So far the posts on this blog have mainly followed the linear sequence of my coastal trek, and I rarely repeat or try to ‘improve’ a walk… but, I simply couldn’t resist going back to Carradale. Why?
Firstly, it’s very beautiful. Here’s a photograph of the harbour, with Arran in the distance.
Secondly, I know some people use my blog to plan their own coastal walks, and I was hoping I could find a better route for them, along footpaths that kept closer to the shore.
Thirdly, and most importantly, it was a Sunday, and there are no buses in Kintyre on a Sunday. The next section of my walk from Southend to Machrihanish would be a long one, over rough and isolated terrain, with no access roads to allow me to use my car for double-walking or to cut my walk short. And so I decided that section would have to wait until Monday, when a normal bus service resumed.
Now I had this spare day to do what I pleased with.
Parking at Carradale’s harbour, I followed signs to the castle, walking along a path and then over the golf course. I usually feel nervous on golf courses, but there was a network of paths between the greens, and I saw several local people out walking, so I didn’t feel my usual anxiety about trespassing.
I was never convinced I found the castle (‘rems of’ according to my map) but I did enjoy wonderful views over the water and Arran, again.
Sticking close to the edge of the golf course, I walked over rough ground above the sea, and then down to the rocky shore of a pretty bay called Port Righ.
I followed the shore around until I reached the holiday cottages at the far end of the bay. I did try to make my way further around the shore from there, because I wanted to walk around the headland just south of Port Righ, to Carradale Point.
At first there was a promising-looking path by the water – but I soon came across a fence that stretched down into the sea. The ground beyond the fence looked rough and unfriendly.
Braver walkers might have found a way through, but I turned back and walked along the road, and then along a track, and came down to the water again on the other side of the point, at Carradale Bay.
I was still determined to get to Carradale Point, where there is a ruined fort. So here I turned left and followed a path (actually marked on my OS map) towards the point. But the path deteriorated among gorse bushes and in some places became extremely muddy, so this turned out to be not such a good idea.
Finding some high ground, I finally spotted the Point. It’s actually a tidal island, I think. One lone walker was sitting on some rocks (you can just make him out below – he looks like a prominent rock on the skyline, about a quarter of a way in from the left of the photo.)
Rain clouds were building up inland, and I decided not to try to find a way over to the island. In any case, the tide was coming in and I didn’t want to end up trapped. (Those are obviously two poor excuses for my laziness, but they’re all I’ve got!)
I walked back to Carradale Bay, and then along this lovely stretch of beach, with barely anybody around.
The far end of the beach was interrupted by a river. Here there was a camp site and caravan park. It looked like a great location for a holiday. At this point, I turned inland and walked alongside the river following the access track for the caravan site.
I spotted some stepping-stones over the river. Submerged by the tide at the moment. I wonder if anybody ever uses them?
Along the track, I met a caravan being towed by couple of nervous ladies. The van seemed stuck on top of a particularly impressive rock on the track.
‘This road is terrible. We must be lost,’ they told me. ‘We’re trying to find the caravan site.’ I reassured them this was the right road, and felt a bit guilty as I walked on and left them to sort out their beached caravan, but I had no idea how to help them.
Reaching the main road, I turned left (westwards) and headed for a café I had spotted before. It doubles as a bike repair shop, and I knew it must welcome walkers. By this stage it was well past lunch time, and so I was very disappointed to find the café was closed.
Just as I was thinking nasty things about the owners (‘Fancy closing on a beautiful Sunday in April. Lazy people.’) I noticed a sign stuck on the door.
“Sorry we’re closed. Susan’s mum has had a bad fall.”
Oh dear. Hope she’s OK. I wondered where the nearest proper hospital was? Glasgow? Over 2 hours drive away.
I didn’t fancy walking along the road again, so I walked up a path through the trees and joined the woodland track that forms part of the official Kintyre Way. Here I turned right (eastwards) towards Carradale.
It was hard to find anywhere to eat. Some of the small hotels had signs saying non-residents welcome, but of course they didn’t serve anything in the afternoon. Eventually, I found a wonderful tea shop run by a Polish (I think) gentleman who had moved his family here from London. The place was empty and I think he was about to close, but he made me a huge sandwich and a family-sized pot of tea.
Afterwards, I walked down to the harbour again. Such a beautiful day. The air was so clear you could see every wrinkle on the slopes of Arran’s mountains. I stopped and took more photographs, glad I’d returned to this lovely spot.
On the drive back to Campbeltown, I couldn’t resist stopping off at Saddell Bay, because I wanted to visit the beach where Paul McCartney’s Mull of Kintyre video was shot. Access is via a private road to Saddell Castle – now owned by the Landmark Trust – but you are allowed to visit the beach.
It was lovely.
And practically deserted. Just a couple of families enjoying the place.
I couldn’t resist another photograph of Ailsa Craig, and noticed a man standing on the shore and staring out at the view. He seemed as besotted by the craggy island as I am. But, why was he so unnaturally still and such an odd colour…
…and then I realised it wasn’t a real man, just some sort of weird sculpture made of rusting metal.
Later, walking back up the private road, I met a couple walking down towards the beach.
‘Is this the way to the Antony Gormley statue?’ they asked me.
Gormley? Statue? And the penny dropped.
‘Ah, yes, it is,’ I said, nodding wisely, as if I’d known that fact all along.
You can watch a YouTube video of Paul McCartney talking about writing the Mull of Kintyre song, along with the video, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHGI2XvYkxc
Information about the Saddell Beach statue is here: Antony Gormley sculpture gets a permanent home.
Miles walked today = 6 miles
Total distance = 3,673 miles
Route around Carradale: