The bus drops me off, and I walk up the narrow lane from Tayinloan village, heading towards the ferry terminal.
There’s not much at the ferry port. A café, a small waiting area for vehicles, and a signboard giving details of the next sailing to the Isle of Gigha.
I’ve heard Gigha is beautiful, but I’ve decided to resist visiting the Scottish islands (except for Arran, which I’ve already walked around). With so many attractive places to visit, I could spend the rest of my life taking ferry trips!
The ferry is just arriving… it does look enticing.
But, no, I must get on with my walking trek.
I leave the ferry port behind and continue to follow the Kintyre Way along the shore. For the next 4-5 miles I’ll be away from the road. Yippee. It’s wonderful to be beside the sea again, although the beach is not particularly scenic – an untidy mix of stones, seaweed, and sand.
I pass a wrecked ship. “Island Queen”. And stop to take photographs. It doesn’t look as if it has been here very long. I wonder what happened?
This bay has no name on my map and there are no buildings along the shore. But halfway around I come across another holiday park. The static caravans have attractive balconies overlooking the sea, and unspoilt views across the Sound of Gigha.
Past the caravan site, and I’m heading along the edge of a low-lying triangle of land that juts out into the sea. The far point is called Rhunahaorine Point, with a watch tower and an electricity station of some sort. Presumably here is where electricity cables go under the water, and supply the Isle of Gigha.
On the flat land beside the point are two other structures – a cairn, and a trig point.
Is there something placed on top of the trig point? What is it? I head across the grass to find out.
Oh, a sheep’s skull. Nice.
Round the point, the beach continues uninterrupted. Shame the light is very dull and my photographs don’t really do this bay justice. Oh dear. Looks like rain clouds over there. Am I going to get wet?
But the weather gods are kind to me. For the rest of this section of the walk, I can watch the rain falling over the hills to the north, while I remain dry. In fact, the sun even peeps through intermittently.
After a while I grow fed up with beach walking – the sand is soft and energy-sapping – and I climb up onto the grassy plateau above the shore.
But this turns out to be a mistake. The grassland is full of hidden bogs, cut through by deep streams and drainage channels, and there are barbed wire fences to climb. In places the bank has suffered erosion, with mini landslips. So I soon clamber down the bank to walk along the sand again.
I find a post to balance my camera on, and take a self-portrait.
There is the occasional stream to wade across, but luckily the water is never very deep and I keep my feet dry.
I come across the remains of industrial structures. My map shows a “fish farm”, but this must have been abandoned some time ago. There is also evidence of quarrying, again with no sign of recent activity.
Onwards. Towards the rain. Sadly, I’m beginning to run out of beach.
When the sand comes to an end, the Kintyre Way takes me up through grass and rocks, twisting and winding. There is a visible path underfoot, but it isn’t very wide and doesn’t look well used.
In fact, in places the path deteriorates into a quagmire of mud, or becomes obliterated by weeds. But, just when I think I’ve lost the route, I spot the familiar blue posts. Ah, this is the right way, after all.
I stop at a picnic bench. Time for a snack, a drink, and a short rest. But I don’t dare stop for long. Those clouds ahead look even blacker.
Now the path runs below and roughly parallel to the main road (the A83), but screened from it by a thick bank of brambles and other vegetation. I know the road is only a few feet away because I can hear the wheels of cars and lorries passing over the tarmac, just above my head.
At first I enjoy walking along this hidden path, but then I come across an obstruction. A downed tree, with branches sprawling over the path in an untidy mess and… and, bits of a car are strewn about. Yes. Those are definitely pieces of bumper and there’s even a broken number plate. A car must have come off the road.
Oh dear. I feel suddenly anxious. First of all, I can’t easily climb over this mess and, secondly, what would happen to me if another car came off the road at this point?
A vision flashes through my head. I see myself lying broken and undiscovered beneath a crashed car, until, days later, the recovery vehicle arrives to lift the metal wreck up and finds my body…
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t blessed with such a vivid imagination!
Shaken, I scramble up the bank, crawl through a hedge of brambles, climb over a barbed-wire fence, and get myself back on the tarmac. I’m not sure if this is any safer, but at least, if a car squishes me up here, I’ll be seen.
Onwards, past the obstruction, and I follow the road for a while, before I decide to get back onto the Kintyre Way. The path is clearer now, as it crosses thorough an open area of grassland, and meanders along parallel to the road.
There’s a hill ahead. That must be Ronachan Point.
Still following the Kintyre Way, I turn left down a track marked “Private Road”.
Ronachan Bay is very pretty, with a little sandy beach, and dominated by an impressive building – Ronachan House. I can’t quite work out whether this is a private home, or whether the house has been converted into apartments, or holiday lets.
I’m very grateful to whoever owns the house for allowing the Kintyre Way to pass through its grounds. (Although, I would have liked to walk around the Point itself.) I follow the bank of a stream, surrounded by mature trees…
… past waterfalls and pretty bridges…
… until I reach the main gates.
Now I’m back on the A83 again, but at least there is a pavement to walk along.
Between trees, and across the fields, I can make out a narrow strip of water. I realise I’ve left the sea behind. That water is the mouth of the West Loch of Tarbert.
The road is heading downhill. I know Clachan is just around this next corner. Onwards.
The main road bypasses Clachan, so I turn off into the village, where I’ve parked my car next to the old church (which looks disused) and close to the bus stop and the phone box.
In my hurry to catch the bus earlier, I didn’t really notice the phone box. These structures are now becoming historical relics, and very few of them seem to contain working phones. I’ve seen them used to base rural defibrillators, but this one is full of… of books?
I read the sign fixed to the door. “BOOK EXCHANGE”.
The sign goes on to explain “We have re-stocked the book exchange with a broad range of second-hand books. Enjoy reading!”
I take a quick look.
An odd mix. The obligatory Catherine Cookson, an old Enid Blyton, and a more modern Swimming Home by Deborah Levy.
Nothing I fancy, to be honest. But I don’t have a book to exchange anyway.
It comes as something of a shock to realise this is my 365th day of walking. That means I’ve been walking for a complete year!
(Actually, it’s 8 years since I started walking the coast, but you know what I mean.)
Miles walked today = 16.5 miles
Total around coast = 3,713 miles
Route: morning in red, afternoon in black.