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

 

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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

 

 

163. Torrisdale Bay to Campbeltown

Quite a simple and short day which only involved catching the #300 bus service back up the B842 to Torrisdale Bay and then walking south back along the road to Campbeltown.

The road south

I got off the bus at the Torrisdale Castle Lodge, I could see little of the castle  other than just a few turrets above the tree line. I am confronted straight away by a steep climb up and out of Torrisdale Bay that I had only just descended while on the bus. Fortunately, the searing heat of the past two days had been replaced by slightly more overcast conditions, although the sun was again threatening to break through.

Peacock at Saddell
Saddell Stones
Saddell Stones

Again the traffic is quite light and I was always aware of approaching traffic. The road is not single lane so there is no real need for verge-hopping today. The coast of Arran has slowly receded as I approach the southern limit of the Kilbrannan Sound. The road rises and falls steeply a few more times before dropping down into Glen Saddell. I enter the small hamlet of Saddell, which although quite small has a rich history. I pass Home Farm and immediately recognise the distinctive cry of the Peacock. It was quite unusual to see a pair of peacocks strutting around and perched on the farmyard gate! I make a small detour to visit the ruins of Saddell Abbey. The Abbey site contains the Saddell Stones, now conserved and housed in their own new building. These grave slabs and effigies date from the 14th and 15th centuries and were carved at the Abbey. However, a few of the stones were carved on Iona. There is not a great deal left to see of Abbey itself.

An information board advises that I could access Saddell Beach via the privately owned Saddell Castle road. However, walking further south along the shoreline would be difficult and tough to get back to the road. I learn later that Saddell Beach and Castle was the location for the Paul McCartney “Mull of Kintyre” video.

Kildonald Dun
Hebridean Sheep
Sandy’s Jubilee Beach Hut with Davaar island in the far distance

The road rises steeply out of Saddell and I continue south. I come to Kildonald and visit the Kildonald Dun. A “Dun” is an early fortified farmstead built on a similar line to a Broch. The Dun at Kildonald is quite well-preserved. The road drops down to the small village of Peniver, which is composed mostly of caravans and holiday homes. The road rises steeply again and continues in a dead straight line for a couple of miles. I reach Kirkhousland and visit the church ruins. The graveyard contains a number of very old stones, some of which I cannot decipher. I drop down to the beach by a steep path that leads to a beach hut called Sandy’s Jubilee Beach Hut! I head a short distance along the beach before climbing over a gate and head over rough pasture out to Macringans Point. This small spit of land juts out into Campbeltown Loch  as it narrows between the point and Davaar Island. I spend a good time loafing around on the Point, watching boats come and go. There is a good path from here all along the shore into Campbeltown.

An dull overcast Campbeltown
Linda McCartney Memorial garden

I am actually heading to my B&B now but decide to visit the Linda McCartney Memorial Garden which my bedroom at the B&B overlooks. In the garden there is an unassuming statue of Linda and various information boards about her life and love of the area. Reading the tributes from local people, you certainly get the feeling that she was well liked in the area. Her ashes are scattered in South Kintyre. After a period of quiet reflection I cross the road and enter my B&B.

 

 

 

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=23596

Distance today =   14 miles
Total distance =    2749 miles

 

 

 

162. Skipness to Torrisdale Bay

Today I was going back to Skipness, which meant catching the 6:30 #926 to the Skipness road-end and then the #448 service to Skipness, with the same driver as yesterday. I intended to walk as far as Carradale, but depending on how I felt, I would maybe continue on a bit further. Today was predominantly road walking all the way to Carradale.

Sign of the times – the closed Primary School at Skipness
The Claonaig Ferry terminal

I set off down the road to Claonaig where I passed the Cal Mac ferry terminal. This ferry which provides a frequent summer service across the water to Lochranza on Arran and one  had just departed as I passed the jetty.  I now said goodbye to Loch Fyne and entered the Kilbrannan Sound, the stretch of water running south between the Isle of Arran and Kintyre.

Looking down Kilbrannan Sound and the B842 on a beautiful morning
Grogport

I joined the B842, which would take me most of the way down to Carradale. The road was very quiet at this time of the morning, but traffic picked up over the course of the day. It was nice to not have to concentrate too hard on dodging cars and lorries. I was able to keep in the shade of the trees for most of the morning, as this was another sunny and hot day.  With only the odd car to contend with the miles passed very quickly as I became lost in thought. I passed by field of full of sheep and watched the first faltering steps of a new-born lamb, it appeared to have been born a few minutes before I had passed by. The road stayed within a few hundred metres of the shore and I was not tempted to get any closer as I had a grand view from the elevated position on the road.

I arrived at Grogport, which is a fascinating name, but in reality was just a small hamlet of a few houses. I did however, find a picnic table by the shore  and ate my lunch there.

Arran across Kilbrannan Sound
Carradale Pier

The Kintyre Way, which had crossed over to the west coast of Kintyre just after Claonaig, reappeared as I entered the Grinian Forest. This forest track was quite wide due to recent logging operations. A footpath left the main track and continued up to about 200m, but offered limited views. The track eventually dropped down to the village of Carradale. Besides a tiny harbour, the village has a couple of hotels, a surgery, a shop and a golf-course. There is a direct bus service four or five times a day to Campbeltown  – the #300.

The beach at Carradale Bay

I was feeling ok when I arrived in Carradale and because I had a couple of hours to kill to the next bus I decided to push on to Torrisdale Bay, which was on the bus route and would save me  fewer miles on tomorrows walk. I popped into the local shop and bought a few chilled cans of pop – I love ginger beer. From the pier I cut through a footpath to the golf course, with the intention of looking at the ruins of Airds Castle. I stood on the highest point on the golf course but could see no ruins at all!

The Waterford Stepping stones across Carradale Water

I then headed along the shore to the small hamlet of Port Righ with its tiny cove. From Port Righ there is a promontory that juts out into the Sound and contains Carradale Point. The area is heavily overgrown with rhododendron bushes and I did not bother getting out to the point. After thrashing about in the undergrowth I eventually managed to get to the transmitter station and then a footpath to the treasure that is Carradale Bay. The beach has golden sands and almost a kilometer long. At the far end of the beach further progress was not possible because of Carradale Water. I turned inland for a short distance before coming to the Waterford Stones. The stones were stepping-stones for crossing Carradale Water and joining up with the Kintyre way on the far bank. The stepping-stones looked easy to cross, but on closer inspection some of the stepping-stones had green slime and required a long stretch to reach. However, I managed to get across ok, but would be reluctant to cross with higher water  levels.

Torrisdale Bay

My destination of Torrisdale Bay was almost a mile away and required me to follow the low-tide shore route around to Dippen Bay. I then had to cut across a field to the B842 and then walk down the road a short distance to pick the #300 service back to Campbeltown. The walk had taken about 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:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23595

Distance today =   21.5 miles
Total distance =    2735 miles

 

161. Skipness to Ardrishaig

Preparing to board the Isle of Arran to Campbeltown
Entering Campbeltown Loch

I decided to do something different on this tip to Scotland by making use of the seasonal Cal Mac ferry service from Ardrossan to Campbeltown. I would be leaving my car behind at Ardrossan and aim to do four days of walking while based at Campbeltown. Making this work involved a number of factors within a suitable weather window, these included finding reasonably  priced accommodation for five nights in South Kintyre and ensuring my routes were served by public transport.

I drove up to Ardrossan on Sunday morning to catch the 13:50 ferry. I intended to leave the car at the council run Harbour car park, for five days this would cost about £11. As a foot passenger the return cost of the ferry was £15. I also had to pre-book the three journeys I would be taking on the #926  City Link bus service. My B&B was located in the centre of Campbeltown, about 300m from the ferry terminal and at an excellent rate of £30/night.

The last time I took a ferry from Ardrossan was back in 2006 when I took the ferry over to Brodick on the Isle of Arran to climb the Arran Corbetts. The ferry route today would pass to the south of the island. The weather for the crossing was excellent with beautiful sunshine and calm seas. I caught the occasional glimpse of porpoises, but the main view  on display were the mountains of Arran. We arrived in Campbeltown some 2 1/2 hours later and I lugged my rucksack and bag the short distance to the B&B.

Looking across to Arran from Skipness
91 miles to Machrihanish

My first walk began the following day and it meant I would be catching the #926 bus at 6:30 in the morning. David, at the B&B offered to cook breakfast at 5:45! It was another lovely sunny day when I boarded the #926 bus, which dropped me at the Skipness road-end (just before the Kennacraig ferry terminal) where I had a 30 minute wait to catch the #448 bus to Skipness which was about 7 miles away.

Because of bus timings I was having to do this section in reverse. The walk was basically split into two halves; the first section was following the Kintyre Way up through a forest road and then over high ground and down to Tarbet; the second half was along the A83 for almost the entire way up to Ardrishaig.

Looking back down to Skipness with Arran in the distance
Distinctive Kintyre Way way-marker
Kintyre Way comments book – whats left of it!

I got off the bus at Skipness post office. The views over to Arran were amazing and an unusual view of the mountains above Lochranza. I set off up the Kintyre Way which I discovered was well signposted with mileage posts every mile indicating how far you had come and how far you had travelled between Tarbet and Machrihanish. The Way is also marked throughout its length a distinctive set of light posts with a logo possibly depicting mountains reflected in the sea. The track followed the Skipness river through typical deciduous woodland, passing old crofts and sheep fanks long since disused. I could see the path had had a significant amount of work completed on it recently, with a number of sections raised above boggy ground. I finally passed out of the forest and onto the open moorland. I came upon a small steel structure with a metal box that housed a notebook asking people walking the way for their comments. Unfortunately, the notebook was in very poor condition. The last recorded entry I could just about make out was in December 2016. I considered making an entry, but thought it a pointless exercise as the book would dissolve before long.

View across Loch Fyne to Portavadie

Although I was now quite high, I could not get a good view out to the west, so I made a short detour across boggy ground to the summit of Cruach Doire Leithe. The summit offered excellent views across to the Paps of Jura and Islay, up Loch Fyne to Lochgilphead, to Portavadie on the Cowal peninsula and across to Arran. I rejoined the track and continued north. Two miles from Tarbert, the Way moves off the forest track and joins a footpath. I immediately come across a large stone cairn erected by a local man to celebrate the birth of his two nephews. Its called the Tarbert Millennium Cairn. I chatted to a lady at the cairn who was on five-day loch cruise and had hiked up the hill for the views.

Tarbert Millenium Cairn
Slow Worm

Soon after setting off from the cairn I came upon a Slow Worm on the footpath. It did not move as I carefully stepped around it. Normally they just scarper back into the grass when you get anywhere near them. I could see that it was alive, it just seemed docile and hardly moved. Further down the track I came upon the ruins of  Tarbert Castle. I then dropped down into the small village of Tarbert. The harbour looked magnificent in the blazing sunshine.

In Tarbert I popped into the local co-op to buy a cool drink, which I drank outside while watching a swallow in the front window of a pharmacy! It must have inadvertently flown in there. Anyway, with a bit of coaxing the pharmacist managed to point the bird in the right direction; it flew out of the door across the A83 and out over the harbour.

Tarbert Castle
Looking down to Tarbert

The next 12 miles I was not particularly looking forward to as it involved walking most of the way down the A83. I did manage to get some relief for about two miles by following an estate road that passed through the grounds of Stonefield Castle Hotel. The hotel, which welcomes non-existent is certainly an impressive looking building. In no time I was back on the A83, again practicing verge-hopping with an increasing number of vehicles. There were a number of sections which had little or no verge, so I had to very careful and quick in getting past these places.

Stonefield Castle Hotel
Hovercraft buzzing down Loch Fyne

I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible, because the afternoon sun was very strong. At Ardrishaig, I crossed over the Crinan Canal which enters Loch Fyne here. I planned to catch the 16:46 #926 bus back to Campbeltown, fortunately my timing was ok and I only had 40 minutes to wait. Miss that bus and I would have to wait another four hours! The walk had taken 7.5 hrs.

 

 

 

 

Crinan Canal entering Loch Gilp

 

 

 

 

 

 

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=23592

Distance today =   22 miles
Total distance =    2713.5 miles

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