Less well known than the West Highland Way, this 100-mile (161km) trail zig-zags down through the peaceful and energising Kintyre Peninsula.

Along the way you'll pass numerous historical sites on this largely unspoilt landmass ending by the spectacular Machrihanish Bay.

UK Scotland Tarbet Kintyre

Fishing boats in Tarbert, on Kintyre's north-east coast

The Kintyre Way

Distance: 100 miles (160km)

Duration: 7 days

Start point: Tarbert

End point: Machrihanish

Difficulty: Easy road and forest track sections to difficult foreshore and remote hill walks

Suitable for: Experienced hikers

The well-marked Kintyre Way has something for all nature lovers with, on the whole, straightforward walking.

Although the route is generally considered as starting in Tarbert in the north to Machrihanish in the south, the route can also be walked south to north and is fully waymarked in both directions.

Be aware that there are remote and exposed stretches such as on day two between Claonaig and Clachan. And the final stage between Southend and Machrihanish is purely for experienced hillwalkers, having steep ground, bog, and difficult navigation if misty. If tackling the full trail, carry waterproofs and a first aid kit as a minimum. Note that mobile phone signal is non-existent on parts of the route.

Low cloud and inclement weather can be expected in any season which can obscure the blue waymarkers on higher ground. The sweet spot for reasonable weather and fewer midges is usually May, early June, September and early October.

Kintyre can be reached from the south via the island of Arran, the north via Loch Lomond, or via a short ferry from Gouroch to Dunoon followed by a drive through the Cowal Peninsula and Lochgilphead. The latter, although not the shortest option, is recommended for the scenery and for arrival into Tarbert – a car journey of 108 miles (174km) from Glasgow. As the walk is a linear one it is recommended to return by bus to Tarbert from Machrihanish (via Campbeltown).

Accommodation-wise it is advisable, especially in Easter and the summer months, to book in advance. Although the majority of the recommended overnight stops have plentiful accommodation that is not the case for Claonaig, Tayinloan or Southend. An alternative option in these cases, for non wild campers, is to arrange transport to your booking. A self-guided walking company can be very useful in this respect or one could use the local bus service or taxis.

The Kintyre Way is offered as an organised self-guided trip by many Scotland walking holiday companies who will tailor an itinerary to your preferences, organise your accommodation, baggage transfer and other logistics. Alternatively you can book your B&Bs yourself and use ad-hoc baggage transfer.

UK Scotland Campbeltown Kintyre

Campbeltown on Kintyre's south-east coast

The Kintyre Way route

An endearing feature of the Kintyre Way is that it skirts both the east and west coasts of this long, protruding, landmass. One day for example you can enjoy walking with views out over the Atlantic on the day three leg from Clachan to Tayinloan right by the sea while gazing out to the islands of Islay, Jura and Gigha. Then the next day you are rewarded with an extensive view of much of the east coast of Kintyre as well as the Arran mountains and Ailsa Craig.

This is a trail which is really worth doing in full. The sense of completion as you stand by the gorgeous sandy beach of Machrihanish is magical.

Kintyre Way day by day

Day 1: Tarbert to Claonaig (11 miles/ 18km)

Day 2: Claonaig to Clachan (10 miles/ 16km)

Day 3: Clachan to Tayinloan (9 miles/ 14km)

Day 4: Tayinloan to Carradale (14 miles/ 22km)

Day 5: Carradale to Campbeltown (22 miles/ 35km)

Day 6: Campbeltown to Southend (16 miles/ 26km)

Day 7: Southend to Machrihanish (16 miles/ 26km)

Ancient Argyll

Kintryre is part of the ancient area of Argyll, which meets the Atlantic with a massively indented coastline. The region takes its name from the anglicised form of Earra Gaidheal, meaning ‘way of the Gaels’. This refers to the early Irish tribe, the Dal Riada of Antrim, who settled here from the third century AD onwards.

About the author

The Kintyre Way

Fergal MacErlean

Dublin-born Fergal fell in love with Scotland as a student, settling there to become a journalist and cycle guidebook writer. In addition to his guides covering Scotland, he has written for the BBC, New Scientist, BBC Countryfile Magazine and many travel publications. Andalusia is a second home.

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