Discover the magic of Argyll and the Inner Hebrides with our dog-friendly guide to Scotland in winter

There’s probably nothing quite as wildly raw and beautiful as Scotland in winter. We love the inspiring coastline in the southwest corner, jutting above Glasgow, to the west of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. There are a handful of sea-going ferries that allow you to island-hop easily, most leave from Oban - renowned for its whiskey distillery and superb seafood restaurants. Discover majestic Mull, and if you have more time head to the wild mountains of Jura or the scenic splendour of Arran. Over a weekend we think you can squeeze in quite a lot: enjoy smart dinners and seafood feasts, go island-hopping and National Park exploring with your furry companion.

Written by Jem Brownlee

5 minute read

Friday night

Dinner at The Pierhouse, Argyll

If you can, try to arrive before it gets dark to make the most of the glorious views. This small hotel sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe, with views across to Lismore and rising mountains beyond. If you have time, stretch everyone’s legs on a wander down to the shoreline at Appin Rocks or up the wooded hill for breathtaking 360-degree views. Without a doubt, The Pierhouse is one of the best seafood restaurants on the west coast. Come for a wee dram in the smart bar (your dog is welcome too) then tuck into oysters, scallops and salmon, lobsters kept fresh in creels at the end of the pier. Finish with coffee in the white-washed snug on a sofa in front of a glowing wood-burner.

Visit The Pierhouse >

Saturday morning

Walk Ganavan Sands

Oban is a walker’s dream, from gentle coastal strolls to more serious hikes, including at least ten nearby munros to tackle if you’re up for a challenge. A munro is a mountain with a height of over 914.4m - Ben Nevis is the tallest at a whopping 1.344m. We’re not suggesting a hike up Ben Nevis first thing on a Saturday morning, unless you’re into that sort of thing. Instead ease yourself in with a wander along Ganavan Sands with lovely views to Mull, Lismore and Morven; head along the esplanade and past the ruin of Dunollie Castle, then you have the option to follow the cycle path to Dunbeg or the footpath to Dunstaffnage. Then head back to town for lunch: Hinba Coffee Roasters have two coffee shops that sell incredible coffee, Spanish empanadas, and are dog-friendly to boot.

Saturday afternoon

Ferry from Oban to Mull

It’s an easy 45-minute ferry ride from Oban to majestic Mull, and dogs ride for free. Here you can soak up some of the most stunning scenery in the Inner Hebrides. Birds of prey soar above rugged mountain ridges, whales can be spotted in its western waters, and the brightly-coloured waterfront at Tobermory plays host to shops, restaurants and hotels. Let your dog run wild on Calgary Bay’s sweep of sand, follow the Tobermory Lighthouse Path for stunning views, scamper around Scallastle Forest or look for the Aros Burn waterfall in Aros Park, then head back to Oban before you miss the last ferry. They run year round but do check the times before you visit.

Saturday evening

Seafood feast at self-catering cottage or Inver in Loch Fyne

Depending on your timings, you can either head back to your self-catering cottage and cook up a seafood feast with the fresh catch you picked up in Oban; we recommend D Watt & Son - officially the oldest family-run business in town - for its huge selection of fresh fish. You can’t miss its bright yellow exterior on Railway Pier. Otherwise, if your dog is completely exhausted after all the fresh air and zooming around and will be happy snoozing at home, head to Inver Restaurant in Loch Fyne. Award-winning and praised by critics yet completely down to earth. You start your evening in the cosy bar with a craft ale, natural wine or a cocktail, then into the dining rooms for a five-course tasting menu that adds a modern twist to traditional and forgotten Scottish dishes using only the very best local - wild and farmed - ingredients.

Visit Inver in Loch Fyne >

Sunday morning

Loch Lomond walk

Round off your weekend with a walk in Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. There are numerous hikes and trails to suit all levels, including two munros - Ben More and Ben Lomond. If you’re looking for something less strenuous the Conic Hill walk is a leisurely hike with glorious lake views, a sprinkling of islands and Ben Lomond in the distance. It takes about 45-minutes to ascend the summit, and it's pretty steep in parts, but the vistas begin to unfold almost from the start. Look out for birds of prey gliding above then saunter back for a cuppa and bowl of water in The Oak Tree Inn (dogs are welcome in the bar and conservatory) before making your way home.

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Written by Jem Brownlee

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