The West Coast of Scotland is largely characterized in geographical terms by the many dozens of sea lochs which bite often deep in to its coastline. Just like the fjords of Norway, these inlets are of a variety of sizes and are often bordered by a stunning array of mountain scenery which can literally take the breath away. Loch Fyne is one of the most southerly of the sea lochs and therefore one of the most accessible from Scotland's populous Central Belt and cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh. It is also the longest at circa forty miles and one of the largest by surface area.
Looking towards the (unseen) head of Loch Fyne from the jetty at St Catherine's in the early summer morning light
Loch Fyne was by no means the first Scottish sea loch I visited and fished as a preschooler but these days it is one of the few I continue to visit on a regular basis. Tragically, over-fishing by commercial vessels has left many of these venues a mere shadow of what they were when I first wet a line in their waters more than four decades ago. Blank fishing days are now all too frequent where they would not so long ago have been unthinkable.
The good news is that most of the magnificent scenery remains as it has been for many millennia. The loch runs in an approximate north-east to south-west direction and it is to the more accessible upper half of the loch this page is dedicated. I took all of the photographs on this page at various times of the year and between the years of 2007 and 2015, with most of them having been taken at the more recent end of the scale.
St Catherine's on Loch Fyne
Looking towards the caravan park (largely hidden by trees) from the stone jetty at St Catherine's, Loch Fyne
St Catherine's is a tiny little hamlet on the southern shore of the loch through which runs the A815 Dunoon road. Straight across the road from the sadly now derelict hotel and just past the caravan park, there is a small stone jetty from which reasonable quality mackerel fishing is still possible at specific times of the year and stages of the tide. It should be noted however that this jetty is in a precarious state of repair with whole sections having crumbled in to the loch. This means walking on it is treacherous at any time and it should never be accessed during the hours of darkness or at higher stages of the tide when the water frequently covers it completely.
Looking up or down the loch from the end of the jetty provides magnificent views of the mountain scenery while the picturesque little town of Inveraray can be seen a couple of miles in the distance, almost straight across the water from St Catherine's. In ancient times and in the days before motor vehicles, a ferry operated from Inveraray to St Catherine's as a means of considerably reducing the land journey south in the direction of Glasgow.
I recorded the short video below upon arriving at St Catherine's early one autumnal morning for some late season mackerel fishing.
Video recorded at St Catherine's Jetty, Loch Fyne
Cairndow Beach on Loch Fyne
If you are approaching Loch Fyne on the main A83 road from Glasgow and the south, you will first reach the shores of the loch close to the small village of Cairndow (which is pronounced, Cairn-doo). You are only about a mile from the head of the loch at this point and the waters recede considerably at low tide. The ground here is very rocky and weedy so sensible footwear is essential whether beach fishing or simply walking along the shoreline. Although the fishing nowadays is generally poor, some excellent quality mussels can be collected from the rocks at low water.
Amazon Price: $24.99 $12.30 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 10, 2016)
Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant
Just across the bridge at the head of the loch is the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and Restaurant. This venue actually began life as a small caravan selling oysters to passing trade but now sells a wonderful variety of Scottish seafood and other local produce to take away from the shop or to eat on site in the restaurant. Other outlets now sit adjacent to the restaurant building, selling such as plants and garden furniture.
It was in December 2007 that I climbed part way up one of the hills behind the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar on the spur of the moment to take some pictures, including the one above. This one shows the shop, restaurant and other nearby outlets as well as the head of the loch.
Inveraray on Loch Fyne
Ten to twelve miles further along the A83 Campbeltown road you will pass through the beautiful little town of Inveraray. Just before you reach the town, you will see Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll. A wander through the grounds allows you not only to see the castle at close quarters but by climbing a little bit higher, you will be afforded magnificent views of the town and lochside scenery beyond.
Inveraray boasts three excellent quality hotels, all of which offer accommodation, meals and other bar facilities. The historic jailhouse off the main street can be toured for a modest fee and is well worth a visit. Although there is a pier at Inveraray from which it used to be possible to fish, the pier is currently closed to public access for safety reasons and it is unknown at this time whether the necessary repairs to open it up again will ever be undertaken.
The peace, tranquility and ethereal beauty of Loch Fyne is something which truly has to be experienced to be believed. Countless hours and even days can be spent exploring the beaches and surrounding walks, the villages and many hostelries. Although there are no railways in this part of Argyll in modern times, a bus service to Glasgow does operate several times a day (advance booking recommended at busier times of the year). The roads are fairly decent quality and well signposted if you choose car hire as a visiting option. The slideshow immediately below is one I compiled from pictures I took over the years and hopefully provides a final summary guide to the stunning beauty of this part of the world.