the landscape to discover the sites and monuments where some of the artefacts were uncovered.
Inverawe Fisheries & Country Park
Inverawe Fisheries & Country Park is a little further away, but well worth the effort. It’s a great family day out, where you can learn how to fish, explore the many trails and tracks, feed the fish, enjoy the play area, browse through the shop, or enjoy delicious food in the Smokery Café. It’s a beautiful location, set at the foot of Ben Cruachan, surrounded by woods with views over the River Awe.
This is just a small selection of things to do in the area around Inveraray. There are a lot more options both indoors and out, for an overview check out the official Inveraray Visitors’ Guide website.
And of course, don’t forget to come and see us at Inveraray Jail. We’re open every day from 9.30am to 6pm.