By Eve MacFarlane, founder of Argyll Coffee Roasters
We love where we live and work. Our roastery is located on Argyll's Secret Coast, an undiscovered area of the west coast of Scotland. It's a beautiful place, with sea lochs, ancient oak woodlands and lovely sandy bays. It also has a thriving foodie scene, with a community of local producers and some fabulous cafes and restaurants.
Here are my recommendations for the top things to do and see when you visit:
Argyll's Secret Coast is home to some of the finest remaining examples of ancient oak woodland in Scotland. Take a wander among the oaks of Glenan Wood. It's rich in wildlife, look out for seals in the bay, adders, otters and listen out for owls at night. There's a circular route that will take you along the shore path and back via the forest path. A longer walk takes you to the deserted Glenan Village.
Glenan Wood is community owned and run by volunteers. We support it with our Glenan Blend, by donating £1 to Friends of Glenan Wood for every bag sold.
Cruise on The Waverley
The Waverley is the world's last sea-going paddle steamer, which used to bring tourists 'doon the watter' to Tighnabruaich. She had been magnificently restored and during the summer you can take a cruise from Tighnabruaich Pier. With towering funnels, timber decks and gleaming varnish and brasswork, she is a magnificent sight in Argyll's waters. She holds a special place in our hearts, and we named our award-winning 'Clyde Steamer' espresso blend in her honour!
One of our favourite beaches to walk to is Ostel Bay. It's a huge sandy crescent-shaped beach looking out to Arran. It's a fab place for a swim in the summer, as the water warms up over the sand as the tide comes in. Botanica at the Barn is a great cafe for coffee and cake after your beach stroll.
Another favourite spot is Otter Bay at Otter Ferry. The Oystercatcher is a great pub and restaurant that sits right on the beach. They do fabulous seafood and also serve up our coffee. After lunch, you can walk along the shore to the spit which reaches out into Loch Fyne. Further along the coast, our friends at West Coast Wellness have a beautiful yoga dome. They've also built a sauna right by the sea. For more great food and expertly made coffee, we also recommend the Colintraive Hotel.
Standing Stones at Stillaig
The walk from Portavadie across the headland to the standing stones at Stillaig is gorgeous, with views across Loch Fyne to Kintyre. Listen out for the ravens, which nest in the cliffs close by. If you keep walking past the stones, you come to two sandy bays connected by an isthmus, a great place for a fire and a brew on the beach!
On Argyll's Secret Coast, you'll find artists, galleries, a thriving community of local producers and an exceptional range of local, seasonal produce. There's our coffee, which is served up in lots of local establishments, local baking, and there's even a tea plantation at Glen Caladh Farm. We recommend popping into Tighnabruaich Gallery followed by lunch at Five West to try the 'Five West' coffee blend.
There's a real spirit of collaboration between all these artisans, which we love. A couple of years ago, we opened up our Coffee Bar at Hayshed Gallery. It's located at Carry Farm, just a few miles up the road from the roastery. We serve up our coffee, plus local baking by Northern Lights Cakery and Wild Kitchen. Our friends at Argyll Botany have a shop here and, in the gallery, there's ceramics by Drey Workshop and textiles by Fiona McPhail using wool from her Hebridean sheep. You can take a walk around the shore and visit the donkeys.
The best thing about Argyll's Secret Coast is the feeling of stumbling across an undiscovered gem. There's a wild, rugged feel and you can walk for miles and get lost in nature. And, with all those hills, beaches and forests, it's perfect for outdoor adventures. We are all about coffee and adventuring!
Images from Michael Hartley and Eve MacFarlane of Argyll Coffee Roasters. Check out Argyll Coffee Roasters' website at ArgyllCoffee.co.uk and follow them on Instagram at @argyllcoffee.
Argyll Coffee Roasters' exclusive Baxters of Scotland Blend is available in The Findhorn, The Spey, The Scottish Chef's Selection, The Highland Breakfast Treats, The Scottish Afternoon Tea, The Highland Gentleman, and The Queen of Scots Luxury Hampers.