|Distance (km)||Ascent (metres)||Number of days|
|161||3140||7 - 8|
|Start: Tarbert||Finish: Machrihanish|
Linked to other Scotland’s Great Trail(s):
Arran Coastal Way Loch Lomond & Cowal Way
Linear: Tarbert to Machrihanish
Usually walked from to north to south, partly because the northern sections are shorter, and partly because Tarbert is easier to reach than Machrihanish.
Starting from Tarbert, the trail zigzags down the Kintyre peninsula, Scotland’s ‘mainland island’. Its outstanding feature is the stunning and varied coastal views. On the east side, you are looking at the beautiful Firth of Clyde with Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast. On the west, the views are to Islay, Jura and Gigha and, on a clear day, Rathlin Island and the coast of Northern Ireland. The trail is not only fully waymarked, it also has distance markers at 1-mile (1.6-km) intervals. Most sections can also be cycled: check this page for updates. It also hosts the annual Kintyre Way Ultra (first Saturday in May).
- picturesque fishing port of Tarbert, very popular with yachting enthusiasts
- 13th century Skipness Castle and the nearby Seafood Cabin
- seals basking on the rocks between Clachan and Tayinloan
- the island of Gigha, a short crossing from Tayinloan, with its famous Achamore Gardens
- Carradale, a lovely village with superb beach and picturesque harbour
- Campbeltown whisky distilleries, offering guided tours for visitors
- Machrihanish, well known for its two golf courses
- Southend to Machrihanish is a 16-mile, strenuous section, with steep gradients, some boggy bits and no facilities
- some parts are on tarmac roads (approx 25%), albeit Campbeltown-Southend has very little vehicle traffic
- lack of accommodation/services at Claonaig – but there are several workarounds
As well as the usual outdoor clothing, you’ll need stout walking shoes to deal with the boggy patches that you may come across after wet weather.
Be sure to carry enough food and drink for the section(s) you are tackling. In particular, if you’re doing Tarbert-Clachan in one day (22 miles), there are no facilities along the way except the village store at Skipness.
Tarbert and Campbeltown have a good selection of hotels and B&Bs. Carradale, Southend and Machrihanish each have a modest selection. There are two B&Bs in Clachan and one in Tayinloan. Bunkhouse-type accommodation is available in Tarbert, Campbeltown and Machrihanish and also at Ifferdale Farmhouse (between Carradale and Campbeltown). Campervan and camping facilities are available at Tarbert and Machrihanish. Visit the official accommodation guide for listings.
Wild camping is legally allowed in Scotland if practised responsibly under the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Carradale Bikes and Buggies hire out mountain bikes, and the buggies are mobility aids so that anyone with walking difficulties can still get the benefit of exploring the Kintyre Way. Complete walking holidays are provided by several companies:
Citylink runs a regular coach service from Glasgow, serving four of the main points on the trail: Tarbert, Clachan, Tayinloan and Campbeltown, with 5 journeys each way, 7 days a week. Booking is advisable.
Local services serving Claonaig, Carradale and Machrihanish are operated by West Coast Motors.
Flybe operates a twice-daily service to Campbeltown, Mondays-Fridays.
Calmac has sailings from Ardrossan to Campbeltown, with 3 sailings per week each way, summer only
Northern Ireland is served by a passenger ferry from Ballycastle to Campbeltown: one each way daily from June to August and weekends in May and September. Bikes go free.