368 Arduaine to Kilmelford (filling the gap)

Today is Sunday, and there are no buses running. And, today I must go back and fill in the gap – the section I missed out yesterday – between Arduaine and Kilmelford. Basically, it’s a 5 mile trudge along the A816.

01 A816 road to Oban, Ruth's coastal walk, Argyll

Between gaps in the trees I can look across the water to a series of islands. Check my map. Oh, those are actually the Inner Hebrides – I didn’t realise. That flat island is Shuna. The hill behind is another island, Luing.

02 Shuna, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

(So much for my resolution to give up labelling landmarks… I just can’t help it!)

Here’s a nice modern house overlooking the water. Love the huge windows. What a great view.

03 house with a view, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I’m surprised to find several newish houses along the road, along with building plots for sale, but I wonder who really wants to live out here?

04 plots for sale, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I know it’s beautiful, but there’s not much industry around. Where do people work? Hope all the new builds are not going to be holiday lets. That’s a sure way of killing a place.

Arduaine is a promontory of land, with a hotel which declares it has “the finest views on the west coast”. I don’t go down to look at the hotel, but I can see the viewpoint through the trees.

05 coastal viewpoint, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Hmm. Not as good as the view above Crinan at Ardnoe Point. But not bad.

There’s a selection of cars and vans parked in a layby, which seems a bit weird because there’s nothing around and no sign of the drivers. From their roof-racks, I guess they’ve been carrying kayaks or canoes. Perhaps they’re out on the water?

06 vans in layby, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Now I pass another layby, separated from the road by a screen of trees. This is where I camped in the van last night.

07 my layby, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

There’s no shortage of scenic spots in Scotland, but finding a nice flat space where you can safely park is not easy. You want to be off the road, but not on a verge that’s too soft or has too much of a slope. And not near people’s houses. And not obstructing access to a driveway or farm track. It’s turning out to be a bit of a challenge.

Tonight, I’m going to drive to the tip of the Ardfern peninsula, and park there for the night.

What are those creatures in that field? Sheep with long necks? No. Llamas, maybe. Or alpacas.

08 llama field, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

This section of road runs close to Loch Melfort. A boat chugs across the water, making a wide sweep around the tanks of a fish farm.

09 fish farm near Kilmelford, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

One thing I wasn’t really expecting in Scotland is the sheer number of fish farms. I guess all that salmon we eat has to come from somewhere.

I have mixed feelings about farming fish. On the one hand, it seems right that we care for the stocks of fish and replace the ones we eat. On the other hand, I know fish are often rammed together in the tanks, and suffer from pests and disease. Some people claim that fish don’t feel pain and aren’t distressed by being kept in overcrowded pens. Find that hard to believe.

I look over the water at the slopes where I walked yesterday. Loch Melfort is very lovely.

10 Loch Melfort, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

In a field, I see a woman dressed in a weird mesh hoodie, bending over and harvesting something. She sees me watching and waves. I ask her what she’s picking and she explains she’s pulling up docks before the hay is cut. Apparently the dock plants ruin the bales.

11 pulling up dock leaves, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

She looks at my bare arms and asks me how I’m coping with the midges, and so I suddenly realise that her weird mesh outfit is designed to protect against midge attacks.

Actually, so far, I’ve not had a problem with midges. I avoid them as much as possible, of course. For example, I don’t sit outside in the evening and I spray the van before I settle down for the night. During the day, luckily, my combination of sun block and Smidge seems to keep them away. Just occasionally, I’ll get a bite in my hairline, or on my ankle, where obviously I haven’t smeared either sun block or Smidge.

Off to my right are wide views across open landscape, with only a few farm buildings in sight, and a row of tall hills beyond.

12 open countryside, near Kilmelford, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I’m nearing the apex of Loch Melfort, and walk past the Kilmelford Yacht Haven, where there’s a collection of sailing ships moored.

13 Kimelford Yacht Haven, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Now I’m approaching the turn-off to Melfort. A misleading sign encourages you to visit Melfort Pier and Harbour – places where, as I discovered yesterday, visitors are definitely NOT welcome!

14 turnoff to Melfort, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I leave the main road and go to retrieve the Monster bike, which I’ve parked behind the village hall.

15 monster lurking, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I wasn’t looking forward to the bike ride back, but it turns out to be surprisingly easy. It’s only 10:30 on a Sunday morning, and there is little traffic around – which was my main worry.

It was only a short walk this morning, but I decide to enjoy the rest of the day by doing some sightseeing. I drive back to Ardfern, and follow the road along the edge of Loch Craignish.

The road is single carriage and very narrow. At one point, I meet a car coming towards me. We’re both probably equidistant from a passing space, but the male driver is clearly NOT going to reverse and glares at me, while creeping forwards until he is nearly touching my front bumper. Oh dear.

After my disastrous off-roading experience on the Mull of Kintyre, I’ve taken Tony and Brian’s advice and spent some time practicing driving backwards in the Beast. I put the gear into reverse and inch backwards… and make it into a passing bay safely. As the man drives past, I can see him rolling his eyes, as if thinking, “what took you so long?” Well, if you’re so clever, you should have been the one reversing, I say, but only in my head.

I reach the end of the peninsula, where there’s a parking spot marked on my map. It’s a beautiful spot. I was hoping to stay the night here, but there are signs saying “no overnight occupancy”. Disappointing.

Anyway, I spend the rest of the afternoon here, walking up a hill to admire the view, and then walking down to Craignish Point. And I take some wonderful views over the islands of the Inner Hebrides.

20 view from the Ardfern Peninsula, Ruth Livingstone

In the evening, I drive into Oban and find a campsite for the night. It’s the first time the Beast has been in proper campsite, and he seems pleased about the electrical hookup, while I can replenish my water tank, and – best of all – have a shower.

Walked today = 4.5 miles (and cycled)
Total around coast = 3,846.5 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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17 Responses to 368 Arduaine to Kilmelford (filling the gap)

  1. John Bone says:

    Hi Ruth

    As a Scot who’s walked the English but not the Scottish coastline, I’m really enjoying your excellent blog; next best thing to being there.

    Your tips helped me through the Somerset Levels, but it seems that walking on the west coast is even more complex than Somerset!

    Keep up the Smidge.


    • Hi John. Glad you found my blog useful, and now you’ve done the English coast there is really no excuse for not doing Scotland 😆 Yes, I though the Somerset Levels were tricky, but I’m having to make huge compromises in Scotland. Campaign for a Scottish Coast Path next?

  2. Pam Ley says:

    Judging by new people coming to live here in Devon, recent times have changed how a lot of employment can be arranged. People are moving to countryside areas and working via the internet now! ……maybe that’s how the new builds will be used…..
    Loving every mile of your walk Ruth….

  3. Ann Collins says:

    more lovely pictures of Loch Melfort!

  4. tonyhunt2016 says:

    There are some truly ignorant drivers about whose obstinacy defies all logic – it would surely have been quicker for him to reverse. I had a similar experience in Devon last year with a woman driver, but I’m sexist enough to have given her the benefit of the doubt and assume she just didn’t like reversing!

    While I’m on, I can contain my inner pedant no longer and must point out that the yachts you are seeing are almost undoubtedly all boats rather than ships. The dictionary definition of a ship is pretty vague, but i can assure you that most yachtsmen would only refer to their vessel as a ship by way of heavy irony!

    • I’m sure I’ll get better at reversing, but I’m terrified by the thought of ending up in the ditch again!
      As for ships v boats, my own (and quite erroneous) definition of a ship is something that looks lovely. If it’s ugly, it’s a boat! One of my daughters works for the MOD and tells me that every vessel in the navy is a ship, except for submarines, which are boats. I have no idea if this is true. Another daughter said anything with one main deck is a boat, and anything with several main decks is a ship. Of course, I don’t know how you decide when a deck is a ‘main’ deck and when it’s not… crikey, who would have thought such a simple thing would be so difficult 😀

  5. Alex Holland says:

    Hi Ruth,
    Loving your journey. “Llama banana”. Llama’s have banana shaped ears and alpaca’s don’t. It’s amazing what 7 year old learn these days. Bon voyage!

  6. Eunice says:

    I’m afraid I’d have to take issue with the owners of the hotel which boasts ‘the finest views on the west coast’. While I’ve no doubt it has some good views, and many of the ones you’ve photographed are lovely (I like the one of Kilmelford Yacht Haven) they can’t have been up to the Arisaig and Morar areas – those really are some beautiful views 🙂

  7. Jayne Hill says:

    I think you are terribly brave jumping straight into wild camping in laybys, all my van overnights so far have been on proper campsites 😟

  8. Jayne Hill says:

    PS: midges – I read something recently, which may or may not be accurate, about new research suggesting midges were more attracted to blood-type A than any other. I know I’m B neg and rarely, if ever, get nibbled at.

  9. Karen White says:

    The car driver would have found it much easier to reverse than yourself in a camper van, therefore IMHO he was just being awkward – or he didn’t like reversing! I am going to invest in some Smidge before I next go to the beach as apparently it also repels sandflies, and I always come back with bites round my ankles.
    I hope you lock your van doors at night when you’re in a layby miles from anywhere!

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