The Kintyre peninsula, in southwest Argyll, separates the Firth of Clyde, to the east of the peninsula, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the west. The peninsula is approximately 42 miles long and up to 11 miles wide. In the north, between West Loch Tarbert and the much smaller East Loch Tarbert, is the mile long isthmus that stops Kintyre from being an island; the name Kintyre is derived from the Gaelic ceann tire, land’s end.
In the 11th century Malcolm Canmore allowed the king of Norway, Magnus Barefoot, to lay claim to any island he could circle by boat. Magnus succeeded in dragging his boat across the Tarbert isthmus and added the Kintyre peninsula to his Hebridean kingdom. Even today Kintyre is referred to as the mainland island.
From Tarbert, on the shore of the eastern loch, the A83 follows the west coast, where the drive to Campbeltown along the side of the Atlantic Ocean is spectacular. Along the way there are views of various islands, including Islay, Jura and Gigha.
The east coast route is much gentler as it is sheltered from the Atlantic winds, although much of the roads are single track. This route offers stunning views across to Arran as it passes through a number of small villages along the way to Campbeltown.
Continuing through Campbeltown, the roads lead into the southern part of the Kintyre peninsula; this area includes the famous Mull of Kintyre, from where the coastline of Ireland is only 12 miles away.