363am Castle Sween to Achnamara

It’s going to be another day of road-walking, but my blister is well padded and my foot feels surprisingly comfortable. I drop the Monster bike off in the village of Achnamara, and drive back to Castle Sween, where I park in a layby.

01 Castle Sween cross roads, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

What’s that in the field with the sheep? Ah. A group of deer.

02 deer in fields, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

This section of road has no view of the sea, which is a pity, but is bordered by flowering rhododendron bushes, and some wonderful oak trees.

03 rhodedendrons, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Oh. A dead vole on the road. Poor thing.

04 dead vole, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

One thing I’ve learnt from watching the BBC’s Countryfile is that voles really are at the bottom of the food chain. Everything eats voles. But I wonder what happened to this one? Was it dropped by a bird of prey? Or hit by a car?

Further down the road and I spot something in a patch of grass. A standing stone, a memorial, or an old religious cross? I’m not sure, because the deer fence prevents me getting a closer look at it.

05 cross by the road, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Now the road heads down to the shore again, and I spot a signpost. “Shore Walk 500m.”

06 shore walk sign, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

The sign is pointing back the way I’ve come. Oh no. Was there really a footpath running along by the water after all? If so, I’ve missed it. Perhaps the walk started at Castle Sween? Now I could kick myself for not going down there to investigate.

But, hang on. What does the sign actually mean? Is there a shore walk 500m away? Or does it mean the shore walk is 500m long? I look at my map, but can only see a short track marked, and it looks like a dead-end.

Oh well, too late anyway. Onwards, along the road. At least now I’m walking close to the water.

07 Loch Sween and Jura, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Yesterday was bank holiday Monday, and this road was relatively busy with cars driving down to the beach at Kilmory. Today, just gone 9am on a Tuesday, I hardly meet anything. Lovely and peaceful.

08 road to Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

A roadside sign offers me lamb and mutton. Hope the sheep grazing nearby can’t read. And they’ve added another sign – pork too.

09 lamb and mutton for sale, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

There are a few scattered farms and cottages along this road. Some of them look like holiday lets. This one is really pretty, and with great views over Loch Sween.

10 little house, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I’ve left the Island of Danna behind, and the land I can see across the water belongs to yet another peninsula. Behind that are some taller hills. Are they on the mainland? Really, the geography of this area is totally confusing, and the clear light gives me views of places well beyond my current map.

11 Ruth Livingstone walking the coast of Argyll

I come around a curve, and here’s a little slipway with some boats pulled up on the foreshore.

12 slipway and boats, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Around, half-hidden in the bushes, are a motley collection of caravans and shacks. Used by fishermen? I can’t imagine people live here permanently.

13 caravans and boats, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

There’s the sound of hammering, and I come across a couple of men putting a shed together. A garage? A man cave? Or is it a boathouse?

14 shed construction, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Down by the water, on a wide grassy stretch, are a congregation of Canadian geese. And some other type… I’m not sure… are they greylag geese? I’m not very fond of Canadian geese – noisy, messy creatures.

15 canadian geese, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Now the road begins to climb a hill. In the field below are sheep. Oh, and another deer. Yes, those deer fences around the fields are working really well!

16 deer among sheep, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

At the top of the hill, I stop to catch my breath, and to look back at the view across Loch Sween.

17 view over Loch Sween, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

There’s a funny little house on the corner of the road, and more flowering rhododendrons.

18 Daltote Cottage, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

A group of cyclists come past. A family. They’re following the prescribed format – father in front, kids in the middle, mum struggling at the back. I remember how much I hated family cycling expeditions, but, oh dear… I will be cycling along here shortly myself…

19 cyclists on the road to Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

… at least it’s downhill most of the way.

Onwards. Oh, and here’s another one of those funny little scarecrows beside the road. I remember Andy Phillips (another coastal walker) mentioned seeing plenty of these when he walked through Argyll, but this is only the second one I’ve come across. This poor chap is so old, his face has faded away completely.

20 scarecrow by the road, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I’ve been seeing signs of equestrian activity, with horse blankets draped over gates, and fields set out with little jumps. Now, here is a sign warning of horse riders. Haven’t met any yet.

21 horseriding sign, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I come to a largish house which seems to be a horse-riding centre. There are certainly plenty of horses in the fields round about.

22 riding centre, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

But this little pony is standing very still.. oh, it isn’t a real horse.

23 fake horse, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

And neither is this a real horse. Another deer. Just a few yards away from the road.

24 deer among the horses, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I stop and take several photos of the deer. It doesn’t appear in the least bit timid, but it keeps moving about. Stand still! I’m trying to take your photo. Really, I would never have the patience to be a wildlife photographer.

I pass a swanky entrance gate. Eilean Loain estate.

25 entrance to Eilean Loain Estate, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

And, a short while later, a not-so-swanky cottage. It has a pretty little blue shed outside, and a coffee sign. Coffee? Is this a café?

26 Ashfield Cottage, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

No. Not exactly. It’s a lovely little refreshment shed, with a fridge, cold drinks, snacks, free-range eggs, and an honesty box.

27 refreshment shed, Ashfield, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I check my pockets, but find I have only got my emergency £20 note. Make a mental note to stop here later in my car. The chance of a cold drink is just too tempting.

The road begins heading downwards, and back towards the shore. There’s a little boathouse down there. Lovely view.

28 road to Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

On the right is a new development. Wonder if it’s going to be a private house and if the owner is currently living in the static caravan perched nearby. Machines are busily carving out a driveway from the slope of the hillside.

29 new buildings, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

There certainly seems to be a lot of new development in Argyll. Hope that’s a sign of prosperity, and also hope the wonderful, peaceful nature of this area won’t change. It’s not exactly crowded at the moment.

30 approaching Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

On a track nearby, I spot a camper van. A camper van! That would be the answer to my accommodation problems. Yes, that would be perfect.

31 camper van, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Scotland is fully booked! I spent the first half of this walking trip staying in the only place I could find on Booking.com, and had over a 30 mile drive to reach the start of my walks. Now I’m staying in a hotel on the Crinan Canal where I was lucky to get a room. Other coastal walkers have told me the problem gets worse as you progress up the northwest coast.

Oh, a camper van would be a great idea. It would solve all my accommodation problems. (Note to self: will need to persuade hubby.)

Onwards. I must nearly be at Achnamara now. Here’s a pretty little bay, where there’s a slipway and some boats moored up on the grass.

32 slipway, Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I spot a picnic table on the slope below, next to a makeshift jetty. Perfect. It’s not yet 12 midday, but definitely time for an early lunch. Afterwards, I take a self-portrait beside the little jetty. (Another note to self: really MUST get a hair cut!)

32 self-portrait, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast of Scotland, Achnamara

I sit and enjoy the bay for a while. A man comes past in a kayak… no, I think that is actually a canoe. He waves at me. The air is still and the water flat. Looks idyllic.

33 man in kayak, Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

Then, onwards, and into Achnamara. I was hoping there would be a café here, or even a pub, but in fact there’s nowhere to buy a drink or anything to eat.

34 Achnamara, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

My bike is parked behind a shed, along with a pair of ordinary shoes for cycling in. Hello Monster. I’m back.

35 The Monster, Ruth's coastal walk, Knapdale, Scotland

I decide to leave my walking boots and rucksack behind, because I don’t yet feel confident to cycle while carrying the weight of my pack on my back. I hide these things in a bush, and – oh, horror – midges!

They were lurking in the shade and now launch a frenzied assault on the exposed skin of my neck and arms. Go away, you horrible wee beasties!

Luckily, the Monster is unfolded and ready to run. I jump on the saddle and pedal like mad. I may not be a fast rider, but can certainly outpace a flock of midges. You see, you ugly, horrible bike, you do have some benefits, after all!

[to be continued]

Route this morning: 7 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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12 Responses to 363am Castle Sween to Achnamara

  1. tonyhunt2016 says:

    Isn’t your vole actually a shrew – predator of voles?

  2. We have certainly noticed a change in Scotland over the time we have been here. 30 years ago we’d just set off and find accommodation en route. This year, we booked in February for an August trip and things were already getting tight! It’s a good thing to have visitors though, so I’m not complaining.

  3. Have you tried”Air B and B?
    When I am walking their locations are not always near somewhere to eat in the evening, but with your car that would be easier. I have used them quite a lot, always with satisfactory results.

    • Hi Conrad. Good suggestion, and I’ve used Air B&B a couple of times (useful on Arran, where finding anywhere to stay was a huge problem). Unfortunately everywhere seemed fully booked at the moment.

  4. Eunice says:

    Great photos again and lovely scenery – it’s getting better as you head further north 🙂 I agree with the first comment, your vole was actually a shrew – if I’d found it I would have moved it off the road as I wouldn’t have wanted it to get squashed, dead or not 😦 I actually came across a shrew myself while walking a footpath a couple of weeks ago, then last weekend I found a dead mole at the side of a fishing lake 😦

    • Hi Eunice. Always sad finding dead animals. When on the roads, I usually assume they’ve been stuck by a car, but I find them on paths and in the middle of fields too. Nature is harsh.

  5. Alka Foster says:

    What you refer to boathouses are hydro stations making clean renewable energy for the local community.

  6. Karen White says:

    Lovely photo of the trio of deer near the beginning of this post.

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