A Walk Over to Davaar Island!

Route: Davaar Island and the Crucifixion Cave

Date walked: 04/06/2009


To the east of Campbeltown, at the entrance to Campbeltown Loch, is Davaar Island, which is connected to the mainland by a causeway known as the Doirlinn. Every day there is a chance to walk over to the island and return within the space of 6 hours - 3 hours either side of low tide; the safe times are available at the Tourist Information office in Campbeltown itself and it is always advisable to check as they are different each day. We have completed this walk a number of times over the years and when we are in Kintyre it is likely that we’ll plan another trip!

Despite only being a small island there are a number of reasons to visit. The most obvious of these is the views from the island itself, but it is for another reason that most people make the journey. In one of the seven caves on the island is a painting of the crucifixion; this was originally executed in secret in 1887 by local artist Archibald MacKinnon, but he didn’t actually own up until 1937. Over the years the painting has been touched up and, following some recent vandalism, restored. Anyway, to see the painting in person you must first get to the island.

Starting from Campbeltown, follow the road along the southern side of the loch. Once past the NATO jetty there is a parking area at the side of the road and a gate that allows access to the Doirlinn. The best route from there is to follow the rocks on the Campbeltown side of the causeway heading north, straight for the marker light, and then turning east towards the island. Note that the sand in this area can be treacherous so it better to avoid taking a shortcut.

Once on the island, head south along the path that leads to the base of the cliff overlooking Kildalloig Bay; the bay lies between the island and the mainland and is separated from Campbeltown Loch by the Doirlinn. Unfortunately it is also at this point that the path ends, so the remainder of the journey (to and from the cave) is over a very rocky beach and it is at this point where people are either slowed down or even prevented from continuing any further. For those that are able to continue, Crucifixion Cave can be identified by either the number of people going in or coming out; alternatively look for a sign pointing in to the entrance or (as we have seen on at least one trip) a small cross outside.

As mentioned above, the cave is not the only reason for visiting the island. While making the trip, whether it is to visit the cave or otherwise, take some time to admire the views. On a clear day, Ailsa Craig is usually visible to the southeast as is the Ayrshire coast. Arran can be seen from the northern end of the island, which is where you can find the lighthouse.

The lighthouse was built in 1854 by brothers David and Thomas Stevenson, the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson. Before being built on the island, it was first constructed on the mainland and the bricks numbered before being brought over. The light has been automated since 1983 and the other buildings are now used as holiday accommodation.

While admiring the island, its cave painting and the views there is one thing you always need to keep in mind: the 6 hour time limit. As said at the start of this piece, the safe crossing time is 3 hours either side of low tide. Remember that and your trip will end as pleasantly as I am sure it will be throughout!

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Location: Scotland
Interests: Travelling around, photographing and reading about Scotland!
Place: Morar


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Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Last visited: Jun 30, 2009
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