Postcards from my travel: Quaint Inveraray nestling on the west shore of Loch Fyne, Argyll, Scotland


We first crossed Inveraray on our way up to Kilmichael Glassary. By then we were on the road for almost 4 hours. We were hungry and badly wanted to stretch our legs. The quaint little town with it's row of white washed houses looked inviting in the pale winter sunshine. But it was already past mid afternoon, the sun was low on the horizon and we knew darkness was coming in a hour or so. So we did not dare stop since we had about an hour's drive ahead of us. But we noted this town perched prettily on the lake, and decided that we must come back to check it out. 
As it happened during our week long stay in the region, we visited Inveraray thrice. The town and it's pier became one of our preferred hangouts. It was about 40 minutes drive on the A83 from we were staying and had some nice shops & cafes and the pier looking out to the stunning Loch Fyne. Also the drive became a favourite, A83 is not that isolated or remote in that stretch, has a healthy amount of traffic and is very scenic as it runs almost parallel to the Loch Fyne, which looks different in different spots depending on the sunlight and the time of the day.

Loch Fyne [Scottish GaelicLoch F├Čne], meaning Loch of the Vine or Wine, is a sea loch on the west coast of Argyll and ButeScotland. It extends 65 kilometres inland from the Sound of Bute, making it the longest of the sea lochs.  Although there is no evidence that grapes have grown there, the title is probably honorific. Content source: Wikipedia


The town known in Scottish Gaelic as Inbhir Aora is two hours drive from Glasgow and is slightly bigger than the town which was nearest to us Loch Gilphead. Hence has a few more shops and cafes. It is a major stop for coaches which bring in tourists from time to time, so the place has a lot more people and activity. There were a few hotels and B&B in and around the town. But most of the tourists seemed like they were passing through.
For us the best bit was parking right in front of the pier. There is space for some twenty cars at the most. In summer I am sure it would be impossible to get parking there, but in winter we managed all three days. Also parking is free during the winter months. So you can sit in the comforts of your car, sheltered from the cold and watch the ever changing shades of Loch Fyne.


The high street has some ten/twelve shops, cafes & restaurants, a church and the Inveraray Jail which is a major tourist attraction. We skipped it not being interested in the gruesome life of 19th century jail inmates. It was one of the few tourist attractions open and seemed to draw people, specially kids. We kept walking past the jail and took a left through a narrow cobbled lane.  A couple of minutes walk and we stumbled upon yet another spectacular view of Loch Fyne and writer Neil Munro's house. Just next to it was a row of fishermen's cottages, a young girl waved at us from her doorway. 


A young lad and his father was walking along the frozen lake shore and collecting stuff. It was fun watching them. Reminded me of similar childhood trips with my father along the many sea beaches of India. I was an ardent sea shell collector, but did not much like their fishy smell, so once I had collected them, I would promptly abandon them.


On the other side of the beach a gang of sea gulls were flocking together, they looked like they were soaking up the winter sun. But these sea gulls are impatient sorts, before long one would fly off and others would follow. The cries of the gulls as they circled the sky and dipped low near the water of the lake filled the place. 


The problem with winter is you can only stand idle in one place for so much time, however well wrapped you are. Soon you start shivering with cold and need to make a move on. We decided to explore the few gift shops in the town. Discovered a little shop called Dreamtime Gallery & Crystal Shop just next to the jail, tucked in a cosy corner. The shop is filled with all kinds of crystals and stones and has such a calm & peaceful vibe. Moving on from there, we came back to the high street and crossed the road. A bit further up past the church and the banks was this beautiful flower shop.I didn't go in because there was no way I could have saved a potted plant on the long journey home but it looked so charming and inviting from outside, I stood there gazing at it for sometime.


Once I had my fill of flower shop gazing and my husband had got sufficiently impatient we walked back the way we came and on our way towards the cafes {it was past lunchtime and we were hungry} on the left we saw a narrow lane with a restaurant and an art gallery. Of course we had to check out the gallery. It was really well stocked with arts and prints of Scottish painters, a lot of them from the region. 


By now we were beyond hungry. We had a very specific place in mind for lunch. My husband is a big fan of the Scottish savoury pudding haggis made with sheep's pluck {heart, liver and lungs}. In the town fish and chips shop he had seen haggis pakora on the menu. Of course he had to try it. So he bought haggis pakora, haggis roll with chips {yes a bit on haggis overdose} and I bought fish and chips and we took the food to our car and ate it while gazing at the lake and the gulls and the few tourists walking along the pier.


Lunch over, we decided to take a stroll on the Inveraray Castle grounds. It is beautiful parkland, though a little bare for my taste since most of the trees had shed their leaves, we did not have to walk for long, soon we saw the castle which is actually a classic 18th century Scottish Georgian mansion on a grand scale. It wasn't open, much to my disappointment, I guess I  need to make a trip in the summer to tour the Scottish castles.


A trip to Scotland would not be complete without a mention of it's whiskey. The Argyll region has many distilleries and each town has a whiskey showroom, if not more. We ventured into the one in Inveraray called Loch Fyne Whiskies. It is run by a gentleman who was absolutely charming and made us taste a whiskey liquor which has notes of chocolate and orange. It was brilliant and would make amazing desserts. If only they sold it in small bottles, I would have picked it up. My husband picked up some whiskey for his friends. Now I am not a whiskey drinker, neither do I intend to become one, but will remember this shop because of the charming man who ran the shop. He was a pleasure to talk to for the few minutes we were in there.


Ladies and gentlemen this is pretty much what Inveraray is all about. It's not a big city with many attractions, but the town has it's own charm. The people there were so very friendly and ready for a chat. The locals all seem to know each other and would stop along the road for a wave and a natter. Coming from big cities, this is what I miss, belonging to a community. Also the pace of the place is so relaxed. I am sure the farmers, shepherds and fishermen have a tough life, but no one rushes about, there is no jostling or pushing. Instead there is doffing your cap or a cheerio wave. I saw a postcard in the tourist information centre which showed a row of sheep blocking a road and below it was written "Monday morning traffic in Inveraray".


So long Inveraray! Hope you continue to thrive and prosper. You will always be in my heart as one of the prettiest and quaint towns I have ever visited. 

4 comments :

  1. Your photos are AMAZING! Wow!!

    Happy New Year,
    Rosie xx

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome pics of the Highlands. Happy New Year to you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Beautiful pics. What a scenery. Lovely click. Thank u for the share...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well captured pics... Love the Argyll shots from yur lenses...

    ReplyDelete

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