366am Carnassarie Castle to Ardfern

I’m back at Carnassarie Castle, where I spent the night in the castle’s deserted car park, sleeping with my new and wonderful best friend – The Beast – a sprightly 16-year-old campervan. I plan an early start and brew myself a cup of morning tea, feeling remarkably perky…

Ruth drinking breakfast tea in the new Beast

… despite the fact I got very little sleep last night.

I never sleep well in a new place anyway, but decided to sleep with the curtains open, so I could watch the stars. That’s how I discovered it never truly gets dark in Scotland in June. And, instead of watching stars, I spent the night watching battalions of blood-thirsty midges hammer on the window.

This morning is my first morning in the Beast, and I find it takes a surprisingly long time to pack up the van and set off, so my early start becomes not-so-early after all. Then I have difficulty finding somewhere to park near a bus stop, and then the bus is late… so by the time I finally get back to Carnassarie Castle it’s already 10:30am.

I now face a tedious trudge up the A816. It’s a major route to Oban, and the traffic isn’t too heavy, but everything travels at a terrific rate.

01 road to Oban, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I spot a camp below the road… no, those aren’t tents. What are they? Weird. Ah, a sign explains it all… it’s a fish farm.

02 fish farm, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

A track leads down to the fish farm. I check my Garmin, and it looks as if I can walk up to a ridge and pick up another track at the top. Great. I can avoid a section of road walking.

The track turns out to very overgrown, with some strange tanks lying around. Something to do with the fish farm? I sidle around them.

03 overgrown path, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

The track peters out at the bottom of someone’s garden, and I take a circuitous route around the house, searching until I find a path leading further up the slope. Good. I climb above the house and stop to take a photograph.

04 back of someones house, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

But the slope becomes steeper and steeper, and the path more and more overgrown with ferns and weeds. It’s hard to keep my balance, and my feet keep slipping back downwards. I begin to sweat from the effort of the climb, and every step becomes horribly difficult.

I’m just deciding I should turn back, when I hear a noise behind me. A young man is coming up the slope carrying some drainage pipes on his shoulder. I ask him if there is a track or path at the top of the slope, but he shakes his head. Even the path I’m on isn’t a proper path, he tells me. He’s made it himself carrying pipes up the slope.

Oh no. So this isn’t a proper path after all? I apologise for intruding onto his private land, but he doesn’t seem to mind.

Turns out he’s trying to divert water down to his house. “I would never have thought I would need to worry about water in northwest Scotland,” he says, shaking his head. “I work at a fish farm, and we’re having trouble getting water there too.”

I leave him struggling up the slope with his pipes, while I turn round and slip and slide my way back down the slope. It’s a relief to reach the road again.

05 back on the A816, road to Oban, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I check my OS map, and can’t find any sign of the track I thought I’d seen on my Garmin. What a stupid waste of time and effort that was. And dangerous too. I could easily have got into trouble on that difficult slope.

Oh, well, a lesson learned. There were a few other possible tracks I thought I might try, but now I decide I’ll stick to the road.

Onwards. If only there weren’t any thundering lorries and speeding cars to worry about, because the road is lovely in the lulls between traffic.

06 road to Oban, Ruth hiking in Argyll, Scotland

After a couple of miles I reach a place called Salachary, where there’s a rather rundown farm-house. Here the road bends round and…

07 Salachary, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

… plunges down a steep slope, with uncompromising barriers on either side and a blind bend at the bottom. Oh dear. There is no verge to step onto. I listen out for lorries, and hurry along this section as quickly as I can.

08 dangerous corner, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

After this, the route becomes easier. The sun continues to shine, the day is warm, and I feel my spirits lift. Only another couple of miles and I should be able to turn off onto a much quieter side road. In the meantime, I relax and enjoy the views.

09 winding road, A816, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Round a corner and there’s Loch Craignish below. Oh! It’s wonderful to be back near the water again. And looks like a nice beach down there.

10 Loch Craignish, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Beside the next bend in the road I spot a standing stone, and go off the road to have a look at it. There are so many remnants of ancient monuments in Scotland, they don’t bother fencing them or providing signage.

11 standing stone, Kintraw, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Back on the road, I was hoping to find a way down to the beach, but it looks as if it is all private property and fenced off. A white horse comes running up to take a look at me, and obviously doesn’t like what he sees. Such a disdainful expression!

12 white horse, Kintraw, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I’ve nearly reached the turnoff I’ve been waiting for. Good. I can get off this main road. There’s plenty of signage to entice me down to Ardfern. I’m promised an inn, a chandlery, a village shop, and a B&B.

13 turn to Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

On my right, across a wide field, is an impressive large house. Barbreck House. I wonder if it’s a private home – looks deserted to me. Would have great views down Loch Craignish.

14 Barbreck House, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Now I’ve reached the turnoff for Ardfern, where a large carved hand – with a somewhat intimidating red finger nail – points me in the right direction. They really want you to visit!

15 finger pointing to Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

But a second line of signage isn’t so encouraging. “Ramp ahead.” “Single track road.” “Surfacing work starts here.”

16 signs on road to Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I know the bus I caught this morning was supposed to come down here, but didn’t because of the road works. Instead, the bus company provided a minibus link to Adfern from a place called Craobh Haven.

Anyway, this minor road is a delight. There is barely any traffic – perhaps the road works have put people off – and the road runs along the edge of Loch Craignish, with lovely views over the water.

17 road to Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

There’s a roadside mirror opposite the driveway to a property, and I take a sneaky self-portrait. You can see I’m wearing my hi-vis jacket, and my wonderful Australian bush hat.

18 self-portrait on road to Ardfern, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

I decide I must look completely bonkers!

Onwards. Signs warn me that the shellfish in this area might have elevated levels of bacteria, and I mustn’t eat any. What a shame. I wonder why?

There’s a little island ahead. Eilean Traighte.

19 Eilean Traighte, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

It’s linked to the mainland by a causeway, and I can’t resist going over to take a look.

20 causeway to Eilean Traighte, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I find boating sheds, a collection of kayaks and inflatables, and a small club house. It’s funded in part by a lottery grant, and looks an idyllic place for messing about on the water. There’s nobody here today.

21 boats, Eilean Traighte, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I take a seat on a bench and tuck into my packed lunch. Luckily the breeze from the loch seems to keep the midges away.

22 lunch bench, overlooking Loch Craignish, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

Half way through, I wonder if I should have waited until I reach the pub, where I could have bought myself a decent meal. But I decide I was far too hungry to wait… and there’s no guarantee the pub will be open anyway.

Leaving the island, I haven’t gone far before I spot a “pop-up café” in the village hall. Oh, I could have got something to eat here too.

23 pop-up cafe, Craignish village hall, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Beyond this, I reach the section of the road which is being resurfaced. It’s a very hot day. The workmen are standing around, chatting and smoking, and doing what workmen do best… absolutely nothing! (To be fair, it’s probably their lunch break.)

24 roadworks, Craignish, Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk

The recently spread tar is still very sticky, and the soles of my shoes are soon coated in a mix of black tar and grey pebbles. I make a crunching sound with each step.

It’s a relief to reach the end of the road works, and to be back on solid tarmac again. Here I discover an art gallery… no, I’ve misread the name… it’s a pub. The Galley of Lorne Inn. And it’s open too.

25 pub, Ardfern, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I stop for a half pint of cider, and then decide I need to replace some lost salt (it’s a hot, sweaty day), so I ask for a packet of salted peanuts, and another half pint to go with them. Then I sit in the shade and enjoy a rest. What’s the hurry?

[to be continued…]

About Ruth Livingstone

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

19 Responses to 366am Carnassarie Castle to Ardfern

  1. Rita Bower says:

    How exciting that you have a campervan – enjoy! 🙂

  2. 829b says:

    We need to see a photo of ‘the Beast’. Good to see the hat in action.


  3. It's Her Van says:

    Congrats on the Beast and huzzah for new adventures!

  4. jcombe says:

    Campervans are everywhere in Scotland. I was up on the north west corner last week during the day time it was about 1/3 of the traffic was motor homes or camper vans and most car parks are full of them at night. Though I can understand why with the lack of accommodation (and the high prices that often result).

    It’s a shame so much walking of the coast in Scotland has to be on roads (and often major ones). I did a lot of that myself, though ironically in the far north of Scotland another “hazard” appears to be motorists stopping to offer you a lift – and you then have to explain that you are very grateful for the kind offer, but happy to keep walking (sometimes followed by having to explain where you are walking to and why!). On one occasion I’d literarlly just got off the bus, it had gone out of site and the first car that came past, the driver stopped to offer me a lift!

    I’m actually very grateful people are kindly enough to stop and ask if you need a lift or help, of course, it’s just it can become a bit tiring explaining again and again that you are fine walking (and watching as they sometimes look a little disappointed you didn’t take up their kind offer!)

    • Now that I have a van, I notice how many others are around. As you say, they’re everywhere! As for the lifts, I’ve already had to refuse several. I remember another coastal walker (Alan Palin, I think) having a difficult conversation with a car driver who seemed determined to insist on giving him a lift despite a polite refusal!

  5. Eunice says:

    I just knew you’d got a campervan, I hope it helps with the difficult, and often lack of, public transport – we need to see a proper photo of it now. Loch Craignish looks lovely by the way 🙂

    • Ha ha. I knew you’d guessed, Eunice. Your lovely blog helped me make up my mind. I never thought I’d enjoy it so much – because I’ve always liked the luxury of a B&B.

  6. Good to hear of the camper-van – as others have said we’d like to see a photo (or two.)

    • I’ve added a photo to the bottom of the next blog post, Conrad. He’s a lovely 16 year old Japanese van, converted in this country by a small firm who specialise in these things.

  7. What has happened to Beast Number 1 – will it fit inside the camper-van?

  8. Jacquie says:

    Woohoo! a campervan- wonderful!

  9. Jayne Hill says:

    Oops, how have I managed to miss your latest posts? At least it means I can enjoy a lovely long catchup. Many congrats on joining the campervan crew. We adore ours and in a fix I would give up a lot of other possessions before getting rid of “Bill”. You will get much faster in the mornings as you become more used to van-life 🙂

  10. Karen White says:

    It’s brilliant that you’ve had the camper van this past year, I’m excited to read of these new adventures.
    I think the horse must have been hoping for food, and its expression is disappointment, not disdain!

Leave a Reply to Ruth Livingstone 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