Why You Should Cruise the Firth of Clyde

As you may know if you’ve been following us for a little while, or if you’ve joined one of our trips, we run our cruises from two different locations, depending on the time of year. Our cruising season typically runs from April until October. In April, May, September and October cruises run out of Holy Loch Marina in Dunoon, the main town on the Cowal Peninsula. This is also where the Argyll Cruising team are based and where Splendour is berthed for the winter. From here we cruise the Firth of Clyde, an area you may not have heard of. Mid-season we cruise out of Oban to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, including Mull, Islay and Jura, and Skye and the Small Isles.

Now Oban may be the place that more people have heard of and the destinations and stopovers possibly more widely known – and they are truly amazing – but today we want to share with you a little more about our cruises in the stunning, but perhaps lesser known and underrated, Firth of Clyde. On these cruises we explore the beautiful Kyles of Bute, with options to visit Loch Fyne, Loch Riddon and remote Loch Striven.  The Cumbrae Isles, the Island of Bute and the Island of Arran are all within easy reach and best visited from the sea.  For a true wildlife spectacular we cruise to the striking and fascinating tiny isle of Ailsa Craig, lying halfway between Glasgow and Belfast.

There are four cruises we run in this area. They are:

The Kyles and the Isles 3 night cruise
The Arran and Ailsa Craig Wildlife Explorer 6 night cruise
The Inlets and Islands of Wild Argyll 6 night cruise
The Villages and Gardens of South Argyll 6 night cruise

And also 2 cruises travelling to and from Oban out of Dunoon.

The destinations and stopovers in the Firth of Clyde, all chosen for their beauty, tranquility, places of interest and wildlife are just as impressive as those closer to Oban. These waters are more sheltered so are often calmer. And one of our favourite things about the April and October trips is the light! The sunrises and sunsets are truly spectacular and when the weather’s right the best vantage point is often our anchorage.


Just a few of the highlights on our Clyde cruises are as follows:

Tighnabruaich – a picturesque village in the Kyles of Bute.

The Burnt Islands – three small islands in the Kyles of Bute and home to countless seals.

Loch Striven – a steep-sided fiord with a delightful basin at its head which makes a perfect overnight anchorage.

Rothesay – a visit to fabulous Mount Stuart House and gardens and the ancestral home of the Marquises of Bute – it has also played host to high-profile weddings, including that of Stella McCartney.

Kilchattan Bay – where there’s a wonderful seven-mile circuit of the ‘West Island Way’, renowned as the best walk on Bute.

Loch Riddon – a great place to anchor for the night. Here you can try your hand at fishing or help the skipper set the lobster pots.

Arran – for a visit to the Arran Distillery and hopefully a sighting of the golden eagles and red deer. Brodick Castle and Gardens are also an option.

Holy Isles – a fascinating and spiritual place home to Samye Ling Buddhists.

Ailsa Craig – where 40,000 pairs of gannets, thousands of guillemots and razorbills, hundreds of Kittiwakes, fulmars, puffins, shags, cormorants and the odd peregrine falcon and golden eagle all nest.

Great Cumbrae – and it’s impressive grey seal colony.

Loch Goil – where you might be lucky enough to spot the pair of white-tailed sea eagles who are resident there.

Loch Fyne – and a cruise to Carae where the gardens will transport you to a Himalayan mountain gorge packed with Rhododendron and Azaleas on the banks of the cascading Carae burn.

Whether you’re interested in wildlife, culture, gardens, quaint local villages or all of the above, the Firth of Clyde has it all in spades. And don’t just take our word for it. Check out the wonderful piece written by travel writer Robin McKelvie after he joined us for the 6 night Southern Hebrides and Mull of Kintyre cruise travelling from Oban back to Dunoon in August this year.


We hope if you do choose to join us that you’ll love the Firth of Clyde as much as we do.

Bye for now.