After my long walk on Ben Ledi etc on Good Friday, the rest of the long Easter weekend was spent doing not very much. In theory it was back to work on Tuesday, but work this week involved a tour of 3 Argyll waterworks - in Ardrishaig, Tarbert and Bute. So more like an extension to the Easter holidays really . We left early on Tuesday morning and had a scenic drive down the Great Glen and through Oban (stopping for a second breakfast) before arriving at Ardrishaig in late morning. We were staying in Tarbert for 2 nights, and a long first day didn't leave much time to do anything other than work.
The next day we were working in Tarbert - great views back to the town from the waterworks. As we finished a little earlier, there was time for a bit of bagging today.
Tarbert from above West Loch Tarbert:
West Loch Tarbert:
Sub 2k Marilyns: Cnoc a' Bhaile-shios
Time taken: 2 hours, 30 minutes.
Weather: Sunny with cool breeze.
Back at the hotel just before 5pm, I decided the best way of getting some scenery and a hill in was to go for a run from Tarbert itself. Stob Odhar, being the highest hill on the Knapdale/Kintyre peninsula appealed initially, but looked a bit far for an evening, and would require a short drive. Although less inspiring on the map, I had a pretty good idea that Cnoc a' Bhaile-shios would have killer views both east and west, and being only a short distance off the Kintyre Way, would be easy to do as a run.
I set off past the castle in my running gear, cursing the fact that I'd brought the only pair of shorts with holes in the pockets with me. I'd have to stuff my camera. phone and room key all into the same pocket. But this was all forgotten in the evening sunshine - at least the weather promised a memorable evening out.
East Loch Tarbert:
Loch Fyne from above the castle:
Shortly after the castle I slid on some slippy ground and grazed my knee. I was just too keen to get up a bit higher! More annoyingly, I discovered my other pocket was also developing a hole big enough for everything to fall through, so I would need to hold everything I had with me in my hands .
East Loch Tarbet and Loch Fyne:
While slippery, the first part of the Way was very scenic, with good views back over Tarbert and Loch Fyne. Further up I joined a forestry track and things became duller, but there was still the occasional break in the trees, with Cowal looking rough and inviting.
Kintyre Way climbs up the hillside south of Tarbert:
Across Loch Fyne to the Cowal hills:
I finally broke free of the trees and the track climbed out across the moorland towards Cnoc a' Bhaile-shios. I knew the last mile after leaving the Kintyre Way would be rough - no surprises there then. Unlike the good path leading out of Tarbert however, I was able to stay on my feet and avoid any further injuries. Although this was a run, the pathless section to the trig point was more of a fast (and occasionally slow) walk.
Kintyre Way breaks out of the forest:
...but it was more than worth the effort. I was in a prime location directly between Jura and Arran, and the weather was clear and sunny . I have now seen the Paps of Jura from a number of different angles and they never look particularly close - this was no exception.
Fionn Bhealach and Caisteal Abhail on Arran:
Arran hills from Kintyre Way:
Across the south end of Bute to the Ayrshire coast:
Gigha and the west coast of Kintyre:
Paps of Jura:
Rainbow over Cowal:
Summit of Cnoc a’ Bhaile-shios:
Hills of Islay:
Arran from the summit of Cnoc a’ Bhaile-shios:
…with a zoom to Lochranza and the A’ Chir ridge:
Last look at Jura:
I didn't have any spare clothes or food with me, and it was getting chilly and late, so I didn't hang around at the top for more than 5 minutes or so - shame. I managed to find a slightly better line back to the track (looks like if you descended to the south, you could minimize the rough ground even more although the overall route would be longer). Then it was a jog back the way I came - faster now as it was downhill.
Kintyre Way marker:
More rainbows over Cowal:
Loch Fyne and Portavadie:
I just followed the same route back as it was the simplest - there isn't a great deal of room for variation anyway if starting in Tarbert. A worthwhile excursion, even if it took me 30 minutes longer than intended.
Return to Tarbert:
Next morning we were up sharp to head for Bute by way of the ferry to Cowal and a drive round to Colintraive. Since I was a passenger, I should have taken more photos on the drive over as it was great scenery, especially between Tighnabruaich and Colintraive. Having experienced the wilds of Cowal last August, I knew that most of the hills we drove past would be hard going, but there are probably some very worthwhile short ascents in there. Certainly a place I want to come back to on the bike
Leaving Tarbert on the ferry:
Mirage at the mouth of Loch Fyne:
In the Kyles of Bute:
Colintraive and Coraddie:
On Bute, the waterworks we were visiting was just south of Rothesay. Since we had a long drive home afterwards, stopping off to climb Wind Hill (highest in Bute, and the only Marilyn on the island) was out of the question. However we were conveniently close to the top of Barone Hill, which is the highest in the southern part of the island...
Hills: Barone Hill (162m).
Time taken: 50 minutes.
Weather: Warm and hazy.
I nipped outside for some fresh air at lunchtime, and to try and find somewhere with a phone signal. I'd already spotted Barone Hill on the map and it looked temptingly close. Surely there would be a good signal up there?
It took about 10 minutes and some highland cattle avoidance to get to the summit, but it was well worth it. I had always though of Bute as being a relatively flat and agricultural island (which it is compared to the rest of the west coast islands), but it has a fair bit of rough craggy moorland on it. The cloud was still down on Arran and it was a bit hazy. However I couldn't think of a better place to spend my lunchbreak, even if I'd forgotten to bring any food!
Arran emerging from the cloud; from Barone Hill:
Loch Dhu and Barmore Hill from Barone Hill:
Rothesay and the Wemyss Bay ferry:
…with Black Craig and Cruach nan Capuill of Cowal behind…
…and Wind Hill to the left:
Cowal and Rothesay:
Of course there was a good phone signal up here and the answerphone messages came rolling in shortly after I left the summit. That's what turned this from a 20 minute walk into a 50 minute one .
At 3pm, we grabbed some food in Rothesay before heading back to the Colintraive ferry for the long trek back up to Inverness. Weighing up our options, going back via Wemyss Bay and the A9 would land us in Central Belt rush-hour, so we plumped for the scenic route via Strachur, the Rest & Be Thankful, Arrochar, Loch Lomond and Glencoe. Aside from some poor weather between Rannoch Moor and Loch Linnhe, the sun was shining the whole way. With work like this, who needs holidays?
Waiting for the Colintraive ferry, before the long drive home:
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