Campbeltown

Campbeltown is a small town in the county of Argyll and Bute. It lies in the southern portion of the Kintyre peninsula, beside Campbeltown Loch.

The name of the town is derived from that of the Earl of Argyle – Archibald Campbell. This is a 17th century name and, prior to that, the town carried the Gaelic name name of Kinlochkilkerran (meaning ‘head of the loch by the kirk of Ciaran’).

During its history, Campbeltown became one of the key centres for shipbuilding and scotch whisky. In addition, it was to become a well-known and busy fishing port.

Speaking of the whisky industry, there were more than 30 distilleries in Campbeltown, amazing for such a small town. The town is in fact categorised as a distinct whisky production region, having once claimed for itself the title of ‘whisky capital of the world’. Unfortunately, opting for quantity over quality, together with economic problems, has led to there being just three distilleries in Campbeltown today. All of the remaining distilleries have, however, passed the test of time and quality, well-loved by whisky connoisseurs: Glen Scotia, Glengyle, and Springbank.


Campbeltown is the main town on the Kintyre peninsula.

Campbeltown has a nice museum which explores the long history of the town and its famous inhabitants, including William McTaggart and William Mackinnon. You can also find a number of interesting prehistoric artefacts in the museum, including axeheads, combs and jewellery.

Campbeltown is home to the oldest cinema in Scotland – the Art Deco Cinema – dating back to 1913. Another cultural feature of the town is the annual Mull Of Kintyre Music Festival, with both unknown and well known bands playing there every year. Recent examples have included Deacon Blue, The Stranglers and Idlewild. Campbeltown is also home to the Kintyre Songwriters Festival. This was created with the idea of support original music in the area. It runs in the last weekend of May, and is very much open to those with an intention to perform.

You can reach Campbeltown by the A82 and A83 roads from the north of the Kintyre peninsula, as well as by a passenger ferry service which runs to Ballycastle in Northern Ireland every Friday to Monday during summer months, and on Mondays and Fridays during the winter months. Kintyre Express has operated this new service since 2011.

Finally, did you know that Campbeltown Airport is the designated emergency landing airport in Europe for the American space shuttle? Should a shuttle get into difficulty and have to make a landing over Europe, its first airport to try for is Campbeltown due to its rural location, strategic proximity to America and the Atlantic, and the fact that Campbeltown Airport has the longest public runway in Scotland. This allows not only for the space shuttle to make an emergency landing, but also for the Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to get airborne again!

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