357 Clachan to Tarbert

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.

01 Clachan village, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

02 country roads, Clachan, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

I can just about see the water of West Loch. It’s about a mile away over the fields.

03 view over West Loch, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

04 sheep and lambs, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

All too soon, my minor road drops down and joins the main road again.

05 back on the main road, Ruth's hiking trip to Kintyre

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.

06 road-walking to Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

07 approaching Whitehouse, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

08 track to the windfarm, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

09 turnoff to Skipness, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

Soon I’m back at the ferry terminal for Islay. I don’t go down to the quay, but keep walking along the A83.

10 Kennacraig Ferry Terminal, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

11 misty views, road to Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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…

12 winding road to Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

… 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.

13 lorries and cyclists, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

I can see the shore on the other side of the loch. It’s still very misty over there.

14 west loch, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

More cyclists whizz past me.

15 more cyclists, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

And here’s a sign about a “cycle event”. What event?

16 cycle event sign, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

[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?

17 moored boats, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

18 view up West Loch, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

19 holiday park, West Tarbert, Ruth walking the coast of Scotland

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.

20 abandoned boat, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

And a few yards further, lurking in the trees, is an even more dilapidated caravan.

21 trashed caravan, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

22 dumped rubbish, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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.

23 old coast road, West Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk

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.

24 Carrick Cemetery, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland, Tarbert

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.

26 top of West Loch, Ruth hiking to Tarbert

Here’s the turning at the top of the loch. This is where I’ll start my next walk.

27 junction, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

But, today, I must continue along the A83, and into Tarbert to find my car.

28 Tarbert signpost, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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?

29 Tarbert harbour, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

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…

30 self-portrait, Tarbert, Ruth's coastal walk around Kintyre, Scotland

… if only I’d got the focus right!

Miles walked today = 11.5 miles
Total distance around coast so far = 3,724.5 miles



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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10 Responses to 357 Clachan to Tarbert

  1. Anabel Marsh says:

    Looks like you got a typically Scottish summer day there! Tarbert is lovely, I agree.

  2. A smile about the petrol station. One should get a map with them all shown before venturing into Scotland – they are few and far between and exorbitantly expensive. I think you missed the poshest toilets in the UK at Tarbert – here is a link to Dropbox for a photo – click on thumbnail, then on “Full Screen” at the bottom to see to best advantage:

  3. It seems the photo has arrived over enlarged without having to go to Dropbox. If you scroll a bit with the mouse I think it will come back to normal size.

  4. Rosemary Fretwell says:

    When we walked round Scotland, in the opposite direction to you (see my blog — “Turn Left at Bognor Pier”) we made a rule that if there had once been a ferry across an estuary we could count it as if we had used it! Otherwise we would have spent days, if not weeks, walking round inland lochs instead of along the coast. So, after we had walked from Kilberry to Ardpatrick, the next Walk started in Clachan because there was once a ferry between Clachan and Ardpatrick!
    We have walked 3931 miles so far, from Bognor Regis to Milford Haven, over 385 days, but it has taken us 20 years! We are determined to finish despite increasing age (we are both now in our mid-70s) and ill health (we have had eight operations between us, most of them major, since we started.) But we shall never give up! At the moment we are both in the peak of health, and it is regular walking that keeps us so.
    Good luck with your continuing trek around Scotland — it is a fascinating country! And very friendly.

  5. Karen White says:

    It’s a great shame that people will dump rubbish anywhere, spoilng the countryside for everyone else. I’m not sure if I’ve hot in a muddle as to where I was up to but am continuing from this point.

  6. jcombe says:

    I did part of this walk today, between Whitehouse and Tarbert and it looks like in much the same conditions as you had. The old boat on the grass is still there, as is the smashed up static caravan. I was going the other way so didn’t try to follow the lane with the old caravan because I didn’t actually spot the other end of it coming out to the road anyway. I might have been tempted if going the same way as you.

    I did try to follow the B8026 and hoped to get through but it led into a private garden, again this is an old part of the A83, now bypassed and abandoned (or rather, taken over by a resident).

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