Argyll 190 – Leisure route
There are many fantastic roads in Scotland, some more populated than others. The ‘Argyll 190’ is a bit of a hidden gem in that it has a bit of everything, however, unlike some popular roads it is highly unlikely that this will be attractive to those who want to go for a ‘spirited ride’ – this is a ‘Scenic ride’.
One big attraction of this route is that on a number of occasions you can do a detour to some of the Islands (Arran, Jura, Islay, Gigha, Colonsay) to add that bit of extra adventure.
The suggested route: Starting at the ever popular town of Inveraray, with plenty of places to stay, shop and eat the ‘190’ sets off along the A83 heading south. This is an interesting road to ride the bike with plenty of variety and some interesting corners, a minor downside can be that it can have a level of tourist traffic (at least as far as Lochgilphead) which can slow progress a little, but, there are good opportunities to make safe overtakes, so patience and planning is the key!
About 25 miles later sees you entering Lochgilphead, there’s a fuel stop here – if you don’t have a full tank it’s advisable to top up here. Follow the A83 through the town and around the top of Loch Gilp which is a scenic stretch, a taster of things to come, just watch your speed, especially past the school as Police checks are often in place!
Passing through Ardrishaig and Brenfield through some lovely flowing bends, keep your eyes peeled for the B8024 signposting Kilberry to the right. This is where things change, the pace of life slows right down and you will enjoy something different around every bend.
The B8024 ‘loop’ towards Tarbert is a single track road with passing places, the road undulates quite a lot, the road surface on this section in general is sound. Most of the time the visibility through the bends can be quite good, however, some can be a little restricted for view – you will find some farm traffic and watch out for locals who know the road better than you!
The views as you drop down to Loch Caolisport are amazing; from this point there are plenty of photo opportunities all along this section of the route and plenty of places to pull over. The route through Kilberry and on through Torinturk has a few ‘interesting’ sections, so again it’s advisable to keep your concentration as there can be some tight corners after some of the blind crests.
Whilst the traffic levels on this road are very low, it is also part of the National Cycle route, so keep that in mind.
The B8024 re-joins the A83 just south of Tarbert, so turning right head south signposted Campbeltown. This section of the A83 is open and flowing with good vistas over Loch Tarbert, be careful as you approach Kennacraig as this is where ferry traffic converges from both sides, beware some last minute unexpected driver decisions.
There is a fuel station at Clachan. On leaving Clachan the road opens out and on a clear day the views out to Gigha and Islay beyond are fantastic, again there are plenty of places to pull over and admire the view.
On arriving at Kilkenzie the road leaves the coast and turns inland towards Campbeltown – the town has all the facilities you would expect, accommodation, places to eat and a harbour side to sit and relax overlooking Campbeltown Loch.
From Campbeltown pick up the B842 for the 10-mile ride to Southend.
Southend at the southern tip of Kintyre is the half way point on the route, you can dip your toes in the sea on the beach, or call in at the Muneroy tea rooms for some of the best cakes in Scotland – all motorcyclists ride on their stomachs!
Once refreshed head back up to Campbeltown, just after the roundabout on the harbour front, take the B842. This road climbs up to the cliff tops above Ardnacross Bay.
The B842 is once again a bit of a narrower road and once you reach Carradale it becomes a single track road with passing places. This coast line is far more undulating than the west coast, the map will show that there are some hilly sections, care should be taken on these stretches, there are warning signs about the severity and some of the corners tighten unexpectedly and there is also the risk of an oncoming vehicle in the middle of the road, it all adds to the adventure!
There are numerous places to stop and admire the view from Carradale northward with some spectacular views across to Arran.
Like the B8024 the road is remarkably quiet, however, this works both ways as oncoming vehicles may also be caught out by meeting you – so keep aware and watch your pace. This is also part of the National Cycle Route – so be mindful of cyclists struggling up hills or on some of the blind corners. Traffic can also increase towards the ferry port in Claonaig (to and from Arran).
The road re-joins the A83 at Kennacraig for the return ride to Inveraray, passing through the pretty little village of Tarbert, after the openness of the A83 south of Kennacraig, the route north of Tarbert can be a little more restricted, however, visibility is generally good – just watch out for the HGV’s, school buses, tourists, tractors, cyclists, walkers – and other motorcyclists!
Note: The B8024 and B842 are not suitable for overtaking, you are reliant on the vehicle in front pulling into a passing place to let you past (as the signage suggests) – so please be patient!
From Sean Nicholas
The A83 South from Inveraray through Lochgair to Lochgilphead offers some of the best coastal scenery in Scotland and some outstanding motorcycling road. When the weather is fine there’s no better place in the World and when the weather is changeable, the coastal scenery is very dramatic and still offers visitors a fabulous experience that is difficult to match anywhere else. The run South down from Tarbert along the loch provides riders with a great mix of sweeping bends, tight challenging twisties and also long straights giving an an opportunity to absorb the majesty of the Kintyre coast.
After a brief stop in Campbeltown a ride back to Tarbert up the East coast of the peninsular takes the rider on some challenging single track road with passing places. There are stretches between Peninver and Saddell and going on up to Carradale that offer some great twists and bends. Some of the beaches along this coast offer a great opportunity to stop and relax and even forage for seaweed, which is abundant along this coastline.
Rather than head back to Inveraray you could take the A816 from Lochgilphead to Oban. It has become my favourite road in the UK as it offers the best sets of twists anywhere and can provide a challenge for even the most experienced riders. It’s the sort of stretch that has sections where you are flicking between first and second gear to negotiate some delicious tight bends, pushes your motorcycling senses and skills to the maximum and makes a rider want to change his bike to a supermoto. This is definitely one road that will keep me returning to Scotland year after year.