A day out in North Argyll, Scotland, UK

Whilst staying at the Isle of Eriska Hotel, we took the short journey to the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary which occupies a stunning location on the banks of Loch Creran. There’s far more than just seals here – in addition to the seal rescue facility, there’s an aquarium, interactive touch pool, a wooded adventure play area, and a varied programme of talks and feeding demonstrations.

Seal Sanctuary view

I learnt from Beppo at the hotel that the sanctuary had grown from very small beginnings – at first, just a hobby with a tank or two, keeping various marine species, but this later blossomed into something much greater before being taken over by the Merlin Entertainments Group to become the successful attraction that it is today.

Seal Sanctuary

With over 50 marine displays, the opportunity for children to feed sharks, a nature trail and a park, there’s plenty here for families. We whiled away a few hours before venturing on to nearby Sutherland’s Grove to do a spot of mountain biking.

Sutherland’s Grove is managed by the Forestry Commission Scotland and can be found a litle further along the A828 Oban to Ballachulish road. Whether you prefer to explore on two legs or two wheels, you’ll find well marked trails, picnic areas and towering firs.

Sutherland's Grove

We took on a circular cycle route which proved to be quite hilly, made all the more tricky given that much of the route was covered in coarse chippings. Mountain bikers have a choice of the green (easy) Barcaldine East route covering 5.1 miles (8.1 kilometres) or the blue (moderate) Glen Dubh route that extends over 7.8 miles (12.5 kilometres).

Sutherland's Grove

After gradually winding our way up the hillside, we stopped to enjoy the view. Forestry Commision Scotland produce an excellent leaflet for North Argyll cycling, complete with maps and further information, covering not only Sutherland’s Grove but also Glen Orchy and Fearnoch too.

Sutherland's Grove

The descent, which was quite exhilirating in places, took a fraction of the time of the ascent. Despite using my brakes for much of the way, I think I could have let my bike ‘go’ too much over the gravel as I picked up both front and back punctures (thankfully close to the end of the trail). Luckily we were passing Fort William the following day so I was able to pick up spare inner tubes and a new puncture repair kit to resolve the problem, ready for our next outing on the saddle.

Disclosure: The above formed part of a luxury Scotland mountain bike trip sponsored by Caledonian MacBrayne, Ridgeback and Madison.

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