Argyll and Bute

Inveraray at Dusk
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Inveraray at Dusk

Situated on the heavily indented Atlantic seaboard of western Scotland, Argyll and Bute is a land of lochs, mountains and islands. Within its bounds lie the Cowal peninsula and the long Kintyre peninsula, together with Lochs Awe, Fyne and Etive, and many of the inner isles of Scotland including Mull, Coll, Tiree, Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Gigha, Lismore and Bute. The largest town is Helensburgh and the administrative headquarters of the local authority is in Lochgilphead. Its other main settlements are Oban, Dunoon, Campbeltown, Inveraray, Arrochar, Rothesay and Tobermory.

At 2711 sq. miles (7023 sq. km), Argyll and Bute is the second largest of Scotland's unitary local authorities by area, yet it is the 11th smallest in terms of population. Argyll and Bute has more inhabited islands than any other Scottish Local Authority, with around 17% of its population being island-dwellers.

Local industries include forestry, farming, fishing and fish farming. Tourism is of great importance (15% of the jobs, almost double the national average) and attractions include picturesque scenery, sizeable mountains, ancient castles and whisky distilleries. The region is home to numerous distilleries such as those at Oban and Campbeltown, but it is on the island of Islay where its eight distilleries are particularly noted for the rich peaty quality of their malts. 40% of the jobs in Argyll and Bute are in public administration, education and health services, again significantly higher than the national average. Average earnings are less than the Scottish average and areas of deprivation have been identified in Campbeltown, Dunoon, Helensburgh, Oban and Rothesay. The region includes a significant number of native Gaelic speakers, approaching 10% of the population.

There are 1617 miles (2603 km) of roads in Argyll and Bute which, despite its size, represents only 4.7% of Scotland's road network. Ferries represent an important means of communication, with the busiest route connecting Dunoon with Gourock in Inverclyde. Oban is the key ferry port for the Inner Hebrides and Western Isles, while other routes connect Bute with Wemyss Bay and Colintraive, and Kintyre with Arran, Gigha, Islay, Portavadie and Ardrossan. There are fourteen railway stations in Argyll and Bute; namely Arrochar and Tarbet, Ardlui, Bridge of Orchy, Cardross, Connel Ferry, Craigendoran, Dalmally, Falls of Cruachan, Garelochhead, Helensburgh Central, Helensburgh Upper, Loch Awe, Oban and Taynuilt.

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