Between Lochgilphead and Tarbert the peninsula that further south becomes Kintyre is known as Knapdale. The main A83 linking these two towns runs down the east coast of Knapdale. The west side of the peninsula is deeply indented by a series of lochs competing with one another to see which can most nearly turn Kintyre into an island.
Loch Sween sweeps steeply north east from the Sound of Jura, coming to a halt a little south of Crinan. In doing so it leaves almost cut off a largely forested narrow peninsula running parallel to and facing the north end of Jura itself.
About half way from the road junction at Bellanoch on the Crinan Canal to the tip of this apparently unnamed peninsula at Keillmore, are the twin villages of Tayvallich facing east onto Loch a'Bhealaich and Loch Sween beyond it, and Carsaig, facing west onto Carsaig Bay and the Sound of Jura.
Tayvallich comes from the Gaelic Tigh a'Bhealaich which translates as "the house of the pass". A settlement is known to have existed at Tayvallich from at least the 1750s when this would have been a resting place on the track that ran the length of the peninsula to the Jura ferry at Keillmore.
Thomas Telford turned up everywhere in Scotland in the early 1800s, and his passing is still marked by a variety of bridges an other stone structures. He built piers at Tayvallich and at Carsaig Bay, a few hundred yards away on the west side of the peninsula. On the Loch Sween side a fishing settlement grew, focused on its pier, on its inn and on the North Knapdale Parish Church.
The western pier became the focus of what is now Carsaig. Today, Carsaig remains a tiny settlement wrapped around a shingle bay with views across to the north end of Jura. Tayvallich is rather larger, though still only with a population of about 100. A line of cottages strings around a remarkably sheltered bay: so sheltered, in fact it is almost cut off by spits prejecting into the main loch.
Also in Tayvallich is a small collection of services and a range of accommodation including a lochside caravan park. This is an ideal location for yachting enthusiasts, as is obvious from a glance at what is floating in the bay, or for those who really do want to get away from it all.
And if Tayvallich isn't far enough away from the hustle and bustle of 21st century life, it is worth making the extra effort to cover the remaining seven miles of single track road to Keillmore. This is home to the Chapel of the Keills, but the main reason to come here is simply to experience the isolation. Single track roads in Scotland are still fairly common. Single track roads with strips of grass this luxuriant growing down the centre are rather rarer. Not many people come this way.
The roads from Bellanoch to Tayvallich and then to Keillmore are single track. For more information about Scotland's single track roads and how to drive them, visit our feature page on driving single track roads.
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