Exploring the Shores of Loch Awe

Stretching for over 25 miles through the heart of Argyll in the Scottish Highlands, the famously beautiful Loch Awe is one of Scotland's largest and most stunning bodies of freshwater. Flanked by forested glens, rolling hills and rocky mountains, its shimmering waters and scattered islands have an almost ethereal quality which has inspired artists and writers for centuries. As well as its rich natural beauty, Loch Awe is also steeped in history, with medieval castles and ancient monuments dotted along its shores. A visit here promises magnificent scenery, outdoor activities galore and insights into Scotland's storied past. From fishing and boating to hiking and camping, Loch Awe caters to almost every interest. Its central location also makes it an ideal base to explore iconic Highland highlights like Glencoe, Oban and Inveraray. With a wealth of accommodation options ranging from cosy B&Bs to stylish country house hotels, quality places to eat and passionate local communities, Loch Awe has all the ingredients for an unforgettable Scottish escape. This guide will cover everything you need to know to plan your trip, from the best places to stay and top things to do to practical travel tips. Read on to start plotting your adventure along the enchanting shores of Loch Awe!

Accommodation Options At Loch Awe

With over 25 miles of shoreline and a variety of scenic villages dotted around its periphery, Loch Awe offers diverse accommodation options to match all budgets and tastes. From luxury castle hotels to budget-friendly camping pods, finding the perfect place to stay is part of the adventure.


Lochside Hotels

For luxury lodgings directly on Loch Awe's tranquil shores, hotels like the prestigious Loch Awe Hotel estate deliver lavish hospitality amid captivating natural splendour. Dating from 1863 and overlooking the northern loch between Port Sonachan and Dalavich, the turreted Baronial-style castle contains 63 individually styled rooms alongside self-catering cottages nestled throughout its wooded grounds.


Interiors combine romantic Victorian features like crackling fires, window seats and roll-top baths, with slick contemporary detailing from quality linens to marble bathrooms. Many rooms showcase panoramic loch vistas taking in swathes of water and forested slopes of Ben Cruachan beyond. Leisure facilities range from an indoor swimming pool with sauna and hot tub to an 18-hole golf course, ensuring year-round enjoyment. Two restaurants provide refined locally sourced dining experiences, while the cosy hotel bar regularly features live folk music.


Further south past Dalavich, the family-run Luib Hotel occupies an equally sublime lochside setting offering more relaxed and affordable accommodation. Ensuite rooms boast sleek nautical or traditional country styling with lounges and a conservatory restaurant overlooking the loch. The neighbouring Oak Tree Inn also offers clean and comfortable budget rooms, while the hotel’s Glasshouse Restaurant uses fresh Scottish ingredients imaginatively.


Holiday Lodges

Offering versatile self-catering accommodation perfect for families and groups, lodges allow flexible and affordable Loch Awe holidays with access to shared leisure amenities. A prime example is the Loch Awe Holiday Park occupying an idyllic shoreside setting amid Scots pines midway between Portsonachan and Dalavich on Loch Awe's north road. Its spacious timber lodges provide modern living areas with log burners and well-equipped kitchens, alongside two or three bedrooms. Scenic verandas make ideal spots to soak up sunrises over the loch with glimpses of rustic Crannog Centre dwellings on its islands. Superfast wifi keeps you connected while smart TVs, DAB radios and DVD players entertain. Shared onsite amenities include a cafe/bar hosting regular quiz nights plus a mini-market stocking regional treats, fresh groceries and outdoor gear. Laundry and shower/toilet facilities provide added convenience for campers. Dogs are also welcome in pet exercise areas. Other notable perks include direct loch shore access with a slipway launching paddleboards, canoes and motor boats. Sheltered shallows make for calm introductory watersports. There are also two children’s play parks to keep youngsters occupied plus picturesque forest and hill walks right outside your lodge door.


Bed & Breakfasts

For intimate accommodation brimming with warm Scottish hospitality, independently owned B&Bs like Stonefield House provide memorable Loch Awe stays on a smaller scale. Tucked away just north of Taynuilt village flanking scenic Glen Lonan, this sandstone farmhouse turned peaceful retreat contains five smartly presented ensuite rooms decked out in soothing tones. Downstairs, the Conservatory guest lounge offers a cosy refuge with plush sofas, a wood-burning stove and help help-yourself tea station looking out over gardens. Hearty Scottish or vegetarian breakfasts prepared with locally sourced ingredients provide the perfect fuel for loch-side adventures, while homemade cakes feature tea and coffee on return. Further home comforts include an outdoor hot tub overlooking grazing sheep and forests - perfect for unwinding as the sun sets behind majestic Glen Lonan Hill. Hosts Jean and Bill also have an impressive knowledge of Loch Awe’s hidden nooks which they happily share to enhance your explorations. Nearby self-catering options like the farmhouse Well Cottage or Grassland Cottage offer additional flexibility, with conservatory dining spaces taking in tranquil rural vistas. From romance to adventure, Stonefield House makes an ideal base to experience life at Loch Awe from Argyll’s gentle soul.


Camping Pods

For affordable and eco-friendly accommodation bringing you close to Loch Awe’s natural beauty, scenically positioned camping pods provide budget-friendly comfort. Tucked between Ardfe and Kilchrenan on A819 Loch Awe’s north road, the Loch Awe Boathouse facility offers two boutique timber pods just metres from the loch shore. Despite compact dimensions, clever layouts allow room for a comfy double bed plus pull-out sofa beds for kids, a mini kitchenette with hob, fridge and sink, and a compact shower room. Picture windows drink in serene views across forested shores from the comfort of your pod, with lochside picnic benches also provided. Further perks include private decking areas, electricity points and heating - though nothing beats the cosy ambience of snuggling up after nightfall with hot chocolates and board games as rain patterns concrete roof. Days bring adventures like catching your breakfast trout aboard boats hired from the adjoining boathouse, honing kayaking skills across glittering bays, or wanderingKILCHurren's castle and ruined chapel. bins allow campfire dinners under starlit skies. Who needs walls anyway when Loch Awe’s beauty is yours to immerse in?

Top Attractions And Things To Do At Loch Awe

Famed for its outstanding natural beauty, Loch Awe offers an abundance of ways to immerse yourself in the iconic scenery and rich history of this special place. From leisurely lochside rambles to adrenaline-pumping watersports, visitors of all ages and interests will discover endless things to see and do.


Ruined Castles

As well as its incredible natural scenery, Loch Awe is studded with historic castles offering windows into Scotland’s turbulent past. Perched dramatically above the loch’s northern point near Dalavich, magnificent Kilchurn Castle is one of Scotland’s most photographed ruins. Built-in 1450 as the seat of the Campbells of Glenorchy, its iconic broken ramparts and etched stonework create lasting impressions. Obtain panoramic views from the grassy spindrift behind or take one of the scenic cruises sailing right past its towers from Loch Awe Boathouse pier. At Loch Awe’s southern end, equally atmospheric ruins of Kilchurn New Castle occupy a small peninsula near Dalavich. Dating from 1583, its remnants like the intact fortress gatehouse and kitchens convey the ancestral home’s former grandeur. Historic Environment Scotland manages the site with informative displays recounting clan history.


Boat Trips

The most magical perspectives of Loch Awe can be gained offshore aboard a choice of boat trips. Standard sightseeing cruises like those from Loch Awe Boathouse Pier or Dalavich Pier provide commentaries around highlights like Kilchurn Castle and tiny inhabited islands holding mystical Celtic shrines. Specialist wildlife cruises might focus on spotting the lake’s rich biodiversity from nesting ospreys to red squirrels, while fishing charters allow you to catch trout and salmon for supper surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Private boat hire also lets you explore secluded bays and beaches at your own pace.


Hill Walking

Keen hill walkers and nature lovers will relish Loch Awe’s possibilities for hiking and wilderness adventures. Trails around the loch pass through glens, woodlands and moors rich in wildlife like red deer and buzzards. More challenging routes include the ascent of the majestic 3,418 ft Ben Cruachan towering over the loch’s northern reaches. Ask locals about more remote treks to peaks like Meall Cuanail offering staggering panoramas across Argyll’s heartlands and islands dotted along the loch below.



For thrilling perspectives from shore level, cycling lets you traverse the 25-mile loch at your own pace. Mostly following peaceful B roads, routes circle the loch past tiny villages with pubs and cafes worth stopping at along the way. Family-friendly sections like the off-road track between Dalavich and Avich make a perfect introduction. You can either bring your bikes or hire them locally from providers like Loch Awe Leisure who offer electric bikes delivering some pedal assistance across hillier terrain when needed!


Where to Eat near Loch Awe

With fresh Scottish produce on its doorstep, Loch Awe spoils visitors with outstanding food and drink for refuelling between adventures. For relaxed pub dining and traditional Scottish fare, the Oak Tree Inn at Loch Awe Village serves hearty options like fish and chips, steak pie and haggis alongside cask ales, fine whiskies and wines. Its cosy stonewalled interior features a fireplace and exposed beams, while the terrace gazes over Loch Awe - especially atmospheric at sunset. Live music events also regularly pack out the gastropub outpost.


At Ardfern Marina halfway up Loch Awe’s eastern shore, the Galley of Lorne restaurant offers lochside fine dining in a contemporary setting with floor-to-ceiling windows. Menus focus on delectable Scottish seafood creations like Loch Fyne oysters, Oban scallops and langoustines alongside Aberdeen Angus steaks and vegetarian specialities. Their regional wine list provides the perfect pairings. For relaxed dining and superlative vistas, Luib Hotel’s Glasshouse Restaurant south of Dalavich creates European-inspired menus using quality local ingredients from land and sea. Expect the likes of Mull cheddar souffle, Argyll venison and home-smoked salmon alongside whisky cream crowdie desserts. More informal bar meals are also available.


Picnickers should grab supplies from neighbouring towns like Taynuilt or farm shops en route. Prime picnic pitstops include the shores of atmospheric Kilchurn Castle to eat among its photogenic tumbled stonework, or the Celtic shrine island Inishail holding 1000-year-old carved rock art - just mind not to touch fragile relics while tucking into your sandwiches! Wherever you choose to dine, Loch Awe’s larder guarantees culinary joy.

Boating and watersports on Loch Awe

As one of Scotland’s longest inland bodies of water, Loch Awe offers outstanding opportunities for boating and watersports. The minimal tide and generally calm conditions create excellent sailing conditions, while the intricate shoreline with scattered islands rewards leisurely kayaking and canoe expeditions. More powerful motorcraft can also be used to visit secluded bays and historic sites around the loch. For many visitors, taking to the waters is the ultimate way to fully appreciate Loch Awe’s scenic splendour. Viewed from an island seclusion or while windsurfing past wooded shores, iconic vistas take on a magical new perspective. The freedom of the loch also allows you to reach places inaccessible by road. Most watersports can be enjoyed by complete novices, while seasoned sailors will appreciate the loch's length and natural challenges.


Among the most popular embarkation points for Loch Awe boating adventures is the Loch Awe Boathouse and Pier occupying an enviable shoreside location midway between Portsonachan and Dalavich on the loch’s northern A819 access road. Generations of loch-lovers have set sail from its historic timber-clad boathouse whether messing about in row boats or heading out on thrill-seeking water skiing sorties towed by powerful speedboats. Today visitors can still hire classic wooden rowing skiffs by the hour or day from Loch Awe Boathouse for blissfully quiet exploring across forest-fringed bays at your own pace. The main boathouse building contains a handy cafe to provision snacks and picnic supplies for on-board lunches gazing at islands dotted along the loch. More powerful hire options include family-sized motorboats capable of holding up to seven passengers for custom trips to landmarks like brooding Kilchurn Castle, atmospheric islets holding age-old carved Celtic crosses and rock art, or secret beaches even locals struggle to access by road.


Further along the loch near Ardfern, Ardfern Yacht Centre offers yachting services from novices to experts. As well as yacht charter and berthing with full facilities, there is onsite accommodation, a popular restaurant and gear shops covering clothing, equipment and provisions. Sheltered loch access makes it an ideal sailing school location from April to October. Based on the south shores near Dalavich, Loch Awe Water Sports and Activity Centre provides equipment rental and instruction for numerous watersports from kayaking to wakeboarding. Visitors can also take boat trips or learn to drive powerboats before hiring their own.

Fishing at Loch Awe

As one of Scotland’s premier freshwater fisheries, Loch Awe has been drawing anglers from across the globe for generations. With a diversity of fish species including pike, perch, brown trout and Atlantic salmon, its fertile waters offer outstanding fishing in spectacular settings throughout the year. Three main rivers – the Awe, Orchy and Avich – flow into Loch Awe, bringing migratory fish from the west coast into the loch along their routes. This ensures excellent salmon fishing during both spring and autumn/winter seasons. The loch also maintains its populations of hard-fighting wild brown trout, pike and perch, meaning productive year-round fishing. The autumn months from late September to November are prime times to target salmon running up from the sea to spawn. Spinning, fly fishing and trolling techniques can all be effective. Through winter and early spring, fishing remains productive for salmon while rainbow trout fishing also starts in February. As temperatures warm from April to June, excellent sport can be had trout fishing and fly fishing for pike. Perch, brown trout and pike continue to provide action through summer and early autumn.


Loch Awe is conveniently sectioned into over 30 beats to control fishing pressure. Most beats are owned by estates or hotels and sold to visitors on a daily or weekly permit basis. Methods, tackling requirements and retaining limits may vary between beats – check regulations with the permitted provider. Boats can be hired on some beats or you may need to bring your own. Among the most celebrated fishing locations on Loch Awe is the Pass of Brander Beats owned by the Portsonachan Hotel. Positioned where the loch narrows with good water flow, it offers excellent spinning, fly and harling prospects for salmon, sea trout and brown trout. There is also good summer sport for pike and perch. The hotel provides fishing permits to guests and non-residents along with boat hire, tackle and ghillies.


Two contrasting examples of Loch Awe fishing beats are Inistrynich Hotel & Country House beats and those owned by Ardfin Estate. The Inistrynich beats focus exclusively on fly fishing for brown trout in beautiful River Avich settings – peaceful and technical fishing at its best. Ardfin Estate provides both boat and bank fishing access for salmon, brown trout and coarse fish across a range of scenic upper and lower beats. With so many options, most anglers choose Loch Awe accommodation or nearby self-catering cottages with attached fishing rights. Top lodges like Dalavich Barn and Keepers Cottage offer outstanding trout, salmon and pike fishing with all equipment provided. Visitors can also fish from the banks and islands of Loch Awe Holiday Park. Wherever you cast your line at Loch Awe, a thrilling battle with hard-fighting Scottish fish is never far away. Surrounded by magnificent highland scenery, Loch Awe is a fisherman’s paradise.

Sightseeing highlights around Loch Awe

While the shimmering expanse of Loch Awe itself is undoubtedly the headline attraction, visitors shouldn’t overlook the many fascinating places to explore nearby. Conveniently located at the heart of Argyll and gateway to iconic attractions like Oban and Glencoe, Loch Awe provides the perfect base for sightseeing excursions across wider areas of Scotland’s dramatic western Highlands.


Kilmartin Glen

Just a short drive northwest of Loch Awe lies the enchanting Kilmartin Glen, home to one of the world’s most important concentrations of prehistoric sites spanning over 5,000 years. Within its verdant confines, you’ll discover around 800 ancient monuments including standing stones, ceremonial circles, cairns and hill forts conjuring Scotland’s rich history and archaeological mysteries. Must-see sites include Temple Wood’s Stone Circle and awe-inspiring Nether Largie South Cairn featuring house-sized slabs preserved from around 3,000 BC. Start your explorations at Kilmartin Museum and pick up a guide outlining key sites.


Oban & Mull

Known as the Gateway to the Isles, just under an hour's drive north from Loch Awe brings you to the bustling harbour town of Oban on Scotland's west coast. Its waterfront offers lively bars and quality seafood restaurants between two handsome bays, while attractions include McCaig's Tower for panoramic vistas and Dunollie Castle ruins with a museum. Oban is also the departure point for ferries over to the breathtaking Isle of Mull, famous for wild and rugged landscapes like Ben More mountain, sweeping Glen More valley and the sacred island of Iona holding over 500 carved stone high crosses.


Inveraray & Dunoon

South beyond the lower reaches of Loch Awe lies the historic town of Inveraray, the seat of the Dukes of Argyll and gateway to amazing Highland scenery. Must-see attractions here include neo-Gothic Inveraray Castle with lavish rooms and armoury displays, Inveraray Jail spelling out the harsh realities of 19th-century prison life, and scenic forest walks like the Beaver Trail spotting evidence of recently reintroduced furry engineers! Quaint coastal towns like Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula add nearby options for exploring gorgeous landscapes and relics from Scotland's past.


Whether you seek breathtaking scenery, ancient history or modern attractions, landmarks surrounding Loch Awe offer something special. Day tripping from your Loch Awe base promises charming coastal towns, iconic glens, cultural treasures and adventures galore!

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