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Hospitality business owners the length and breadth of Kintyre are toasting a new 66-mile circular route, which launches today, Friday April 30, attracting tourists to all parts of the peninsula.
Kintyre 66, or K66, has been described as Scotland’s answer to the fabled US highway Route 66 and encourages visitors to slow down and enjoy the ride as they take in the area’s breathtaking views and stunning coastlines by bike, foot or car.
Covering six key regions – West Kintyre; Gigha; Machrihanish and Southend; Campbeltown; East Kintyre; and Tarbert and Skipness – a new map will provide options for starting at any part of the route.
It also pinpoints trails, places to explore, natural heritage sites, wildlife watching spots and local food and drink to enjoy along the way.
Niall Macalister Hall, chairman of the Explore Kintyre and Gigha tourism and marketing group which is behind the campaign, said: ‘With a record staycation summer expected this year, K66 has been developed to encourage visitors to explore the whole of Kintyre – slowly and at their leisure – with plenty of open spaces and places of interest branching off the main route.
‘After a long and stressful 12 months for everyone, it’s a good feeling to be able to launch the route, and we look forward to welcoming travellers to our friendly community in the months to come.’
Mr Macalister Hall’s sentiments were echoed by owners of some of the area’s tourism and hospitality businesses, which have suffered in recent months as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have welcomed the launch of the route just in time for the summer season.
Johnny Beveridge, owner of Dunlossit House B&B in Machrihanish, said: ‘The K66 initiative is great in that it encompasses the Kintyre peninsula and Gigha in one upbeat platform on which visitors can get a holistic view to the choices of what is here for things to do, see and enjoy and services that are available.
‘It also gives a nudge to explore all corners with an easy to follow route guide. We hope potential visitors will see this as a ‘must do’ route in Scotland and will be encouraged to come, see and experience what Kintyre and Gigha has to offer. They won’t be disappointed!’
Liz Scott of The Steading at Barmore, self catering cottages near Tarbert, said she is looking forward to being able to share news of the K66 route with her guests and helping them plan their way round.
‘There are so many things in Kintyre which have been kept almost like a well-guarded secret so it is fantastic to have this welcome initiative,’ she said. ‘Pointing out the ‘must stop, must see’ on the stunning route will help visitors focus on reasons to spend more than just a few hours zooming round the peninsula which can only be a good thing.’
John and Sharon Bell, proprietors of The Ashbank Hotel in Carradale, are glad the route will encourage tourists to visit all parts of the ‘fascinating and varied’ peninsula.
They said: ‘So often visitors to Kintyre only scratch the surface. Kintyre 66 gives us the opportunity to showcase the whole area and provides a great way to make sure guests experience all we offer.
‘As business owners on the east of Kintyre, we’re looking forward to more folks coming to explore and discover the road less travelled and we’re hoping that K66 will bring them to our door.
‘Our priority is to find out what interests every guest who joins us – either as a resident or in the bar – so that we can help them make the most of their time here. Kintyre 66 will help us to guide and advise everyone so that they fill every minute of their visit to Kintyre in the way that they enjoy the most.’
Nick Fletcher, owner of the Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy, added: ‘We are delighted to see the Kintyre 66 launch. It is a chance to showcase all that Kintyre has to offer. And in doing so, with its goal of encouraging people to take their time exploring the peninsula, it should bring a wealth of economic benefits to the many hard-pressed businesses that have toiled through lockdown. It will help to support the local economy and local jobs.’
Although the main route of the CalMac-supported Kintyre 66 is on the mainland, visitors are encouraged to take the ferry journeys to the islands of Gigha, Islay and Jura to the west and Arran to the east, turning their trip into a longer break.
Jane Millar, development manager for the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, said: ‘K66 will no doubt support a welcome boost to our local economy after a year of limited trade. The trust is pleased to see aspects within the K66 brand that reflects Gigha’s aspirations for the island, which includes supporting a sustainable approach to tourism.
‘We want to encourage visitors to slow down, leave their car behind, and explore Gigha’s hidden heritage, our captivating culture, and our unspoiled landscape.
‘Our Gateway to Gigha project will also see the installation of new pathways that will make the island more accessible by foot or bike, allowing us to reduce our carbon footprint, protect our environment, and allow visitors to enjoy a peaceful island experience.’
The K66 map and downloadable visitors’ guide is available at www.explorekintyre.co.uk