Soldier Rock from Kintra, Islay

Route: Soldier's Rock and Kintra circuit

Date walked: 14/07/2018

Time taken: 3 hours

Distance: 8km

Ascent: 196m

On Saturday it was a lovely sunny day but promising rain later. I have fond memories of walking out to the Soldier Rock in my teens with my Dad. We watched otters swimming in the sea and had a lovely day. I recall I had a new brown checked cotton shirt, funny what you remember, it must have been 40 years ago or thereabouts.
Anyway this time I was on my own and my mum had jobs to do around the village (church flowers, shopping, visiting friends and the like) so it seemed like a good way to pass a morning.

soldier rock.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

So armed with my trusty stove and far too many items of clothing I set off. A large herd of cows with calves and a bull was lazing about on the track just through the hill gate so I gave them a wide berth by going down to the shore for a short distance.
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large herd of cows - and a bull in there somewhere I think

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beautiful wave-cut patterns on the rocks

I followed the track up to the abandoned settlement at Frachdale then took a sharp right.
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rabbit and bee holes in the bank beside the track

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looking over the moor to Sgurr Bhogachain where I was on Wednesday

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looking back towards Kintra from Frachdale

The track goes gently uphill through lovely fragrant wild flowers. Ticks or no ticks, I was too hot and soon rolled my socks down and my trousers up. The track leads to the old settlement at Grasdale where at one time there must have been quite a large communit, as there are a dozen or more ruined houses spread across about 500metres. Looking across to the other side of the glen you can see the remains of Tockmal which I am told is one of the oldest settlements on the Oa, where it is said that once there was a priests' college. These settlements were abandoned during the 19th century and although in Islay there were no burnings of homes there is little doubt that the crofters had no choice but to leave and live either in the new villages or try their luck abroad, many went to America, some had their passage paid by the then landowner John Ramsay of Kildalton.
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lovely meadow, with blue sky behind a front that has just passed over.

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Looking out to sea from Grasdale with the end of the Rhinns in the distance

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the gable end of an old house with the remains of the fireplace and the kitchen press in the wall

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looking over to Tockmal, with possibly the remains of old lazy beds, or maybe modern drainage???

Today the houses bear witness to a hard and long gone way of life, and the potatoes and oats that would have been grown there have been replaced by lovely meadow, bracken and heather.
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Houses of Grasdale

The track disappears at the eastern edge of Grasdale, and I headed towards the burn and crossed it, then headed out over the amazing rock arch to the end of Slochd Maol Doiridh. There I was glad to stop and brew up the loveliest cup of tea I have ever had (I was very thirsty).
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ooh do be careful!

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first view of the Soldier Rock

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Tide is very low today, here is the Soldier Rock from the rock bridge of Slochd Maol Doiridh

This is a wonderful spot where I listened to birds calling from inside a cave sounding like cackling witches, watched the waves break on the shore far below, listened to the sea booming and spurting into a hole, and soaked up the sunshine.
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Lying on my tummy looking over the edge of the cliff

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cliff caves

At this point the battery in my camera gave up (the annoying GPS had switched itself on by mistake and it eats battery :( ) so the rest of the photos were taken on my phone.
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looking back to the north-east, Paps of Jura in far distance

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Scarts on a rock

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down here there is a hole in the cliff where the sea splashes and booms

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the rock bridge I walked over earlier

At last I had to tear myself away and head uphill where I picked up a path winding along the top of the cliff back towards Kintra, with huge views across to the Rhinns, to the northern Islay hills, the Paps of Jura and the southern Islay hills. Reaching the fence, I walked downhill to the gate where again I picked up a path winding along and through a scrubby birch and willow wood where I had to creep along under the trees, following the footprints of cattle - I reckoned if cattle could get through, so could I! Fortunately with the dry weather there was no mud whatsoever!
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a small part of a big view

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the Big Strand stretches for 5 miles from Kintra to Laggan

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birch woods

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lovely beach between Port Alsaig and Kintra

I was tempted to go for a dip in the sea at Port Alsaig but I persuaded myself that I didn't want to climb back up again after a swim. The cattle had moved from their place by the gate so no difficulty negotiating them on the way back.
I went for a dip in the sea at Kintra instead which was a lovely way to cool off at the end of a gorgeous but hot walk.
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The beach at Kintra.

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Comments: 2

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User avatar
Location: north yorkshire moors
Activity: Mountain Walker
Pub: just gimme a cup of tea
Place: Everywhere
Gear: the Map
Ideal day out: waking up in a tent in the middle of nowhere and then doing 2 or 3 munros followed by a hot bath
Ambition: Lots more hills

Munros: 216
Corbetts: 10
Grahams: 3
Wainwrights: 40
Hewitts: 43
Sub 2000: 9

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Joined: Jul 18, 2011
Last visited: Aug 17, 2018
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