I was rude about Campbeltown in my previous post. True, it’s not an attractive place, but it does have some fine buildings. I walk past a fabulous Art Nouveau cinema overlooking the loch and can’t resist taking several photographs. This wonderful Picture House was built in 1913 and is still showing feature films today.
Next door to the Picture House is a museum and somewhere inside is a memorial garden to Linda McCartney. She and Paul owned a house up in the hills nearby, and were frequent visitors to the town. [I wanted to visit the garden, but it was closed by the time I finished my walk.]
I’m walking eastwards along the southern shore of Campbeltown Loch. It’s bordered by a long, green stretch of park, and is a popular area with dog walkers.
Beyond the park, the path joins the coast road. I walk past attractive houses, through a residential area called Kilkerran, and past the cemetery. What a nice place to be buried.
Leaving the town behind, I follow the road as it hugs the coast, shadowed by trees and walking into the bright light of another beautiful morning. This is the route of the Kintyre Way, and I soon spot one of its mile-marker posts.
A long pier juts out into the loch – modern and starkly functional – carrying a series of pipes. Nearby is a fenced ‘Oil Fuel Depot’, and so I’m guessing the fuel is delivered by ship to the end of the pier and piped to the depot.
I walk past fields of tiny lambs and try to take their photographs. But they keep running away from me, and all I manage to snap is rows of retreating backsides!
Soon I reach the causeway to Davaar Island. The tide is coming in and much of the sandy bank is already submerged. I decide (sadly) I haven’t got time to visit the place today.
The island looks much wilder and fiercer when viewed from this side of the loch, with dark cliffs rising straight out of the water.
At this point – Kildalloig Bay – the coast curves round and starts heading southwards again. The sun in my eyes makes photography difficult, but you can see how the narrow road hugs the shoreline…
… for a mile, before turning inland. From here, there is no obvious walking route along the shore, so I follow the road uphill, past Ballimenach Farm.
A sheep stands and watches me, with her two lambs. I’m pleased they stay still for long enough to snap a decent photograph. The two lambs look very dissimilar in colouring, and it’s hard to believe they’re actually siblings.
On the way up the hill, I turn round and take photographs of the view behind me. There’s Davaar Island, with a cargo ship just leaving the loch, and beyond are the mountains of Arran. Beautiful.
To my surprise I spot a police car below me. It reaches the end of the coastal section of the road, turns round, and goes back. Is it investigating something? Me, maybe? (Paranoia kicks in, yet again.) Or are they just patrolling?
[By the end of this walking trip, I will have seen several cruising police cars on Kintyre. Makes a stark change to Manchester – where I now spend most of my time. There are no quietly cruising police cars there, only ones with blue lights and sirens blaring.]
The next section of road is not particularly interesting. No sea views, although the inland scenery is pretty good, I must admit. This is the official route of the Kintyre Way, and a sign warns car drivers of pedestrians.
I only meet a single car along this stretch, and no other pedestrians.
Then, finally, the road crests a hill and turns a corner and there is the sea again, and another fabulous view of Arran. An old stone tells me I’ve walked 5 miles from Campbeltown. (Although they’ve had to shorten the full name to make it fit.) I love to see these old milestones.
At this point I stop, sit on a grassy bank, and have a drink and a snack. The weather is fine, the sea is flat, the view is incredible, the birds are singing, and I have one of those extraordinary moments of perfect bliss.
But I can’t stay here for ever. Onwards.
A few hundred yards later, I meet a shirtless man running. Wow. He must be hot. We exchange ‘hello’s.
The road zig-zags down into a valley, where it crosses a stream called Balnabraid Water. Corphin Bridge is marked on my map and I somehow expected to find a farm or a hamlet here. But there’s nothing. Just a bridge.
My friend Andy, another coastal walker, said this road was an easy rollercoaster of a walk, and he was quite right. None of the climbs are truly arduous, but there are plenty of them.
I hear the revving of a vehicle behind me, and step aside to let a post office van go past. Love the sight of these vans. Whenever I see one – particularly in an isolated area like this one – I immediately feel less alone. They are a symbol of the interconnectedness of our island and I really hope we never lose them.
Out to sea is a familiar shape. Ailsa Craig. She will be my companion tomorrow too, but after I turn around the base of the Mull of Kintyre I will lose sight of her forever. She is looking both beautiful and mysterious today.
The road winds up another hill…
… and near the top I look down to an amazing view across the Firth of
Forth (oops) Clyde. I look past the strip of rock that resembles a submarine and – wow, the air is so clear today – that I can even see the mainland on the far side. Yes. That must be the Ayrshire coast. And, I think, I can even see the gap that marks the entrance to Loch Ryan and to Stranraer’s harbour.
It’s nearly a year since I walked the Ayrshire Coast Path – seems like yesterday – and I really haven’t come very far as the crow flies!
That strip of rock really does look like a submarine. Hang on… I stand still for a few moments… is it actually moving? Yes. It’s definitely closer to Ailsa Craig than it was a few minutes ago. That must mean it really IS a submarine. Wow!
I pass a small group of houses (called Feochaig on my map) where a family is congregating in the small front garden. They seem very cheerful and happy. Holiday makers?
Then comes another zig-zag climb up another hill. I stop half-way to catch my breath, and to take a photograph looking back over Feochaig, the sea, and the Isle of Arran in the distance.
Ahead is a mile or so of straight road, where the view is dominated by a dark lump of a hill on my left. It’s called The Bastard. Great name.
The traffic along this stretch is really heating up. First a tractor towing an agricultural contraption. Is it a muck-spreader? I think so.
Ah, I’m now 8 miles from Campbeltown. This must be, roughly, the half-way point of my walk.
I hear the roaring of another vehicle coming up behind me, and I’m overtaken by a quad bike with a sheep dog – barking madly into the wind – riding on the back. The quad bike races down the hill and I only manage a blurry shot because it’s moving so fast.
Those things always look rather dangerous, but have become a commonplace sight. (Farmers seem to have given up walking across their fields!)
Now I’m heading down another steep valley, called Glen Hervie. I can hear the quad bike revving madly as it climbs up the other side.
The walk up the hill seems to take forever, and I begin to wish I had a quad bike too.
I’m now about a mile away from the coast, but I still have great views over the Firth of
Forth (oops again) Clyde. Dark clouds over there. Looks like rain is falling on Ayrshire. Glad I’m over here.
After another mile or so, the road dips down steeply. At last I seem to be heading back towards the shore. That island below is a new feature in my view and – I check my map – I discover it’s called Sanda Island. Pretty name.
I come to a T junction and turn left to follow the Kintyre Way markers. The next part of my route is along the shore, and I’m looking forward to leaving tarmac behind and walking along a proper footpath.
The road becomes a farm track, and then I see the blue maker where the Kintyre Way leaves the track and follows the edge of a field. Oh dear. The path across the field looks untrodden. Does that mean the route ahead is blocked?
A huddle of caravans line the shore, but the beach is lovely and I’m glad to be down on the sand again. This is Polliwilline Bay.
Time for a sit down, a drink, a snack, and a self-portrait. I balance my camera on a handy rock, set the focus, hit the button and… and then I don’t quite move quickly enough. Oops, my first attempt is a bit of a disaster!
I have another go. That’s better. Just a shame about the sloping horizon.
I spend some time here, just sitting and enjoying the sunshine and admiring the view. The rocks in front of me are called Arranman’s Barrels. Is this a smugglers’ cove?
[To be continued…]