Guitarist and songwriter Dave Arcari shares his 'best bits' of Scotland


Working in the way we do, my wife Margaret and I have only had what you would call a holiday once in the past 20 years. About eight or nine years ago, my pal Duncan asked us to join them on Barra. We decided we needed to do it and drove up to join them at the north of the island. There we found Traigh Mhòr beach. It’s actually the beach where the plane lands, but this expanse of sand going into blue, blue water was probably the best beach I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, let alone Scotland.


I’m going to go for Glasgow City Halls and there are many reasons. I think it’s an intriguing building to look at architecturally, but more it's the contents of that building. The Scottish Music Centre is there – in itself such a secret resource, but it’s also home to the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and of course the Old Fruitmarket. There is a great diversity and richness within those walls – I don’t think it’s as appreciated as it should be.


I was brought up in the West End of Glasgow, pretty much on the cusp of Partick and Hyndland, so I'm going to go for Byres Road. It’s probably more from memory than anything, but it did have such a big effect on me at an impressionable age. I can remember when the Grosvenor Cinema entrance was on Byres Road and going along to the ABC Minors there. I think Scotland’s version of the swinging 60s was in the West End, probably because of the university. My image of a student to this day is shaped by the long hair and long scarves I saw walking up Byres Road.

The Scottish Farmer:


We lived in a tenement in the busy part of the West End, where it was kinda dangerous to have bikes. Now, my best friend as a kid was a wee lassie who lived upstairs from me and all our school friends who were from fancier areas had bikes. One summer, on holiday in Fife, my uncle bought me a regular kids’ bike, nothing fancy. My wee pal and I took turns on this thing, flying around the area. It probably was dangerous but that feeling of freedom and invincibility that it gave – nothing could harm us. It felt like we did that for five years when in reality it was probably five days. But the memory of that – it was probably the weather, the holidays, the people – but the bike was just a catalyst for all that.


If it’s transport, I’m including my paddle boarding. From Balmaha Bay, I can paddle to Inchcailloch island in about 10 minutes, but it’s long, so if I head to the other end I get to Port Bawn. That’s my second favourite beach, so with a pitstop there, it makes the journey about an hour or so. Every day that I’m at home I take a walk from Balmaha along to Milarrochy Bay along the lochside –– and it’s different every single day. I do cycle here too. There are a load of great loops but I just don’t kill myself by trying to cycle up Conic Hill.


That has to be from the top of Conic Hill, looking over the islands. Maybe a wee bit clichéd, but it is iconic. It’s about 1000ft high, so only a third of the height of Ben Lomond, but I think the view is much more interesting. It maybe doesn’t have the wow factor of Ben Lomond or Ben A’an, but this view has one foot in the Highlands and one in the Lowlands.


Do you need to ask?! It's Guitar Guitar. The Glasgow one… not the Edinburgh one. I daren’t go into the place. But I do. It’s heaven.


Let’s go for the cliche and say haggis. But, while a vegetarian equivalent of something is usually disappointing, I think vegetarian haggis is better.
I'm not a great mashed potato fan, and I'm not a great neeps fan, but I will have them with vegetarian haggis – I do like them with that; it's necessary. No whisky sauce or any messing about like that… and I usually like messing about with food. 


It's got to be on the paddle board and anywhere on Loch Lomond really. Even in summer there aren’t too many jet skis in my part. Once I tried to listen to something while I paddled but it just spoiled it. When I’m by myself I like heading over towards Luss. Paddling between the islands is a bit like being in the Caribbean. By yourself, it’s like being in another world. You can sometimes here the honking of the Canada geese but apart from that the only sound is from the paddle. Heaven.

Dave Arcari’s new single Key to the Highway is available on all services on Friday, June 7. He plays the Eden Festival (at Raehills Meadows near Moffat) on Saturday, June 15.