There is a forest above Carradale, but I can’t work out what to call it, because it has a number of names on my map – Brackley Wood, Coronation Wood, Kirnashie Wood, Moineruadh Wood, Gorton Wood, Crow Wood, Ballenmeanach Wood, Century Wood…
The car park sign gives a completely different name – Grianain.
I’ve never come across a place with so many names! Anyway, here is where I park.
This afternoon I’m planning a circular walk through the woodlands and back to my car. But, first, I must plod back up the road to the point where I ended this morning’s walk.
I reach the spot, and take another photograph of the cemetery and cairns in the valley below. Perhaps I’ll visit the cairns after I finish today’s trek?
Turn around. Back to the car park. A blue signpost – with its squiggly black logo – reminds me I’m still on the Kintyre Way.
The beginning of the forest walk is along a tarmac track, and takes me eastwards through the trees, heading towards the shore. I come over a rise and get a wonderful view of the sea and the Isle of Arran.
There are tracks that run closer to the shore, but they don’t appear to join up into a coherent route. So I’ve decided to stick to the official Kintyre Way, which seems determined to give me a scenic tour and turns south, taking me up towards the highest point in the area. Cnoc Nan Gabhar.
After a while I leave the tarmac, and follow a rough path up a steep slope. It’s well signposted.
Up and up, until I emerge at the top – and another breathtaking view of Arran.
Time for a self-portrait… oops!
(Somebody once commented on how good I was at taking selfies with the timer on my camera – so I’ve included the photograph above to prove that most of my attempts are terrible failures! I only post the ones that work… like this one below.)
I could take a detour off the official Kintyre Way, and climb to the top of Cnoc nan Gabhar (at 230 metres), where I guess the views would be even better. But I don’t have many sunlight hours left, so I decide to give the summit a miss.
Onwards, down through the trees, where the light is dim and I soon lose sight of the sea.
A signpost tells me I’ve walked 45 miles from Tarbert. Yes, it feels like that. Hang on… the Kintyre Way zigzags across the peninsula, and I’ve stuck to the coast road, so my route has actually been much shorter.
It’s too dull for decent photography, but I do enjoy the couple of miles I spend walking through the forest. The footpath undulates gently, heading southwards and downhill most of the time. The birds are singing. The sun filters through the trees. And, on this glorious sunny Sunday I meet… absolutely nobody.
There was one other car in the car park, and I expected to find other people walking in what clearly is a local beauty spot. But… no… absolutely nobody.
The path curves round a corner, and I see Carradale below me.
It seems a much larger place than anything I’ve come across since leaving Tarbert. But, before I reach the village, the Kintyre Way branches off westwards again, and begins going uphill.
I check my map. This marks the half-way point in my circular walk, and I’m now walking through an area called Crow Wood. A marker beside the track actually agrees with my map, for a change.
I walk past piles of old logs, and mossy slopes. A pink ribbon dangles from a branch. Perhaps it marks the route of some charity walk or run?
And now I see a car parked on the track and, for the first time, meet another walker. Not a proper hiker, just a dog walker. We stop for a chat.
His collie is a bit flighty and keeps running round behind me – a manoeuvre that makes me nervous because the last collie that did that actually nipped me on the calf. The man – who has an Essex accent – explains this is a rescue dog, and very nervous around people. I try to make friends, but the dog is too timid.
Time to get on with my walk. I snap a surreptitious photo of the man walking away.
(Do people mind me taking their photographs? I never know. Perhaps I should ask?)
A short while later, the Kintyre Way leaves me, and dives down through the trees. It’s heading south and I would like to follow it – but today I need to continue the circuit of the forest and get back to my car.
Below me, according to the map, are a number of cottages and a visitor’s centre. I don’t see any of these things, but I do see an electricity substation. Now I must have nearly reached the point where the track curves northwards again… ah, there is the bend ahead.
The next part of the walk takes me for 3.5 miles along the edge of the forest. To my left, and below, is the B842 and I hear the sound of occasional traffic.
The track is easy, but a little boring, although I have great views over the valley to the ridge of hills on the other side.
I’m feeling tired – the last part of any walk always seems unduly tiring – but I try to keep up a steady pace. The shadows are lengthening and I must reach my car before it gets dark.
Finally I arrive back in the car park, where it’s a relief to see my car again. The other visitor has left and the place is empty.
Close by, a picnic bench is catching the last of the light before the sun slips behind the hills. The light is glorious and golden, and I can’t resist sitting here for a while.
I finish my hot chocolate (now tepid) and my snacks. By the time I decide to take another self-portrait, the sun has dipped and it’s too dark. It’s also too dark, I decide, to walk down to visit the cemetery and cairns. Maybe tomorrow.
Miles walked today = 11 miles (only 2 in the wrong direction!)
Total miles around coast = 3,634
High point: the wonderful view of Arran from the slopes of Cnoc nan Gabhar
Low point: none!
Route: morning in red, afternoon in blue.