Difference between revisions of "Argyll and Bute"
Revision as of 08:55, 20 January 2013
Towns and villages
Argyll and Bute have only been amalgamated into one region in relatively recent history. All through the Middle Ages and into the post Act of Union period the Duke of Argyll ruled all of Argyll but was not, at all times, master of Bute.
The Duchy of Argyll although not directly geographically contgeous to the modern council area was a major political force in Medieval Scotland. One of the most famous, and amongst certain clans, infamous clans of western Scotland, the Campbells had their seat in Argyll.
Many works of fiction including Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped have featured the wild and rugged coastline of Argyll as a setting.
Bute, though less well known than Argyll and lying some way to the south has its own place in the regions past, primarily as the target of raids and clan rivalries.
Argyll and Bute is one of the major centres of Gaelic and Gaelic culture. This being said, the sole universal language is English. In towns like Oban you may find Gaelic speakers as well as recent immigrants form eastern Europe. In effect though, everyone speaks English and communication should not be a problem. One points of caution though, the road signs are all in Gaelic and English and often have Gaelic first. If you can, make sure to read the full sign to find the English place name.
By far the easiest way to get into Argyll is by train. There is a service from Glasgow's Queen's Street station to Oban via the West Highland Railway calling at almost every small town on the route. At Crianlarich, the train divides with some coaches going to Mallaig via Fort William and some to Oban - make sure you're in the right portion of the train. The journey was nominated by the Wanderlust magazine as the most scenic train ride in the world. If you can, take the train in order to enjoy some spectacular views of the Scottish countryside. The journey takes aproximately 3.5 hours from Glasgow to Oban. There is a trolley service on the train, but as with all food on trains, it is over-priced and is of average quality though there has been a noticable improvement of late.
It is possible to get into Argyll by road from all directions save the west. The roads from the south are generally good but can be a bit winding and the surface quality is not always pristine. In northern and central Argyll the largest roads are A roads (two lanes each way).
It is possible to get into Argyll and Bute by ferry too. There are regular Caledonian MacBrayne  ferries from Wemyss Bay and Colintraive to the Isle of Bute, and from Barra and South Uist to Oban. In addition, Kintyre Express  operates a passenger & bicycle only ferry service from Ballycastle (Northern Ireland) to Campbeltown.
Argyll in general is very safe. As with all rural parts of Britain crime is remarkably low. There are occasional incidents of theft in the major towns but these are very rare. It is not uncommon for people to leave their doors unlocked almost all the time. Although all normal precautions for travelers are advised there is little for tourists to worry about in terms of crime in Argyll and Bute.
In winter many roads in Argyll can be covered by snow. If you are not accustomed to driving on snow then extreme caution is advised during the snow. Even when there is no snow there can often be ice in winter and although less obviously dangerous it is a more common danger.