Our trip to the Isle of Gigha
Gigha is three miles west of the Kintyre peninsula, less than a three-hour drive from Glasgow and only a 20-minute ferry from the mainland. Gigha was put on the market in 2001 and the community were encouraged to purchase and own the island. Gigha was handed over to the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust (IGHT) on the 15th of March 2002, a day marked on the island yearly as “Gigha Day”.
To reach the island, you will need to take a CalMac ferry from the port of Tayinloan.
Gigha has one ‘main’ road which will take you from the South Pier to the ‘North End’. Distance 5.7miles. The road is mostly single-track tarmac. The South Pier isn’t the furthest south on the island but you will need to walk a further 1mile to reach this point, taking in Leim Shore on the way passed. The south pier, itself is opposite the Island of Gigalum. A tiny, private island with one solitary house.
We visited Gigha in our campervan, following our trip to Carradale Bay and intended to stay overnight but we didn’t and will explain later but before that decision was made, we disembarked from our ferry and turned right along the main road of the island. The island is less than 6 miles long, so we decided to drive to the North End, park up and cycle back to the South Pier, take in the sights and then cycle back to set up camp for the night.
We are very conscious of not wanting to upset locals by wild camping in an area that isn’t appropriate or is clearly marked ‘No overnight parking’.
On reaching the north end, we discovered a sign, which said ‘NO OVERNIGHT CAMPING’. Now, how enforceable it is, we can’t say but it was enough for us to respect it and after a short stop to take in the views and say hello to the local cows, we turned around and drove back up the road to a field with a campervan already in it. This field was close enough to the famous twin beaches and as it turned out, was going to be a future campsite.
Now maybe it was the weather, grey, cold and drizzly but the Twin beaches were a disappointment, sorry Gigha. Maybe they are better appreciated on a sunny day, as from experience we are well aware that the sea colour and stunning views are enhanced by a lovely sunny day. Or maybe they need a high vantage point to appreciate them, a bit like Zlatni Rat, Brac but whatever it was on the day that we visited, it left us underwhelmed. Sorry again Gigha.
Anyway, we still had our cycle to look forward to, so we got ourselves and our bikes ready for a not so taxing 6.5 miles cycle to the South Pier and return to our campervan for the night. The main road does have some offshoots and signs for other places but we didn’t take them, so can’t comment on our personal experience and no doubt we missed out. The main road itself is just like any other country road with fields either side and not much to see along the way, which again, sorry Gigha but it left us underwhelmed.
It wasn’t long before we reached the ferry area, which we had driven through after disembarking from our ferry about an hour or so before and we headed to The Boathouse for a coffee. Unfortunately, it was closed, so it was back up to the main road and into the village store to see if they had coffee. Thankfully they did and as we sat outside. The sun began to show itself. All of a sudden, Gigha started to look very pretty.
There was no time to waste, we quickly finished our coffees, jumped back on our bikes and headed for the south pier. Just as we passed the Gigha Hotel to our right, the views to our left began to open up and finally, we started to appreciate Gigha’s beauty. A small sign directs you to a beach just a little further along the stretch of road. This is a worthwhile detour, as the beach is small and sandy with a stunning view across to the Kintyre Peninsula. Unfortunately, sorry Gigha, but the road moves away from the coast and becomes a single-track farm road with nothing special about it. The pier is now used by local fishing vessels, so don’t expect a tearoom or toilets as you will be disappointed.
At least the sun was out as we peddled back to our campervan, parked up in a field at the north end of the island. We consider ourselves to be positive-minded individuals who will make the most of where we are but as we cycled back along the main road, with no views of any real interest and the rain starting again, we began to wonder if it was worth staying overnight.
Arriving back at our ‘campsite’, the field. We decided to head back to the ferry and get back onto the mainland and head to a campsite just up the road from Tayinloan. Tarbert Holiday Park is a great wee stopover in this part of the world and will be the subject of a future blog but in the meantime, we just want to finish the blog by saying – ‘Sorry Gigha, we are certain that we didn’t highlight your best side but unfortunately, we had to be honest with how it was for us.