Our Shop, The Square Peg, is in Argyll - on the West Coast of Scotland. We talk about our wonderful location rather a lot in our blogs and in our social media – but we thought it might be useful for those who don’t know Argyll so well to hear a little bit more about where we are and why it’s such a great place to work and to live.
So firstly, a little geography lesson – all credit goes to google maps for these images that we hope will show you where we are in the UK:
That’s us! The big red marker on the West Coast of Scotland is our wee shop. You can see we’re right on the coast – which is why so many of our products are beach, sea and nautically inspired. We’re pretty remote - even though Glasgow looks quite close on the map, it’s still 90 miles away and over a two-hour drive.
And here is a more detailed look of our little corner of Argyll & Bute - Lochgilphead is practically in the middle, with Oban to the North and Campbeltown to the South.
Argyll & Bute is the second largest local authority area in Scotland. However, it has the third lowest population density - with an average of just 13 people per square kilometre. So that’s a lot of landscape – and not a lot of people.
It’s also a lot of coastline. Thanks to 23 inhabited islands and multiple long sea lochs that cut through the landscape, around 80% of the population live no more than one kilometre from the coast, which is pretty idyllic.
And here’s a perfect example – the view down Loch Gilp from the pavement outside our Toy Shop. This photo was taken just last week, and on a sunny day in Argyll, you really wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!
Lochgilphead is a hub for many of the outlying villages. The secondary school is here and has a vast catchment area, with pupils travelling from every direction. We are also where you have to come to visit the doctor, dentist, vet or to get fuel, do a (small) supermarket shop and of course indulge in a spot of retail therapy!
Our little corner does tend to attract lots of visitors. mainly those seeking the great outdoors – space, air, endless walking and cycling routes. The opportunities to surf, kayak, sail - navigate your way through the famous Crinan Canal. Enjoy the abundance of wildlife, the many historical places of interest and sample the some of the freshest local seafood and locally distilled whisky and gin. The possibilities for day trips are endless and even locals enjoy discovering new favourites.
Our schools are just about to break up for the Summer holidays and we feel very lucky to be able to spend our time here and enjoy days off on the beach or going on new adventures. Here's some of our tried and tested favourite days out in Mid Argyll:
The Knapdale Beavers:
The area around Loch Barnluasgan and Loch Coille Bharr is a lovely spot, offering a mix of easy walking trails, a cycling trail, peaceful lochs and wonderful wildlife – including the recently reintroduced Knapdale beavers.
The beavers are shy and very difficult to spot but a walk around the loch will definitely allow you to see some of their handiwork – lodge homes, felled trees, ingenious dams and the flooded woodland. The beavers returned in 2009 as part of the Scottish Beaver Trial and then since the end of the trial in 2014 the Scottish Government has allowed them to stay.
If you would like to find out more about the beavers and their activities (and maybe even see one) it’s a good idea to join one of the guided walks. Or you can explore the routes yourself and stop off at the Heart of Argyll Wildlife Centre – where you can enjoy hands-on displays and children's activities and find out more from the helpful staff.
Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. It's an iconic, must-see visitor attraction and has wonderful gardens to explore too. Originally built in the 1700's and inspired by a sketch by Vanbrugh, the architect of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard. It's a beautiful building and a fascinating visit. It was even used as a location in a Christmas special episode of Downtown Abbey.
Inveraray itself is memorable town to visit. As well as the Castle, there's also Inveraray Jail, one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions, and the bustling town is packed with charm.
The Gulf of Corryvreckan and its famous whirlpool/maelstrom lies between Scarba and Jura. It is one of the largest permanent whirlpools on earth and one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles. It is said that at certain times the roar is so loud that it can be heard ten miles away. At full strength the currents can reach over 10 knots and produce waves over 9 metres high.
You can take a boat trip on Venture West to visit the the Corryvreckan and have the opportunity to spot some of the best wildlife the area has to offer, including sea eagles, golden eagles, osprey, seals, minke whales, dolphins, porpoise and even basking sharks.
There are more than 800 ancient monuments within a six-mile radius of the village of Kilmartin and many of them are prehistoric. This extraordinary concentration and diversity of monuments distinguishes the Kilmartin Glen as an area of outstanding archaeological importance. It's one of Scotland’s richest prehistoric landscapes. You'll find standing stones, stones circles, cairns and decorated rocks.
Award winning Kilmartin Museum is currently undergoing an exciting redevelopment project and is closed to visitors, but in the meantime they are running walks led by knowledgeable guides who can take you through the stunning landscape and talk you through the many points of interest.
Heart of Argyll and Wild about Argyll are both excellent online resources for locals and visitors alike who are looking to plan their summer’s activities. Each offers reliable and up to date information and contact details on all attractions, transport and events for the area. Some of our local attractions and services might be running at a slightly reduced capacity while restrictions remain in place but the great news is that so much what you can do and see in Mid Argyll is in the great outdoors!
We are so happy to have visitors back to the area, so if you do take a trip to Argyll - make sure that The Square Peg is on your list of stops - a browse around our shops is another excellent and worthwhile activity and we make a fantastic cup of coffee in the Sandwich Bar too - we hope to see you soon!