West of Scotland
If you are in Glasgow and want to go somewhere else, you can reach an interesting place on one of the western peninsulas of the Argyll and Bute region in a few hours.
The Argill and Bute region is the second largest (almost 7,000 square kilometres, larger are only the Scottish Highlands) in Scotland and borders the Stirling, Scottish Highlands and a few other regions. However, the region has low population density and, with less than 90,000 living there, it is the sixth from the bottom of the list.
The region begins relatively close to Glasgow, just before Helensburg. Because of its lakes, region has two large peninsulas and three large western Scottish islands – the Isle of Islay, the Isle Jura and the Isle of Mull.
There are two major roads in the region in the north-south direction and one in the east-west direction (in its northern part).
The vast majority of roads are local and on many occasions those have single lane for driving in both directions. However, as elsewhere in Scotland, all roads are paved and the road surface is of good quality.
Portavadie is a very small village with a small marina and nice Scandinavian spa complex. This spa complex is not widely known and is mostly used by locals and sailors, however we did not found anything better in Scotland in five years living there.
In principle, everything is built for the recreational needs of sailors. In a relatively large area there are hotels, a restaurant, a modern administrative building of the port and the already mentioned Spa complex.
There is also a ferry terminal in Portavadie, from where you can quickly, in about 15 minutes, reach the port of Tarbet on the next peninsula in the direction of the Isle of Arran. The journey from Portavadie to Tarbet would take at least two and a half hours.
If you are on the ferry, you can observe the nearby Scottish salmon farms, which are set in a fairly large area across the bay. Once when we visited Portavadie, we took a ferry to Tarbet on our way back to Glasgow. The trip was interesting, it was worth stopping in several places along the way and enjoying the surrounding landscape. Of course, there are different Scottish castles there.
For example, in the town of Inveraray there is a parking lot by the water in a very beautiful place. It is also worth visiting the castle and its garden – there you can spend several hours in a pleasant atmosphere (there is also a parking lot near the castle).
On the way back you can stop at the northern end of Loch Fine to relax and eat. If there are no vacancies at Loch Fine Oysters Restaurant (often, reservations must be made several days in advance), you can also enjoy a delicious, good-value meal at the café in the garden centre next door.
Hotel and Spa
Returning to Portavadie, we’ve been there quite a few times, taking friends there as well. We also stayed in the hotel apartments. Prices are quite high, but spending an entire afternoon going to the spa complex’s pool and treatments is a great pleasure.
Inside the complex there is a swimming pool, sauna, café, on the second floor treatment rooms, while outside there is a heated pool and jacuzzi. It feels especially good to go there when the weather is cold outside. After leaving the sauna, you should walk about ten meters and then it is a real pleasure to sink into the pool and look at the surrounding landscape.
It’s even difficult to describe those feelings, so it’s better to go there and try it.