We - The Fraser family and our team extend a warm welcome in the best traditions of Scottish hospitality to one of the oldest Coaching Inns in the Highlands.
We are a 3 star Inn, the Inn has been in the Fraser family for over 50 years and we aim to please our guests by looking after you with good standards of accommodation, food and service from the moment you arrive to the moment you check-out.
Where are we?
The Inn is delightfully situated just off the A83 on the upper reaches of Loch Fyne in Argyll, only 20 minutes to Inveraray. It presents to the visitor a haven of sparkling views, high mountains, magnificent woodlands and rivers.
We have 19 bedrooms, all en-suite, 15 of which offer stunning views across Loch Fyne. We have 6 Lochside Deluxe rooms, 2 Deluxe Rooms, 5 Standard Double rooms, 4 Standard Twin rooms and 2 Family rooms. For further information on our rooms go to the rooms page.
We offer a full Menu every day from noon until 9pm between our Stables Restaurant, Bar, Lounge areas and weather permitting even in our Lochside Garden. Our Chefs aim to use the best of local produce to create a Menu to cater for all palates. Further details & menus here.
Functions, Weddings & Events
We can cater for the smaller, more intimate party or bigger events of up to 70 Guests for a sit down meal and up to 100 for evening entertainment. See our Weddings & Functions page or get in touch for more info.
What can you do in the area?
From a brewery tour to quad biking, come rain or shine there's always plenty to do! Check our events page to see what we have lined up or see what you can do in the local vicinity.
Please explore our Inn using the tabs near the top of the page, if you can’t find what you are looking for please do not hesitate to get in contact - We are always happy to help!
WHY BOOK ONLINE WITH US DIRECTLY?
10% off food!
Best price guaranteed!
No booking fees or charges!
Instant email confirmation!
No upfront payments - pay when you check-out!
To book online, check prices and availability click HERE.
Amenities & Services
Free Wi-Fi access
Bar & Restaurant
The history of Cairndow Stagecoach Inn...
Some interesting quotes...
DOROTHY WORDSWORTH in 1803
’we were... well recieved and sate down in a neat parlour with a good fire. Breakfasted before our departure and ate a herring fresh from the water, at our landlords earnest recommendation. Cairndow is a single house by the side of the loch, I believe, resorted to by gentlemen in the fishing season: It is a pleasant place for such a purpose....’
JOHN KEATS, 17th July 1818
’we were up at four this morning and have walked to breakfast fifteen miles through two tremendous glens; at the head of the first there is a place called Rest and be Thankful, which we took for an inn; it was nothing but a stone and we were cheated into five more miles to breakfast. I have just been bathing in Loch Fyne, a salt water lake opposite the window’.
DOROTHY WORDSWORTH, on a return visit in 1822
’we now sit in a quiet, cleanly bedroom...tea comfortly set out - civil attendants, and nothing wanting. In the kitchen there is a fine blazing coal fire...’
QUEEN VICTORIA, 29th September 1875
’.... changed horses at a small inn called Cairndow where the dear little Campbell children are staying, and who were at the windows-such lovely children! There were a few people collected, and the harness as well as the horses had to be changed, and a pair of leaders put on to pull us up the long steep ascent in Glenkinglas’.
ROBERT HERON, an early tourist in 1799
’the eaft coaft of Loch Fyne extending from the north of Fouth is beautifully diverfified with gentlemens feats, and rifting woods, while the interior country rifes in all the rugged wildernefs of Alpine grandeur and abounds with ftupendous caverns’.
The full history...
1780 – 1860 Dugal Paul, Innkeeper. He lived at the Inn along with his wife Jemima Erskine.
In the census of 1841 Dugal is listed as 70 and his wife as 60. Their son Dugal Paul (1818-1886) married Margaret Annand the daughter of Ardkinglas Estates Garden Manager (Robert Annand) in 1844.
Dugal Paul Jnr became a Doctor of medicine practicing in nearby Strachur. Dugal Paul was the tenant of Cairndow Farm, which incorporated Cairndow Inn. He had a 19 year lease, which expired in 1829. The annual rental was £25.00.
On 22nd July 1820, Dugal Paul wrote to Colonel Callander of Craigforth, complaining that “this road is entirely ruined by the Steam Boats, the only thing I have been selling is a little spirits but my neighbour has set up a whisky shop, a thing never allowed here before, even in good times and which hurt me considerably. I spoke to Mr. P. Campbell on the subject and he promised to put a stop to it but as it still goes on, I think it but right to let you know. I have done everything I could to keep the place respectable but if things do not get better soon, I cannot go so long, as is intended, with such expense and had not my rent been very low, it would have been impossible to have gone on so long on the same footing”. We do not know what the outcome of this latter was but it must have been to Dugal Paul’s advantage, as in the Census 1841 he is still the Innkeeper aged 70 years.
1793 The earliest record to be found of a Resident is of tourist Robert Heron.
1798 Dr. Thomas Garnett dined at the Inn and then visited Ardkinglas.
1851 Census shows a William Porteous, aged 30 years as Innkeeper living here along with his Wife Isabella, aged 32 years and a 6 year old niece, Helen Marshall.
1861 Census shows Alexander Marshall, aged 51 years was the Innkeeper living here along with his wife Elizabeth, aged 50 years and daughter Isabella, aged 10 years. We do not know if the Porteous and Marshalls were related or if it was just coincidence. In that Census the Inn is described as 1 house with 10 windowed rooms. This was for window tax.
1803 & 1822 DOROTHY WORDSWORTH stayed at the Inn twice on her travels around Scotland. Of her 1803 visit, she states: “We were well received and sate down in a neat parlour with a good fire. Breakfast was Herring, fresh from the Loch. We rose at seven but could not set off before nine, as the servants were in bed and the Kettle did not boil”.
1818 JOHN KEATS and his friend Charles Brown, on their walking tour of Scotland described the Inn as thus: “The house was clean for a Scotch Inn” Keats also ate Herring and was bitten by gadflies, after swimming in Loch Fyne, which resulted in a bawdy Poem, “All gentle folk who owe a grudge”.
JOHN KEATS scratched a poem into a window pane of the Inn. It is thought that the following verses “Lines written in the Highlands” inspired during his visit to Argyll, were in all probability written here: “there is a charm in footing slow across a silent plain, where patriot battle has been fought, where glory had the gain; there is a pleasure on the heath where Druids old have been. Where mantles grey have rustled by and swept the nettles green; There is a joy in every spot made known by times of old, new to the feet. New to the feet, altho’ each tale a hundred times be told.
A ferry operated from Cairndow village to Ardganavan, on the western shore of the loch. It is not known how long it was in operation but was probably used for many years as the Inn was a convenient place for travellers to stop, they would be glad to take the ferry to avoid the long walk around the head of the loch.
Both DOROTHY WORDSWORTH and JOHN KEATS used the ferry to cross the loch. DOROTHY WORDSWORTH says in her Journal that, “There was a ferry for foot passengers from Cairndow to the other side of the water. A man made a call for the boat” showing that it was a very short distance.
1875 QUEEN VICTORIA stopped off at the Inn, while the horses on her carriage were being changed, before the long pull up Glenkinglas to the Rest and Be Thankful.
1867 William Jones of Staffordshire and Emily Phillies Bellamy of Suffock got married at the Inn and shortly afterward took on the tenancy of the Inn.
1889 Which would have been in William Jones’s tenancy, Duncan McArthur Oban of the Glencroe, Glenorchy and Glencoe Coach Company wrote to the Duke of Argyll, complaining that the coach horses were being prevented from receiving accommodation at Achadunan on the Argkinglas Estate and that some of the horses were actually turned out of the stables at Cairndow and left on the road. Previously the tenants of Achadunan had been found guilty of a breach of interdict and was sentenced to pay a fine of £5 or suffer 14 days imptisonment.
1909 Thomas Fredrick Jones who was born at the Inn in 1875, son of William and Emily, married Agnes McGregor.
Previous to their marriage, Tommy Jones had been the Inn Manager with his Father. On marrying they took over the running of the Inn. They had three of a family, two sons and a daughter.
Tommy was also a test driver for the Argyll works at Alexandria when they were producing the Argyll cars. Tommy and his wife continued to run the Inn till Tommys death in 1945. Mrs Jones and her daughter Nancy continued to run the Inn until their retirement in 1953.
1953 William Foulger and his wife Lexie took over the tenancy of the Inn, when the Jones Retired.
In a letter to Mr. Foulger, Mr. John Noble of Ardkinglas Estate, states that; “We don’t want a tea room, catering for bus parties nor a flash establishment catering for passing drinks but a residential hotel catering for holiday folk, who might like to do a little fishing etc. and have a good lunch or dinner”.
The licence to sell liquor (which had been revoked years earlier) was restored during the Foulger’s tenancy.
1965 On the retirement of Mr & Mrs Foulger, the new licensee was Roddy Fraser, his wife Marion (Bunty) and their four children. They took over the lease in November 1965.
1966 Ardkinglas Estate was divided between John Noble and his brother Michael.
1978 The Inn was sold to Roddy Fraser.
1976 Mr. & Mrs Fraser’s oldest son Douglas and his wife Catherine worked at the Inn after finishing at catering college.
When Roddy Fraser took over the tenancy of the Inn in 1965, most of the guests coming on holiday came for a week or a fortnight. They came for the Salmon and Trout fishing and for the Deer stalking in the autumn, coming back year after year. At that time, the Guests were mostly British.
1981 Saw the conversion from the Stables to Restaurant (The Stables Restaurant) along with new kitchens and a link up to the main part of the Inn.
1983 The shell above the Restaurant (left till a later date due to the cost of the 1981 development) was finished as the owners flat, for Douglas, Catherine and their children, Leeanne, Nicola and Jamie.
1989 Hydro Board garages purchased, demolished and house built for the family, still linked to the Inn. Owners flat converted to en-suite bedrooms 10, 11 & 12.
1994 Old Bothy, outside toilets and beer cellar demolished. New two floor extension built incorporating new lounge area, toilets, beer cellar and pool room on ground floor, with two De-luxe bedrooms and twin room.
2002 There is no fishing and Guests come from all over the world. They come to see the scenery and to go walking and hill climbing, but most only stayed for a few days, before continuing on their touring holiday.
Over the years the Inn has entertained many celebrity guests, PAUL MACCARTNEY called in to have his car refuelled, GERRY RAFFERTY, ROBBIE COLTRANE and JORGE ALBERTZ to name a few, have all visited the Inn.
2003 Winner of Pub of the week from newspaper Sunday Mail.
2004 Winner of Inn of the year from Inns of Britain.
2008 An annex is built housing 6 Lochside Deluxe Bedrooms with patio doors leading from the bedroom out to balconies overlooking the Loch. It was mentioned by a Visit Scotland Inspector that if these rooms were independently rated they would score a 5 star rating.
2009 After 35 years as Innkeepers & Proprietors, Douglas and Catherine Fraser begin to ease themselves into retirement. Daughter Nicola and son Jamie, both Managers at the Inn, become partners in the business while their other daughter Leeanne pursues a career in Makeup Artistry while working part time at the Inn. 2017, both Douglas and Catherine continue to work at the Inn.
2010 Winner of CAMRA’s Argyll pub of the year.
2011 Head Chef of 20 years, Steven Rowell, former Chef to the Duke of Argyll, Retires.
2012 & 2013 Inn is winner of Trip Advisors Certificate of Excellence and in CAMRAS Good Beer Guide.
2013 The Stables Restaurant is re-launched. After some refurbishments during the winter months of 2012 the Stables Restaurant is re-opened for Easter 2013. The Stables Restaurant also wins a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.
2014 - 2017 The Inn is a proud winner of Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, included in CAMRAS Good Beer Guide & win a Taste Our Best Award!