Taynuilt lies near to the south shore of Loch Etive where the A85 to Oban descends west from the Pass of Brander. The bulk of the village lies to the north of the main road, and for most people Taynuilt is represented by a glimpse of the Taynuilt Hotel, now a guest house, as they drive past.
Taynuilt's name comes from the Gaelic for house by the stream and the village repays exploration. Its main street runs north from the A85 and includes a selection of local shops and a Post Office. Much of the village is built in an attractive grey stone that blends well with the surrounding mountains. The more adventurous will come across Taynuilt while following the route of the Coast to Coast Walk from Oban to St Andrews.
A minor road close to the A85 junction leads the short distance up to Muckairn Church, close to the village primary school and on a hilltop overlooking the village and the surrounding countryside. This was built in 1829, but it partly incorporates the ruins of Killespickerill, the seat of the Bishop of Argyll when it was built in the 1220s. Further evidence of the long history of the site comes from tombstones in the churchyard dating back to the 1300s.
Taynuilt was the site of a regular ferry across Loch Etive to Bonawe on the north bank from about 1690, though it is likely there were earlier less formal arrangements. Ardchattan Priory, a little west of Bonawe, was founded in 1231: and is notable for holding the last Scottish Parliament held in Gaelic, in 1308.
Taynuilt's later history was greatly influenced by the location on the north side of the village of the Bonawe Iron Furnace in 1753. For 120 years this processed imported English iron ore using locally-produced charcoal, providing work for up to 600 charcoal burners in the area. The strategic importance of the iron works brought a military road to Taynuilt, built via the Pass of Brander and the Bridge of Awe in 1756. It was another 20 years before this road extended west to Connel and eventually to Oban.
The Callander and Oban Railway arrived in Taynuilt in 1880 and secured the village's place as a popular calling off point on the Victorian visitor's grand tour of the Highlands. Taynuilt still has a railway station, just at the north end of the main street, offering services to Oban and Glasgow.
The ferry across Loch Etive continued to operate all the way through to 1966, carrying cars as well as foot passengers for the final few decades of its operation. It ceased when the Connel Bridge, after many years of dual-purpose operation, was finally fully converted from a rail bridge to a road bridge.
Taynuilt lost its iron furnace in 1876. However, its quarry on the opposite side of Loch Etive at Bonawe continues to operate, and there is also a major power station at Inverawe, immediately to the east of Taynuilt. This generates power using water transported down from Loch Awe through a 25 foot diameter pipe three miles long.
Inverawe has also made its name as the home of the Inverawe Fisheries, Smokery, and Country Park. Here you can find out about smoking fish and other foods, purchase the products, and then enjoy them in a picnic in the country park.
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