I catch the bus back to Machrihanish. It’s another bright and breezy Scottish morning.
Last time I was on this bus, a Scottish gentleman kept up a conversation with me for the entire journey (we were the only passengers). Sadly I could barely make out a word he said, perhaps because of his accent, or perhaps because of the effects of a mild stroke. I resorted to nodding and smiling. Today, there are a couple of other passengers, but no conversation.
Machrihanish Bay is a beautiful stretch of unspoilt sand, and I’m very much looking forward to the walk today. After miles of either tough tarmac or wild countryside, a gentle stretch of sand-walking will be a real treat.
I walk across the edge of a golf course, and down to the sands, where a few other people are strolling and taking photographs. I rarely meet other people on my walks around Kintyre, and so I feel a vague sense of resentment because, selfishly, I don’t want to share this beach!
I walk close to the waves, and soon come to the river – Machrihanish Water. Could I wade across? Yes. But I know the water will come over the top of my boots. It is a little early in the day to get my feet wet…
…so I walk up the bank of the river, and soon come across a handy bridge. Was it constructed for the benefit of the local farmer, or for the golfers whose greens lie on either side of the river? I’m not sure.
On the other side are grassy dunes, and I walk along the topmost ridge, enjoying the views and the winds…
… before climbing down to walk along the sands again. I’ve left the strollers behind. Now there are only a few oyster catchers for company.
The sea is dark green, and the wind has whipped up moderate sized waves. I stop to photograph the surf.
This beach is around 5 miles long. Walking on sand can be monotonous, but is very soothing for the soul. It is also a place where the eye plays tricks, because there is little to give a sense of perspective.
Sand and more sand. One foot after the other. Repeat.
An hour passes. The other side of the beach seems a distant place I will never reach. One foot after the other. Sand and more sand.
Then I meet a couple of dog walkers, and realise – with some sadness – I must be coming to the end.
(When I first decided to walk the coastline of Britain, I thought every walk would be an easy stroll along a flat beach. How wrong I was! Beach walking is a rare luxury.)
I pause and look back at the Mull of Kintyre, and remember my difficult walk of yesterday. Yes, I certainly deserved an easier walk today.
Leaving the beach, I clamber over some rocks and find a quiet place to perch. Time for a drink and a snack. Over the water, hazy and indistinct, is the island of Islay.
Now comes several miles of road-walking along the A83. This is the main route to Campbeltown and I’m expecting heavy traffic. Oh dear. I seem to have done more than my fair share of road-walking around the Kintyre Peninsula.
Luckily – and to my surprise – the traffic is fairly quiet. In addition, some of the time, I can follow the remains of an earlier coastal road…
… although most of the time I’m verge hopping along the edge of the main road.
Here’s another stretch of old coastal road, but it soon comes to an end. Shame. Wish it had been kept as an alternative route for walkers and cyclists.
Luckily, the views are wonderful. When I first drove along here, on my way to Campbeltown, I couldn’t believe how beautiful this coastal road was.
Cormorants (or are they?) perch on a rock. I haven’t seen many of these birds in Scotland, so perhaps they aren’t cormorants, but something different.
Scattered intermittently along the remains of the old coast road are static caravans. I wonder if they’re holiday homes, or lived in permanently?
I come to the occasional stretch of sandy beach. Makes a welcome change from tarmac.
Back on the road again, and past some road works. They appear to be repairing the crash barriers.
Luckily, the traffic lights help to break up the stream of cars and lorries.
A while later, I stop beside the shore for another snack break, and to take more photographs of the waves and the rocks. Islay is clearer on the horizon.
Over the crest of a low hill, and there’s another beautiful bay in front of me. Check my map. Bellochantuy. It’s a tiny place, but has a hotel. And more caravans.
I walk along the sand. A tractor is at work. Taking sand? Or piling it up? Or digging a drainage ditch? I don’t linger for long enough to find out.
This bay is lovely. Small rocks poke their heads above the water and fight with the waves. Nobody in sight. Occasionally I have to wade across streams, and now I get my feet well and truly wet. But I don’t care.
Inland are fields. Cattle. Sheep. And more static caravans. This one looks definitely lived in, with solar panels and a strange array of antennae, one decorated with… is that a bicycle wheel? Yes.
I can’t work out if this is an elaborate piece of artwork, or some Heath Robinsonish contraption for generating power.
Out to sea, storm clouds are gathering. That’s definitely rain over Islay.
This stretch of beach ends at a caravan park. Time to turn inland again…
… and rejoin the road.
At the top of the next rise, I turn to look back. Uh, oh. More rain clouds. These ones are over the Mull of Kintyre and they’re heading my way.
Originally I was going to walk further along the road, for another 2-3 miles, but the prospect of rain makes me change my mind. My B&B is just a few hundred yards inland of here, and I’m going to head there now.
I turn off along a quiet lane.
And walk past Glenbarr Abbey, which is also the ‘Macalister Clan Centre’, according to a sign. I wonder what sort of gatherings the Macalister Clan hold?
Glenbarr is a tiny village, but it has a wonderful village shop, which is also a café, a garden centre, and rents rooms out.
I’m staying here for a few nights – in splendid isolation – as there are no other guests. Sadly, they don’t do a cooked breakfast, but serve some tasty homemade bread and hot croissants.
Walked today = 12 miles (surprising, because it seemed less)
Total distance around coast of Britain = 3,696.5 miles