I thought I would make use of the final week of school buses, as the end of June would see the start of the school holidays and many bus services do not run after this date.
I’m heading to North Knapdale and will be camping at the Leachive Holiday Park, which at £8 / night is not bad. I drive through the night and park in Tayvallich. I catch the 8:03 #425 bus from Tayvallich for the short journey up the road to Barnluasgan. The bus is full of schoolchildren off to the secondary Academy at Lochgilphead. The driver and myself are the only adults on the bus. Listening to the children speak I get the impression that apart from one or two kids they are all English.
The weather is dry and sunny, but with a strong warm breeze. Todays walk will be a mixture of road walking and trail blazing along the western shore of this promontory; so I’ve brought my boots with me which I am carrying in my bag.
My first port of call is a few miles down the road, at a place called Arichonan (Conan’s shieling), and set well back from the road. In 1848, this place was the scene of defiance, anger and revolt against those attempting to carry out eviction notices on the tenants of the farmsteads, part of a much wider diaspora known as the Highland Clearances. Hundreds of fellow tenants gathered in support and beat off the evictors. Unfortunately, they returned with the full weight of the law. Following the resulting riot many people were sentenced to months in imprisonment in Inverary jail. I walk around the ruins, mindful of the poor state of repair the walls are in. The sheep fanks are new and were built by shepherds, using stone from the now vacant houses. I see the odd poignant reminder in the ruined house, a broken cast-iron fire surround – perhaps someones pride and joy from many years ago.
I continue down the road and walk alongside a narrow channel of water called Caol Scotnish, an offshoot from Loch Sween. I enter and walk through the picturesque village of Tayvallich with its fine selection of sailing boats within the natural harbour. I pass my parked car and take the opportunity to have an early lunch and a rest. I continue further down the road, which in fact is a cul-de-sac. I pass a turning for Danna Island, which is really just an island in name only. I did not fancy an out-and-back along the same road. Instead I am heading for Keils chapel at the end of the public road. Keils chapel is very similar to Kilmory chapel which I visited on my last trip to the area. The chapel also houses a fine collection of carved stones and grave slabs. I join a few visitors who are also visiting the chapel.
For the adventurous, it is possible to continue south-west over rough ground along a thin sliver of land that juts out from the promontory and is called Rubha na Cille. I am now donning my boots and will now complete my return journey back to Carsaig and Tayvallich over rough ground on the western side of the promontory. While walking down the road I had decided it may be a good idea to stay high on a series of high grassy ridges on my return leg. The ridge appeared to be free of bracken and would offer great all around views. I headed off through a few fields which were quickly consumed by high bracken. I started to climb and headed towards Barr an Lochain which had a trig at its summit. It provided a great viewpoint, except out to the east. I needed to get onto a higher parallel grassy ridge. I make my way over boggy ground and high bracken to the higher ridge and onto Dun Mor (112m). The viewpoint was brilliant with views west and south to Jura, the Paps are the closest yet. Looking east I can see across Loch Sween to Castle Sween. Northwest I can now see Scarba and Mull.
Looking back along the coast I can see that I could have beaten my way along the shore line, close by, but walking higher along the ridge has been the best option and given excellent views. I head for the derelict ruined farmstead of Barbreack apparently worked until the 1950’s.
I continue along the knobbly ridge to Barr na h-lolaire (109m). Here I must make a decision, to seek out a track further north or drop down steeply to the shoreline below and continue onto Carsaig along the coast. I descend to the shoreline and continue over grass and rocks to Aoran nam Buth, here I turn up a grassy field. The field soon disappears into a thicket and bracken. I now have to battle my way through tall bracken and dense bushes. I am very close to Carsaig. Bizarrely I hear the sound of bagpipes playing! I eventually burst out of the vegetation onto the shoreline close to the cemetery and walk back to my car at Tayvallich.
My left foot is sore again, but I think I should be ok for tomorrows walk.
Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 2897.5 miles