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  • Nick MacIneskar


Updated: Nov 24, 2019

I feel able to talk with some authority about this engaging little village due to the amount of time I have spent there. Lying about 10 miles from the small town of Lochgilphead in Argyll, western Scotland, an abundance of fresh sights and sounds await the visitor.

Things to do

Tayvallich is primarily a place where people just go to live and work. It is characterised by farmed estates, some fishing and a quite astounding number of artists, to which I will come in a later post.

If walking or nature watching is your thing, the area has some of the most beautiful trails around and along the top of Taynish nature reserve where you can take in a vista that includes Jura and its deep sound. If you want a closer look, though you could take one of the many trails, including one from Carsaig harbour that runs about 7 miles down to Kiells with its ancient chapel and even more ancient carved stones.

Travelling with children

Let's be blunt, though, if you are coming to Tayvallich with children then a day spent looking at slabs of rock is unlikely to get them very excited. Nor will they likely be suffused with eagerness at seeing the ruins of many abandoned farms and old villages like Arichonan that litter the area, despite their haunting prettiness.

So what to do with your younger ones out here?

Well you could take a boat trip out to some of the islands !

Venture West runs trips daily out of Tayvallich and Carsaig bays except for when the weather is a little too choppy. You can explore Jura and its famous whirlpool and other places too numerous to list here. During the right time of year you can also see basking sharks and bottle-nose dolphins, among much else.

And if your youngsters are not sufficiently traumatised at the sight of a 12 metre long fish or skimming the third biggest whirlpool in the world you could try longer trips out towards the Hebrides where you may see our resident orca pod. These magnificent creatures used to be called Killer Whales until someone decided that it wasn't really good for their image and that if you really wish for people to welcome them to the area you need to give them names - like John Coe and his friend Floppyfin.

John Coe has been called the 'loneliest orca in the world' because he belongs to a pod that has no genetic similarity to other pods in the north Atlantic which spend their time actively avoiding one another. But that is not to say the animals do not move around quite considerably. They have been seen in such diverse places as the Firth of Clyde and Vatersay in the outer Hebrides.

However if your young ones really don't fancy the idea of meeting one of these toothy beasts you might instead try a bit of wild swimming - I don't mean in the same stretch of water though...

Now this is not a new phenomenon, but it used to be called 'going to the beach'. It used to be a pleasant paddle, perhaps with a sandcastle or bit of ice-cream thrown in. Not any more, I'm afraid. Wild swimming, as it's now called, is a deadly serious business of which my wife and son lately availed themselves. What my wife calls 'invigorating' I am inclined to call a 'crazed pastime' and the people who participate in this hypothermia- inducing sport are actively insane.

And this is because water around Tayvallich, and indeed most places in Scotland, tends to have subtle layers of temperature that range from bitterly cold to frozen solid. Of course, I don't want to put you off a refreshing dip, but if you do venture in can I suggest these small items?

1) a good wet-suit (to avoid hypothermia)

2) neoprene gloves (to avoid more hypothermia)

3) swimming shoes (to avoid impaling your feet on sea urchins, and hypothermia)

4) a warm hat (see point one)

5) a towel (for when you emerge a dark shade of blue)

and a waiting bottle of Islay malt to negate the worst effects. It's the only sensible thing to do after all...

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