Schools still out for summer 

Fingals Cave on Staffa Island. Photograph: VisitScotland/ Kenny Lam.

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VisitScotland’s iCentre staff across Argyll and the Islands and Loch Lomond are helping visitors get the best out of the final weeks before children start going back to school.

Looking north from the Isle of Lismore at sunrise. Photograph: VisitScotland/Richard Elliot.

For the first time since the pandemic, visitors have been enjoying unrestricted access to festivals, attractions, thousands of miles of coastline and biking, hiking and kayaking trails, more than 60 medieval castles and more than 20 gin and whisky distilleries across the region.

Staff from the information centres in Balloch, Rothesay, Oban, Craignure and Bowmore offer their expert advice and guidance to visitors on what’s on, where to stay, how to get around, suggestions for souvenirs and where to relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The Islay Woollen Mill is just off the main Port Askaig road near Bridgend. Photograph: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam.

Visitors are also being encouraged to explore what the region has to offer as part of their trip to Scotland. An important part of the iCentre’s role is helping visitors to enjoy the area responsibly, by linking visitors with local tourism businesses and sharing information on some of the hidden gems that can be enjoyed.

iCentre Manager Lucy Walter said: ‘There is plenty to discover every time you visit Argyll and Isles and Loch Lomond.

‘There is so much going on that you’ll want to come on holiday again and again and in the VisitScotland iCentre, we have loads of information that will extend your knowledge of the island and give your holiday that bit extra.

‘Our friendly team of experts can assist in any way we can and help visitors make the most of their stay.’

Recommendations from iCentre staff on places to enjoy include:

• The Mull Aquarium – Europe’s first catch and release aquarium

• Staffa trips leaving from Fionnphort or Iona, which can booked at the iCentre in Craignure. Staffa is a beautiful uninhabited island, famous for its basalt columns, sea caves, including the atmospheric Fingal’s Cave, and bird life. Then get dropped on the island of Iona and take a trip to Iona Abbey, which can also be booked at the iCentre.

• Walk the West Island Way, Bute, one of Scotland’s Great Trails. You can find out more information from the team as well as a map from the Rothesay iCentre, which also has its own cinema with the latest film releases

• Explore Lismore for active fun for all family. Discover the Isle of Lismore by land or paddle board – guided experiences.

• Glasdrum Wood – a national nature reserve at the head of Loch Creran. Managed by NatureScot, the wood is renowned for its diverse flora and fauna, including sessile oak and ash trees, mosses, liverworts and rare invertebrates, like the chequered skipper butterfly.

• The artist Dietmar Finger is an artist who lives on Islay and sells his watercolour and  acrylic paintings along with sketches, as well as drawing and painting workshops for tourists and locals.

• Islay Woollen Mill: built in the late 1800s with tweed records going back 170 years. The woollen mill’s designs were featured in Blockbuster films including, but not limited to Braveheart, Rob Roy and Forrest Gump.

For more information on VisitScotland’s iCentres, go to: www.visitscotland.com/about/practical-information/vic/

Photographs

Fingals Cave on Staffa Island. Photograph: VisitScotland/ Kenny Lam. NO_T32_VisitScotland_FingalsCave

Looking north from the Isle of Lismore at sunrise. Photograph: VisitScotland/Richard Elliot. NO_T32_VisitScotland_Lismore

The Islay Woollen Mill is situated just off the main Port Askaig road near Bridgend. Photograph: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam. NO_T32_VisitScotland_islay-woollen-mill-02