Tarbert is a village in Argyll and Bute in Scotland. An Tairbeart is a Gaelic term meaning "carry across", ie an isthmus where small boats could be portaged from one body of water to another. It's therefore a common placename in Highland Scotland: this one is specifically Tarbert on Loch Fyne above the Firth of Clyde, a two-mile portage to reach the West Loch opening into the Atlantic.
Citylink Bus 926 runs daily every 2-3 hours to Tarbert from Glasgow via Dumbarton, Tarbet on Loch Lomond - don't get off by mistake here! - Arrochar, Inverary and Lochgilphead, taking 3 hours; one bus a day runs via Glasgow airport. They continue south via Kennacraig ferry terminal, Tayinloan (for ferry to Gigha) and Muasdale to Campbeltown, taking another hour.
Calmac car ferries sail:
- Between 1 Tarbert (east pier) and Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula, hourly daily, taking 25 mins; about £9 per vehicle and £3 per occupant. This is a scenic route which cuts off a lot of road distance around Loch Fyne but doesn't save any time, as you have to reach Cowal by ferry from Bute to Colintraive, and reach Bute by ferry from Wemyss Bay. There are bus links between the various ferries.
- From 2 Kennacraig (6 miles south of Tarbert) to Islay, either Port Ellen or Port Askaig (for Jura). There are five per day April-Oct and two Nov-March, taking two hours. Once or twice a week the ferry continues from Port Askaig on Islay to Colonsay and Oban then returns.
- From 3 Claonaig (10 miles south of Tarbert) to Lochranza on the Isle of Arran, April-Oct daily every 75 mins, taking 30 min. In winter Claonaig is too exposed, so there's just one daily ferry to Lochranza sailing from Tarbert east pier.
- From Tayinloan (15 miles south of Tarbert) to Gigha daily, hourly, taking 20 mins. There's no other transport from that island so you have to come back to the mainland at Tayinloan.
The village can be easily explored on foot, and the east pier (for Portavadie) is half a mile away. You need wheels to reach the other ferry jetties. Kennacraig and Tayinloan can be reached on the inter-city buses from Glasgow. Bus 448 runs thrice (M-Sa) from Lochgilphead to Tarbert, Kennacraig, Claonaig and Skipness.
- 1 Tarbert Castle. Ruined castle dating from the 13th century with some modern sculpture in the grounds. Free.
- The harbour is scenic especially during the regatta.
- Knapdale is the district north of Tarbert, with B8024 looping along the west coast then back to A83.
- 2 Kilberry Sculptured Stones are a collection of ancient grave markers, up a lane from the Kilberry Inn along B8024.
- Kintyre is the peninsula stretching south of Tarbert.
- 3 Skipness Castle, Skipness PA29 6XU (From B8001 follow lane past Claonaig ferry pier). Castle always open, tower Apr-Sept daily 09:30-17:30. Castle built from the 13th century, abandoned and falling into ruin in the 17th. Nearby Kilbrannan Chapel is of similar age and ruin. Also in Skipness village, St Brendan's Chapel and the village hall are Victorian. Free.
- 4 Ballochroy is a line of three prehistoric standing stones, the tallest being over 11 feet. They're by the A83 twelve miles south of Tarbert.
- See Campbeltown for sights and amenities in the southern part of Kintyre.
- The Five Ferries is a cycle route of 51 miles, starting in Ardrossan, crossing to Brodick on Arran then from Lochranza to Claonaig and Tarbert, thence to Portvadie in Cowal then via Colintraive onto Bute and back to the mainland at Wemyss Bay. There are steep gradients along the route and you need to keep the pace up else you miss the next ferry and your day unravels. It's often done as a charity challenge.
- Scottish Series Sailing is an annual regatta in late May. The next event is 22-25 May 2020.
- The Seafood Festival is in early July, the next is 4-5 July 2020.
- Tarbert Fair is in late July, the latest was 25-27 July 2019, dates for 2020 tbc.
- The Music Festival is mid-September, the next is 20-22 Sept 2019.
- The Book Festival is late Oct, the next is Sat 26 Oct 2019.
- Prints and original art at Loch Fyne Gallery (daily 10:00-17:00).
- Art Studio (daily 09:00-18:00) has work by Stuart Herd.
- Anchorage Bistro, Harbour Street. W-Su 17:00-22:00. Good seafood restaurant, central in Tarbert.
- Others in Tarbert town centre are Marine Bistro (M-Sa 08:00-20:00), Starfish (Tu-Sa 18:00-21:00), Loch Fyne Fish Bar (M-Sa 12:00-14:00 & 16:30-22:00) and Cafe Ca' Dora (daily 08:00-21:00).
- Near Skipness Castle, The Seafood Cabin is open May-Sept daily 11:00-19:00. Excellent food, licensed, pricey but you're paying for the view & setting.
- The Corner House is the village pub, open daily 11:00-01:00.
- You can wild-camp along many of the lanes of Kintryre and Knapdale.
- 1 Dunivaig B&B, Pier Road, Tarbert PA29 6UG, ☏ . Comfy 3 room B&B along quiet road east of village. B&B double from £80.
- 2 West Loch Hotel Tarbet, Campbeltown Road, Tarbert PA29 6YF (On A83 south), ☏ . Hotel and mid-range restaurant on the west loch. B&B double from £80.
- 3 Stonefield Castle Hotel, Tarbert PA29 6YJ, ☏ . Set in 60 acres of woodland gardens 2 miles from Tarbert, 36 room hotel in a Baronial "castle" built in 1837. B&B double from £120.
- Skipness Holiday Cottages, ☏ . Six self-catering cottages near Skipness castle, usually let weekly.
- Ferries west take you to Islay, those east bring you to Cowal.
- See Skipness castle then take the ferry from Claonaig to Lochranza on the Isle of Arran. You can return to the mainland from Brodick on the other side of Arran.
- A83 south follows the west coast; turn aside at Tayinloan to see Gigha. A scenic minor road follows the east coast from Claonaig to Carradale and Campbeltown, the obvious base for visiting the Mull of Kintyre. Campbeltown has a ferry in summer for foot passengers to Ballycastle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
- A83 north leads to Lochgilphead, from where you either continue north to Oban, or return east via Inveraray and Loch Lomond to Glasgow.