170. Kilmory to Barnluasgan

Hexi-lodge

I get up at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am to pack my gear up and clean the pod. The pod or Hexi-lodge, as the owners call it, is not a bad doss. Located on the shore, it has been built to a high standard and is both warm and dry. It has power points, microwave, kettle, heater, toaster, crockery and cutlery. The shape maybe odd with its Witches Hat roof and Hobbit-level windows, but it was a better alternative than camping especially with the amount of rain I had.

I must now drive 25 miles further north to begin my next walk section. On the early drive around I come across two Pine Martens on the road, one of them skips along in front of me for about 30 metres before jumping into the roadside vegetation. It’s the first time I have ever seen a Pine Marten and one so close up.

Public road end near Kilmorly
Kilmory chapel
Carved stones inside the chapel

Today will be a case of biking and walking – pushing my bike up a section of road which is not serviced by public transport. I park at the Knapdale Scottish Beaver Centre car park at Barnluasgan. I begin the cycle ride south to the end of the public road near Kilmory and where I walked to yesterday. The cycle ride is ok, relatively flat and only a couple of get off and push sections. However, I do need to do something about the saddle-sore aspects of doing this amount of cycling over the last couple of days. At the end of the public road I turn and begin the long walk back, pushing the bike in front of me. I suspect there will be many more occasions in the future where I must do this.

Carved stones

My first port of call is the small hamlet of Kilmory close to the public road end. It has a ruined chapel which contain a large and amazing collection of Christian and medieval carved stones from the church and burial ground. The chapel was re-roofed in 1934 to house and protect the stones. There is something like 34 stones and are certainly worth the long trek down to this remote part of Knapdale.

Castle Sween
Cool gates
Safe harbour in a Loch Sween

I continue along the road and enter Loch Sween. Across the small expanse of water I can see the low-lying inhabited and tidal Island of Danna, connected by a small causeway to the mainland. I pass the 12th century ruins of Castle Sween, which sits above a local holiday park. At this point the rain starts, not heavy, but persistent. The walk back is uneventful and my mood and humour is diminished as the rain intensifies. By the time I reach the small village of Achnamara, I am soaking wet. I decide to cancel a planned 2 mile circular walk around a small promontory close to Achnamara. The weather, fatigue and sore feet made the decision for me. Back at the Beaver visitor centre the rain was very heavy. Fortunately, I was able to get changed into dry clothes in the visitor centre. The walk and bike ride had taken about 6 hours.

 

 

 

Achnamara high street

 

 

 

 

 

 

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23673

Distance today =   14.5 miles
Total distance =    2877.5 miles

 

 

 

169. Port Ban to Kilmory

I awake at 6:30 and my immediate thoughts turn to my left foot pad. I feel that the swelling has subsided, but it is still tender when I put my weight on it, but it should be ok. I decide to wear my trainers today as my route will be over roads and good tracks.

Today is also a tricky section because the last 2.5 miles is over a private estate track that links two public roads. Getting transport to either send of the public road would involve a detour of thirty-nine miles! So today I will be using my bike, first by walking to the end of the walk, while pushing my bike along. Once I reach the end of the walk I will then cycle back to the start. It sounds silly, but I have few options in the absence of public transport. Because I had already planned to do the walk this way, yesterday, when I drove through Achahoish I left my bike hidden behind some trees. This would save me having to push the bike at least part of the way.

Landcatch Fish Farm at Ormsary
Looking across Loch Caolisport to Point of Knap

I set off from the camp site quite early and continued up the B8024. The weather this morning was fresh with a stiff breeze blowing in off the Sound of Jura. My North Face “hedgehogs” were just the thing my feet needed after yesterdays exertions, as I hardly felt a twinge in my feet. The road was very quiet with just the odd car passing. The elevated position from the road gave me an excellent view of Jura, although the tops of the Paps were still in cloud. I passed many ruined cottages and wondered if their occupants were victims of The Clearances. I had read that this area of Knapdale was particularly affected by forced eviction.

The grave of M. Blue
I have a surreal moment close to Ormsary

I pass the large Landcatch Fish farm near Ormsary, which is the largest provider of Salmon ova and smolts (juvenile fish) to the salmon fish industry. I pass an old burial ground with its ruined chapel, a common sight in this rural locations. Most of the stones are obscured by overgrown vegetation. At most burial grounds, there is a plaque on the gate entrance advising that the graveyard contains a Commonwealth War Grave, I see that there is such a plaque. I find the grave of M. Blue. I see that he died in 1919 and thought he may have died from long-term injuries. [please refer to the postscript at the end of the trip report]

Looking across Loch Caolisport to Ellary House
St Columba’s cave

I have now entered Loch Caolisport and must pass around the head of the loch and down towards The Point of Knap. As I approach Achahoish I locate my bicycle which I had hidden yesterday on my drive down. It’s still there and I begin to push the bike as I walk through the small hamlet of Achahoish. It’s not too difficult pushing the bike and I soon develop a technique of resting my hand on the saddle and steering the bike along from there. The weather begins to change and the showers arrive.

Looking out over Ellary House

I’m walking along the public road which ends at Ellary House, I make good time and the feet are in good shape. Before I get to the end of the road I visit St Columba’s Cave ( probably one of many). As caves go it’s quite impressive, it has a makeshift altar with various artefacts scattered about. I could not see down into a “chokey” hole, but it did not look that inviting, I suspect only the “bogey-man” lived down there! There was even a granny-annex cave which also went back a fair distance.

High on the Estate track between public roads
Looking south towards the Point of Knap

I continue on to Ellary House. I meet an elderly couple who are staying in one of the Estate cottages. They tell me they were given  a key to unlock the gates in order to drive over the top towards Castle Sween – the route I would be following. The private road is in good condition, but very steep in the early stages. A 4×4 passes me as push my bike up to about a height of 137m. I pass a couple of small lochs before slowly descending to the start of the public road at Ballimore (just a single house) which is close by the small hamlet of Kilmory.

The end of the public road at Balimore near Kilmory

I can now employ the same strategy on tomorrow’s route from this point i.e. Ride – walk/push bike, as the closest public transport is much further up the road at Achnamara. I turn around and begin to peddle back to Port Ban. I need to only get off and push on a couple of steep bits and I make the journey back in just under 3 hours. The on/off showers which had been with me for the walk down have now become more persistent and I am thoroughly soaked by the time I get back to the holiday park.

[PS]I’m slightly curious about M Blue’s grave and his death in 1919. I search on the Commonwealth War Grave Commissions website where a range of search’s can be made. I find M Blue’s details, from the Grave Registration Report I can see that he was transferred from the Scots Guards to the Labour Corps; he died in Dykebar Hospital Paisley (then a World War 1 hospital), his father was listed as living at Barravullin by Lochgilphead; but what caught my eye was M Blue’s date of death – 25th February 1918. However, the Grave Register and the date on his headstone gives his date of death as 25th February 1919. In the scheme of things, it does not mean much, but I felt I needed to draw this anomaly to the CWGC, who openly encourage any amendment. I have therefore sent an email and are awaiting a reply.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23670

Distance today =   18 miles
Total distance =    2863 miles

 

 

168. Tarbert West Loch to Port Ban

I’m back for a further three days of walking, but this trip has been quite difficult to plan because of the logistics around public transport and the difficulty of the geography of Knapdale.

I have based myself at Port Ban holiday park and opted for another wooden pod or Hexilodge. The pod was not a great deal more than a tent and because the weather was forecast to be ‘unsettled’ I needed somewhere to dry my stuff, should the inevitable deluge begin.

The first days walking was quite straightforward and simply involved driving to Port Ban overnight and then catching the 08:00 #447 bus to Tarbert. Some of the bus services in these neck of the woods only run during school term time; which means that come 1st July public transport will not be available, well not until August.

I had driven up to Port Ban in my new ‘second-hand’ car which I had purchased a few weeks before. Unfortunately, I had had to say goodbye to my old faithful Avensis that I had bought from new in 2004 and had accumulated some 253,000 miles! There were few places in the British Isles that this car had not conveyed me to.

Standing Stone near Torinturk
Wild Yellow Iris

I left my car at the holiday park and walked up to the main road to catch the bus. The driver and myself  were the only adults on the bus, as the bus was almost filled with school children we picked up on the way. I got dropped off at Tarbert Golf Club, which meant I had to walk half a mile to the West Loch hotel and then retrace my steps.

The early morning weather was very overcast and muggy which was forecast to clear up later in the day. Because my route would involve some off-road walking I was wearing my boots (the ones that gave me problems walking around the Mull of Kintyre). I thought I had solved the problem this time by ensuring they were laced up tight and by wearing additional pairs of socks – but I hadn’t solved the problem!

Painting of Ardpatrick House
Visitors book in shed at Ardpatrick Point

I was following a quiet single track road, the B8024 for most of the way back to Port Ban. Unfortunately, there were few views on offer as the summer vegetation and leaf coverage was with me for the first couple of hours. I passed a solitary Standing Stone, one of many I would see throughout the rest of the day. I passed through the small hamlet of Torinturk where the road rejoined the loch shore. At Dunmore I met and spoke to a local gent (the first of many conversations that day); some forty minutes later I moved on further down the road and got into another conversation with a local gent. The last 400m had taken almost an hour to cover. But it was nice to meet and chat with people along the way.

At Ardpatrick Point with Gigha in the far distance.
The shed at Ardpatrick Point
Islay bound Cal Mac ferry passing Ardpatrick Point

I was now heading for the road that turned off for Ardpatrick, down which I would pass onto the Ardpatrick Estate. This cul-de sac road actually leads towards Ardpatrick Point. The first thing I noticed as I walked along the road, was that virtually every gate into a  field I passed had a “Plot for Sale” sign attached, along with the size of the plot in hectares. I pass a discrete distance from Ardpatrick House and am puzzled to come across a coloured painting from 1859 depicting the House on a large board. I spoke to one local gent, working in his garden, who said that the Estate owner was a developer who was unsuccessfully trying to sell off parcels of the estate. The local also advised that although I could get out to Ardpatrick Point I could not go further north because of the impenetrable vegetation. I already knew that the terrain north was going to be tough going and was rather apprehensive about having to have to retrace my route back the way I came.

Emerging from the jungle at Ceann an t-sailein
The secluded beach at Ceann an t-sailein
Fishing hut at Ceann an t-sailein

I now headed north, avoiding as best I could high bracken, thickets and bog. I started following fence-lines which gave some help in navigating through the jungle. The walking underfoot was difficult with heather, bog and rocky terrain. Eventually I arrived at a secluded beach called Ceann an t-sailein. I still had another mile of difficult walking, but eventually picked up the road again just west of Gorten Lodge. However, the tough terrain had taken its toll and the pad of my left foot was very painful and difficult to walk on. I soon came to a church where I sought shelter to rest my legs and get some shade from the afternoon sun, which was scorching. I knew I would have to leave the peaceful and cool church in favour of the three miles of road work back to Port Ban.

A little further up the road, the afternoon #447 bus stopped next to me. It was the same driver who I had chatted to that morning. He asked if I was ok, as the bus was going to Port Ban before turning around returning to Tarbert. He stopped again on his return trip and we chatted awhile in the late afternoon sun on a very quiet country road.

Kilberry Inn

By the time I entered the small hamlet of Kilberry my left foot was quite painful, I resisted the temptation to go into the Kilberry Inn for a quick pint. I had planned to visit the Kilberry sculptured stones and then continued along the shoreline, but fatigue and my painful foot meant the carved stones would have to wait for another day.

As I wrote this report in the wooden pod that night, it was touch and go whether I could walk the following day, as the pad on my left foot was quite swollen. The walk had taken a gruelling 9 hours.

 

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23668

Distance today =   21 miles
Total distance =    2845 miles

 

167. Tayinloan to Tarbert West Loch

Today the forecast is for the hottest day of the year so far, so I am quite relieved to see when I climb out of the back of my car that there is a significant breeze blowing. I drive from the campsite up the A83 to Tarbert West Loch and park close to the West Loch Hotel. I catch the 7:24 #449 bus service to and get off at Tayinloan. I pop into the Post Office. There is very little for sale in the shop, but I manage to buy a couple of cans of diet coke to supplement the 1.5 litres of squash I am carrying in my Camelbak.

The Island Queen
At Rhunahaorine Point
Looking back towards Tayinloan
Looking back to Rhunahaorine Point

I head along the small access road to the ferry terminal. The Gigha ferry had only just disgorged its small number of cars, before setting off back across Gigha Sound. I am tempted to try out “Big Jessies” tea room, but I want to get as much of the walking done before the sun gets too high in the sky. I continue along the white sandy beach passing a few old and derelict fishing boats, one of which is called the “Island Queen”.  I pass by the Point Sands holiday park and continue out to Rhunahaorine Point, a promontory that juts out from Kintyre into the sea. This large flat area was once part of the Balure Firing range, built during the Second World War. Not many remnants remain, except four observations towers, one of which, Tower D, I climb the steps of to get an elevated view of the surrounding area. I round the point at Rhunahaorine and continue on short grass just above the shingle shoreline. I come to a small gulley and spot yet another Otter some 20m away. Before I could even think about getting my camera out, it had disappeared into the undergrowth. That’s two Otter sightings on this trip!

The shoreline eventually converges back towards the A83 and I spend the next few miles chopping and changing between the road and the Kintyre Way some 10m away. I get fed up with the footpath which is boggy, overgrown and twisty, so I decide to stick to the road. I continue along the A83 and make a short diversion to walk through the grounds of Ronachan House, which was given to the Church of Scotland in 1975. The 14 bedrooms house had recently been put on the market for offers in excess of £495,000. When I passed close to it, it appeared to have had building work done inside. Apartments?

Thats different!
Islay ferry at Kennacraig
Tarbert West Loch

I rejoin the A83 and walk a few more miles into Clachan, a small village, which surprisingly does not have a village store. I pass a cottage which has cleverly used an old red telephone kiosk as a porch entrance into their house. I follow a minor road which climbs steeply out of the village. The breeze seems to disappear and the full effect of the sun makes walking more difficult. After a few miles I emerge back on the A83. From my elevated position on the road I can see the shoreline narrowing into Tarbert West Loch. I see the Cal Mac Islay ferry about to berth at Kennacraig, two miles away. I pick up my pace, but I first remove my hi-vis vest because of the heat; in doing so I inadvertently lose my glasses which were attached to a lanyard around my neck. Within a few minutes I realise they have gone and spend the next 20 minutes fruitlessly combing the undergrowth on the roadside verge for them. I give up – the second pair I have lost within a year!

I reach the car after 5.75 hrs and head towards Tarbert and the ferry over to Portavadie, thence to Dunoon. The afternoon traffic on a Friday and the start of the bank Holiday weekend does not make for a speedier journey.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23638

Distance today =   21 miles
Total distance =    2824 miles

 

166. Machrihanish to Tayinloan

I was up very early after a reasonable nights sleep in the back of my car. After making a brew I headed off for Campbeltown again, where I parked my car and caught the 7:13 #442 bus to Machrihanish. It was quite chilly this morning, with the sky cloaked in fog and mist.

A misty morning in Machrihanish
Interesting rock shapes near Westport

I got off the bus at the Golf Club and almost  immediately got into a long conversation with one of the groundsman. Its amazing really how with some people you can easily strike up a long conversation with; so long it was a good thirty minutes before I set off. I eventually headed off into the fog along the three-mile plus Machrihanish beach. It was a lovely and enjoyable experience walking along the beach. I could see nothing more than 300m ahead of me, but the walking was great along the firm white sand. Towards the end of the beach I could see the sun trying to break through and I knew from the radio that the UK was in for a scorcher today and tomorrow. By the time I reached the A83, the fog and mist had receded and the sun was about to break through.

The beach at Bellochantury
My tent with missing tent pole at Killegruar

The road was quite quiet and had good verges to walk on. The first three miles along the road showed some amazing rock formations of Dalradian metamorphic sedimentary rocks, exhibiting weird and wonderful shapes. At Bellochantury I dropped down onto a lovely beach with white sands. I could now make out the campsite I was staying at a few miles ahead up the coast. I could even make out my tent! As I passed through the campsite I called in on my new friends Mike and Ann, who had a caravan on the site. Mike and Ann had kindly tried to help me fix the problem with the tent pole the day before. Mike had walked this beach many times before and had suggested sticking to the road for the next section, as it got very rocky a mile further on.

Glenbarr Abbey
Old and new at Glenbarr

I left the campsite and re-joined the A83. Almost immediately back on the road I opted to make a small detour, along the old coast road through the village of Glenbarr. Before I got to the village I passed the lovely Glenbarr Abbey, which is not really an Abbey, but is a visitor centre of the Clan MacAlister. It’s open to the public and tours of the house are conducted by Lady Glenbarr herself. I continue into the small village, where I pop into the Post Office to get a couple of ice-cold drinks. I rejoined the A83 and continued north. Although I could easily see the Island of Gigha, just across Gigha Sound; but Islay and Jura remained stubbornly obscured behind a haze.

Hawthorn blossom near Muasdale
Looking towards Gigha with Jura in the far distance
Tayinloan

I entered the village of Mausdale where I stopped to chat to a chap sunbathing on a beautiful carved wooden bench that had been carved with chain saws by a chap in Dunoon. The clouds are all gone now and it is a blazingly hot day, but fortunately there is a cool stiff breeze blowing from the south which helped keep me cool. At Craigruadh I cut across a field and begin walking along the beach again. I soon come across a large pod of sea-lions sunbathing and at play. The hazy silhouette of Islay and Jura finally come into view, just as I rejoined the Kintyre Way. I turned inland slightly to get over a small burn and enter the village of Tayinloan. It is very hot now and I manage to find a shaded bench seat where I can wait out the hour to catch the #926 bus back to Campbeltown. The walk had taken 6.5 hours.

 

 

 

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23636

Distance today =   18 miles
Total distance =    2803 miles

 

165. Southend to Machrihanish

This was a three-day walking trip which would see me reach one of my personal milestones on my journey around the coastline of Great Britain, rounding the Mull of Kintyre.

A good weather window beckoned, but I did not have much luck on the accommodation front as all of the reasonably priced places in and around Campbeltown were taken. I therefore decided it was time to start camping by spending two nights under canvas at the Kilegruar campsite just off the A83.

Unfortunately, I was travelling mid-week so no Ardrossan Ferry to Campbeltown on this trip, instead it was a 410 mile overnight drive to Campbeltown to catch an early morning bus, the 7:55 #444 bus to Southend. I was looking forward to rounding the Mull, because at least from today I would begin walking in a mostly northerly direction again.

Looking back to Southend with Sanda Island on the right
Looking down to the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse
Looking South-West from Beinn na Lice
Looking north towards Cnoc Moy

After passing the Keil Caves I continued on a quiet road heading north. At the dramatic sounding farmstead of Druma Voulin, the Kintyre Way continued north along the quiet road, I continued west on an even quieter road that would continue all the way to the lighthouse at Mull of Kintyre. The road rose steeply and buildings were left far behind. The road was heading for The Gap, a small bealach between Tor Mor with its transmitter tower and the Marilyn – Beinn na Lice. At the end of the public road, a private road descended very steeply down to the lighthouse passing close-by a memorial to the Chinook helicopter crash in 1994. I decided not to descend to the lighthouse, it was a long way down and a long way back up. I left the road and headed up hill across rough ground to the summit of Beinn na Lice (428m). From the summit of this hill I could easily pick out the coastline of Northern Ireland twelve miles across the North Channel, picking out houses and fields with my binoculars as well as Rathlin Island , Fair Head and Ballycastle. The views towards the Ayrshire coast were more hazy, although I could still make out the distinctive shape of Ailsa Craig.

The next three to four miles would be across high moorland, keeping to the high ground as far as possible. This was easier said than done, as there were no tracks and it was a case of plodding through deep heather and spongy moss that made progress extremely slow. Navigation was not a problem as I could see the large outline of Cnoc May in the distance. Keeping a fence-line on my left I headed north aiming for the Kintyre Way, coming up from the south-west which I would join up with. I passed over the flattish summit of A’Chruach and could now see a track in the distance which would be the Kintyre Way. However, first I had to descend steeply down to Glenadale Water and then climb slopes up to the track. By the time I reached the Kintyre Way I had been struggling across the terrain for almost two hours and my feet were quite painful. I had intended to climb Cnoc Moy, directly up its southern slope, but I didn’t fancy going “off-road” again today!

Looking back at my route
Feral goats on Cnoc Moy

I sat down and decided to eat some lunch. Although the there had been little in the way of sunshine all day, the heat of the day was very oppressive, with little or no breeze. Soon after setting off and after finishing my food I was startled by an Otter which appeared out of a drainage ditch alongside the track. It splashed around shot back into the water and hid down in the wetland grass. I could see the grass moving and by this time I had managed to get my camera out. However, I did not want to flush the animal out just to get a snap shot, so I continued on, happy that this had been my second close-up Otter encounter of the year.

Looking down to Innean Bay
Comments – suggestion book for Kintyre Way
Machrihanish

The Kintyre Way circumvented Cnoc Moy by passing to the west of it. I came to an area known as The Inneans. I could descend steeply down to a small sheltered beach, which was the site of an unknown Sailors Grave. The partial remains of the “sailor” were found in 1917 and buried nearby. The grave is apparently still tended by walkers and locals. I didn’t have the energy to climb down to the beach and then back up again. I’m heading up Innean Glen now conscious of covering the last 6 miles to catch the 16:30 bus back to Campbeltown. I work out that if I can stick to 3 mph I should make the bus; I use the mile indicator post of the Kintyre Way to time myself. I come across a metal case containing a book of comments /suggestions about walking the Kintyre Way, the book has recent entries and is in much better condition than the one at the Tarbert end. Eventually I reach Ballygroggan farm at the road end and see my first people of the day!

By the time I reach Machrihanish, the overnight drive, heat, terrain and walk have taken their toll and I suddenly develop very painful leg cramps as I sit down on a bench. It takes awhile massaging my muscles and stretching my legs to relieve the cramp. The walk had taken 8 hours.

I pick my car up in Campbeltown and drive back up the A83 to my campsite at Kilegruar. As I try to erect my tent one of the three tent poles, somehow, has lost its sleeve down the inside of the pole. I spend over an hour trying to retrieve the sleeve, but to no avail. I make the tent secure as best I can and empty the contents of the car into the tent and end up spending the next two nights sleeping in the back of the car – which is quite comfortable.

Tent pole and retrieved sleeve

[Footnote: when I get home I have to cut the shock cord which holds the pole pieces together. The cord needed replacing anyway. I manage to remove the sleeve and relocate it back into the pole by gluing it in place.]

 

 

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23631

Distance today =    19 miles
Total distance =    2785 miles

 

 

164. Southend to Campbeltown

My final walking day on this four-day trip to Kintyre and I was keen to get on with getting around the tip of Kintyre. Although, I would not be rounding the Mull on this trip I felt at least I was getting somewhere! I decided again to reverse my direction of travel due to the frequency of buses, as I did not want to be hanging around for a couple of hours at the end of the walk for a bus back to Campbeltown.

As I waited for the 7:55 #200 bus to Southend, I saw that there were two chaps catching the same bus. One of whom I thought, maybe, could be a fellow coast walker and one whose blog I have been following for a while. Unfortunately, I did not know what he looked like and his last blog entry had him at Brodick on the Isle of Arran so I did not approach him. When he and the other passenger got off in Southend village I thought that was it. The bus carried on about half a mile down the road and I got off. I thought nothing of this until the chap I suspected of being a fellow coaster walker also travelled back on the friday ferry to Ardrossan. It turns out that indeed, he was who I thought he was and has posted on one of my recent TR’s. His Blog name is Helpful Mammal and his blog can be found at:-

http://helpful-mammal.livejournal.com/

His blog is very well researched, well written and with a dry-sense of humour that I appreciate. We had come within minutes of meeting last year in Largs. I’m sure our paths will cross again at some time, at least I know what he looks like now.

Looking west towards the Mull of Kintyre from Kiel Gate
Inside the largest of the Kiel Caves
St Columba’s Footprints

Anyway, the bus turned around at Keil Gate and I continued a few hundred yards down the road to visit the Keil caves and some religious relic sites. I passed a large pod of seals basking in the early morning sunshine on rocks along the shoreline, I did not disturb them. My first port of call were the Keil Caves, the largest of the three caves was occupied in the early 19th century; the two other caves were quite small. I retraced my steps to visit St Columba’s Footprints. Well to be quite honest it just looks like someone has simply carved them out of the soft rock – which is apparently what happened. All a ruse to generate tourism – remember the Holy Stone of Clonrichart from Father Ted?

St Columba’s Well

Still unconvinced I also visited St Columba’s Well which looked really murky and the ruined chapel of St. Columba.

Conglomerate on Brunerican Beach

I continued east through a small caravan site alongside Dunaverty Bay to where Dunaverty Castle once stood. Nothing remains of he castle today, but 45 years before the massacre at Glencoe, Dunaverty Castle was the scene of an atrocity that is not so well-known as Glencoe. In 1647, the remnants of a Stewart army was besieged by a Covenanters army under the command of John Leslie. After agreeing to give the castle occupants “quarter” if they surrendered, Leslie under the influence of a Reverend Nevoy slaughtered over 300 MacDougalls their followers, women and children.

Sea Pink or Thrift

I crossed over the golfers footbridge across a small burn and walked along Brunerican Bay. The Kintyre Way for some reason had detoured inland, whereas I continued along the shoreline, which was easy walking. The Kintyre Way would rejoin the shoreline some two miles further up the coast at Kilmanshenachan and I would continue on the Way all the way back to Campbeltown. Although views were limited in the heat haze, my eyes were drawn to Sanda Island, a private island some three miles offshore. I passed the Celtic cross memorial to the Duke of Argyll and continued through a number of small and generally empty caravan and holiday home sites. As I approached Polliwilline Bay the geography of the coast began to change with steep cliffs dominanting the way ahead.

The Bastard

Meanwhile, the temperature had begun to rise and the effects of four days of walking was beginning to take  effect. The coast road I was now walking along began to rise steadily, but traffic was very light with only the odd car passing. I was now heading for a hill I had noticed on the map which stood out because of its name – The Bastard. Although  just a normal looking heather clad lump with a modest height of 188m, it was a hill that I would make a short detour to climb. It would certainly give me more street-cred! As the road was already about 130m, it did not take long to climb the heathery slopes. The views south were tempered by the heat haze, although I could just make out Ailsa Craig and Arran, but I could not see the Northern Irish coastline. I descended back to the road which descended and rose steeply in a few places. I began to feel the heat which was quite fierce now.

Davaar Island

The coast road eventually dropped down to the shoreline and I was able to get a good view of Davaar Island, which I was walking towards. Davaar Island is connected to the mainland by a thin sand bar which is called the Dhorlinn and is covered at high tide. I had planned to cross over to the island, but I was a good 90 min early to make the crossing. Over 80% of the Dhorlinn was still under water, so I continued on into Campbeltown. So the picture painted in one of the island caves of the crucifixion and the highest point of the island (115m) would have to wait. In truth I was relieved as I was quite tired now and it was still two miles into Campbeltown. The walk had taken about 6 hrs.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23597

Distance today =   17 miles
Total distance =    2766 miles