Tarbert is a charming town on the shores of Loch Fyne. It is located just a few miles from Kennacraig where the Islay ferries depart and arrive. On our way to Islay we arrived an hour and a half early and so spent that time in Tarbert. On the way back from Islay we returned to the town for lunch. The town seems to see a fair bit of tourist action and there are quite a few restaurants and b&b’s. Friends who’ve recently stayed in Tarbert without going on to Islay say it’s a worthwhile destination in its own right. I don’t doubt it. It would probably make a good base for exploration of the Loch Fyne area and down to Campbeltown, which is only an hour or so away. Here now is a quick look at the town, a brief account of our lunch and a view of a whisky store I randomly stopped in at.
On the waterfront
First, the town. We didn’t see a whole lot of it beyond what’s on the waterfront, and I’m not sure how much more of it there is. What there is though is quite pretty. And while this is not restricted to Tarbert, I really like the brightly coloured houses/buildings sprinkled in among the rest. I liked less the possibility of driving into the loch if not paying attention while parking on the main drag. The kids liked even more the playground on the far side, where they hung out with their mother while I spent much more time than I’d thought I would in the whisky shop I hadn’t expected to find.
All the pictures in this post, by the way, were taken on my phone. I’ve cleaned some but not all of them up after the fact, mostly to fix the white balance.
Whisky West Coast
And here is the whisky shop we randomly parked right in front of on our way in to Islay. It’s a small shop but the owner is a genial gent and I spent a fair bit of time in conversation with him. As the name of the shop would suggest, his focus is on Islay, Campbeltown, Arran and other west coast distilleries. In addition to regular releases, he has a fair number of distillery exclusives, especially from Springbank, but also including on my visit a number of 2017 Feis Ile bottles. The markups on some of the distillery exclusives were rather enthusiastic but I did purchase (on my way out a few days later) one of the Bowmore Feis Iles for less than auction price. Worth a look in if you’re in the area.
On our way back from Islay to Glasgow we took the morning ferry from Port Ellen which put us in Kennacraig and then Tarbert before noon. Not all restaurants were open (we tried the Islay Frigate first) and given that it was pissing down we sat down at the first one that was open. This was the Anchorage Bistro, a small but charming restaurant. Here it was that I had my last encounter with local Scottish seafood; and here also it was that we had a brief encounter with a large group of Americans on a cycling tour of Scotland, most of whom seemed to be regretting their life choices on a miserable rainy day. The food was decent enough if not, perhaps, the best possible farewell to local Scottish seafood (though also better than our Thai dinner in Glasgow that night).
Well, unless I choose to write up that Thai dinner in Glasgow or put up a gallery of non-food/whisky pictures, this is my farewell to Scotland. Or to this trip to Scotland anyway. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go back but I would really like to return. There’s a slight chance of a trip to Edinburgh next summer for a conference (in which case I’ll probably try to go up to Craigellachie and do the part that got axed from this trip). If not, maybe I’ll be able to talk some friends into going with me for my 50th birthday in a couple of years. But whether I get to go back or not, this trip was a highlight for our family and will stay with us a long time. Again, those of you who get to go very often are very lucky.