The road system on the Kintyre peninsula is relatively straightforward. One road, the A83, goes up the west coast, and another, the B842, goes up the east coast. The two roads meet in two places 31 miles apart, in Campbeltown in southern Kintyre, and five miles south of Tarbert. No roads cross the peninsula between those two points, leaving its upland interior as one of the most remote areas of Scotland, heavily afforested and home to an important and growing wind power generation industry.
The contrasts between the two sides of the peninsula and the roads that run along them are marked. The west coast offers views out to the islands if Gigha, Jura and Islay and a high quality and fairly fast trunk road. The east coast is much more hilly and indented, offering views across the Kilbrannan Sound to the Isle of Arran, and the road that runs along it is full of twists and turns and steep gradients. Moreover, while the B842 is a narrow twin track road for its southern 13 miles, its northern 18 miles are single track.
The village of Carradale lies a little over half-way down the east coast of the Kintyre peninsula at a point where the Kilbrannan Sound is less than three miles wide. It marks the point where the twin track road from the south becomes single track as it heads north, and much of it is actually bypassed by the B842 anyway. The result of all this is that no-one ends up in Carradale who hasn't actually set out to be there, and the village offers a gentle pace and a quiet charm that amply reflects that. The village is one of a number of reasons why you shouldn't overlook this less travelled east coast of the peninsula.
Carradale itself is a slightly fragmented settlement which can be viewed as a number of distinct parts. The main coast road passes through what the map calls Bridgend, and here you find the petrol and police stations, a restaurant and, a little way along the B879 to the rest of the village, the parish church. Following the B879 towards the rest of the village takes you past the Carradale Network Centre, a heritage centre, on your left, while the woodland opposite conceals Carradale House and, beyond it, a caravan site overlooking Carradale Bay.
The B879 is in total only about a mile and a half in length, and as you continue along it you pass the village hall on your right before entering the main centre of the village. Here you find a shop and post office, two hotels, a golf club, and the residential focus of the village. Continuing east brings you to a steep descent that emerges beside Carradale's harbour. Piles of nets, floats, ropes, lobster pots and assorted baskets tumble along the quay side and fishing boats jostle for position on their moorings. This is very much a working harbour. A plaque on the harbour wall pays tribute to the crew of the Carradale-based fishing vessel Antares, lost to the sea off Arran on 22 November 1990; a sobering reminder of the dangers of working these waters.
From the harbour you can look north to the cottages on Shore Road, which leads to the inlet at Port na Cùil, while the final element of the village lies to the south, beyond the golf course, where a group of cottages and larger houses overlook the beautiful bay of Port Righ.
To the south of the village, Carradale Bay offers a wide sweeping sandy beach stretching out towards Carradale Point. It is overlooked by Torrisdale Castle, home to an organic tannery. Four miles south of Carradale the road dips steeply into the valley of the Saddell Water, and here you can visit the remains of Saddell Abbey. These are fascinating in their own right, and are also home to a remarkable collection of medieval grave slabs and effigies.
The extensive forests around Carradale have several marked walks linking parking areas and the village itself. These help to bring home Carradale's role in recent years as a centre for the forestry industry that has become so important across Kintyre.