The Village at Machrihansih Dunes offers the chance to truly 'get away from it all' with golf, spa and a choice of accommodation in the most beautiful surroundings.
Paul McCartney wrote the song Mull of Kintyre in tribute to Scotland’s picturesque Kintyre peninsula. Nobody in their right mind would contest McCartney’s tribute – the scenery is beautiful, families of seals flap around in the Atlantic Ocean, and this area offers complete escapism. But now there’s another reason to visit.
The Village at Machrihanish Dunes
This is set hard against the ocean with breathtaking views across to the Hebridean islands of Islay and Jura, and closer than you might think, is the Antrim coastline, just 12 miles away across the water.
The Ugadale Hotel is its centrepiece, as it had been for over a hundred years, before falling into disrepair and closing its doors in the late 1990s. Last year, following a massive restoration project, it opened again to its former glory and complements this unique raw and rugged place beautifully with a genuine friendly atmosphere and olde-worlde charm.
It’s not a massive hotel, just 23 bedrooms and suites, but these are ample in size and luxuriously appointed with many overlooking the 1st tee of Machrihanish Golf Club which teeters on the edge of the ocean. The Kintyre Club, named after the charitable organisation founded in 1825 by a group of Scottish Businessman, is the hotel’s bar and restaurant where you can enjoy local produce all day in sumptuous wood-panelled surroundings.
Of course, a village is not a village if it doesn’t have a pub, and a stone’s throw from the hotel, is The Old Clubhouse Pub, originally the clubhouse of Machrihanish Golf Club. It’s really cosy in here, and with a choice of 42 whiskies and an ever changing menu; it’s easy to see why it’s a popular nightly revelry for locals and visitors alike. One dish that remains firmly on the menu is nachos topped with haggis, suggested by Reservations Manager Kirsty Martin. When she arrived home late one evening and the cupboards and fridge were virtually bare, she concocted the dish and the rest is history. I can vouch why it’s one of the most popular on the menu!
Machrihanish Golf Club has been here since the late 1800s. Designed by Old Tom Morris, the legendary architect moved little earth, if any, as the land provided a natural links layout. A century and a half later, the same can be said for the David McLay Kidd-designed Machrihanish Dunes, which opened in 2009. Only seven holes were disturbed during the construction of this true links and that was solely for the creation of tees and greens. The difficulty was creating the first and only course on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and so having to protect flora and fauna every step of the way. During summer you’ll see rare plants like the pyramidal orchid and the early marsh orchids bursting with colour, and any Hebridean black sheep wandering around off-season are only doing their job – keeping the rough down!
The course’s natural beauty alone receives the thumbs up and that’s before you’ve hit a golf ball. A links course isn’t meant to be easy and Machrihanish Dunes lives up to this expectation. There are several blind tee shots and you’ll be hard pushed to get the ball consistently close on the severely sloping greens, six of which are at the ocean’s edge. There are back-to-back par 3s – the 14th and 15th - and if need be, these are the holes where you can possibly resurrect your score! It’s an exhilarating challenge and even if you leave the course feeling beaten and battered by the relentless wind, a treatment in the hotel spa will make you feel a whole lot better!
How to get there:
From Glasgow, take a scenic drive via Loch Lomond (approx 3½ hours), or take a 25-minute flight from Glasgow to Campbletown.