353pm Campbeltown to Southend

As I feared, from Polliwilline Bay there is no obvious path along the shore, nor along the neighbouring fields. But I’m reassured when I see footprints in the sand. Somebody must have come this way recently. Another coastal walker?

40 footprints in the sand, Ruth's coastal walk

And, there’s one of the blue markers of the Kintyre way. It looks a bit weather-beaten, and is lolling at a drunken angle, but this MUST be the right way.

41 kintyre way signs, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

More footprints. It’s definitely this way.

42 following in other walkers' steps, Ruth Livingstone

I round the rocky headland and now I’m in Macharioch Bay, where there are yet more caravans.

43 more caravans, Ruth hiking the Kintyre Way to Southend

The beach, however, is beautiful. Love the waves and the interesting rocks. I stop and take far too many photographs. Yes, those are definitely rain clouds in the distance over Ayrshire.

44 Macharioch Bay, Ruth hiking the coast to the Mull of Kintyre

Further along, following the path over grass, I see a memorial cross on a headland. I assume this is a war memorial, but soon discover it is a memorial to George Douglas, Duke of Argyll. He died almost exactly on this same day in the year 1900. Below his details, the inscription simply says, ‘His wife has erected this cross.’

45 memorial cross, Ruth's coastal walk, Southend

The path wanders over the headland, with good views of Sanda Island…

46 Sanda Island, Ruth's coatal walk, Mull of Kintyre

… before dipping down to another beach. This stretch of sand has no name on my map, but it is very beautiful.

47 Ruth's coastal walk, Southend, Mull of Kintyre, Scotland

Almost a mile in length, I walk along this wonderful beach, and I meet absolutely nobody.

48 empty beach, Mull of Kintyre, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Beyond here is Kilmanshenachan Caravan Park – large and sprawling. It’s still early in the year for holidays, but a few families are sitting by their caravans and chatting in the sun. At this point the Kintyre Way turns inland again.

49 Kilmanshenachan and caravan site, Ruth's coastal walk, Mull of Kintyre

(It might be possible to follow the shore a little further, as the beach continues for another mile or two, but my map shows there are low cliffs beyond this, and then a golf course. So, I’m not sure if you can get all the way through to Southend.)

I follow the Kintyre Way up through the caravan site, and then up the farm track.

50 walking up to the farm, Ruth Livingstone

For some reason, at this point in the walk, I begin to feel very despondent. It’s been an easy walk, I had a moment of near ecstasy earlier this morning, and the weather has been incredible, but suddenly…  suddenly I feel intensely lonely. I’m missing my family very much, and there have been some personal stresses and worries recently… oh dear. I begin to feel quite sorry for myself.

Anyway, to my retrospective shame, my eyes fill with tears. Silly really, because this turns out to be the most beautiful part of the walk, with the slanting evening light making everything glow. And – despite my tear-blurred vision – I manage to take some of the best photographs of the day.

Sanda Island looks wonderful.

51 Sanda Island and Sheep Island, Ruth's coastal walk, Mull of Kintyre

Aisla Craig remains majestic and mysterious under the dramatic (and advancing) rain clouds.

52 Ailsa Craig from Southend, Ruth's coastal walk

Unexpectedly, I meet a couple walking down the track. They stop to say hello and we exchange comments on the weather. It’s the first proper human contact I’ve had all day, and I immediately feel better.

53 Sanda Island and Ayreshire Coast, Ruth's coastal walk on Mull of Kintyre

Funny how just a few kind words from strangers can cheer you up.

Onwards. The farm track joins a road – well, a sort-of road. No tarmac. The landscape is unspoilt and everything looks beautiful.

54 walking inland to Southend, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

A cloud of midges dance in the shadow of the hedge. Oh dear. Scottish midges are notorious, although I’ve not yet had a bad encounter with any.

Suddenly the critters head towards me and surround my face. I wave my arms around and wonder if my insect spray is still tucked in the bottom of my rucksack. How fast can midges fly? Somewhere I read 6 mph, but somewhere else claimed their top speed is only 4 mph. I’m not sure if I can manage 6 mph, but I might be able to manage 4 mph, and so I begin to jog down the road.

These midges are large – mosquito-like in size – and later I realise they’re not the infamous, tiny ones that cause so much trouble. Anyway, I escape with no bites at all.

The track joins a road and, eventually, I reach the main B842.

55 crossroads, Southend, Ruth's coastal walk on the Mull of Kintyre

I’m only a mile from Southend now, and I plod along the verge until I reach the village. The pub might be open… but it looks closed and I don’t stop to investigate. My car is parked only a little further along the road and I want to get back to Campbeltown and my hotel.

56 pub at Southend, Ruth Livingstone hiking on the Mull of Kintyre

Low points = caravans and unexpected tearfulness.
High points = unspoilt beaches and wonderful views.

Distance walked today = 16 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,667 miles



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 21 Argyll and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 353pm Campbeltown to Southend

  1. I have always had low points on all my long walks but invariably they have vanished by the next day. I am impressed with your attempts to stay close to the shoreline – without paths on the map it is a gamble if a particular section will go. If you have a smart phone you could do Facetime with your family or friends?

  2. Mike Norman says:

    That feeling of melancholy is familiar to me too from my solitary walks. I think the more spectacular the location is the more there is a yearning to share it with loved ones or even strangers so when there is absolutely nobody around it is possible to feel a sense of isolation. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with us and all the fantastic photography; we are all with you in spirit!

  3. Karen White says:

    I agree with Mike that it can be the most beautiful places that trigger a moment of despondency and emotion. Nothing to feel shame for.

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