365pm Kilmartin to Carnassarie Castle

I’m walking along a wooded slope, surrounded by beautiful native trees, scented by a carpet of bluebells. Walking doesn’t get much better than this.

40 forest walk to Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal hike, Scotland

On the slope above me I spot a cave. No… not a cave, exactly, but a hollow space under a mass of tree roots. Footprints lead in and out, so this wonderful den is almost certainly used by local children. I resist the urge to crawl inside.

41 root cave, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

The path joins a track. Ahead is a primary school and, a few minutes later, I hear the sound of children chanting a familiar song.

42 school Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

“Three naughty monkey’s jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head…” squeals of laughter at this point… “Mummy called the doctor and the doctor said, ‘No more jumping on the bed.'”

Peer over the hedge. A circle of children are holding a blanket, stretched between them like a trampoline, and are bouncing a number of cuddly toys on the surface. “Two naughty monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off…” At this point, an adult helper seizes one of the toys and tosses it off the blanket, and the children scream with pleasure. “…and bumped his head.”

I can’t help grinning, but also feel a pang of loneliness. My daughter and I sing this song to my little granddaughter, now all of nine months old. She doesn’t understand a word of it, of course, but enjoys the rhythm. I’m really missing her – missing her toothy smiles and the feel of her stocky little body in my arms

Well, I’m going back home tomorrow, so will see her again soon.

I’ve joined a cycle track. This is route 78, The Caledonian Way, which runs all the way from Campbeltown to Inverness, and which I’ve been piggybacking, off and on, since the Mull of Kintyre.

43 cycle track to Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

So, for the first time today, I meet other walkers. And cyclists, of course.

My cycle path runs along a valley called Kilmartin Glen, named after the village of Kilmartin, which I can see just across the valley.

44 Kilmartin across the fields, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I’m now several miles away from the sea, and feeling rather frustrated because my coastal walk around Scotland is turning out to be not-so-coastal after all. So, I’m not expecting much from this section of the walk… but, hang on, this looks interesting…

Two ladies are going off the track to look at something. A pile of stones? An ancient burial ground.

45 cairns, near Kilmartin, Ruth hiking in Argyll, Scotland

I turn off the path to explore the site, and join the two ladies who are standing silently in front of an information board, and here I discover that Kilmartin Glen is dotted with prehistoric remains. This is just one of a string of ancient cairns and burial sites.

But, then I realise why the two ladies are keeping very quiet. Rather weirdly, there’s a body lying on the ground beside the information sign. Its face is covered in material and only a mop of blonde hair can be seen. In fact, the body is so very still, at first I think it might be a dummy – a Resusci Annie

46 lying person, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Or is it a dead body? I watch and wait, not relaxing until I see the chest rise and fall. No. It’s a real living person. What a strange place to have a nap!

The two ladies move silently away and I follow them, circling round the site, where some burial cavities still remain.

47 burial carins, Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

On the way, we fall into conversation. They’re American and they want to apologise for their current president. He’ll be out of office soon, we all agree. And hope.

We also agree that this is a weird place for the sleeping person to choose to sleep.

I walk further along the path to the next site. It’s a raised cairn. An elderly couple are deciding not to climb to the top, where there is a burial chamber, because it is a tomb after all, and it would be disrespectful.

48 Nether Largie North cairn, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I don’t have any such scruples and, leaving my rucksack and camera behind, I climb up the slippery mass of stones, and down a short ladder into the tomb. It’s a little spooky inside, and I don’t stay long.

Climbing out again, I notice the ‘dead’ body, still wearing a blue cloth over its face, is on the move.

49 wrapped girl, Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

A little further along the cycle track, a path branches off and leads up to Kilmartin village (this is where the ‘dead’ body is heading).

50 path to Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

But I stick to cycle route, bypassing Kilmartin village and going straight on towards Carnassarie Castle. Now there are less walkers, but still a few cyclists.

51 cycle track to Carnasserie Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

The cycle path joins a track, and runs past a quarry site. They’re extracting gravel. Hope they’re not destroying any prehistoric remains in the process.

52 gravel pit, Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I stop to take photographs, as I like to take shots of industrial machinery, but the light remains disappointingly dull and the photographs don’t turn out well.

Nearby, the extraction site looks like a Roman amphitheatre.

53 gravel workings, Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Past the gravel site, the cycle route leaves the main track (it’s well signed) and heads past some ruined cottages. If you were cycling Route 78, you would need a mountain bike on this section.

54 ruined cottages, Kilmartin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I walk past meadows covered in yellow buttercups. Wonderful.

55 fields of yellow flowers, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

And then, ahead, I see Carnassarie Castle.

56 Carnassarie Castle, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

The sound of a car engine takes me by surprise. Wasn’t expecting to meet any vehicles on this track. Can’t see any nearby houses either.

57 car on track to Carnassarie Castle, Kilmartin, Ruth Livingstone

But I notice a few old caravans dotted among the trees, although they don’t look as though they’d travel very far. Are they used as holiday homes? Surely people don’t live here permanently?

58 caravans in the trees, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I’ve nearly reached the castle. It’s a proper ruin and, unlike the disappointing Duntrune Castle, I know Carnassarie Castle is accessible and open to the public.

59 path to Carnassarie Castle, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

And it’s a great castle. Entrance is free, and you can climb to the top of the tower, although the stairs are very narrow and twisty. On the way up I stop to take photographs of the courtyard below.

51 inside Carnassarie Castle, Ruth Livingstone

From the top there are panoramic views. Such a shame the sun isn’t shining and the views are hazy and dull. Anyway, here’s the view to the south, looking down Kilmartin Glen, and back in the direction I’ve come.

60 view from top of Carnassarie Castle, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

And here’s the view to the north, and the A816 road below. When I return on my next walking trip I’m going to have to walk along this road for some miles. I’m already dreading it.

61 looking north from Carnassarie Castle, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I perch the camera on the stone parapet, and take a self-portrait. (If I’m looking slightly nervous, it’s because I’m worried my camera might fall the 100 feet or so and smash on the ground below the tower!)

62 self portrait on Carnassarie Castle, Ruth Livingstone

Below the castle is a car park, and there’s my car waiting for me. Next time, I will start my walk from this point. Luckily there is a frequent bus service along the road, which should help my next trip get off to a good start.

63 car park, Carnassarie Castle, Ruth walking in Argyll

It’s been a great day. I’ve been able to catch a bus and leave The Monster bike in the car. And, what I thought would be a tedious inland walk, turned out to be really interesting after all.

[I’ve suddenly realised I made a mistake when I declared after walk 356 that I’d been walking for a whole year. Visitors to the blog were obviously far too polite to correct me, and point out there are actually 365 days in a year (not 356!) and so today marks my first complete year of coastal walking.]

High points: Kilmartin Glen and Carnassarie Castle
Low points: none really

Miles walked today = 12 miles
Total around coast = 3,816 miles



About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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21 Responses to 365pm Kilmartin to Carnassarie Castle

  1. Jacquie says:

    Congratulations on your walking anniversary, though I guess that by now you are many miles on.
    I have great memories of exploring the many antiquities in the Kilmartin area – particularly as they are open to visit in the landscape rather than organised tourist attractions.

  2. Julija Svetlova says:

    have you abandoned your bicycle?

  3. Doug says:

    I really will have to get up there it does look good.
    Caravans off road or vans on road are the only viable option to earn an average wage and not be on the edge financially for many, Bristol is littered with vans – if you have road tax its legal.
    There is effectively zero social housing provision, if anyone wonders why: how have people voted since the 1980’s, foreign capital inflows, competition with EU & other citizens.

    • Yes, the housing situation is a national disgrace. These caravans seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, but I guess there was the quarry and various farms around to offer employment. Or they could have been used for weekend retreats. I’ve discovered it’s almost impossible to find places to stay in the summer in this area.

  4. Doug says:

    I know ‘Eats shoots and leaves’ 😉

  5. You must have nerves of steel! That “dead body walking” is just too eerie! Also…going by the seemingly deserted campers as you do…very brave.

    BTW, the “Profoot” blister product you mentioned and which I ordered works perfectly! I covered one of my poor heels w it and then set off on a steep climb this morning. Not a twinge! I’m so glad (and thankful) that you mentioned it!

    • Thank you, but not really very brave! I feel uneasy walking past vans, but usually don’t have much choice.

      I’ve invented an explanation for the weird dead-body girl, who was walking with (but not very close to) a couple of older people towards Kilmartin.. I suspect she was a grumpy teenager who’d been badly bitten by midges the previous day, and this was her silent protest to show how angry she was with her family for dragging her along to such an uncivilised place. ‘I’m not going to look at any more piles of stones with you, and I’m going to lie on the ground with my face covered because I hate this place and I’m fed up of being eaten alive.’
      Could be totally wrong, of course 😄

  6. Hi Ruth.
    Thank-you for putting in all the hard work it must take to share your wonderful walking adventure via this blog. I’m enjoying every post immensely. Please keep your trade-mark selfies coming. I’m pretty sure you were posting them here long before they became all-the-rage among the younger generation 🙂

    • Hi Gary, and how lovely to hear from you. I always hesitate about putting the selfies up – but I know people like to see them, and so I try to post one for each walk. Glad they’re appreciated!

  7. Tony Rudd says:

    When I was fifteen my parents dragged me to Auchencairn in Kircudbright to stay in a converted cowshed on the beach with no electricity, bottled gas and a real fire with a pan that swung over to cook on! I hated being there because I had left my girlfriend at home and I was too young to appreciate it! One morning we looked out of the front window and the garden was full of cows which had escaped from their field! We had swarms of flies following us werever we went, not midges. The local shop sold health foods even before anybody had heard of them! Hopefully one day I’ll follow in your footsteps because it looks fantastic! Good luck, Tony

  8. That would have been my idea of hell as a teenager too! Now it sounds like heaven 😄

  9. Eunice says:

    I couldn’t understand why the ‘dead body’ would be walking with its face still covered but your explanation is plausible I suppose, though I don’t know how it could see where it was going with its face covered up like that :/

  10. babsandnancy says:

    Why did you resist the urge to go into the cave?

  11. Karen White says:

    Your ‘dead body’ is decidedly weird but reminds me of a day when I was walking my dogs in the forest with a friend when we spotted a horse, standing still on a slope with its reins hanging loose. As we got closer we saw a ‘body’ lying on the ground. Getting increasingly worried as we thought she had taken a toss, we approached, only to find out that she’d decided to sunbathe.

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