Kintyre and surrounding islands on the west coast - showing route of our 87 mile sponsored walk
The Kintyre Way is extremely beautiful – we recommend it to anyone for a walk of one day or more. The weather for the first 2 days was extremely overcast – thick grey cloud – it felt like 7pm for the whole day! We started at Tarbert, and climbed 9 miles over moorland hills to meet the east coast of the peninsula and a cracking view of Arran. We camped on a beach at the village of Skipness, rewarding ourselves with hot chocolate with the hush of the sea in the background and had a peaceful night. 10 miles.
Kitted out with full camping gear - we head along the quay at the mind bogglingly-picturesque Tarbert to the Tourist Info to "sign in" so we can collect our fabled Kintyre Way completion badges when we pass Kintyre's other tourist info at Campbeltown. Rosé, mistakenly thinking there's still a warm fire and sofa at the other end of today's walk, is yearning to get on with it but her backpack is still an unknown factor.
Jo calmly reassures Caryl who, laden with full camping gear, takes in the map with trepidation! Unbeknownst to all, a largish vanity mirror in her pack has escaped the lightweight camping scrutiny of Alan - who as usual insisted on cutting everyone's toothbrush in half.
Spritely steps out of Tarbert.
Backpack no match for Rosé! Shirking all expectations, she is completely oblivious to it and shoots off like a missile! We quickly regret not having given her a more human-sized load!
This is going to be quite an adventure. Views east from near Tarbet over Loch Fyne (actually a sea loch or fjord) towards Scottish mainland (yes we're really on mainland but Kintyre is also known as "the mainland island" as logistically it's similar to an island and is heavily serviced by ferries).
Rosé quickly learns to balance her rucksack and it looks like she will successfully bear the weight of her own dog food! Shame she still doesn't think anything of jumping into rivers.
Truly breathtaking picnic spot over Loch Fyne. You can really sense we're on the coast here where that "kindof beard-like bit is" on the map of Scotland.
First tantalising views of Arran as we round north-east Kintyre.
First stop to chow on the rations. Spirits are high. Sane laughter is still frequent.
Val has really been digging in and storming ahead. Alan and Caryl dawdle and chat.
Rosé apprehend and re-saddled by Jo after lunch.
Onwards. This is going to be no sweat, isn't it?
Light fades and we descend to the coast to make camp.
Debate over where to camp. Alan invited to use mythical campsite "sniffing" ability.
Shorefront at Skipness looking to Arran. It's great but we'll have to nick water from behind the post office.
Day 2 – Skipness to Ronachan
Walked from Skipness along the coast with the rough sea on our left to Claonaig, then up and over exposed moorland and over to Clachan. Got wet but the wind dried us off again End of track passed through wonderful mature deciduous woodland, where we discovered a teeny weeny bat in a box! Walked through the grounds of the hospital at Ronachan to camp on soft long grass again right by the sea. 15 miles.
Seaside walk to Claonaig. Please oh please when can we get some sun?
Val is already jaded with her unsterilised peat water drinking experiment.
Sunbeams spotlight Kilbrannan Sound off the coast of Arran.
One of the largest oak woods on Kintyre parallel with the coast - the mixed woodland and twisted boughs are a treat to walk through.
It's not the best time of year for wildlife - but if you're into fungi there's plenty to keep you entertained! Caryl identifies each.
Water refill as we lunch on a bridge in the rain.
Over moorland as we traverse Kintyre (again) this time to Clachan. Arran over our shoulder.
Rosé is still relishing her longest and bestest walk ever.
Sanity wanes. Chocolate bars out! Mum's also sneaked lots of extra chocolate into her bag but no-ones complaining!
Lochan Fraoich at the apex of Kintyre.
Approaching Clachan through beech trees.
They've found something in the leaflet box...
Surprise find - a wee bat slumbering!
With arrival at Clachan we've already criss-crossed Kintyre twice!
Master navigator Jo with cute doggie.
It takes most of our stamina to get us along the coast and through thick woodland to the nearest campable spot. After 16 miles it's time for a hearty scran.
Lone boat tailor made for picturesque west coast.
Day 3 – Ronachan to Tayinloan
Awoke thoroughly dispirited because it was chucking it down! Packed tent up in the wet and walked along coastal path towards Tayinloan. Eventually the track opens out onto a wide steep shingly beach where the sun comes out and dries us off hooray! Have to cross a river with our boots off which is wonderful relief for our sore tootsies. Make slow progress due to walking on beach most of the day. Treat ourselves to a dinner at a nearby cafe near the campsite where we are staying. We see the shadow of a massive otter run across the beach at twilight. 6 miles.
Cold. Damp. Tired. Where is the livingroom and the fire and the cat?
"mmm... that's better"
Distinctive Paps of Jura, peaks shrouded in cloud.
Alien lifeforms in a garden.
Drenched Rosé, Isle of Gigha beyond.
Sky clearing out west - hooray - could it be possible? After a wet night we are rooting for it like nobodies business! Cormorants on rock.
Only one way to cross.
Rose looking a wee bit baltified but nonetheless happy to be on that doggie's paradise - a beach.
Desperate for water we resort to filling up at the mouth of a river which is never good. Val tolerates the chlorine tablets for this one.
Sun is great for filling damp campers with joy.
Gigha left, Islay and Jura beyond. Artfully set off with stones in front.
Barbed wire being pretty.
Gigha in front of Jura. Gigha is pronounced "ghee-ha" and it's Norse for "island of the gods". There are folk living on it too.
Caryl awakens from nap at lunch. We begin to cave into the idea that mum might need the "day off" tomorrow! 16 and 20 mile days might not have been as do-able as we thought. Arg! What will the sponsors say?!!
Blues and greens.
Venturehound with Cara Island beyond.
Cafe at Tayinloan ferry terminal - time for an all-day "FULL ENGLISH" please.
Rosé strikes a galloping pose in sillhoette on the floor, but she's fooling no-one: like everyone else, she's been overwhelmed by the need to stop moving.
Sunset over Gigha at Tayinloan.
Swans on the Sound of Gigha.
Day 4 Tayinloan to Carradale
Glorious sunrise – rays of sun streaming from behind a bulky cloud squatting on the horizon. Treat ourselves to “baked goods” for breakfast – baked goods yum!! Our mum has the day off as we are a bit behind. Path goes inland again over forestry plantations, pass the 35 mile way-marker. Walk through a wind farm, down the other side, and up again. Arrive at Carradale in the near dark – one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. Go to a local pub quiz and partake as the Happy Campers! Mum proves a right egghead at the quiz. 17miles.
Feeling like another day Rosé? Caryl has begun to worry that Rosé is "not herself" by this stage simply because her energy output status has tapered from "explosive" to "merely frisky".
Cunningly drying clothing on backpack.
Doggie slumps against tearoom at Tayinloan ferry terminal. We quaff "maltezer cake" - a highly beatific snack.
Val & Alan gaze back to Cara Island and Islay beyond.
A farmer jested with us it's only half a mile up the hill... And then there's another hill after that!
Margarine poised over oat cake. Rationality ebbing. Hilarity barely held in check. We develop the idea of consuming lumps of margarine as a high-energy foodstuff and even coin a name for a new high energy margarine-based product line - "Bertolli MaxCal (now with anti-wretching agent). For adventurers everywhere".
Continual attempts must be made to discourage Rosé from noisily asking to fetch EVERYTHING!
Some very juvenile looking little coos.
More hill - going at the opposite angle from the generally accepted agreeable angle.
Turbines! They seem so close, but are in fact so towering they merely appear it. Still 45 mins walk away.
Transfixing to watch when in motion up close, with swooshing blades. Though when at a stand-still in the forest, they have a presence which with some imagination and allusion to tripod-type-alien films can border on the terrifying.
This shot of Val "holding" the turbine (a bit of a custom among locals we hear) is meticulously lined up by Alan kneeling on a painful dodgy knee, only for her to enhance the photo with this unladylike gesture the second the shutter is pressed.
Hey presto. Unfortunately it won't provide any more energy for walking.
Arran looms large. You get a much clearer impression of the island from Kintyre.
Arran majestically juxtaposed with stick.
Descending into Carradale for a night at the awesomely gorgeous campsite at the beach. This is actually the last day of the season, but as it turned out the site had already closed a day early due to no takers. We call the owners and they help out though. Ailsa Craig can be seen very faintly an inch to the right of the southern tip of Arran.
Day 5 Carradale to Campbeltown
Mum’s second day off. Even Rosé has a day off!! Chucking it down Quite awful, we are soaked before we start. Some of us marvel at our waterproofs that are not waterproof. Pick our way round the rocky coastline of Waterfoot, then the track heads up onto forestry land and moors. Soaked, dried off by wind, repeat. Track is diverted the long way round Lussa Loch. See a rainbow. Val makes up a song called the Piggyback song, which has two words in it, one of them which is Piggyback. She likes it a lot. Much delirious laughter due to blister pain and tiredness. When we reach Campbeltown it feels like a miracle. Mum treats us to a B – not a B&B, just a B, in a house that is like yer Nanna’s. The bed feels like *Heaven*! 20 miles.
Rugged coastline after Carradale. It would be so wonderful if the weather was with us.
Saddell Bay. So lovely. Must come back here sometime - but with a non-ambulatory mode of transport! Arran beyond.
Iconic 50 mile waymarker!
Someone else likes this waymarker too. And she has a carapace the size of a 10p coin.
Climbing away from the east coast for an arduous 15 mile trek through Forestry Commission land down the spine of Kintyre to Campbeltown.
More fungi drive the imagination wild.
Storm clouds bring dramatic colours over Forestry Commission land. And precipitation too. Occasional giant forestry vehicles bound past. Lussa Loch in far distance.
Rain shower drives in.
An attractive side-effect to the otherwise objectionable phenomenon of rain.
Val re-enacts her much-frowned-upon "lanny lanny give me a piggyback" jig - and is frowned upon.
Day 6 Campeltown to Mull of Kintyre
Dry out the tents at Campbeltown harbour. Feeling more optimistic as we theoretically only have 19 miles to go. The journey from Campbeltown to Machrihanish is worth it only because Machrihanish is such a delight to say in a dead twee Scottish accent Walk over a lovely trail of bog, heather, and rushes. Treated to views of Ireland which is only 15 miles away over the water. Enter Largiebaan nature reserve where we see Feral goats rutting (butting heads). See a burnt orange and smokey lilac sunset over Ireland and the sea which is spectacular. Head on over rough ground into the night, can only find a very exposed camp spot. More hysterical knackered laughter in the tent as we cook our tea. 9 miles.
Campbeltown - scornfully described (with much head shaking) as a "funny town" by Caryl. There's not a single tea room on the main street. No surer way to alienate our Caryl! Locale of our SINGLE blissful night in a B&B!
A variety of palm trees grow at Campbeltown - they say it's down to the area's own "micro-climate". And indeed it's unseasonably mild.
PORRIDGE (the sustaining force of all carbon-based life) being rustled up outside the B&B (which only provided the former "B" - not the latter).
A comfy night has rejuvenated Caryl - she goes to work with Jo drying out the tents from yesterday morning's apocalypic rain-soaked camp-breaking at Carradale.
Machrihanish! This wonderful placename lends itself to all kinds of eccentrically shreaked (mis)pronunciations. Rosé had the day off yesterday with mum leaving the 20 mile day to the dyed-in-the-wool masochists. She's pretty much figured she's in it for the long haul by this stage.
Lifeboat station at MACHRIHANISH.
Back over to the west coast through Ballygroggan farm. A sign invites hikers to wave to the friendly farmer.
Val licks her lips on sighting this "extra high energy" sheep feed. In fact - we all lick our lips.
Bay at the foot of Innean Glen, the site of a sailor's grave decorated with stones which are customarily attended to by passing hikers. We'd like to descend 450 feet to check it out - but with Caryl on the team, coaxed along with tea and overoptimistic promises - we're not going to push it!
Onwards to the bluffs of Largiebaan Nature Reserve. Look out for Adders, ferile goats and Sika Deer.
Bay at Innean Glen.
Islay on the horizon from Largiebaan Nature Reserve.
Ferile goats rutting. These dudes actually smell a lot stronger than the goats cheese produced from their milk - you catch powerful odours of it on the wind. And if you're into goats cheese, it's delicious!
Chieftain ferile goat stands guard over Atlantic seaboard.
Steep climb to 1200 feet. We seek a camp spot.
Holy mackerel what a slog! When night falls, we count at least 7 lighthouses, one of them on Rathlin Island off the coast of Ireland.
Alan cooks for hilarity-stricken girls on the cliff top. Cooking in a tent is the very definition of phaff.
Day 7 Mull of Kintyre to Southend
Tough day!! Good weather, ridge walk with great views. But try to take a short cut as we are running late despite starting walking at 8:50am. Get lost, end up crossing a river on all fours. Serves us right for trying to take a short cut! Limp hysterically into Southend, again feels like a miracle! Collapse in a heap at the last way marker, and can’t believe we made it!! 10 miles.
See how the tent frame has actually slid downhill underneath the flysheet on the tent in the background? Both our tents slid c.12 inches downhill in the night. This naturally provoked hilarity (incorrect response) rather than concern (correct response).
Off we head. An early start.
Clouds mirrored by their shadows over North Channel of Irish Sea.
It's all fun and frolicks for Rosé.
Unsanitised peat water drinking experiment still in full swing. The only thing Val caught was awful sunstroke.
Inland over the Mull of Kintyre for the final leg.
Alan saunters along, convinced they've planned an easy day. Blind to the forthcoming Lord of the Rings fiasco in the woods and the savage trudge that awaits along the road to Southend.
With some coaxing, Rosé learnt how to cross styles on our adventure. All by herself.
Perfectly at-home bounding through heather, Rosé fetches something... ANYTHING!
Away from the west.
...and over to the south.
This tranquil scene is an unlikely prelude to our "Lord of the Rings" type epic where we get lost in the woods for an hour and end up fording a river - some of us on ALL FOURS! "Shortcuts lead to long delays".
Finally to the coast at Keil Point. Jo & Alan march ahead to intercept our pre-booked taxi back to the "Opal Lounge" (our car) - which, with air conditioning set to max blast heat, has for 7 days been the subject of feverish guilty dreams.
Meanwhile, Mum pays due homage to the Southend sign. The last stage of the walk saw her in a state of some dishevelment, and given to unprovoked outpourings of mirth. This sign represents the end of all that nonsense!
Val "in the stocks" over the Southend sign. Yep, it's been pretty punishing alright.
Val continues to esteem the Southend sign.
A final traipse over Dunaverty Bay with remains of castle situated at end. We'd have investigated if we'd had time but Jo needs to get back to work! And we all need some comfort food.
Alan hobbles in.
They chortle in self-satisfaction. Val's sunstroke is taking its toll. Bertolli MaxCal has rendered Alan barely lucid.
Final waymarker and the true end of The Kintyre Way! We prostrate ourselves. The owners of this house must see all sorts.
The End! Humans look at camera. Rosé looks at humans. Thanks to our sponsors for the necessary duress! OK, it's time for a massive chippie.
As if further evidence were needed... one of our "completion badges" from the tourist info! But you wouldn't question our hard-coreness now would you? :-)
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