360 Ormsary to Achahoish

Yesterday, I ended my walk at a place called Kilmaluaig, and today my first task is to get back there. But there are only two buses a day on this route, and it’s a Saturday. That means there is no early school bus, and the first bus doesn’t run until noon.

So, I get to have a lie-in, and decide to spend the rest of my free morning in Tarbert. Looking forward to it.

It’s the late May bank-holiday weekend, and Tarbert is crowded! I should have expected it, but it comes as a shock, because I’m used to having the place to myself. I can’t find anywhere to park and so, feeling dispirited, I continue driving along the Lochgilphead road, and then along a beautiful single-track road to the village of Achahoish, from where I’m going to catch the bus.

I reach Achahoish (yes, it does sound like a sneeze) nearly two hours early, park my car on a narrow verge next to the bus stop, pull out a book to read, and wait.

Unfortunately, on a Saturday, the bus doesn’t actually go as far as Kilmaluaig, but stops two miles short, in a place called Ormsary. And Ormsary turns out to be, basically, a large farm down a dusty track. Oh dear! I ask the driver to drop me off back on the main road and I walk the extra two miles up to Kilmaluaig.

01 Kilmaluig turnoff, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

You require an OS map and a nose for detection to realise the place in the photo above is, I think, where the Kilmaluaig bus would actually stop if it was running. In fact, the sign on the road says Druimdrishaig! (Working out rural Scottish bus routes is far from easy.)

Anyway, this is where I ended yesterday’s walk, and now I can start today’s walk. I turn round and begin to walk back along the road. It’s very pleasant, with great views of the sea… no, of Loch Caolisport… in Scotland every body of water is called a Loch, including estuaries. Love this road. Very little traffic.

02 road to Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

There are people ‘wild camping’ down by the shore. Well, can you call this wild camping so close to a road? Spot the tent.

03 bluebells and wild camping, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

That’s one of the great things about Scotland. You can camp, within reason, almost anywhere. And here’s another tent.

04 more camping, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

My feet are sore from all the tarmac walking I’ve been doing recently. A large blister has developed deep under the ball of my right foot – too deep to reach with a needle, so I can’t burst it. Every step is uncomfortable.

The road really is lovely. And the weather is perfect. I try to walk without limping.

05 coastal road, Loch Caolisport, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Another coastal walker (Andy Phillips) asked me if I’d seen any scarecrows on my walks recently. Apparently he saw loads of them, dotted around the verges in Argyll. I hadn’t seen any but… but now I pass this cheeky little fellow stuck in a tree.

06 scarecrow in tree, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Onwards. A few houses line the road, but mainly this is empty countryside, with grass fields and patches of woodland.

07 cottages, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Here’s a stretch of sandy beach. I’m tempted to walk along the sand, but I check my map and the way ahead seems blocked.

08 beach at Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

And there are some hostile signs on the gates – “fishing strictly preserved” – so I stay on the tarmac.

09 fishing reserved, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

(Why “preserved” rather than the more usual “reserved”? Odd choice of words.)

I see a little spit of land jutting out into the loch, and a boat house. Decide I’m definitely going to walk along there…

10 views fromm the Ormsary road, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

… but discover I’m not allowed to. This part of the shore belongs to Hendrix Genetics – a sinister Frankenstein-sounding name I’d noticed while riding on the bus earlier – but it turns out to be nothing more exciting than a fish farm.

11 Hendrix Genetics fishfarm, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

On the other side of the road is one of those atmospheric little ‘burial grounds’. A beautiful little cemetery surrounded by trees and bluebells.

12 Burial ground, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

A sign on the gate indicates that among the tombstones is a “Commonwealth War Grave”. Not graves. Just one grave.

13 Commonwealth War Grave, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

A foreign soldier buried in a foreign land, surrounded by foreign graves. Seems lonely.

I’m staying in a self-catering place in the middle of nowhere, and – apart from the bus driver – have spoken to nobody all day. So I feel a sense of connection to this lonely grave.

Further along the road I spot a couple of walkers, and begin looking forward to having a short conversation, but they head off the road and up the track towards Ormsary. The man seems to be limping. I wonder if he has a blister too?

14 walkers, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Beyond the fish farm is a beach. Oooh. That beach looks lovely. I’m definitely going to walk along the sand and give my poor foot a rest from the tarmac.

15 Ormsary beach, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

I’m not the only one enjoying the sands. There are a couple of families and a group of teenagers setting up for a picnic. Apparently pupils of Achahoish Primary School try to keep this beach tidy.

16 keep this beach tidy, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Great job, kids. It’s completely free of litter.

While I’m admiring the beach, a sports car zooms to a halt beside me and a man jumps out, while his male companion sits and grips the steering wheel. I think the man might be going to ask me the way to somewhere… but he’s only stopped to snap a couple of photographs of the beach.

‘Lovely day,’ I say, but he replies with grunts, leaps back into the car, and they shoot off again. Such a hurry. Walking, I decide, is the only way to truly appreciate the coastline.

I walk to the far end of the beach and sit on a rock. Time for lunch.

17 beach walking, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

After eating, I take a self-portrait. (Note to self: get a haircut booked!)

18 self-portrait, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

I can’t see an easy way off the beach at this end, so I walk back to where I left the road, and hit the tarmac again.

Oh, what’s that among the rocks and trees? Snow White and her seven dwarves. I guess it beats having garden gnomes.

19 snow white and some dwarves, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

(Yes, there really are seven dwarves, one is hidden just out of the shot!)

The road climbs up a slope away from the beach. Cows with young calves sit and relax in the sunshine. They look peaceful, but I’m glad they’re on the other side of the fence.


20 cows and calves, Ormsary, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

At the top of the slope is a pretty cottage, and a man in full protective gear is strimming the verge. He looks very professional but, since it’s a Saturday, I suspect he isn’t a council worker. He finds time to exchange a cheery “hello”.

21 verge strimming, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Onwards. The road gently twists, following the slope above the shore.

22 road to Achahoish, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

And then I’m heading down again towards the water.

23 Loch Caolisport, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Here’s another glorious beach, with more cars parked along the verge, including a camper van. A group of teenagers are sitting on the sand. A few people strolling. Hardly crowded.

24 beach at top of Loch Caolisport, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Sadly the sunshine fades, and the photographs I take of this area really don’t do it justice. It’s beautiful.

This is the top of the loch. The names on the map are sometimes in English, sometimes in Gaelic, and this place is called Ceann Loch Caolisport.

25 top of the loch, Achahoish

[Ceann, I later learn, means the end or top of something.]

Here’s a little school. Achahoish Primary School, even though it’s a couple of miles out of Achahoish. Ah, this is the school whose pupils help keep the beaches tidy.

26 primary school, Achahoish,Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

A father and his tiny daughter are paddling far out on the sands. I think of my blister and wonder if the water is soothingly cool. Tempting…

27 Ceann Loch Coalisport, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

… no. I haven’t got a towel, and wet sand inside my sock would do my blister no favours at all! Onwards.

Now I’ve reached the top of the loch, and the road swings away from the shore, following a valley. Down it dips, towards a river – Baranlongart Burn.

28 Ruth hiking the road to Achahoish, Argyll, Scotland

Over the bridge and up the other side. Oh dear. My foot is really, really hurting now.

29 Baranlongart Burn, Ruth hiking through Argyll

I pass through an area of felled trees. This is hard going, as my blister fills my mind, and the view is not particularly interesting. When I hear the bus rumbling up behind me, I’m tempted to put my hand out and hail it to stop… but, no, I’d only have to come back and finish this section another time.

The bus disappears up the hill. It’s the second and last bus of the day. There won’t be another one until Tuesday.

30 logging and buses, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Interestingly, on the short bus ride from Achahoish to Ormsary, the bus driver kept stopping to drop off newspapers to various people waiting beside the road. I guess this area is too rural to feature a normal paper-boy route.

I’m going downhill again. The road winds through a valley, lined with warning signs about forestry operations.

31 logging signs, Achahoish, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

No sign of any activity, just a few idle machines standing on the slopes. It is Saturday, after all.

32 no logging now, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

I reach the point where I’ve parked my car, and the start of the dead-end road into Achahoish. “No through road to Castle Sween,” says the sign. I have no idea where Castle Sween is, but presumably sometimes a car is incorrectly instructed to come this way by its sat nav.

33 no road to Castle Sween, Achahoish, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

I was planning walk a little further. Yes, I was actually planning to drive to the end of this dead-end road, offload The Monster (the heaviest folding bike in the universe), drive back to this junction, walk back to the end of the road, and ride The Monster back to my car.

I can’t face it. My foot is hurting and I am definitely walking with a limp. If I drive back to Tarbert I might be able to make it to the chemist shop before it closes, buy some more blister plasters, buy some more hay fever medication, and then have an early meal.

But, I’ve only walked 8 miles. What a wimp!

In the end, I limp half a mile down the road and into Achahoish. There’s nothing much here. A phone box…

34 Achahoish centre, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

… and a church. Next to the church is a large car park.

Now, one of the problems I’m having is finding safe places to park along these narrow, single-track roads. But THIS would be a great place to park my car tomorrow. It’s an omen. A sign.

35 Achahoish church, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

Time to stop walking. I limp back to my car. It doesn’t occur to me, until much later, that tomorrow is a Sunday and the church car park might be full… so many of my plans have gone wrong this trip… I decide not to worry about it now.

I find a place to park in Tarbert, and buy some hay fever medications. They don’t have any blister plasters – DISASTER! – but the pharmacist sells me some padded adhesive dressings that apparently you can cut to size. Oh dear. Will I be able to walk tomorrow?

Miles walked today = 9 miles
Total around coast = 3,758 miles



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 21 Argyll and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to 360 Ormsary to Achahoish

  1. budgieman2 says:

    Great blog I’m walking Welsh Coastal Path in bits Any suggestions re accommodation transport for Gower part Regards Jim

    • Ooh, you have a treat in store. Loved the Gower. Best place to stay is probably Swansea, if you’re relying on public transport, because that’s where all the buses end up! I stayed at a B&B in the Mumbles, and then I stayed in a B&B in Scurlage, just inland from Port Eynon. There’s nothing much at Scurlage, but it’s where a lot of bus routes meet.

  2. Pam Ley says:

    Blister plasters are amazing! I feel your suffering….. bulk purchase when you find some I think!

  3. Rita Bower says:

    Scotland looks beautiful….looking forward to it….probably in a few years time! Hope your blister healed quickly. They really hinder progress & come as a nasty surprise when months, maybe even years without one!
    Impressed that you’re keeping up with your blog so well too. I’m making good progress around Wales, (despite a couple of falls on my last trip….a bit of a shock to the system!) But am still in March, for updating my blog…. I need to retire!!
    Good luck & hopefully no more blisters.

    • Scotland is wonderful, Rita. You’ll love it. There are challenges though. A lack of coastal paths is one, and a very patchy bus service is another. I have to confess I am several walks behind with my blog… but I’m working on it 😀

  4. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – i am loath to give medical advice to a retired Doctor but here goes – re blisters – I have a fool proof solution for blisters – it only works with large blisters – I always carry a needle and cotton with me for this – if you develop a blister thread a length of cotton through the blister so that there is an inch or two of cotton each side of the blister – leave in situ for 24 hours – the cotton acts as a wick and dries the blister out – you may have to squeeze additional fluid out of the blister after you’ve threaded the cotton through – after 24 hours remove the cotton by just drawing it out – the skin will be dry and will re-heal. Don’t leave cotton in situ for longer as the holes will close up making withdrawing cotton difficult / painful. I haven’t had blisters for years but coincidentally had one last week and used this process. It has never failed to work for me and the good thing about it is because you’ve squeezed all the liquid out you can walk relatively painlessly even with the blister. It was a trick given to me by my mother who was a GP’s wife! Happy walking – just to let you know I have just got to east of Inverness – I am out of the Highlands – hope to reach Aberdeen in July!

    • Thank you Chris. This is excellent advice and I think I’ve heard about the cotton trick before (maybe from you, I can’t remember I’m afraid). I’ve never actually had the courage to use cotton, but I always pop my blisters – usually after letting them develop overnight. This one was too deep, under layers of hard skin, and I couldn’t even get a needle in. Very frustrating. Well done on completing the Highlands. I’ve still got so much to do!

  5. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, the Commonwealth War Grave at Ormsary is not actually of a foreign soilder it is indeed for Guardsman M.Blue who was local to this part of Argyll and actually died in 1919. Anyway I did abit of research and appeared at the time to have found a descrepency. This is a copy of my email to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

    “Hello, while walking in Argyll last week I passed through the hamlet of Ormsary. I visited burial ground and sought out the Commonwealth War Grave and found it to belong to a 16339 M. Blue – Scots Guards – 25th February 1919. I should say that I am no way related to this soldier or his family. I was curious as why he died in 1919 – possibly from long-term injuries? Anyway I checked his details on your excellent site and found what appears to be a descrepancy. The date of death on the Grave Registration Reports gives the date of death as 25th February 1918 (although the 25th has been amended). However, the date of death on the headstone and Grave Registration Documents give the same day and month, but the year as 1919. It seems that either the GRR is wrong or the Grave registration document is. Anyway, hopefuly the issue can be resolved.
    regards Alan Palin”

    The CWGC does encourage people to submit enquiries is they feel something is not correct. Anyway I received the following reply:-

    “Dear Mr Palin,

    Thank you for your email below.

    Our Records section has now investigated this case and confirmed that the date of death for Guardsman Blue is the 25th February 1919 so our database, website and the headstone are correct.

    The qualifying dates used by the CWGC for the first world war are between 1914 and 1921 as like you say many casualties were still suffering with long term injuries which could be attributable to their war service. It is also not uncommon to find discrepancies on our GRR’s as these were the first working documents before the information was checked by the service authorities and then amended if necessary.

    We trust this answers your query.

    Kind Regards

    CWGC Enquiry Support Team”

    • That is really interesting, Alan, and well done for spotting the discrepancy in the records. It’s kind of a relief, for some reason, to learn it wasn’t some poor soldier buried a long way from home. Now, why is this called a Commonwealth War Grave? Isn’t it just a war grave?

      • owdjockey says:

        Hi Ruth, well I should imagine it’s because the UK is obviously a member of the Commonwealth. I suspect (but are not sure) that the cost of the burial was borne by the state. I passed by many graveyards with the plaque informing me of a war grave within, sometimes I investigate other times I just walk on. On this occassion I sought out the grave.

  6. Eunice says:

    A good walk with some great views and lovely beaches. I like the little scarecrow up in the tree, and I hope by now your blister is all healed up 🙂

  7. Like you I can’t remember the last time I had a blister, but if and when I cover it with the largest Elastoplast I can and battle on until it sorts itself. I’m surprised not to hear more about midges, but you are a bit early in the season. Have you got a midge shirt?

    • I’ve been using Smidge, and so far that’s worked really well. Also discovered they don’t like sun block cream, bright sunshine, or breezes. Haven’t got a midge shirt, but do have a midge head net, haven’t needed it yet.

  8. jcombe says:

    I did part of this walk today. I did Tarbert to Ormsary, as the bus 447 doesn’t run in the school holidays, but the 421 does. It was a long way to cover in a day, but did mean I can avoid any cycling! I ended by that fish farm and noticed a green van passed me, then again a few minutes later.

    I was a bit early for the bus so went about 100 metres further along to have a look at the old burial ground. Then the green van came past again. I headed back to catch the bus from outside it, since there was room for the bus to stop and was putting my camera away in my rucksack when Mr green van comes passed again, pulls up and demands to know if I’ve been taking pictures of the fish farm. I explained no I’m walking the coast and was using the camera to photograph the scenery on the way and had walked past a couple of times as was looking for the best place to wait for the bus. I did explain I had stuck to the public road and did not go into the fish farm. He accepted this and said it’s fine but he had seen me and they have had some trouble in the past so wanted to check. The mind boggles what that might be, but it did make me wonder what goes on in there and if they are trying to hide something.

    • Oooh, it’s horrible to be challenged taking photos, isn’t it. Happened to me in Barrow, but it was outside the base where they make submarines, so understandable. Also happened in Lincolnshire, where a man on a tractor shouted at me not to take photos of the tractor. Made me wonder why – and what was he up to?

Leave a Reply to owdjockey Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s