364am Bellanoch to Carsaig

I catch the bus from Bellanoch and, as usual, I’m the only passenger. The driver recognises me from yesterday. “I’m not going to Achnamara today,” he says. I explain that’s OK, because I want to be dropped off at the Barnluasgan monument. He’s not sure where I mean, but says he’ll drop me off wherever I want.

So, I choose to get off at the Forestry Commission car park, the place where I saw the camper van yesterday.

01 car park, Loch Coille a Bharra, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

The bus driver thinks I’m going for a walk through the forest but, in fact, I must follow the B8025 as it runs down the east coast of the next peninsula. Unfortunately, there’s no alternative track.

02 B8025, Ruth hiking to Tayvallich, Knapdale, Argyle

Luckily traffic is light – much lighter than yesterday. It’s nearly 10am, and I must have missed the rush hour. Also, as the road gets narrower, so the cars are forced to drop their speed.

03 woodland, B8025, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast of Argyll

It seems a long road. On and on. I meet the bus coming back, and I’m sure the driver must think it’s odd to see me marching down the hot road, instead of wandering through the cool paths in the forest.

There is nothing much around, just an occasional building, but no village until I get to Tayvallich.

04 road to Tayvallich, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Argyll

There have been a few occasions on my coastal walk when I’ve asked myself why I’m doing this. This is one of them. I’m walking along a road, without the sea in sight, and it’s been a real struggle over the past few days to (1) find places to stay, (2) find any form of helpful public transport, (3) find a path or track to take me off the tarmac.

I’m hot. And I still have my blister. Yes, why am I doing this?

Well, today I have no choice but to finish the walk I’ve planned and get back to my car. Except… except I could catch the next bus when it comes up from Tayvallich… yes, I could do that.

There’s a sea loch just over to my left, screened by trees, called Caol Scotnish. The only people who get to enjoy the view are those who have residences bordering the water, even though some of the residences look rather impermanent.

05 shacks among the trees,

Ah, finally, the road begins to run close to the shore. This is better. I start to cheer up, but only slightly.

06 Caol Scotnish, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

A motorbike overtakes me. I envy his speed and his freedom. Everything is so much slower on foot, and so much more difficult!

07 motorcyclist on B8025, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

A couple of miles or so later, and I come to a little area of parkland, where I spot some information boards. A family group have stopped their car and are reading the boards.

08 parking place at Scotnish, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

When they’ve finished, I go and take a look. The boards talk about the ancient woodland in this area, and mention a pink coral-type seaweed, called maerl, that grows in the sea loch.

I sit beside the water, eat a snack and have a rest, and stare at the water. It’s a weird orange colour in places, but I can’t convince myself I can see any maerl.

Onwards. The houses grow more numerous. I must be approaching Tayvallich. Then the road bends round a corner.. and there it is. Beautiful.

09 Tayvallich through the trees, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

Looking at Scottish OS maps, you can never tell exactly what you’re going to find. Some places – such as Barnluasgan – consist of a single cottage and an old memorial. Tayvallich is a proper village. Well, a coastal resort, really.

10 Tayvallich, Ruth Livingstone hiking the coast of Argyll, Scotland

It’s like a different world. There’s a pub and a café. There are people in kayaks. People walking along the road. People sitting in gardens eating their lunch. And a couple of men doing yoga on the grass verge.

It’s a little early for the pub, so I head for the café. It’s popular, and sits right next to the slipway which you can use if you want, but are encouraged to pay a voluntary donation. It’s also the departure point for a passenger ferry over to Jura.

11 Jura passenger ferry and cafe, Tayvallich, Ruth Livingstone

Jura? That island has been my companion (off and on) for many days now. I’m tempted to go and take a closer look… but tempted only for a moment. I’ve still got many miles to walk to get back to my car.

So, instead of taking the ferry, I go to the café, where I sit inside because it’s too hot to sit in the sun. There’s a long wait to be served, during which I ponder my choices.

I could walk further down the peninsula, because the road carries on for another four miles or more, and ends up crossing a bridge over to the Island of Danna. But the road is a dead-end, and I would simply have to turn round and retrace my steps, so – following my rules – I don’t have to do this. In fact, continuing to the end of the peninsula would make today’s walk almost unbearably long.

Missing out a section of coast always makes me feel terribly guilty. But, today, I decide to stick to my original plan and cut across to Carsaig instead.

I feel much better after a rest and some proper food. While walking along the lane to Carsaig, I meet the bus again. And I remember how I was half-planning to catch it back to my car… what a wimp! Onwards.

12 Ruth Livingstone hiking to Carsaig, Argyll, Scotland

Carsaig is beautiful. A car park, a few houses scattered about, and a lovely beach with shallow water. And what incredible views over to Jura!

13 Carsaig Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

At the end of the beach is a little jetty, and activity around some of the boats. So idyllic, and lovely to see people enjoying this beautiful weather.

14 Carsaig jetty, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll, Scotland

From Carsaig, I’m heading northwards along forest tracks. I’ve really, really been looking forward to this part of my walk. Finally, I can get off the tarmac and follow some proper paths.

This must be the right way. A homemade sign says “Doune Fort” (no idea where that is) and, more importantly, “Crinan Harbour 4 miles”. That’s my next destination.

15 track to Crinan Harbour, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

The track turns out to be a disappointment. I was expecting a forest path, but it is really just an unpaved road, winding past the driveways to houses, holiday homes, and farms.

16 up past farms, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

As I get further up, the buildings peter out. I’m walking along a shallow valley, surrounded by trees. The surface is rough gravel – only marginally better than walking on tarmac – and the ridges on either side keep out any breeze. It’s hot!

17 track to Crinan, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland, Argyll

And, unfortunately, I’m not in sight of the sea, which is just off to my left, somewhere, over a ridge. What a shame.

I find a side track, and follow it hoping to get closer to the shore. Yes, that’s a wonderful view, but it’s the nearest I get.

18 water through trees, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

The side track is an old green lane – perhaps the original route up this side of the peninsula – and I enjoy a few minutes of pleasant walking on a grassy surface, with bluebells and rhododendrons for company.

19 Dounie House, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

The lane curves around, past the grounds of a grand house, and then… oh dear… I’m back on the main track again.

20 ruth hiking to Crinan, Argyll

In some places, the ridge to my left has been logged and cleared of trees. I’m tempted to scramble up and try to walk closer to the shore, but the ground is rough and covered in felled trunks and exposed roots. Too difficult (and dangerous) for me to tackle.

21 logging area, Ruth hiking in Argyll

So I stick to the track. It goes on forever. What did that signpost say? 4 miles? I’m sure I’ve walked further than that already. And it’s so HOT! Unfortunately, the track itself is in the full sun. There’s not a breath of breeze. And the only shade is filled with dancing midges.

I lather myself in sunblock and keep going. And keep going.

22 long track to Crinan, Ruth Livingstone hiking through Scotland

It’s one of those walks where you convince yourself at each rise that you’ve reached the top of the hill, and you never have. There’s always another rise in front, or another curve in the road, or a dip before another hill…

Will this track never end? It’s almost unbearably hot!

And then, suddenly, I’ve reached the top of a rise, turned a corner, and find myself at a place called Ardnoe Point. “Between land and sea” says an information board.

Wow! This is fantastic. What a view!

23 Ardnoe Point, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

The climb up that long, hot valley was worth it. Wonderful!

I crawl under the picnic bench (the only shady place around!) for a rest and a long drink. Then, when I’ve got some energy back, I climb out, brush the spiders off, and take a self-portrait.

24 Ruth Livingstone on Ardnoe Point, Argyll, Scotland's coast

I’ve no idea what I’m looking at, because the hills I see in the distance are well off my current OS map. Might that be the Isle of Mull?

25 views over Mull, Ruth Livingstone on Ardnoe Point

I look further round to my right. That’s Loch Crinan and, on the other side, is the shore of the mainland where I’ll be walking tomorrow. Oh, and look at the castle.. I check my map… Duntrune Castle.

26 Loch Crinan, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

While I’m admiring a view, a couple of German walkers arrive. They’re the first proper hikers I’ve seen all day. They place a pair of sunglasses on the picnic table and explain they found them on the track – at least, I think that’s what they said. Their English is nearly as bad as my German.

After they’ve gone, I linger for a few more minutes. After such a long and tiring walk, I really deserve to enjoy this view.

Then, onwards, it’s time to go on down to Crinan Harbour.

[To be continued…]

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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21 Responses to 364am Bellanoch to Carsaig

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, if you had looked very closely you might have spotted Barnhill, the farmhouse on the northern end of Jura and Orwell wrote 1984

  2. owdjockey says:

    [where} Orwell wrote 1984. NB WordPress is pants when it does not let you edit your own comments on other peoples blog.

  3. Jill Shuker says:

    Hello Ruth – what a lovely post, thank you so much. I feel that you are very hard on yourself – your walk has been magnificent this far – you are just amazing. And to keep going with your blog. And what absolutely beautiful photographs. Thank you so much, I do so enjoy your thoughts and comments.

  4. jcombe says:

    Some pretty places you passed on this walk. It looks lovely in the sunshine even if that brings with it unwelcome heat (I guess it’s been pretty hot in Scotland too?). A lot of walking in Scotland seems to involve roads sadly, but at least you managed to find the track off it. Its not the surface I mind so much as the traffic so at least that track looked to be devoid of traffic. You’re making good progress.

  5. 829b says:

    Sunblock! Are you wearing your wide-brimmed hat?

    Whenever you get disheartened, just remember that there are so many of us who are hoping you keep plodding along, blister and all.

  6. A bit of a low, but you have come far too far to take too much notice of that. It always happens at some time on a long walk, and has nearly always vanished next day.

    Day 52 on my walk round the Welsh boundary – Saturday 11th Jun 2011;

    I had walked all day in the rain.
    From my journal:
    “At 4:15 I found the T I O in Pembroke, but believe it or not, at what must be the prime time of the week for its existence, late on Friday pm, it had closed at 4:00pm.I was wet on the outside, and mentally, but not physically exhausted, and then a guy told me about the forecast for endless rain on Sunday, and I couldn’t help letting that get to me. I found the Old King’s Arms Hotel and booked in. Looking at the maps for the next two days, there seemed to be nowhere to stay, and with that and the predicted Sunday downpour I became even more dejected. I ate in the hotel and found myself almost falling asleep over the meal.”
    And next morning:
    Sunday 12th June
    “I am glad to say that last night’s depression had been eliminated by a good sleep, and I was eager to be off for the final few days.”
    Your thoughts about a campervan/motorhome are interesting. That would be an ideal way to sort out the west coast of Scotland. I know they are expensive but they do hold value better than other motor vehicles, but it would save a lot on accommodation costs and probably make longer visits more viable?????

  7. You’re right, Conrad. I find I often have a bad day on about day 4 or 5 of a walking trip. I guess there is both physical fatigue and a bit of emotional rebellion. (Another day walking for hours and hours… why?) As for the camper van, yes, a good investment and a new adventure.

    • Jean says:

      Sounds like there might be another blog in the future, Ruth – Ruthless Vannings, maybe? Ruthless Trundlings? I look forward to it!

      And as another commentator said, there are a lot of us cheering you on, even if you can’t actually hear us. We feel your blisters, and midge bites!

  8. Eunice says:

    I love the first two shots of Tayvallich, it looks lovely there and wouldn’t be out of place at the side of a Norwegian fjord. Carsaig and Ardnoe Point look lovely too 🙂

  9. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – up to earlier this year Ardnoe Point got my vote as being the best view of the entire coast that I had walked. I won’t tell you where I thought was better – I will let you discover it yourself! But Ardnoe on a good day as you had is certainly an amazing view.

  10. Karen White says:

    When you are feeling a bit down, turning a corner or reaching the top of a hill and seeing a glorious view I hope makes you feel better. I know I started following your blog years into your walk but I have read every single post (in order) and I am enjoying it so much.

    • You’re so kind, and I admire your stamina, Karen 😀 Yes, this was a day of highs and lows. I hadn’t expected Scotland to be so HOT – but 2018 was an amazing year. The following year – this year, 2019 – I rarely took off my winter coat while walking during the summer months!

  11. Well you had me in stitches thinking of you crawling under the picnic table to get shade:) Walking in the heat is never fun….. I had a similar day a couple of weeks ago on Millenium Way, which I did four days of while off work for a week. I ran out of water half way through the day, had no hat and the exceptionally hot sun (for September) on my head and neck all day. I was so desperate for fluid I scrumped a cooking apple off someone’s apple tree to get some saliva going with a mile still to go and I actually took a photo of a fridge full of drinks when I reached a shop at the end of the walk in Henley In Arden! And bought three bottles! 🙂

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