Argyll peninsula - need to know
Fly from Dublin to Glasgow Prestwick with Ryanair (0818 303 030; ryanair.com) from €60 return or to Glasgow International with Aer Lingus (0818 365 000; aerlingus.com) from €80. Dunoon and Oban can be reached from Glasgow by train. See national rail.co.uk or visitscotland.com.
Majestic Line cruises (0044 131 623 5012; themajesticline.co.uk) start from Dunoon (Holy Loch) or Oban and cost from £795 (€949) per person for three nights or from £1,565 (€1,868) per person for six nights. Prices include full-board accommodation with wine at dinner and most on-shore activities. Six-night cruises leave on Saturdays and three-night cruises on Tuesdays.
Scotland has more than 790 off-shore islands. The largest island is Lewis and Harris, at 2,179sqm, but many of the islands, particularly those that are uninhabited, are very small.
Over the past century many formerly inhabited islands have been abandoned, most famously St Kilda, an isolated archipelago some 64km from North Uist in the North Atlantic. The entire population of St Kilda was evacuated in 1930, following a long, particularly harsh winter. At present, 45 islands have more than 100 inhabitants and a further 14 are home to more than 1,000 people.
Five scottish island gems
- Skye: The largest and most northerly of the Inner Hebrides, famous for its stunning natural beauty and award-winning distilleries.
- Mull: Spot sea eagles, otters and dolphins on this charming island, just 45 minutes by boat from Oban.
- Rùm: Home to just 22 people, you go to Rùm for the wildlife, not the nightlife. An important study site for ecologists, the island is home to red deer, ponies and a plethora of flora and fauna.
- Orkney: Located off the north-east tip of Scotland, this collection of islands has been inhabited for 12,000 years and boasts the oldest dwelling house in the UK.
- Barra: Predominantly Gaelic speaking, this small island of just 1,078 people has beautiful white sand beaches and takes its name from Saint Finbar, who founded Cork.