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Trip List by rampantscotsman

"Excuse Me, Waiter - What Can We Do In Tarbert?"

21 Jul 2007  Dissatisfied Local / Hotel Worker
3.5 of 5 stars based on 1 vote

What little to expect...

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Tarbert
  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Honeymooners, Seniors, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. The Corner House Bistro

    Undoubtably the finest place to eat in Tarbert (though there is very little competition). The restaurant, run by award winning French chef Pascal Theze and his wife Jacqui, serves good quality local seafood. And not just any seafood, but their own catch at that, from their own fishing boat. Also featured is local game, beef, and lamb.

    The atmosphere can be a bit stagnant at quiet times, despite the charm of the off-street entrance, and French/Scottish fusion character. When busy, this place is fantastic, and not just on a local scale.

  • 2. Loch Fyne Gallery

    Bookshop, Art Gallery, Shop of Miscellaneous Items and Jewellery.

    Well worth a visit as it is probably the best tourist attraction in Tarbert.

  • 3. Tarbert Royal Castle

    Castle built by Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, in 1325, though building of some description (minor fort or something) believed to have been in presence as far back as AD 712.

    The Castle's last permanent habitation was by the McAlister family of Tarbert, who tenented the Castle from the Earl of Argyll, "Keeper Of The Castle" (this title is still held by the current Duke of Argyll). The family moved out of Tarbert Castle in the mid 18th century, upon which the Castle fell into disrepair.

    Though once it used to be noted amongst the most important fortresses and strongholds in all of Scotland, Tarbert Castle now stands only as ruins, left unrepaired from when the McAlister family moved out, and inhabited only by wild grasses and other vegetation.

    Walking paths lead up to the Castle, and on further up the hill above Tarbert offering breathtaking views of Loch Fyne and the Clyde.

  • 4. Stonefield Castle Hotel
    Stonefield Castle Hotel, Tarbert, Argyll and Bute

    Built in 1837 as a Baronial style family home, the castle (it has turrets, so can claim to be fortified, and hence can use the title 'castle') was transformed into a hotel in the 1940's. Recently the hotel was sold from Independent ownership to the Swallow Hotel Group a few years ago, then Swallow Group went belly-up and the hotel went into Administration Rule for a couple of months. Fortunately, the hotel was bought out of Administration by the newly formed Oxford Hotels And Inns Group (some of the same people as Swallow Group, but with financial backing this time). In November 2007, the new owners will commence work on the much needed refurbishments, with the intent to breath a new lease of life into the hotel.

    I am not going to comment on the current standard of the hotel, the public rooms, or the bedrooms, as I think the reviews speak for themselves. I would like to encourage people to come to this hotel (not just because my boss may read this) because despite it's flaws, it is generally a good hotel. The service staff will do all they can to ensure you enjoy your stay, even if there are other variables beyond their command (which can be hit and miss).

    The restaurant has a new Head Chef and Sous Chef, who are working to raise thed standard of the restaurant, with the intention of achieving a Rosette for their efforts. The new menu features over half-a-dozen choices each for starters, mains, desserts, and also fresh crustacia. The wine list is Group-Generic, and nothing special, with wines ranging from around £11 to £19 per bottle. The bar also features an extensive choice of Scotch whiskies which can be advised upon by the highly knowledgeable staff (who've had a fair few tastings). Also featured in the restaurant is a very unique and isolated "West Coast Water Feature" when there is heavy rain outside - a result of the flat roof design popular in the 70's, when the restaurant extension was put in.

    The hotel gardens, with paths throughout, are over 60 acres in size, and are all lovingly tendered by Peter, the gardener. The rhodedendrons are in evidence, as are many native trees, bushes and flowers, maintained in the fashion of a wild garden. There are also paths leading over onto Barmore Island, which is well worth a pleasant stroll around.

    If visiting this hotel, you should not expect unparalleled 5 star standard, though undoubtably it is the best hotel in the surrounding area. You will be looked after, and any queries will (if directed to a competent member of staff) be dealt with swiftly and smoothly. And you will also be treated with a view to die for.

    I would recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a quiet, unadventurous holiday; or anyone looking to stay in a castle, at a reasonable(ish) price (approx £70 BB).

  • 5. Victoria Hotel
    Victoria Hotel, Tarbert, Argyll and Bute

    Another member of the Oxford Hotels and Inns Group, this is a small village inn. Rather it's large pub, with restaurant serving good pub-food with a little variation and limited imagination (and same group-generic wine list). Also features 5 small very basic en-suite rooms at reasonable price.

    Restaurant and rooms have views out over Tarbert Harbour where you can watch the yachts and fishing boats come and go.

    Good for what it is - Basic hotel (£35pp B+B), with lively pub and restaurant, in good location, serving decent food - just as long as it doesn't try to be anything else.

  • 6. Tarbert Golf Club

    Fun little 9 hole course. Long straight fairways, burns, doglegs, bogs, natural woodland, plenty of rough: Many places to lose your golf balls.

    One of my favourite golf courses anywhere, not least because of it's views across West Loch Tarbert.

  • 7. Cal-Mac ferry, Tarbert - Portavadie

    Caledonian-MacBrayne operated ferry service between Tarbert and Portavadie, on the Cowal peninsula.

    There is nothing actually in Portavadie so either bring your car (and drive to Tighnabruich, Strachur, or Dunoon) or get back onboard for the return crossing.

    Well... it provides a relatively comfortable boat-trip, a chance to spot some local wildlife (Dolphin and Porpoise are commonly sighted, as are Gannets and other sea birds), and a means of escaping Tarbert for an hour or so.

  • 8. The Waverley

    The last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. Makes stops in Tarbert every summer for day trips up and down the West Coast, or cruises down to Glasgow/ Ardrossan / Dunoon, etc.

    Sailings only when advertised.

    The Waverley now does cruises/ trips all around the British Isles, so is only around Tarbert for about 1week each year.

  • 9. An Tairbairt Heritage Centre

    Formerly a centre providing information about the history of the Vikings in the area, with cafe. Not sure what the main building is used for nowadays as there is never any life around.

    There is now however, a riding centre where you can go and ride horses (funnily enough).

  • 10. Loch Fyne Dive Charters

    Non-PADI affiliated. Does not operate diving courses. Does not provide diving gear. Does not do fun-dives for non-qualified divers.

    However if you do happen to be a licensed scuba diver, and carry your own dive gear with you, then LFDC will provide a dive-boat, buddy, help with dive planning, and can fill your airtanks. You can also hire your dive equipment from Puffin Dive, in Oban, and use it here.

    But if you are going to Oban to hire the diving equipment anyway, just do the diving there: Puffin Dive IS PADI affiliated, DO operate dive courses, DO provide dive equipment, and DO operate fun-dives for non-qualified divers. http://www.puffin.org.uk/