Travel: West coast of Scotland not strictly for drive-by

MELFORT is en route to many places but it’s worth a trip of its own, writes Robin McKelvie

THE Melfort area of Argyll is one of those places many people just flash by in the car thinking that it looks nice and they must stop there for a look around some day. If you have done that, or don’t even know this scenic corner of Scotland’s Atlantic coast, you should make a point of heading west as it boasts excellent self-catering accommodation and a flurry of local attractions and activities for holidaymakers of all ages.

The area around Melfort and Loch Melfort is tucked between the major ferry port and tourist town of Oban to the north and Kintyre to the south. The Atlantic on its western flank is peppered with the islands of Shuna, Scarba and Jura. Rugged hills and silvery lochs rise off inland to the east. The salt of the Atlantic hangs in the air and swathes of forest drape themselves over the hills in a land that feels far more remote and hard to get to get to than it really is.

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The best place to stay locally is at Melfort Village (www.melfortvillage.co.uk) This complex is made up of 32 self- catering cottages that lie at the head of Loch Melfort. The well-appointed cottages feature farmhouse kitchens, DVD and Freeview and big fluffy towels.

Melfort Village also has an 11-metre indoor swimming pool, a sauna, gym and fitness room for active types as well as twin games rooms and even a play room for families. Then there is the tennis court, outdoor playground, putting green and even a beauty and well-being room, where you can enjoy everything from facials, waxing and pedicures, right through to Indian head massage and reiki.

Moving outside of the complex, fly fishing is available on Loch nan Druimnean. Melfort Village even has a boat on the loch exclusively for guests as well as basic tackle for hire. There are endless hiking opportunities with Ordnance Survey maps available from reception and maps of local walking trails too. There are also bikes for hire so you can head off further afield.

The area around Melfort is popular for birdwatching and there are wildlife cruises from nearby Craobh Haven. This marina offers a number of boat trip options that can be booked by Melfort Village. To the south is Kilmartin Glen with its rich seam of Celtic history to mine. Then there is Arduaine Garden, one of the finest National Trust for Scotland gardens in the country. It tumbles down a rugged hillside to the ocean in a wash of flora, with everything from exotic ferns and palms, right through to a canopy of towering larch trees.

Whatever you choose to do in the Melfort area if you don’t enjoy it you can rest assured there is another raft of opportunities waiting to check out. So next time you are driving around Loch Melfort, or next time you fancy a break that suits all ages, stop off in Melfort and you will soon be bedded down in Melfort Village with a plethora of options to choose from.