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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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:
Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 2863 miles