Inveraray Tourist Attractions
InverarayInveraray (pop. 490) makes a good base for tours of the southern and western Highlands. Situated on the banks of Loch Fyne and surrounded by wooded hillsides, the town was the setting for several novels by Sir Walter Scott (a great admirer of Inveraray Castle), for stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and for works by the local poet Neil Munro.
The principal attraction in Inveraray is undoubtedly the castle and its fine parkland. The castle is the seat of the dukes of Argyll, the older branch of the Campbell clan, who moved here from Loch Awe in the first half of the 15th C. The "fairy-tale" castle with round corner towers and turreted conical roofs was built in the middle of the 18th century from a design by the English architect Robert Morris. The medieval fortress was demolished by the third Duke of Argyll but the foundations were kept intact and used for the new edifice. The Scottish designer Robert Mylne was responsible for the interior decor which was completed at the end of the 18th C. A disastrous fire badly damaged the castle in 1975 and to pay for the renovation work the Campbells were obliged to sell their island of Iona. The "Fire Exhibition" serves as a reminder of the fire but, apart from that, the Neo-Gothic extravagance remains in all its splendor. Fine period furniture, Beauvais Gobelins and Aubusson tapestries, grisaille medallions and gilded stucco ornaments decorate the elegant lounges. Special displays include a large collection of weapons and an amazing range of fine porcelain, such as Derby, Meissen and Japanese. Family portraits are by Gainsborough, Kneller, Raeburn, Ramsay and Hoppner.
A tour of Argyllshire's old and new jail is well worth the time. The old premises have been converted into a museum and the exhibits document in an unusual way the history of Scottish crime from the 16th to the 19th C. The old courthouse contains life-size models of well-known criminal figures during their trials, while displays in the tiny bare cells recount the crimes of the former prisoners.
Address: Church Square, Inveraray PA32 8TX, Scotland
Invererary - Maritime Heritage Museum
The "Arctic Penguin" is moored by the old pier. This three-masted schooner, launched in Dublin in 1911, has been converted into a museum and its displays deal primarily with maritime travel on the west coast of Scotland.
Argyll Wildlife Park
Ducks, swans, red deer, rare breeds of sheep and nature trails are among the attractions on offer in the Argyll Wildlife Park.
Glen Shira - Rob Roy's House
A visit to Glen Shira and the ruins of Rob Roy's birthplace makes a pleasant excursion. The River Shira, a popular haunt for trout fisherman, rises on Benn Bhuide (3,106ft/947m). It opens out into Loch Dubh just before reaching Loch Fyne.
Inverary - Minard Castle
Minard Castle on the north bank of the picturesque Loch Fyne (14mi/22.4km south of Inveraray) dates from the 16th century. Paintings associated with the Scottish and French royal families are displayed here.
Auchindrain Old Village (Auchindrain Township Open Air Museum)
The last stop before Inveraray is the open-air museum of Auchindrain (6mi/9.6km southwest of Invererary). The buildings, traditional longhouses and peasants' cottages are displayed in their original condition and the museum's aim is to show how the rural population of the West Highlands lived during the late 19th century. Apart from the smallholders of Auchindrain who grew their cereal crops, potatoes and root vegetables on the flat land and then grazed their sheep and cattle on the hillsides, the village was also home to the cottars who as payment for their work received a small plot of land which they were allowed to cultivate. In the middle of the 19th century the settlement had 65 inhabitants but the last tenant left the village in 1962. The farmers' longhouses consisted usually of a living room, a small side room, kitchen, toilet and barn or stables all under one roof, while the cottars eked out a very humble existence in a simple hut.
Crarae Glen Garden
The origins of this garden were that of rhododendrons that still grow here today. A wide number of rare plants can be found in Crarae Garden. There are also waterfalls and panoramic views over Loch Fyne.
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