As we were in Kintyre for a week in 2007, and I was looking for something to do other than sit and shiver watching wildlife, the thought of doing a section of the Kintyre Way came to mind. The tale below is of the next 6 years in which I walked one, and finally two, sections each year till ending at Southend. When the story starts, the Kintyre Way was 7 sections ending with Macrahanish to Southend, I know its different now but that isn’t my fault!
This was written up as a reminder to myself and as encouragement to others who may feel downhearted by such glowing reports as “How I ran the West Highland Way in 12 hours” etc etc -- it is possible to do walks such as these in sections, the main aim is to enjoy it however it is done!
But first, acknowledgements..... a warm debt of thanks is due for the unstinting support from my other half, who gave up precious time from her primary reason for being in Kintyre, and who delivered me to, or picked me up from, out of the way places, without that this walk would never have happened. Many thanks are due to her. Likewise, to West Coast Motors whose buses ran on time and provided many a useful connection. Also a very definite thank you to our friends who looked after us so well for so many weeks over so many years.
I followed what was accepted at the time as the route for the Kintyre Way, and the report is in chronological order.
2007 Tayinloan to Carradale 28/8/2007
Being based in the west central part of Kintyre, walking the local stretch from Tayinloan to Carradale seemed a reasonable idea, though I then had no thoughts of it being more than a one-off walk.
I was dropped off at the layby on the A83 just South of Tayinloan where the Kintyre Way heads away from the road, pretty dull weather and the walk started off uphill before levelling out on the central spine of Kintyre.
Passing the windfarm it was darker than ever and I wondered how well wind tubines would stand lightning strikes, and me too for that matter. And also, just how wet could it become? The route wandered across Kintyre through upland moors and past Loch na Naich before heading downhill at Farachen Hill and Auchenbreck where there was more sunshine, leaving the overcast skies behind.
I stopped to visit the cairns/standing stones at Brackley before heading South on the B842. By then my knees were not the favourite part of my anatomy and the tarmac didn’t seem to help any. Took a longer pause just beside a logging pile having turned off the road and the break helped.
A very pleasant stretch South to Carradale. As I descended to the East of Cnoc nan Gahar I’ll admit I went down slowly, walking backwards on occasion to ease my knee joints.
Thankfully there was no one else around to collapse in laughter at my antics. In fact I had met no-one all day apart from being passed by a few motorists on the B road. On the descent there were really good views of Arran. I clearly recall limping into Carradale and waiting in and around the small concrete bus shelter in intermittent rain for an hour till WCM arrived and delivered me to Campbeltown and a lift “home”.
2008 Skipness to Tarbert 27/8/2008
Started this year with a lift to Skipness, to the small Post Office, and headed off North along a seemingly Roman road, all went well and then of course it heads straight uphill.
Followed along pleasantly beside the river before climbing the East side of Meall Don. Weather was good, clouds/sun. The grass was long enough and wet enough that gaiters were useful and at this point I had the first and only significant rainfall for the entire route.
Evidence in the Coke® coloured water of just how wet it had been.
Getting closer to Tarbert I met a few walkers, but none admitting to doing the Kintyre Way,
and also spotted the ferry from Portavadie heading in to Tarbert across the mouth of Loch Fyne.
Finished that day with a zig-zag down to Tarbert Castle and the wait for WCM at the bus terminus to magically transport me back to within a stroll of home base.
2009 No Kintyre Way!
There appeared to be no time this year for the Kintyre Way; I think that having got a GPS system I was taking advantage of it and spent my time taking Geograph photos, 36 in fact and walked a total of 38 miles on four days. See http://www.geograph.org.uk for information on Geographs and also the report for 2013.
2010 Skipness to Clachan 27/8/2010
Having started from Skipness and gone North it seemed logical now that I was continuing the Way to start from there again and go South. Began in sunshine and I gradually overcame the irritation felt at having to walk back in an hour over what had taken but minutes in the car.
Still its an enjoyable seaside walk, with Arran in the distance and the local coastal scenery being quite changeable. The next highlight was the Claonaig ferry terminal (to Lochranza) which has to be one of the more basic ferry stops in existence. A mile or two later the route headed inland away from the B842 and within a few hundred yards I met my first Kintyre Way walker. He was heading from South to North and camping overnight on the Way. We parted after a chat and I continued, prepared for what was described as a boggy section.
Must have been a dry year as it was not a problem, even a bridge over the stream. Soon the open moor gave way to forest and two enchanting Lochans, Fraoich and Chreimh, with the sun dancing off their blue waters and that was time for lunch.
Sitting there made me realise the obvious..... thats why I’m doing this! Just as well that refreshed me as further on were sections of the route on very hard uncomfortable crushed rock, fine for logging lorries, not so fine for sore feet. Remembered to take a few photos of Loch Ciaran for a work colleague of the same name (Ciaran that is, not Loch Ciaran!) Then downhill and to the A83 with the bus stop at Clachan.
Time for a chat with passing villagers and a tea break, but the clock looked like its an hour and ten minutes fast. Once more, the bus back “home”.
2011 Tayinloan to Clachan 22/8/2011
This section was done with the help of WCM again. I parked beside the old church at Kilean, South of Tayinloan. It had been very wet overnight and the very long grass and vegetation on the track ensured a good soaking from waist down. I should have engaged brain and put waterproofs on , but it was first thing in the morning. I did pass several other Kintyre Way walkers, German and French, who were heading South at the start of their day going on to Carradale carrying large rucksacks.
The next step North is along the coast to Rhunahaorine Point, which has the honour of having the lowest trig point in Scotland, 2m I believe. At certain times of the year walkers are discouraged from this area as Arctic Terns nest on the pebble beach. Although I’ve seen them nesting within yards of the busy Visitor Centre on the Isle of May without any damage caused other than to the visitors as they were being attacked. I used to think walking on sand was had work, now I’m of the belief that pebbles are much worse.
The section at Achnafad gave me one of the most memorable experiences of the 6 year journey. Walking North along the very straight pebble beach I could see what looked like a crow pecking at a brown lump and flashes of red were seen too. My first thoughts were of a dead seal being scavenged by the bird but as I came closer it flew off, leaving the brown shape behind it. This was now revealed as an otter and a bit of seaweed, with the otter too deeply involved in its lunch to worry about me.
I took a few photos, moved closer and took some more, and knelt watching it from just a few metres till I quietly stood up to carry on and it suddenly paid attention and in a swirl of sea water it was gone, resurfacing at a safe distance from me to check all was safe. The images are still fresh in my mind, an unforgettable few minutes.
I wonderered if the presence of the otter was related to the Allt Chaolachaidh burn that ran into the sea close by.
After the shingle beaches this section has a fair bit of walking either on or close to the A83. More sunshine as I took the detour off the road and through the grounds of Ronachan House and down the gentle slope into Clachan.
Admired the ingenious telephone box vestibule, and again waited for WCM and the bus back to my parking spot so I could show off my photos of the otter once at “home”.
2012 Carradale to Campbeltown 28/8/2012
By now the whole process was becoming well organised, I drove to Campbeltown and got an early WCM bus to Carradale; for the first few miles it couldn’t get above 2nd gear but after some not so gentle persuasion by the driver it gave in and behaved itself.
Having the ability to choose which day I walked on, it was again sunny as I set out from Carradale.
The initial woodland path was a great start to the day, very peaceful and sheltered in the forest. There followed some road sections with short steep stretches before the route headed inland, once more climbing upwards as I left the coastline.
The route now (2016) now leaves tarmac at NR797632 and heads inland at Torrisdale Castle but in 2012 the route left the road about 5km further South. I chose to leave at NR787314 which allowed for passing by the remains of Saddell Abbey, then headed West to go around the North of A’Chruach.
Having walked some of the new path alongside Lephincorrach Burn I can tell you its a definite improvement over the B842. Lussa Loch was next and very peaceful too, a chance for some walking on level ground as well.
Having driven from Campbeltown up to the Loch a few times I knew that my knees were not going to enjoy the long downhill road back to the car, but it wasn’t too bad and the three of us (me and my two knees) survived, although going downstairs the next day was interesting.
2013-1 Campbeltown to Macrahanish 26/8/2013
This year I could see that this short section plus the final stretch to Southend would complete the whole route. This stretch has now disappeared from the Kintyre Way and I have to say that its no great loss.
I drove to Campbeltown and parked at the side of the harbour before heading for the West coast at Macrahanish. Maybe not the most interesting section of the Kintyre Way, and was definitely done for completeness sake and as a warm up for the final walk later in the week.
Macrahanish has a really fine beach to its North, open to the swell from the Atlantic and hence appreciated by surfers. In the village itself was a shingle rocky beach, more birds though.
The trusty WCM saw me back at Campbeltown by lunchtime. I checked the weather forecast and went for the Friday as the best day for the last stage.
2013-2 Macrahanish to Southend 28/8/2013
Now there was just one section to finish the Kintyre Way and according to the details it was the most challenging. My delivery driver dropped me off on a sunny morning around 9 at Macrahanish with a promise to try and remember to pick me up later in the day, or at the very least to alert the Coastguard.
I had only gone a mile or so before it was obvious that the level of sunshine required sun-tan cream, not a common event in this part of the world.
Going round the coast the secenery was dramatic and the uphill walk eventually reached Innean Glen with the Sailor’s grave on the shore.
The track down and up again looked easy enough but I thought I would save my energy for later in case I had to hurry up at the end. As I turned the corner at the old sheepfold I surprised a bunch of wild goats who scattered in all directions.
Having started as a wide track the path became more and more suited for rabbits in single file till eventually it disappeared. No, it had just taken a sharp left turn and was heading UP, as in, across the contour lines rather than following them. Miles per hour walking speed seemed to drop to hours per mile till I reached the high point of the track on the seaward slopes of Cnoc Moy. The scenery was spectacular and gave welcome reasons for stopping to admire it. From here it was inland, no more sea till Southend. SouthEast next towards Largibaan Nature reserve, and wider paths, then headed up to Remuil Hill.
Just after the summit I photographed my one and only Geograph (First) of the whole journey, http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/3626271 See, there are other ways of passing the time than just walking. My compliments to all those who have contributed so many images, especially those from hard-to-reach places. Personally I may have seen enough Forest Tracks etc. to last a good many years. With that excitement in the background it was now a steep descent of Amod Hill to the farm of the same name and the knowledge that from here to the end it was pretty much level ground. The narrow road led on to Keil Point and the sandy beach,
I paused to take off boots and socks and check the sea temperature, answer... cold as usual. Past the “Footstep of St Columba”, out to Dunaverty Point and then over the golf course to the end of the line at Southend.
Only a 10-15 min wait at the cafe and on time my ever-helpful better half arrived to take me back to the comforts of “home”. It was a Friday, so that meant Salmon baked with ginger, no way I was ever going to be late for that!
It was a great walk to finish with. Even if overall it was not in quite the same category of journeys as Odysseus, 6 years to the day from that first walk across to Carradale I had completed the Kintyre Way.
6 years to walk it, 3 years to write it up, just as well there's no rush then!
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NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.
NB. This board is for reports on multi-day long distance routes - reports on simply long walks should be added to the standard boards.