I managed to spot two days of reasonable weather which meant that I could continue my trek around the Clyde Sea Lochs. I left Shropshire very early, well at 1:30 in the morning and drove to Gourock deciding to save the long drive around via Arrochar and get the short ferry journey across the Firth of Clyde to Dunoon. After landing at Hunters Quay I drove the short distance into Dunoon and parked on the sea-front outside my hotel for the night. I then caught the 7:56 #478 bus, glad to be out of the cold and biting wind blowing in off the Firth. I got off the bus just before the power station at Ardtaraig and walked the short distance back up the B836 towards the start of the path to Glenstriven.
I had heard that the public footpath which ran from Ardtaraig to Glenstriven was rather ‘vague’. In fact, at the start of my walk a wooden footpath sign pointed in an entirely different direction to what was on my map. Pheasants were in big supply here and I passed a number of pens, which appeared to block my way forward on a couple of occasions. For the next three miles I struggled to stay on any sort of path, one minute I was on an excellent path, the next it would suddenly disappear. The recent rains had also made the path, that was, into a bit of a quagmire in places. I had read that in the past attempts had been made to mark the general route of the path by making red marks on the tree trunks, I didn’t see any marks though. I also kept a careful eye on the terrain on the opposite side of Loch Striven along which I would be walking tomorrow and that definitely did not have a path!
After 4 miles I emerged on a recently bulldozed track which turned a number of ways. I just chose the obvious direction and descended down into Invervegain where I joined an Estate tarmac road. I spoke to an Estate worker who was busy cutting down and burning Rhododendron bushes, a fruitless task he told me! I finally came to the public road and proceeded to the next small hamlet of Inverchaolain which had a small church (rebuilt a number of times) and a very old graveyard. The church was up for sale.
I continued south along the public road and although it was a low sun, it was not as bad as my previous visit to the area in early January; still pretty poor for taking photos pointing due south though. The road passed by the site of the Loch Striven OPA(Oil Pipelines Agency) a statutory body sponsored by the MOD for running Naval OFD’s(Oil Fuel Depots) of which Loch Striven is one. At this point I had moved out of Loch Striven and into an area bounded by the Kyles of Bute and Kames Bay, with excellent views across to Port Bannatyne and Rothesay on the isle of Bute, with the snow-capped peaks of Arran proving a fine backdrop.
At Port Lamont I tried to continue along the coast to the fish farm, but was obstructed by a recently built house. I therefore followed the road slightly inland. The road emerged at Toward Quay, the terminus of the frequent #489 bus service to Dunoon. I was now walking east and that very chilly wind which I experienced early in the morning was back and would stay with me all the back to Dunoon. I headed towards the lighthouse at Toward Point, which together with the nearby Foghorn House now appear to be private residences.
I’m now heading due north towards Dunoon along the A815 which offers superb views across the Firth of Clyde to Skelmorlie, Wemyss Bay and Inverkip, places I passed through in October 2016 and now just a couple of miles away! The A815 is very busy but there is a pavement all the way to Dunoon. Walking through the strung-out village of Innellan seems to take an age. My feet and legs are now beginning to feel the fatigue and I stop a couple of times to relieve my tiredness, well its been a month since my last walk. Dunoon finally appears into view and I finally enter the town in the fading late afternoon light. As I pass the passenger ferry service near the bus stop terminus, a chap who had just got off the ferry spoke to me “Some walk mate, passed you at Ardtaraig first thing this morning”. Todays walk was a leisurely 7.75hrs.
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:
Distance today = 21.5 miles
Total distance = 2568.5 miles