Episode 4 – Campbeltown

In this episode we will be telling you all about Campbeltown, located on the Kintyre peninsula, and is the westernmost town in the Island of Great Britain.

In this episode we will hear from Scottish Author Denzil Meyrick who is from Campbeltown, and we’ll hear all about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival, which in 2023 will take place from the 9th to the 13 of August.

Bestselling Scottish Crime Fiction Author Denzil Meyrick

Iain from the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival

Denzil Meyrick | Official Site

Home – Mull of Kintyre Music Festival


Mull of Kintyre Music Festival | Facebook

Mull of Kintyre Music and Arts Festival, Campbeltown – Celtic, Folk and Traditional | VisitScotland

Campbeltown Malts Festival 2023: Dates, events and festival bottlings from Glen Scotia and Springbank | Scotsman Food and Drink

Campbeltown Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Campbeltown – Wikipedia

The Kintyre 66 | Visit Campbeltown & Kintyre | Argyll

Is Kintyre’s ‘Route 66’ the next road to recovery? – BBC News

Scotland’s K66 driving route | loveexploring.com

Visit Campbeltown and Kintyre | Argyll and the Isles

Ferries to Scotland & Scottish Isles | Caledonian MacBrayne | CalMac Ferries

e-ticketing rollout | CalMac Ferries

Campbeltown Heritage Centre – Wikipedia

Visit | Discover the Social History of the West of Scotland | Campbeltown Heritage Centre

Memorial Garden

Linda McCartney Memorial Garden – Campbeltown, Scotland – Atlas Obscura

Campbeltown Harbour | Discover the Social History of the West of Scotland | Campbeltown Heritage Centre

Springbank Single Malt, The Whisky Drinker’s Whisky

Glen Scotia | Campbeltown Whisky | Single Malt Scotch Distillery

Number Forty Two

Muneroy Restaurant and Stores

Ardshiel Hotel Campbeltown, Accommodation, Restaurant, Whisky Bar

Kilkerran Single Malt – The newest, old distillery in Campbeltown

Home – Beinn An Tuirc Distillers, Kintyre Gin


About Fiona | Fiona Hunter

Welcome to Skipinnish – Scottish Highland and Contemporary Musicians

About | ceol-an-aire (ceolanaire.com)

Home – Mairi Campbell

Find tickets for ‘campbeltown’ at TicketWeb

Caravan and Camping Holidays | Machrihanish Holiday Park (campkintyre.com)


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Hosted and written by Dawn Young

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Welcome to Episode 4 of Scottish Digest, where we will be telling you all about Campbeltown.


In today’s episode we will hear from Scottish crime fiction writer, Denzil Meyrick, about his favourite places to eat in Kintyre, as well as hear from Ian, who will tell us all about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival which takes place every year in Campbeltown, and in 2023 it will be taking place from Wednesday the 9th to Sunday the 13th of August. Ian will also tell us more about the Kintyre Route 66, which is a guide to not only what is happening in Campbeltown but wider Kintyre, well as tell us about his favourite places to visit, eat and stay in Campbeltown. But we’ll get to that. Let me first tell you a wee bit about Campbeltown and where it is. Campbeltown, according to Wikipedia, is located on the Kintyre peninsula, lies by Campbeltown loch, and is the westernmost town in the island of Great Britain. As the crow flies it is a mere 60 miles or 96 kilometres west of Glasgow, however, due to the fact you have to travel over hills and around lochs, the journey by car, despite being beautiful, will take you about three hours. You can of course travel to Campbeltown via Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, as well as fly. In 2018 there was an estimated population of 4,600, making Campbeltown, according to visitscotland.com, one of the largest towns in Argyll. If you enjoy your whisky then you’ll be pleased to know there are three active distilleries in Campbeltown, and Campbeltown is one of five areas in Scotland that is categorised as being a distinct malt whisky producing region. However, according to wildaboutargyll.co.uk, there used to be more than 30 distilleries at one point, and Campbeltown was once known as “The Whisky Capital of the World.” As well as being known for whisky distilling, Campbeltown used to also be a busy fishing port, and there is an exhibit at the Campbeltown Heritage Centre, located on Big Kiln Street, which shows the different types of fishing vessels that operated from the harbour. There are also a wide range of other exhibits and collections to see at the Heritage Centre, such as coal mining, farming, fishing and shipbuilding, with some of the objects dating back from around 1700 up to the present day. Now we’re going to hear a bit more about the Kintyre Route 66 from Iain, but, if you enjoy walking, taking in this route is a must, along which you’ll come across ruined castles, beautiful beaches and some amazing food stops.


Iain – Kintyre 66 is a new route which was launched by Explore Kintyre and Gigha two years ago. It’s got a map and an itinerary planner. So, if you want to come along to Kintyre there’s six  different areas that you can visit in Kintyre,  six ferries come to the area, there’s six islands off the area, and, you know come for three days, six days. You can go visit Skipness, Tarbert. You can visit Gigha, Campbeltown, Southend, Machrihanish, East Kintyre, West Kintyre. The itinerary planner tells you all the places you can visit. We’ve actually got an Anthony Gormley sculpture, the only one in Scotland, and it’s up at Saddell where the Mull of Kintyre music video was created by Paul McCartney. There’s loads of wee quirky things of interesting in Kintyre. It lists all the events and festivals, because there’s lots of other events and festivals, lots of sporting events on in Kintyre as well. And it gives you an overall view and what all you can do and places you can stay when you’re here, places you can eat when you’re here. And if you go to explorekintyre.com you can download the map and itinerary planner there, and then take your time, time just dawdle round the route. If you’ve got a motorhome you can go to the local hire companies and they will hire out a car for you if you’ve got a motorhome as well, because one of the roads is a B road so you’ve got to be very careful when you’re driving around that with a motorhome. For accommodation if you go to explorekintyre.com that’s got lots of accommodation, places to stay.

Dawn – One other thing to mention about Campbeltown is its distinctive and sheltered harbour. We’re going to hear from Scottish author, Denzil Meyrick, in this episode where he will tell you some of his recommendations about Campbeltown, as not only is this where Denzil is from but the distinctive harbour features heavily in his DCI Daley books. And if you’re a fan of Denzil’s books or if you have listened to the interview I did with Denzil recently on my other podcast, Scottish Murders, you will know that his DCI Daley books are going to be made into a major television series starring Rory McCann from Game of Thrones, and the series will be filmed in Campbeltown and will of course feature the very distinctive harbour. So it’s definitely worth visiting the harbour at Campbeltown, which, according to campbeltownheritagecentre.co.uk, was essential to many industries from whisky to wind turbines, as well as being a key element in the naval defences during the first and second world wars.


Denzil – Campbeltown is on the Kintyre peninsula. It used to be a much bigger town than it is now. During the second world war there was about 20,000 to 30,000 people in Campbeltown because of the the naval base then and the ships in Campbeltown loch, which was a major port during the second world war. Nowadays it’s very much centred around farming, and the whiskey distilleries are making a new… there’s whiskey distilleries being built there as we speak, and Springbank and Glen Scotia are fine whiskies that have won awards around the world. The town itself is bustling and really interesting with a great history. Friendly people. Lots of places to go, lots of places to eat and have a drink and enjoy yourself. And good hotels. And I thoroughly recommend it to anybody. Do you have a favourite place you eat at when you go there? Number 42 is very good, it’s on the main street, it’s owned by a friend of mine, so it’s very nice. But I love Southend, which is right down the bottom of the peninsula, a village right down the end. And Frances at Muneroy, has wonderful cakes and teas and things like that, so I commend her to you. If you’re in Kintyre at all go to Number 42 restaurant or the Ardshiel Hotel, which has a great stock of whisky, or Muneroy down at Southend, which, you know, if there’s a better cake maker in the world than in Frances, I’ve yet to meet her.

Dawn – Now, while we’re going to hear about the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival in today’s episode, there are many other events that take place in Campbeltown throughout the year; such as the Campbeltown Malts Festival, which usually takes place for four days in late May. At this festival you can expect such things as tasting, live music and talks. Another festival that takes place every year is the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival. Here’s Iain, one of the organisers of the festival, to tell you all about it.

Iain – Mull of Kintyre Music Festival is held in Campbeltown in Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland. This year’s dates are August 9th to the 13th. It’s a five-day event, although we do have lots of other things going on around about it. The week and the run up to the event we have heritage trail walks around Campbeltown, we’ve got distillery tours from Glen Scotia, Kilkerran and Beinn An Tuirc  gin distillery. On the Wednesday the 9th first thing is a children’s show, it’s the McDougalls which is held in the Town Hall in Campbeltown. The first concert for the music festival is on Wednesday the 9th, it’s the Beinn An Tuirc festival Gaelic Night, and that is held in the Argyll Arms Hotel in Campbeltown. The headline act for this is Kathleen MacInnes and Mike Vass. And this is actually quite a rare choice to catch Kathleen, she doesn’t play that many live events. It’s a good old-fashioned Gaelic night with lots of stories, various different artists and musicians from around Campbeltown and Argyll going up beforehand, and then we finish it all off with Kathleen’s performance. That’s £12 a ticket for that concert. It starts at seven o’clock. The Thursday night is the Young Folk Night. Now that’s the 10th, and that’s held in the Campbeltown Heritage Centre. Now that’s a concert which celebrates the sort of the young musicians around Kintyre. A very popular night with families, but it’s great for visitors as well as it’s got lots… You can get a good chance to see some of the young and up and coming musicians and singers that are coming through. Got pipe bands on it, we’ve got brass bands on it, we’ve got Highland dancers on it, so it’s a right good mix of things. And that’s £8 a ticket and it starts at seven o’clock as well. On the Friday night we have the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band do a performance at the head of the old quay. That’s at half past seven. They then march into the Victoria Hall for the first of the concerts in the big hall. Now the Victoria Hall is right beside the roundabout, and basically that’s where the main concerts are held. This is the Festival Ceilidh night and it’s a big big family event, we’ve got  people of all ages and stages go to it. It starts off with the Pipe Band playing on the floor, and it’s quite a thing to see actually. That’s followed by  The Dalriada Connections Band. This is a band which is comprised of students and tutors from Campbeltown Grammar School and interspersed with musicians from across Argyll and Northern Ireland who come on stage. I think the biggest band we ever had was a 27 piece band, which is a bit of a nightmare for the sound crew but it was a great sound, and it’s a great start to the concert cause they’re on the stage. Next we have the Wee Toon Tellers, which are a local band who have been about for about 30-40 years. Great band with lots of songs and tunes and quite a bit of craic with the audience at that one. And then we’re into the Ceilidh Band which is the Skara Ceilidh Band. This is their first time in Campbelltown. A really good Ceilidh dance band, and the whole night is like an old-fashioned ceilidh, where everyone gets up and ceilidh dances. Tables and chairs at this event, but a huge big dance floor. Tickets for this concert are £18 for an adult and it’s £9 if you’re under 12. So it’s just trying to encourage whole families to come along to this event. That starts at 7.30, doors are at 7.30 for that event. On the Saturday, the 12th, we start off the festival parade. That kicks off around 12.30 at the Esplanade. That’s led by the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band. They march through the streets of Campbeltown and they’re followed by floats with local businesses on it,  community groups on it, we’ve got children’s entertainers walking on it, walking groups. It’s a very colourful event. That goes right round the town, finishes at Kinloch Green, where the Pipe Band then march on to open up the afternoon event, which is Doon the Green. That’s what we call it. That’s a huge big community event with lots of community stalls, it’s got live bands on the stage, it’s got Highland dancers, we’ve got Taekwondo exhibition on it, we’ve got children’s entertainment. The fair is right beside it as well, so it’s great for the adults because the children can go across to the fair and the adults can sit and enjoy the afternoon. We’ve got a big bar area and a big children’s field as well. It’s an all round family event. That’s free to go to. Of course donations are welcome. But it’s a nice big way for the whole community to come together. The first of the evening concerts is the traditional concert which is held in Campbeltown Heritage Centre. It’s the second concert in this event. And this year it’s headlining with the Fiona Hunter Trio. And we have an opening act which is the Argyll Ceilidh Trail, who are doing two performances that Saturday night; the first one is an acoustic set and the second one will be in the next concert which I’ll tell you about shortly. Tickets for this concert are £15 and this concert starts at seven o’clock, doors at 6 30. This concert normally finishes around about 9, and that’s when the West Coast Rocks concert starts. This is the Glen Scotia West Coast Rocks concert, and this is the second concert in the Victoria Hall. This is like a three bands all playing good festival sets, headlining with Skipinnish, who are one of the main attractions in Scotland at the moment. We also have Ceòl an Aire, a band from Oban, a five piece band from Oban.  Opening will be the Argyll Ceilidh Trail doing their second performance, and this is a good festival ceilidh  set they’re going to do. This is a big lively event. There’s some tables and chairs, not all seated by any means, a huge big dance floor and very popular. Tickets for this concert are £28. And,  just to point out, tickets are going very fast for concerts so if you want to go to events don’t waste too much time before getting them, if you want to guarantee you want to go. The next event is on the Sunday, we have the Dalriada Connections concert. Now this is actually an event which has been going now for about 15 years. It to celebrate the links between Northern Ireland and in Kintyre and the ancient Kingdom of Dalriada, which basically we’ve got the strapline for the music festival is Cradle of the Nation, and basically if you go back in history the Scots went to Ireland for the Ice Age, they then came back and they landed in Kintyre cause it defrosted first, waited there for a few hundred years, moved north, caused  all sorts of wars and all this sort of stuff. So we say it’s Cradle of the Nation because we have a footstep at Southend which is called the […..] footstep where the first kings of Scotland were crowned. So the Dalriada Connections concert is a celebration of the links. We’ve got a double headline for this, we’ve got Mairi Campbell coming through and she’s going to do the opening set. And then we have a duo which is Archie McAllister and Sileas Sinclair who are doing a fiddle and piano set. And various other artists from across Argyll, from Northern Ireland, they’re all playing. And we all finish up with the Dalriada Connections band again.  This is a collection of all the artists, the musicians who played during the whole Sunday afternoon, and they all finish it all off. Bonus for this one is you also get a Kilkerran Distillery miniature to take away with you. The tickets for this concert are £14. Doors are 1.30, starts at 2, finishes around about five o’clock. You get a short break and then at 7.30 the doors to the Victoria Hall open for the last concert. This is the Kilkerran  Survivors Night. This is a great event,  sells out in no time at all. A few tickets left for this course at the moment. And what we have at this is we headline with a band called Slainte Davaar Allstars. It’s a mixture of all the sort of musicians  from Campbelltown, and they’re joined by various different musicians from around the area each year. They did 22 new tracks every year, tracks from the 60s, 70s, 80s, right through to the naughties, and you’ll hear everyone from Tina Turner to, you know, right to the chic.  You can hear anything. We also then have the Kintyre Schools Pipe Band, they’re going to play up on the stage, and they actually hook up with lots of other musicians so they’ve got a full drum kit behind them, and it’s something special when they play. It’s their first performance at the Kilkerran Survivors Night for seven years. So, we’re really looking forward to that. Before that we have a band called we.R.soul, got to watch how I say that. And this is a band of musicians who play a set of swing. They do a bit of funk. They’ve got a brass section with it as well. I love the big band, a 12 piece band. So you get a bit of brass, a bit of funk. It’s a great band.  Tickets for this concert are £22. This concert starts at 7.30, door 7.30, starts at eight o’clock, runs on until one o’clock/two o’clock, a big long concert. It’s a great night out. Most of the concerts are licensed, the ones in the Heritage Centre are not, the rest are all licensed. Lots of fringe events around the event as well, there’s lots of stuff in the pubs and the bars and the hotels, their social clubs, they’ve all got live music on. The open air events are across the town, so you can just pick and choose, you can go to a free event, you can go to a concert. The concerts are all ticketed individually, basically because very few people can actually manage to go to all seven concerts, but it’s only about £150 to go to every single concert. But you can pick and choose which concerts you want to go to,  which venues you like. We get people coming from all over the world to this event. I’ve had a quick check with ticketweb, and this year we’ve got people from across Europe; Sweden, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, Norway, France. We’ve got a lot of people from USA coming across, Canada, South America. We’ve got ones coming across from China this year. So it’s quite a global event. One of the reasons we started the event was actually Campbeltown in the early 90s, it wasn’t really doing that well, there wasn’t a lot of tourists. We started the event up actually to help extend the tourist season. So, it was always usually held at the second last Saturday of August, we’re a week earlier this year because of the pipe band championships. But basically the festival was started just to sort of get people to come to the area and, as I say, extend the tourist season. It’s now the busiest weekend in the whole of Kintyre. It’s very difficult to get beds. So what we’ve done is we’ve worked in with Machrihanish holiday park so you can come along with camper vans, you can camp. So it’s different ways of coming to the festival, different types of accommodation at the festival. If you’re coming make sure you book early. And, as I say, it’s lots of stuff across the whole event; from children’s entertainment to big live concerts. The Saturday night in particular is like a festival within a festival, that’s the way we look at it. But we’ve also got workshops at the event as well, we’ve got tours around the harbour on the Saturday morning. So all in all it’s a fun event to come along to, and you can pick and choose what you want to go to. You can find out more at the music festival website which is www.mokfest.com, you can buy tickets directly from it. And you can email me, I’m Iain Johnston at mokfest@hotmail.co.uk. And you can visit our Facebook page, so it Mull of Kintyre Music Festival, there’s lots of individual posters about each concert telling you much more about the event. And we’re really looking forward to it and we’d love for you to come along to it.

Dawn – I absolutely love the sound of the Mull of Kinytre Music Festival. If you’ve been to a previous festival or are planning on going to this one, please let us know what you enjoyed about it the most. Like Iain said, if you plan to go this year, from the 9th to the 13th of August 2023 and want to attend a concert, then get your tickets now while they’re still available, by visiting mokfest.com. You can find out more about the Kintyre Route 66 by visiting wildaboutargyll.co.uk and search for Kintyre Route 66. Now, of one final thing to tell you about Campbeltown. In the heart of Campbeltown there’s a beautiful peaceful wee garden which is called Linda’s Memorial Garden, after Sir Paul McCartney late wife Linda. According to atlasobscura.com, upon Sir Paul and Linda getting married in 1969, they lived in a farmhouse about an 11 minute drive outside of Campbeltown and the couple were very fond of Kintyre and felt so at home there, with Linda’s ashes actually being scattered across the Kintyre area. The Campbeltown residents were also very fond of Linda and Sir Paul and, so, as a tribute to Linda, the Lady Linda McCartney Memorial Garden was created, with Sir Paul, according to lindasgarden.co.uk, generously donating a bronze sculpture as the centrepiece for the garden. The garden is a quiet haven for rest and contemplation and is located on Shore Street near the Campbeltown Museum.

And that’s the end. A big thank you to Iain for telling us all about the Mull of Kintyre Music festival and Kintyre Route 66, which you can find more about from mokfest.com and wildaboutargyll.co.uk. And also a big thank you to Denzil Meyrick for giving his personal Kintyre food recommendations. If you’d like to find out more about Denzil’s books you can visit denzilmeyrick.com. All links will be in the show notes or under this episode at cluarantonn.com/scottishdigest, that’s c-l-u-a-r-a-n-t-o-n-n.com/scottish digest. We hope you enjoyed this episode. Join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.


Scottish Digest is a production of Cluarantonn.