The words “hidden gem” are much overused when describing some of the stunning locations here in Argyll but the Isle of Gigha is just that. The most southerly island of the Inner Hebrides, Gigha is just a twenty minute ferry journey from Tayinloan on the Kintyre Peninsula. Peaceful and unspoilt this island is a delight to visit.
I headed out for the day with a group of photography friends, one of whom is local tour guide and keen amateur photographer Christine MacIntyre of Columba’s Trail.
Calmac Ferries have sailings each day to the island throughout the year, but be careful if you are just over for the day as the last sailing on a Sunday is 16:30. It is very easy to lose track of time when you are sitting on a perfect beach enjoying the view, although I could think of a lot worse places to be stranded overnight! You can find downloadable timetables and tariffs on the Calmac website here.
We used Columba’s Trail’s well equipped camper van to get around the island but you could just as easily travel over as a foot passenger, take your own bicycle free of charge or hire a bike from Gigha Boats just a few metres away from the ferry slipway. A reasonably experienced cyclist could cover the whole island, which is just seven miles long, in one day and the hills are rolling rather than challenging.
So what will you find when you get here?
The island has a number of facilities including a hotel, bed and breakfast accommodation, golf course, art gallery, café and gift shops.
As a lover of seascapes I was dreaming of empty beaches with white sand, rocky shorelines and big skies. Unfortunately the one thing you cannot control on a day out is the weather and I had hoped for a slightly brighter day that would bring out the colours on the rocks and in the water. It was fairly overcast although the rain stayed away. As someone that makes photos just for fun there was no way I was going to let that spoil my day!
On leaving the ferry we drove to the South Pier and as soon as we arrived everyone jumped out of the camper van and scattered in different directions to explore. I headed to the beach whilst others found sea urchins, lobster pots and other interesting photogenic objects around the pier.
From the South Pier we took a short drive to Achamore House and the beautiful rambling gardens which are particularly colourful at this time of the year. We then moved on to a derelict chapel and graveyard.
The Isle of Gigha has a long association with Christianity which can be traced back to 563AD when St Columba visited the island while travelling along the Argyll coast from Ireland. With Christine’s assistance, translating from Gaelic, we identified a number of locations on the island confirming the existence of a monastery, chapels and churches. We’ll have to leave those for our next visit but they are definitely on my “to do” list.
For me though the sandy beaches and hidden coves, with colourful flowers clinging to moss and lichen covered rocks, were the real highlight and Gigha does not disappoint.
There is something here for everyone. So whether you love landscapes, people, buildings, nature or macro photography, textures and shapes you will have a fantastic day.
As a day tripper there really wasn’t enough time to fully explore the island and, as if I needed an excuse, I will be returning very soon…