359 Ardpatrick to Kilberry and Ormsary

Today I get up very early, and drive back towards Kilberry, arriving in good time to catch bus number 447. There are only 2 passengers. Myself and a sleepy-looking schoolgirl.

The bus driver seems surprised by my choice of destination – the turnoff to Ardpatrick. Yes, I know it’s the middle of nowhere.

01 Ardpatrick

Yesterday I felt frustrated and downhearted. Rather foolishly, I’d drawn up a schedule for this walking trip, with number of miles, destinations, and bus times, for each day. But, because I missed the bus yesterday, I knew all my careful plans would have to be revised.

This morning, I woke up to brilliant sunshine, and reminded myself that it is the walking that matters, not the destination, and I’d always promised myself never to look too far ahead. So I’d better forget about plans and just get on with walking. One day at a time. One step at a time.

02 road to Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

It’s a beautiful day. Warm and with just a hint of a breeze. Perfect. Not much traffic on this road either – just the occasional white-van-man, hurtling along. Why do they have to go so fast?

03 light traffic on road to Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Yes, this is a lovely stretch of road, with views over fields and sightings of the coast. And what’s the land across the water? I check my map. Must be Islay. Or Jura?

04 distant views of sea on road to Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Very few houses along the road. This traditional white cottage is called… guess what?… White Cottage. It looks empty and I wonder if it’s a holiday let. Apart from farming, what would you do if you lived out here?

05 isolated cottages, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Just a little further along, and I come to a bend and a larger house set in landscaped gardens. Gorten Lodge.

06 Gorten Lodge, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

And here’s a track leading down to the shore, where I can see a beach and a pretty bay. In Scotland there are no public footpaths, but the sign on the gate says “Farm Stock. Please keep dogs on lead.” I take that as an invitation.

07 footpath to the beach, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The route to the beach is waymarked, and easy to follow. It’s further than I thought, but the deviation is worth it. This is lovely.

08 beach atLoch Stornoway, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I turn right and walk along the sand. After a while, I come to a shallow river and wade across, before turning back to look out over the sea and take more photographs. That must be Jura over there – I recognise those hills.

09 Loch Stornoway, Ruth hiking to Kilberry, Scotland's coast

There are sheep on the beach! Why? No grass here.

I notice the flock has got itself separated on two sides of the river and wonder if the sheep on the sandbank will get cut off as the tide comes in. But then one sheep demonstrates that I’m not the only one who can wade across water!

10 sheep on the beach, Loch Stornoway, Ruth hiking to Kilberry

I’ve reached the end of the beach, and find a river that’s too deep to wade across without getting my feet very wet, so I turn inland, following a rough path. (The path is reassuring, because I was wondering if I’d have to retrace my steps.)

The path leads up to a burial ground. There are a number of old gravestones set in a large enclosure, and a more modern ‘annex’, where the graves are modern. I sit on a handy bench and have a drink and a snack.

11 Burial ground, Loch Stornoway, Ruth hiking to Kilberry

The gate to the cemetery is decorated with an anchor. “BE FIRM”.

12 Be Firm, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

I can’t resist taking photographs of the older tombstones. What a fantastic place to be buried! What a view!

13 Burial ground, Loch Stornoway, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Back on the road again, I cross the river via a bridge.

14 road to Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

An old sign tells me that Kilberry is still 3.5 miles away.  The deviation via the beach was very pleasant, but didn’t get me much further along the road.

15 Kilberry milestone, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I love these old roadside markers, but find it strange to have markers with fractions on them. Why three and a half miles? Why not proper milestones marking whole miles?

While climbing up the hill on the other side of the river, a group of cyclists overtake me. The woman with the red backpack seems the fittest. She leads the way, and then comes back to give encouragement to the others, who are finding the incline far more of a struggle.

16 cycling group, Ruth's coastal walk to Kilberry, Scotland

They disappear around the bend, but I soon come across them again. One of the cyclists has slipped their chain.

17 cyclists fixing a chain, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I remember I will need to use my own bike a little later on today. Oh dear. Not looking forward to it.

One of my many fears about The Monster, apart from falling off, is getting a puncture or slipping the chain. I can imagine the frustration of getting covered in oil as I struggle to get the thing going again, and then almost certainly being unable to repair it, and having to push the heavy contraption all the way back to my car.

Stop it! I mustn’t imagine disasters before they happen.

As I reach the top of the hill, I see I’ve nearly caught the cyclists up again. They’re having a breather. Yes, that hill was steep. Glad I’m walking, and not cycling.

18 top of the hill, Ruth's coastal walk

Over the top, and what a lovely view down the hill. A tiny sailing ship hangs, motionless, on the blue sea. There’s barely a breath of wind.

19 Kilberry Bay, Ruth's coastal walk around Argyll

The road straightens out and runs across a flat piece of ground. Lovely, but I’m getting very hot and rather tired.

I stop at a convenient gate, climb over into the field, and perch on a piece of lumpy rock. Lunch. And a chance to enjoy the great views. Those are the Paps of Jura. The last time I had such a clear view of them was when I was clambering over the Mull of Kintyre.

20 snack stop overlooking Kilberry Bay and Jura, Ruth Livingstone

I set up the timer on the camera for a self-portrait. This time I get the focus right, and can show off my new hat – a wide-brimmed ‘Australian bush hat’ (although it’s actually made in England) – perfect for windless, sunny days.

21 self-portrait, Ruth Livingstone near Kilberry, Scottish coast

I’m approaching Kilberry. Here’s the same layby where I had to pull off the road to let the bus go past yesterday. I remember the heart-sink of that moment.

22 hiking to Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Still can’t believe I got the timing so wrong – but maybe I should have predicted it would take longer than I thought. These tiny, winding roads really slow down your speed.

I was looking forward to the Kilberry Inn and thought it would be a good place to enjoy a rest and a cold drink, and maybe a slice of cake. But, luckily, I reconnoitred the place yesterday, and discovered it’s actually a restaurant rather than a pub, and it doesn’t open till midday. Shame. I’m dying for a cold drink.

23 Killberry Inn, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The red phone box outside the Inn has been turned into The Wee Bar – complete with bar stool and a ledge for your glass. There’s even a shelf of bottles inside, but they’re all empty!

24 The Wee Bar, Kilberry Inn, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Onwards. I leave Kilberry behind and climb the gentle slope out of the village. Trees give me some shade, and I enjoy the scent of bluebells.

25 walking out of Kilberry, Ruth Livingstone's coastal hike around Scotland

Now the road stretches, long and straight, to the next village. Coulaghailtro. Well, it’s not exactly a village, just a few houses clustered around a bend in the road, but it has some grass verges and it’s where I’ve left my car. (Finding places to park has been difficult.)

26 Ruth walking to Coulaghailtro

Back in the car, I drive to the next suitable parking space. It’s a wide piece of tarmac where a side road turns off towards a place called Kilmaluaig. Here, I haul the Monster out of the car, kick it into shape, and set off to cycle back to Coulaghailtro.

On the way, I stop to walk up the occasional hill. And see this poor little adder on the road. Dead. Must have been hit by a car. Or maybe by a cyclist. (Not me!)

27 dead adder on the road, Ruth Livingstone in Argyll

Surprisingly, I really enjoy the cycle ride on The Monster, and even manage to cycle up some of the gentler slopes. Perhaps I should have chosen to bike around the coast instead of walking?

I leave the bike at Coulaghailtro, and begin the second part of today’s walk. First I climb up the hill, and soon come to the turn off to Port Ban. Here is the very last bus stop on route 447.

28 Port Ban bus stop, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

(I would have caught the bus from here this morning, but there was nowhere safe to park. The bus needs all the available space to turn round.)

Onwards. The road bends and undulates. There are patches of forest on the hills, but I’m mainly surrounded by sheep-filled fields. It’s a lovely, unspoilt landscape.

29 winding road from Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Argyll

I’m about 1/2 a mile from the sea, and I do wonder if I could have found a way to walk closer to the shore. The map suggests there’s a string of small beaches below me. Perhaps I’m too resigned to road-walking? Perhaps I’ve got lazy?

30 views over Jura from Kiberry road, Ruth Livingstone

I can’t see an easy way down to the water and so, for the time being, I decide to stick to the road. Maybe I’ll find a route down soon.

This is the largest building around. A farm, I guess.

31 Cretshengan, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

The gate on my left has a familiar red sign,”Your dog can kill.” But next to it is larger sign, of a type I’ve never seen before, with some friendly looking cows dancing around. Unfortunately, the wording is not as friendly as the pictures suggest.

“Cow Mums can be very aggressive while protecting their young.” Oh, yes. I know.

32 warning notices, Cretshengan Bay, Ruth's coastal walk to Ormsary

The sign goes on to say, “Please take another route if possible that avoids this field and shoreline.” OK. Perhaps it’s just as well I didn’t try to walk along the beach, after all.

The road winds up a slope. At the top is a ruined cottage. I noticed the building when cycling this way, and I was planning to sit in the shade of the walls and have another rest… because I’m feeling very hot and tired.

But what are all those people doing? Oh, looks like a large group, consisting of several families, making its way across a field towards the same ruined house.

33 hiking family, road from Kilberry, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Some of the party are wearing inappropriate footwear (open sandals) and are finding the rough ground rather difficult to navigate. A mother shouts encouragement to her children. “You’re doing really well. We’re nearly there.”

I wonder if they’ve been down to the shore? If so, did they manage to get to the beach? Or did they turn back because of the cows? Anyway, but the time I get to the ruined building, the group are congregating around the walls, and so I decide to keep on walking.

Farther up the road is another set of ruined cottages, but these look less appealing as there is a scruffy static caravan parked close by.

34 ruined farmhouse, Ruth hiking to Ormsary, Argyll

I sit on a wall under the shade of the pine trees, and have a quick drink and brief rest. I don’t dare stay still for long. The midges are out!

The rest of the walk is a lovely amble along the road, high above the shore, with great open views across to the mouth of… I check my map… ah, the mouth of Loch Caolisport.

35 beautiful road to Ormsary, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Down on my left is a beach. And, what’s that on the sand?

36 Beach at Stotfield Bay, Ruth hiking the coast road to Ormsary

I take a blurry shot with my zoom lens and later blow it up to demonstrate what I’ve just seen. Yes, cows, and with very young calves too.

37 cows on the beach, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Now, I’m really, really glad I didn’t try to walk along the shore!

I’m growing tired. And, rather worryingly, I’ve developed quite a painful blister under the ball of my right foot. It must be due to all the road walking I’ve been doing. Not only is the tarmac tough underfoot, but I’ve been wearing walking shoes without as much padding as my normal walking boots.

Why am I wearing these shoes instead of my comfortable boots? Because I can’t pedal in walking boots, and so I’m wearing shoes in order to ride the bike. Grrrrrr. The Monster is really NOT my best friend.

I’m nearly there. My car is parked somewhere over that hill.

38 Loch Caolisport, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Just before I reach my car, I meet the cyclists again. This time, they’re cycling back towards me.

I manage to exchange a few words with the woman with the red rucksack. She’s in the lead again, and definitely the fittest of the bunch. (The rest are too tired to speak.) They’ve had a great ride, she tells me, and been all the way round to the other side of the loch.

As she cycles off, one of the male cyclists – going at a much slower rate – begins instructing her in the use of gears.

39 cyclists again, Ruth's coastal walk to Ormsary

I can’t resist a photograph of their disappearing backs. The fittest woman, despite her apparent ignorance of gears, is in the lead again.

Onwards. I limp back to the car. I was planning to walk a little farther today, and to reach Ormsary, which is still a couple of miles farther along the road. But, my blister is troubling me, and the thought of unleashing the Monster again seems just too much effort…

So, I decide I’ve done enough for one day.

Miles walked today = 10.5 miles
(plus an additional 3.5 miles of cycling)
Total distance around coast of Britain = 3,749 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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16 Responses to 359 Ardpatrick to Kilberry and Ormsary

  1. Eunice says:

    I became so engrossed reading this that I let my brew go cold 🙂 I love the sheep on the beach, and cows too – I’ve never seen anything like that before. The views are gorgeous – with scenery like that I wish I was walking with you 🙂

  2. coaststomper says:

    Loved your philosophical words about having to change your plans. I’m guessing it took a while for the frustration to subside regarding all those carefully laid plans.
    Apparently sheep like eating seaweed.
    Suggestion for the saddlebag of the Monster, to handle slipped chains, a pair of disposable plastic to latex gloves – carry some and it never happens. I’m a regular cyclist and have developed the knack of cycling in walking boots – I find heavier footwear helps me cycle faster! So I suggest you give it a go.

  3. jcombe says:

    Absolutely beautiful. It is nice to see the weather in Scotland seems to have been just as good as it has been here in the last few weeks. I did wonder if that cyclist really spoke for all her party when telling you what a good time they’d had if the others were too exhausted to talk!

    Cows on a beach is a new one for me too (I have seen horses a few times, though).

    I do share you pain regarding walking shoes which are too firm and heavy, I remember ending up with numerous blisters after a day pounding pavements and mostly tarmac paths around the Firth of Forth near Edinburgh. I’m afraid those shoes ended up in a bin the next day, I couldn’t face wearing them again or carrying them around with me for the rest of the trip.

    Hope you get on OK with the cycling (I guess you must have survived at least, to be writing this!). I’ve had a puncture and it’s a right pain, though I was only cycling the couple of miles home from work. I decided to just carry on in the hope it would get me home, but pretty soon the tire came off the wheel. After that I opted to dump the bike in a bush, walk home and drive back to pick it up later, I couldn’t face pushing it back the rest of the way home.

    • How frustrating for you, and not a good end to a working day. I dread getting a puncture. My hubby has put together a puncture-repair kit, which he has strapped to the back of the bike. Of course, I have no idea how to use it… 😆 The tyres are supposed to be puncture resistant, so we will see if that is true or not.

  4. Hmm, I think that male cyclist might have been a mansplainer! Beautiful scenery.

  5. Robin Massey says:

    Thanks Ruth, another lovely, interesting post. Your tales and pics are inspirational.

  6. I suggest you carry a couple of spare inner-tubes. It’s much easier than mending a puncture on the spot. I have been wearing Gortex lined (or similar – i.e. waterproof) walking shoes for years now over all kinds of terrain. With a little care there is hardly any need to get your feet wet except in long wet grass when the water soaks down through socks, so boots are no better. I also replace footbeds with fully cushioned Sorbothane footbeds. So much the better if you can find a pair with Vibram soles – I have some Mountain Warehouse ones but they don’t seem to do the same spec. in ladies. I honestly can’t remember the last time I wore boots – I would do so if for example I was back Munroing again.

    I know you have bought a heavy folding bike but with quick release hubs on the front wheel that wheel can be removed and replaced very easily in seconds, and I have found I can then stow the bike in the boot with the help of folding down rear seats. That would make it possible to have a lighter mountain bike with a friendly gearing system, and fitted with mid-range tyres – that would all be much more comfortable and fit for purpose.

    • I agree Vibram soles are very good. The shoes I was wearing were cheap Mountain Warehouse ones (no vibram) and are usually very comfortable- but this was just too far and the tarmac too hard. Your bike suggestions are excellent. I think my puncture repair kit (as constructed by hubby) might contain an inner tube. To be honest, my eyes glazed over when he was explaining it to me, I’m ashamed to say. Now, I’m rather hoping the Monster gets stolen, so I can buy a decent bike!

  7. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, for the mileage you are doing on your bike, my advice would be to forget about carrying or attempting a puncture repair at the side of the road! If you get one just dump the bike and retrieve it later. The best option is reduce the chance of getting a puncture in the first place and for that I would turn to ‘him indoors’ (who is keen cyclist himself if I remember rightly) by fitting good quality anti-puncture tyres and tyre sealant.


  8. Karen White says:

    Some lovely properties but oh, so isolated. I’m not sure I’d like it now I’m getting older. I love the view of the blue sea, and the next one of the Paps of Jura.

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