Updated: May 26
Enchanting to breath taking!
Loch Fyne in Argyll is a truly dramatic setting that assaults the senses and captures the imagination. From south of Portavadie to The Oyster Bar at the head of the loch there are 40 miles of unique landscape and majestic vistas.
On the water within the lower reaches of the loch, guests and crew of Fyne Explorer have observed a myriad of memorable experiences spanning over the last two seasons of which we would like to share our top five with you.
1. See the Seals
The gasps of delight are evident every time we approach a string of islands just north of Portavadie Marina. One of the islands aptly named Seal Island is the home to a colony of harbour seals which are a beautiful sight to observe within their own habitat.
We motor slowly keeping our distance so as not to agitate these beautiful marine creatures, yet near enough to hear the occasional grunt. With a cut of the engine if weather conditions permit, suddenly fingers point in unison to movement in the water between the islands as a seal surfaces and heads towards us.
Not to be too inquisitive the seal keeps its distance but is near enough for its audience to be entertained by those big doleful eyes and puppy facial features. The end of the seal’s performance is followed by it rolling effortlessly back under the surface to swim towards its family and friends placidly basking on the rocks.
Our harbour seals (also known as common seals) in Scotland make up around 5% of the world population. Whilst numbers on the east coast have been declining over the last decade, the numbers on the west coast are increasing. At present the reasoning for this is not known.
2. Atmospheric Arran
As we leave Portavadie the views over to the Isle of Arran never cease to amaze. With its beguiling beauty this ‘mini Scotland’ unrelentingly draws your eyes to appreciate its rugged yet grand presence. Even on cloudy days with its mountains obscured by rolling mist, the striking view of Arran remains utterly jaw dropping.
Heading across the loch towards Tarbert, Arran sits on our port side with its dramatic mountain peaks in full view. At 2866ft, Goatfell, the highest mountain on the island, can be seen from the boat for all our guests to savour.
There is constant intrigue as our eyes follow the rugged contours of the skyline, attempting to deduce the resemblance to that of a resting human figure, referred to as the ‘Sleeping Warrior.’
3. Take us to Tarbert
Motoring towards the small working village of Tarbert, also known as the gateway to the peninsula of Kintyre, (see blog Kintyre 66 is Calling) with its alluring villas and mythical castle, this is consistently a gem of a place we enjoy sharing with our guests. Over the years, negotiating the water markers and small islands whilst entering East Loch Tarbert is still a magical experience that we love to share with our guests on board.
As we manoeuvre within the harbour, avoiding birdlife such as the tysties, (see blog Tystie Spotting) our guests have a chance to take in a 360 degree view of the working fishing boats, shops, pubs, hotels and private yachts in this busy yet dreamy place. The renowned Tarbert Castle, that sits on the hill, which is associated with Robert the Bruce, looks down upon us on Fyne Explorer in the clear harbour water below.
4. Darting Dolphins
There is possibly no greater spectacle than experiencing a meeting with a pod of bottle nosed dolphins.
These small toothed cetaceans with their curved mouths, giving them that permanent ‘smile,’ sometimes join us as we head out into the loch from Portavadie. The shrieks of delight by our guests onboard is infectious as these graceful streamlined creatures glided effortlessly, often putting on a faultless performance bow riding in the waves, using the tail fluke to control their direction.
A truly amazing encounter when it happens it creates many smiles and lasting memories.
In Scotland this species occurs in both coastal and continental shelf waters where they form separate inshore and offshore populations. Inshore they are seen frequently on both the east and west coasts.
Monitoring of sightings of these animals is vitally important to help inform conservation bodies such as The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. Every sighting whilst aboard Fyne Explorer is reported using the trust’s Whale Track app.
5. Splendid Stonefield
There are castles galore in Argyll and Bute one of which is the splendid Stonefield Castle, built in 1837, which sits about a mile north of Tarbert.
Our guests get the opportunity to discover this baronial manor in its 350 acres of woodland landscape from two directions, the north and south bays.
Tucking into the north bay we can see closely the paths protruding through the trees and bushes down to the loch side. You can picture the wealthy Victorians enjoying their vacation in this idyllic spot.
If our guests look closely they can see coloured buoys hanging from a tree.
The south bay in contrast, due to the natural walkway to Barmore Island from Stonefield’s grounds, means we are unable to position ourselves as close as in the north bay but the fantastic view of the castle in all its glory definitely makes up for this.
A Voyage of Discovery
What inspires us aboard Fyne Explorer is the ever changing experiences our guests and ourselves discover on every tour. Argyll relentlessly seeks to amaze, time and time again.
Encounter your own experiences on the waters of Loch Fyne by booking on a tour with us. Our online booking system is now open or give us a call.
Make your own memories and experience your own
voyage of discovery with Fyne Sea Tours!
Join us aboard to enjoy the Fyne Sea Tours Experience.
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