It’s only a short distance from Ellary House to the beginning of my next walk. Only 3 miles on foot, but a whopping 30 mile trip by road, because you have to drive all the way round via Lochgilphead and the Crinan Canal.
It’s gone 11am by the time I get to the end of the public road and park my car. There’s a cyclist sitting on the grass, and I ask him if he’s OK, but he’s only having a rest. He asks if I’m going to the Secret Beach. No, I tell him. I’m walking up through the Ellary Estate. I ask him where the beach is – because the sea is not in sight – but he only grins. He can’t tell me, because it’s a secret!
I go through the gates of the private estate, and walk up the track. At the top, I’m half-expecting the cows to be still guarding the pass, but there’s no sign of them today. I reach the point where I stopped yesterday, turn around, and begin today’s walk.
The track is pleasant enough. It was a climb to get up here, but now I’m going steadily downhill, and the route is shaded by trees.
I haven’t got very far when I spot movement out on the slopes. Cows! I didn’t notice them on my way up. I’m sure that’s the same black cow that made me turn back yesterday. It’s giving me the evil eye, but is still some distance away, thank goodness.
I come to a cow grid. Does this mean there won’t be any beasts along the lower section of the track?
More movement on the slopes… but it’s only sheep and lambs. I don’t mind them.
The track goes on, and on. Shame I had to walk this section twice, but I didn’t dare risk riding the Monster over the rough surface.
More movement to the side of me… ah, it’s a deer. The first I’ve seen for some time.
Now I’m nearly back at the car park, where I find the cyclist has gone, and a few other cars have arrived.
At the end of the road is a place marked ‘Ballimore’ on my map, and I was expecting a small hamlet. In fact, Ballimore is a single house.
It’s midday and very hot. I stand in the shade of Ballimore’s hedge, and have a quick drink and a snack.
A couple of walkers arrive, wearing shorts and rucksacks. They tell me they’re been to the beach at Kilmory, but it was too crowded, so they’re going to another nearby beach. Ah, the Secret Beach? I watch them follow a track, scattering sheep as they go.
It’s tempting to follow them. I would like to see the beach… while I’m dithering, a couple of mountain bikers come down the Ellary track. They bounce and jitter over the rough surface. I’m really glad I didn’t try to ride the Monster down here.
They’re carrying laden panniers and have OS maps strapped to their handlebars. Dutch? Or German? They stop to readjust their equipment, and then they’re off down the road.
Time to get going. The rest of the day will be tarmac walking, but my foot is well padded and my blister feels comfortable. I’m not planning a long walk, just in case.
Round a bend in the road, and there’s a wonderful view of the sea, and… I check my map… yes, that must be Jura across the water.
Frustratingly, the road at this point runs about 1/2 mile away from the shore. At least there is virtually no traffic.
I consider striking off and trying to walk closer to the coast, but the presence of cows in the neighbouring fields acts as a deterrent. I better stick to the tarmac.
I pass a holiday village. Nice chalets. And great views over towards Jura.
Yes, wonderful views.
Further along the road, I’m approaching the village of Kilmory. Cars are parked along the road, taking up any available flat piece of verge. Looks like a popular place. What happens at Kilmory?
Ah, the beach. There it is. Very beautiful. This must be the beach the couple I met earlier referred to, and which they dismissed as being too crowded. Crowded? Hmmm. That’s a matter of perspective.
There is also an ancient chapel at Kilmory, with a collection of interesting old slabs and crosses. I plan to visit it on the way back… but, first, I’m going down to the beach.
I’m just about to head down the path to the shore, when I meet the couple I passed earlier. They’ve given up on the other beach, they tell me, because that was crowded too.
Down the path. A father and daughter pass me, almost tripping over in their hurry to get to the water. I guess days as warm and sunny as this one are rare in Scotland.
It is very lovely here. And, unlike the beaches on the south coast of England, where children go into the sea dressed in neck-to-ankle wet suits, the hardy Scottish children splash around in bathing costumes.
I stand and take photographs of the scene. Gorgeous. And not exactly crowded.
After sitting and enjoying the beach for half and hour or so, and eating my picnic lunch, I decide I really must carry on with my walk.
I walk back up the path, and then along a track to regain the road. Only when I’ve climbed back up the hill, do I stop to look back, and remember I was planning to visit the chapel. Oh well, too late now.
Onwards. The road climbs up…
… and I’m not the only creature walking up here. Hello sheep.
The single-track road is surprisingly busy from here onwards. Seems like a lot of people are driving to Kilmory and the beach, and then returning. Bit of a nuisance, as I keep stopping and standing on the verge to let cars go by.
Still, the views are gorgeous. The coastline around here is so convoluted, it’s hard to work out what I’m looking at. But that spit of land must be the Island of Danna. The water between is the entrance to Loch Sween.
Below is another beautiful beach, and with just a handful of people on it. Bàgh na Doide, according to my map.
Onwards, along this lovely road. It’s beginning to turn away from the open sea now, following the shore of Loch Sween.
What a pretty traditional cottage. Looks empty. Maybe a holiday home?
Not all the cottages along this coast have been so carefully maintained. Here are the ruins of another one.
Now I’m approaching Castle Sween. I remember the sign outside Achahoish, warning drivers there was no through road to Castle Sween through the Ellary Estate. Well, here it is at last. Only a 30 mile detour by road!
Unfortunately, Castle Sween has been taken over by a large holiday park of static caravans. It has a crowded beach, and I can make out the ruins of the castle… but I don’t feel inclined to go down and explore.
I reach the road that leads down to the holiday park. This is where I’ve left the Monster. As usual, I have the half-hearted hope that someone might have stolen it.
But no such luck. It’s waiting for me.
I hide my rucksack, and my new hat, among the ferns. Will pick them up later in the car. Then, reluctantly, I unchain the bike and hop onto the saddle.
The ride back to the car goes better than I hoped. Yes, I do have to walk the length of one uphill section, but the rest is fine. And, I have to admit, cycling certainly beats walking.
Walked today = 8.5 miles (2 in the wrong direction)
Cycled = 5 miles
Total around coast of Britain = 3,776.5 miles