This morning I forget the bus doesn’t stop in the harbour area of Tarbert, but in a car park a little further up the road. Realising my mistake, I’m jogging along the road when I see the bus coming up behind me. Luckily, the driver notices my frantic signals, and waits at the stop until I got there.
He seems unnecessarily impatient when I climb on board, but later apologises. He is worried because two young Chinese-looking tourists are hoping to make the ferry crossing to Islay.
[The above photo is taken at a different time of day as, of course, I wouldn’t dare to keep the bus waiting while I used my camera!]
During the journey, the driver phones the ferry terminal to tell them of the late arrivals, only to discover the ferry’s departure time has been inexplicably brought forward by half an hour! Luckily, they seem happy to delay the sailing until the bus arrives.
After all this excitement, I’m feeling a little frazzled by the time I get off the bus at Clachan. To be honest, I ‘m really not looking forward to today’s walk, because it will be mainly along the road. And the BBC weather forecast says it is going to rain.
To start with, I’m avoiding the A83 for a mile or so, and following a minor road out of Clachan.
It loops up over the hill, promising to give me great views over the surrounding countryside. Well, it would give me great views… if only there wasn’t all this mizzling cloud hanging low over the landscape.
I can just about see the water of West Loch. It’s about a mile away over the fields.
Actually, my map shows a possible path that follows the shore more closely. But other walkers have reported obstructions and deep, cow-slurried mud. So, I’ve decided to stick to the road today.
Hello sheep. That’s a couple of fine-looking lambs you’ve got there.
All too soon, my minor road drops down and joins the main road again.
Now I’m back on the A83, and it begins to rain. I stow my camera away, put my head down, and trudge along. Unfortunately the road is fairly busy, with very fast-moving traffic, so I have to keep my ears open and be prepared to leap onto the verge.
A car slows down beside me. I think they’re going to offer me a lift (which I would refuse, of course, although they’re going the wrong way anyway), but the two European gentlemen inside only want to know if there is a petrol station close by. I can’t remember seeing one during my long walk up the A83, so I tell them the next one is in Campbeltown, many miles away. They seem unperturbed by the distance, and drive off.
[Later I realise there is a petrol station only a mile away down the road. I’d missed seeing it during my diversion along the minor road.]
The rain slows to a mere drizzle. I risk taking my camera out for a few photographs. Sadly, low clouds still obscure the views.
There are numerous “For Sale” signs along the road. Does this mean the area is ripe for development? Or going into decline? Otherwise, there isn’t much to see. Only tarmac, and the occasional fast-moving car or lorry.
Ah, there’s a big white house down there. That must mean I’m approaching a place called, rather unimaginatively, Whitehouse.
Onwards. Dodging traffic. Blind bends and steep hills make for a rollercoaster road full of dangerous corners.
To my right is a track leading up the hillside. Freasdail Wind Farm, according to the sign. The turbines are invisible from here, but I can remember them dominating the landscape when I started my walk down the east coast of Kintyre.
Ah, and here’s the turn off to Skipness. I feel I’m bypassing an old friend. Despite the spray from passing cars, I stop to pull my camera out. Want to document this junction.
Soon I’m back at the ferry terminal for Islay. I don’t go down to the quay, but keep walking along the A83.
The traffic is really getting on my nerves. Although there’s plenty of room for a single car to pass me, there isn’t enough room for two cars plus me. So, I must keep looking and listening out for a second car approaching at the same time, and be prepared to jump up onto the verge if I need to. This means my attention has to be focused on the road, and I can’t relax and get into the swing of the walk.
I’m walking fairly close to West Loch now. Such a shame the views are dismal.
Onwards. More hills and bends. I keep my ears tuned for cars and lorries. Wish the council had provided a pavement or a proper cycle lane…
… because it’s not just me that is at risk from the traffic. A couple of cyclists pull up in a layby to let an impatient tanker go past.
I can see the shore on the other side of the loch. It’s still very misty over there.
More cyclists whizz past me.
And here’s a sign about a “cycle event”. What event?
[Later I discover the Kintyre Way Ultras race is taking place tomorrow, the 5th May. There is a choice of running races and cycle races. They all look tough!]
On a bend in the road, I see a moored ship. Moored? On dry grass?
I stop to admire the view down West Loch. It’s a long expanse of light and water, and I do believe the mist is beginning to clear.
To my right is a holiday park. The wooden chalets look cosy. There is a children’s play area and a bench – so I sneak inside, sit on the bench, have something to drink, and eat my snacks.
Sitting on the bench makes my bum wet, but I feel wonderfully refreshed from my short break.
Onwards. Past that old moored ship. It really does look dilapidated when I get close up.
And a few yards further, lurking in the trees, is an even more dilapidated caravan.
There’s a green lane running down beside the caravan. I check my map. Oh, excellent. It looks as if I can leave the A83 and follow a path around the shore to West Tarbert.
Shame the edges of the lane are covered in rubbish. Yuck.
Farther along, past the rubbish, and the lane becomes overhung with trees and really very pretty. I can see tarmac underneath the grass, so suspect this was once the route of the original coast road.
Unfortunately, after a while the lane becomes more and more overgrown, until it disappears under a thicket of bushes. I could force my way through… but I don’t want to fight my way through the dripping jungle for another 1/2 mile or so. Reluctantly, I turn back.
Back on the old A83 again, I dodge traffic, and walk past the turn off for the cemetery.
By now the sky is clearing and the sun might just possibly make an appearance. My mood lifts. Not far to go.
The road runs along the shore of the loch again, and I look over at the far bank. I’m going home tomorrow but, on my next visit to Scotland, I’ll be walking along a quiet road down that other bank.
Here’s the turning at the top of the loch. This is where I’ll start my next walk.
But, today, I must continue along the A83, and into Tarbert to find my car.
Tarbert is very pretty. The prettiest place in Kintyre, in my opinion, and bustling with cafes, pubs and shops. It has an impressive church, a lovely harbour, and even a castle on the hill. What more could you want?
I balance my camera on the bonnet of my car and set up for a self-portrait. It’s going to be a lovely photo, with the sun on my face and the beautiful harbour behind me. Yes, a really impressive photo…
… if only I’d got the focus right!
Miles walked today = 11.5 miles
Total distance around coast so far = 3,724.5 miles