Header image credit: Shannon Tofts
The wonderful thing about a self-drive holiday in Scotland is that you can explore at your own pace and focus only on exactly what you want to do and see. We take the hassle out of planning your trip, so you always know where you're headed and that you'll have somewhere lovely to rest your head.
Whether you're on an Argyll tour or exploring the whole of Scotland on your self-drive holiday, we heartily recommend that you take the time to stop off and visit these gems.
Here are our favourite Scottish designers and craft producers to visit during your Argyll tour. If you'd like to plan a self-drive holiday in Scotland to include visits to some of these Scottish craft destinations, we can help!
For further inspiration, please see this excellent blog page on artists and craft shows in Kintyre and Gigha by Wild About Argyll.
If you love Scottish crafts but aren't able to build a visit to one of our featured designers and makers into your self-drive tour schedule, we thoroughly recommend paying a visit to Made in Argyll in Oban, which brings together the wares of countless talented people from across the county into one convenient location at the Gateway to the Isles.
Crùbag is an artist-led design studio promoting beautiful ocean-inspired designs and producing sustainable luxury textiles, homeware and accessories inspired by marine science. The quirky brand name brings together the Gaelic word for crab with its founder's South American roots, in a nod to the story of its beginnings.
How it all started: Italo-Venezuelan Jessica Giannotti has always loved the ocean, and was inspired to start Crùbag after completing her degree in Marine Science near Oban. Still based on the shores of Loch Etive where the idea was born, Jessica is passionate about design and ocean literacy.
When studying, Jessica often saw a unique and bizarre world of ocean creatures and learned fascinating things about their environment. She founded Crùbag in order to share this unseen world with others, and hopes to create a new generation of ocean ambassadors.
What makes them wonderful: This is a business whose ethos is lived and breathed every day. Described as 'a love letter to the planet', Crùbag's products are produced with a keen eye for detail and exceptional standards of quality. The scarves are hand-finished and are transported and packed in a way which aims to limit the environmental impact, and they avoid using plastic wherever possible.
Crùbag donates a percentage of its profits to help advance marine science, improving understanding of the ocean environment and knowledge of the ways in which it can be preserved for generations to come.
Find them onlinehere.
Pay them a visit: Crùbag's studio is located at the Scottish Marine Institute in Dunbeg, by Oban, Argyll and Bute, PA37 1QA. If you are visiting on an Argyll tour or as part of your Scottish holiday, you can arrange to call in at the studio by appointment and see Jessica's work for yourself.
Image: Shannon Tofts
Situated on the beautiful Isle of Iona and taking inspiration from the natural rock formations and cultural heritage of its surroundings, Aosdàna is a Scottish craft studio and shop producing Celtic and contemporary jewellery.
Anyone who has been to Iona will tell you it's an incredible place. Steeped in culture and history, surrounded by breathtaking natural landscapes and at the heart of a very special island community, it's the perfect place for Scottish craft to thrive.
How it all started: Aosdàna's story begins in 1996, when Iona silversmith Iain MacCormick gifted his designs and knowledge of the complex Celtic patterns to his young relative, Mhairi Killin. Mhairi established Aosdàna in 2003, continuing a century-old tradition of making jewellery on the island.
What makes them wonderful: Aosdàna is a true family business, which continues to use the same techniques as the early Iona silversmiths to craft the original designs that have remained so popular over the years. Each piece is hand-finished and reflects the care and attention only fitting to the historical legacy of the island’s craftsmen and women.
As well as staying true to its roots and tradition, Aosdàna reflects the present cultural and physical landscape of Iona through contemporary collections.
Find them onlinehere.
Pay them a visit: If you're visiting the Isle of Mull and Isle of Iona as part of your self-drive holiday in Scotland, you can visit Aosdàna at St Columba Steadings, opposite the St Columba Hotel on Iona, which is just a short walk from the ferry terminal. They are open daily from 10 am until 5 pm from mid-March until the end of October.
Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers
Image: Unsplash / Anna Auza
If you're on an Argyll tour or visiting the Isle of Mull on your self-drive tour of Scotland, in our opinion it won't be complete without paying a visit to Isle of Mull Weavers at Ardalanish farm. They use traditional methods to weave accessories, clothing and homeware using Hebridean fleece from their own flock of sheep and from sustainable sources elsewhere on Mull and around Scotland.
How it all started: Anne and Andrew Smith bought Ardalanish farm and weaving mill in 2011, which started them on a journey of discovery. The Hebridean fleece from the farm used to be sent away after shearing and the price paid did not even cover the cost of shearing. Instead, they decided to try weaving, and set up a collaboration with Bob, the Master Weaver - who was in the process of retiring from his own Isle of Mull Weavers business and selling off the machinery - and the Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers was born. Two further looms have been added since, and these can often be seen working on a visit. Bob originally helped as a volunteer but has now trained a number of apprentices and still visits regularly to pass on his vast knowledge and skill.
What makes them wonderful: A traditional, sustainable approach to weaving practical and beautiful fabrics, furnishings and garments using fleeces from their own Hebridean flock and other local sources. The careful restoration and use of the old weaving machines is a sight to behold, and everyone will learn something on the tour. The mill now brings in fleeces from around Mull and further afield from other native breeds. Natural dyes are used for colour accents and the dyeing process is mostly carried out on site.
The location is also out of this world - Ardalanish farm is set in a quiet corner of the Ross of Mull, overlooking one of our absolute favourite beaches in Scotland with views out to the islands of Colonsay, Islay and Jura on a clear day. Make sure you plan in some time to visit the beach as well!
Find them onlinehere.
Pay them a visit: If you're on an Argyll tour or visiting Mull on your self-drive Scotland tour, you can pay Isle of Mull Weavers a visit at their farm and workshop near Bunessan, Isle of Mull, PA67 6DR. The shop is open from 10 am to 5 pm 7 days a week from Easter until mid-October. The location means they are perfect for a visit on your way to or from the beautiful Isle of Iona, being around 20 minutes' drive from the ferry at Fionnphort.
Argyll Sea Glass
Image: Argyll Sea Glass
If you adore Argyll but can't visit on your holiday, Argyll Sea Glass provides an excellent way for you to keep a little bit of your dream destination with you always!
How it all started: Married couple Mike and Marie began taking daily walks on the beach to support Marie's mental health, exploring the area around their home of Cove, on Loch Long. They were amazed to find so many amazing colours and shapes of sea glass, which Marie began collecting from the places they visited. Eventually, Marie tried making a necklace with some of her finds, discovering a new pleasure and talent, and Argyll Sea Glass was born.
What makes them wonderful: Each piece of sea glass is shaped naturally by the sea over years and years, so it's completely unique. There's something wonderful about wearing jewellery with a story behind it, and Marie's creations elevate and celebrate the sea glass. As well as making jewellery, Marie and Mike are advocates for mental health and wellbeing, sharing the story of how their business began to help support and inspire others going through mental health challenges.
Find them onlinehere.