152. Lochgoilhead to Dunoon

Todays walk was to be predominantly along roads, off-road footpaths and forest tracks keeping to the lochside for virtually all of the route. My plan was to get to at least Ardentinny, when I would then have the choice of completing the journey back to Dunoon by bus. In the end I made it all the way to Dunoon on foot, even if it did mean finishing in the dark.

To get these long walks in you need to start very early at this time of the year, so I caught the 6:58 #484 bus from Dunoon to Lochgoilhead; at only £3.60 it was fantastic value for money for a journey lasting over an hour and 33 miles. We had had another severe frost, which meant clear skies as I arrived at Lochgoilhead. Apart from yesterdays walk I had only previously visited this area before some 5 years ago while climbing a singular Corbett, Beinn Bhuela, which rises above the village.

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Looking north up Loch Goil to Ben Donich

Although it was not completely dark I began my walk with head-torch and hi-vis vest on. The road I was heading down was in fact a cul-de sac, but there was the odd couple of cars coming down along the road. From the bus stop I walked along the shore to the golf course and crossed the small burn by a wooden footbridge onto the Carrick castle road. Although it was very cold I soon warmed up with a brisk pace. I had lovely views to my left across Loch Goil of yesterdays high walk above Loch Goil. The ridge looked very knobbly from down here.

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Early morning amber-glow at Carrick Castle
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Forestry Commission car park at Ardentinny

It took about an hour and half to get to Carrick Castle. The 15th century tower house that is Carrick Castle is now in private ownership and is currently being restored, as I saw with scaffolding and building materials stacked up outside. Not far after Carrick Castle the public road ends. This is where the Forestry Commission footpath takes over for the 4 miles to Ardentinny. The path is a mixture of an off-road footpath and forest road. The route is well-marked and a popular attraction. I make good progress along the path which ends at a large Forestry Commission car park just before Ardentinny. I also finally say goodbye to Loch Goil as I rejoin Loch Long.

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Submarine in tow up Loch Long

As I walk through Ardentinny, something out on the loch catches my eye. It’s a small flotilla with a Royal Navy vessel escorting a submarine that is being towed and pushed by three tugs, with another escort vessel bringing up the rear. The conning tower has a huge pipe with steam coming out of it and is bedecked with engineers in orange overalls.

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Hunters Quay across Holy Loch from Strone
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Argyll Mausoleum at Kilmun Church

I have a couple of miles of road walking with no footpath as I make my way to Blairmore. At Blairmore, I look across Loch Long to see the end of the Roseneath Peninsula and also Loch Long. I now have a wide panoramic view out across the Firth of Clyde towards Greenock/Gourock and even Dumbarton Rock. As I pass through the small village of Strone I pass into the rather small sea-loch  of Holy Loch. The loch is quite narrow as I can see Hunters Quay quite easy on the far bank.

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Mortsafe at Kilmun Church
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Kilmun Church – Old and New

It has become quite overcast now, but still dry and streetlights are starting to come on. My legs are feeling fine, but I could do with some food as I hadn’t bought any with me! I soon forgot about my stomach when I came to Kilmun Church and I realised why Holy Loch is called Holy Loch! Kilmun Church is a fascinating place and I spend a short time looking around the old graveyard and the

 

church. I would have liked to have spent more time here, but with the failing light I must push on.

At Kilmun Turn, where the road joins the A815 I pop into a service station to get some food. As I come out,  I bump into a fellow “Shiller” in the form of Diane, of TwinAscents fame. In retrospect I should have spoken and introduced myself but I wasn’t 100% certain it was her. You Know embarrassment and all that!

By now I knew my legs would carry me the whole way to Dunoon. I’m also on well-lit pavements, so no real worry. I turn off the main road into Dunoon, to follow the coastal road through Ardnadam where I have a conversation with a dog-walker about the Amercian Submarine base when it was here. He tells me as a young lad he was one of the protesters camped out near the base at the time. I continue on to Hunters Quay, but not before popping into the ticket Office for Western Ferries to buy a ferry ticket for tomorrows return home. I find that buying tickets in advance and multiple gives you substantial savings. I bought a 2 journey ticket for car and driver for £17.

By now its dark, but I am walking along the promenade through Kirn and into Dunoon. Gourock is lit-up and seems very close, well actually 2 miles away. I walk straight to my B&B which is on the sea front. I have been walking for 9 hours and decide that I will give tomorrow a miss as wet and stormy weather is forecast.

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=23090

Distance today =   27 miles
Total distance =    2547 miles

 

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