353am Campbeltown to Southend

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.

01 Campbeltown picture house, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

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.

02 walking out of Campbeltown, Ruth's coastal walk, Kintyre

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.

03 cemetery, Ruth's coastal walk, Mull of Kintyre

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.

04 long and winding road, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

05 oil fuel depot landing stage, Ruth's coastal walk, Mull of Kintyre

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.

06 causeay to Davaar Island, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth Livingstone

The island looks much wilder and fiercer when viewed from this side of the loch, with dark cliffs rising straight out of the water.

07 Davaar Island, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

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…

08 Kintyre Way to Southend, Ruth hiking in Scotland

… 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.

09 Ballimenach, Ruth hiking the Kintyre Way to Southend

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.

10 sheep and lambs, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

11 Davaar Island and tanker, Ruth Livingstone on Mull of Kintyre

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.

12 Ruth on the Kintyre Way, Mull of Kintyre, Scotland

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.

13 old milestone, Ruth hiking the road to Southend, Mull of Kintyre

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.

14 runner on the road, Ruth hiking the Kintyre Way

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.

15 Corphin Bridge, Ruth hiking the Mull of Kintyre

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.

16 post office van, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth Livingstone

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.

17 Ailsa Craig, Ruth hiking towards the Mull of Kintyre

The road winds up another hill…

18 winding road, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth Livingstone

… 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.

19 rock shaped like a submarine, Ruth Livingstone hiking the Mull of Kintyre

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!

20 rock shaped definitely is a submarine, Ruth Livingstone hiking the Mull of Kintyre


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.

21 Feochaig and view of Arran, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

22 The Bastard, Ruth hiking the Mull of Kintyre

The traffic along this stretch is really heating up. First a tractor towing an agricultural contraption. Is it a muck-spreader? I think so.

23 muck spreader, Ruth's coastal walk, Kintyre

Ah, I’m now 8 miles from Campbeltown. This must be, roughly, the half-way point of my walk.

24 milestone, Ruth's coastal hike, Kintyre

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.

25 farmer and sheepdog, Ruth hiking the Mull of Kintyre

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.

26 long and winding road to the Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

27 Ailsa Craig and Ayreshire coast, Ruth's coastal walk, Kintyre

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.

28 Sanda Island, Ruth's coastal walk, Mull of Kintyre

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?

29 Kintyre Way and Polliwilline Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, Kintyre

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.

30 Polliwilline Bay, Ruth Livingstone hiking to the Mull of Kintyre

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!

31 self-portrait fail, Ruth Livingstone on the Mull of Kintyre

I have another go. That’s better. Just a shame about the sloping horizon.

32 self-portrait another fail, Ruth Livingstone

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?

33 Polliwilline Bay, Ruth's coastal walk to Southend

[To be continued…]


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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19 Responses to 353am Campbeltown to Southend

  1. Ben Staveley says:

    Ruth, you mention the Firth of Forth a couple of times but I fear that you may be getting ahead of yourself a bit – Firth of Clyde?

    I am off tomorrow to do a couple of days in Yorkshire, heading south from Runswick Bay. My chums Gary, John and I are doing the English border, so no Welsh or Scottish coast for us – just the English coast and the borders. We started in 2011 and are doing a couple of hundred miles a year in two day bursts. We think you may catch us up before we get to Poole, which is where we finish, if you keep going (but Scotland around the coast is a marathon undertaking!)

    Do keep going – your blogs are always a joy to read.

    Ben Staveley

    • Thank you Ben. No, I’ve definitely NOT reached the Firth of Forth yet! Hope you have a great time on the Yorkshire coast. I’ve been in contact with your trio of walkers intermittently over the years and good to know you are continuing with your adventures. My end point is Kings Lynn, and so I’m pretty sure I’ll never catch you up!

  2. john dennis says:

    I agree with Ben – they are a joy, a deep joy.

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    Speaking of the Firth of Clyde, I remember you walking the Ayrshire Coast before Arran. Are you missing out the bits between there and Kintyre or just changing the order? Or have I missed them? I have been wondering how you would tackle Scotland with all its sea lochs and ragged coastline!

  4. Bobby Love says:

    Might be wrong but would it be the firth of Clyde as the forth is on the east coast running past the Lothians and Fife but there may be more than one, keep up the good reporting, my wife Ann and I are walking around the coast of England and often refer to your posts we are covering the west coast this year.

    • Oh yes, you are absolutely right 😆What a silly mistake. I will change the post and thank you for pointing it out. Lovely to hear that you and your wife are walking the English coast. Are you doing it in sequence, or dotting about?

  5. Tara Beech says:

    I love reading tales of your adventures. My mother-in-law and I have walked the south east cost from Swanage to North Foreland in the last few years but I’ve just had my first baby so walking, although not holted entirely, has gone onto the back burner for a bit! Always wonderful to read of your route, thoughts and occasional mis haps! Walking wouldn’t be fun without them would they!!?
    Always wonderful photos too. Keep meaning to ask what camera you have? Best wishes

    • Hi Tara and thank you very much for your kind comments. What a wonderful trek to have done with your mother. Everybody knows about the South West Coast Path, but the rest of the south coast of England is beautiful too. Congrats on your new baby and welcome to the world of no sleep and no free time. Yes, walking will have to be fitted in among family commitments for the time being, but it’s only a temporary phase in life.
      My current camera is a Canon EOS 550D with a 18-55mm lens. It’s been my companion since I dropped my old camera (an Olympus) on the floor of the pub at Bosham in Sussex. So the East Anglia and Kent photos were taken with the old camera, and everything west of Chichester with the Canon. I think, if you look at the photos on the blog posts, you’ll see a good camera makes all the difference.

  6. Eunice says:

    Great views again, that last shot of the beach is lovely 🙂

  7. Di Iles says:

    Wonderful photos and reading as ever Ruth especially as I have a passion for Scotland. Heading up again to Isle of Mull soon and hoping for some good hikes myself. Navigation around Western Scotland must be so challenging for you with its fragmented and frayed like coast line. It’s very interesting to see how your doing it Ruth. Can’t wait to see more!

    • Thank you Di. I’m making slow progress up the west coast, but loving it (well, loving MOST of it!) Slightly frustrating to be heading southwards at this point, but, as you say so eloquently, the Scottish coast is definitely ‘fragmented and frayed’.

  8. jcombe says:

    You’re getting to the really scenic bits of Scotland now it seems. Lovely photos. I was going to correct you on your Firth of Forth but I see I’ve been beaten to it!

  9. Karen White says:

    What spectacular scenery. I love the photo of Davaar Island’s dark cliffs rising from the sea.

  10. Karen White says:

    I forgot to say what a lovely idea it was for the Kintyre people to make the memoorial garden for Linda McCartney, they must have been very fond of her.

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