Saturday, June 25, 2011

Walk 273 -- Campbeltown to Carradale

Ages:  Colin was 69 years and 48 days.  Rosemary was 66 years and 190 days.
Weather:  Dull and humid but dry for the first third of the Walk.  Wet for the middle third.  Sunny and warm for the last third.
Location:  Campbeltown to Carradale.
Distance:  17 miles.
Total distance:  2623 miles.
Terrain:  Nearly all road-bashing.  It was not as quiet a road as yesterday, but not very main.  There was a squidgen of beach-walking around lunchtime.  Later we tried a bit of the infamous ‘Kintyre Way’ — scaling an awkward stile, descending to a bog and then being abandoned on a beach with rocks so big they were impossible to climb.  We had to retrace our steps, and we were furious!
Tide:  Going out, then coming in.
Rivers:  No.317, Glenlussa Water.  No.318, Saddell Water.  No.319, Carradale Water.
Ferries:  None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  No.28, Saddell Abbey.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  No.58, we tried to follow the infamous ‘Kintyre Way’, but it became impossible so we had to retrace our steps and divert along the road.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan in Machrihanish.  This morning we drove Carradale and parked the car near the harbour.  Then we caught a bus to Campbeltown, alighting at the bus terminal near where we had finished the last Walk.
At the end, we arrived at the car.  We had our tea and biscuits (I have gone off caramel shortcake!) and then drove back to our caravan.
It was very overcast when we got off the bus, and we didn’t know whether it was going to rain or not.  (It had been misty in Carradale when we had parked the car, and thick fog as we came back over the hill into Campbeltown.)  I had the map folded wrongly, so we sat in the bus shelter while I reorganised it and put it back in its case.
Then we started the Walk — but we were only a couple of hundred yards up the road, near the War Memorial, when I realised something was missing.  My walking poles!  I had left them in the bus shelter, so Colin nipped back and retrieved them for me.
We went along the lower road round the bay, and found a seat to sit on to eat our pies.  We had good views across the bay to the main town.  An old man with sticks walked by and wished us well — so nice and friendly!
We knew this road was a dead end, so we climbed through a steep alley to the Carradale road.  This road was busier than the lane on our last Walk, so we donned our bright yellow ‘vests’.  There was a bit of car-dodging, but it wasn’t too bad despite the twists, turns and complete lack of pavements.  It was a bit of a route-march from thereon, really, not much of interest for all the miles we covered.
From our elevated position we could see the causeway across to Davaar Island which we fully intended to use the next day.  But the weather put paid to that, much to our regret.  We could see the southern end of the Isle of Arran, and waved maniacally at it because one of our friends, Rosie, is staying there with her sister this very week!  (Rosie lived on Arran for much of her childhood, and her sister still lives there.)  We could also see the ghostly outline of Ailsa Craig in the distance.
We passed some gun emplacements left over from the War, where now only the sheep graze.  And we spotted some snails having a bit of nooky in the long grass of the verge — perhaps stopping to photograph them was a measure of how bored we were!
We came to a car crash scene by a stone bridge.  It must have happened fairly recently because the evidence was quite fresh.  There was oil all over the road, now covered with sand, and a burnt patch by the bridge where the car must have caught fire.
The sump was still in the adjacent field, and there were bits of stone wall scattered far and wide.  We reckon it was a speedster who found he was going too fast to take the bridge, so he came to grief.  It looked nasty, we wondered if anybody had been hurt, or even killed.
Nearby was a beautiful flowering bush.  I loved it, and found it quite cheered me up after that grim scene — and the ever-darkening skies.  Also there was an old mill stone on the verge, I expect there was once a mill on the river which goes under the bridge that the car crashed in to.
We came to Ardnacross Bay where we sat on a rock to eat our sarnies.  It started to rain as we finished, so we put our cameras away and donned wet-weather gear.  The next five miles were very boring — the roads were almost straight, the weather was wet, and then it turned foggy so we couldn’t even see the view.  The Isle of Arran, now so near, had completely disappeared.  In fact it made us feel quite claustrophobic to be surrounded by mist like that.  Thank goodness we were on a tarmacked road, not out on a mountain or struggling along clifftops.  The road was very ‘undulating’, there seemed to be a lot of uphill.  A lady stopped her car and asked us if we were enjoying ourselves or would we like a lift!  Well, we were not exactly miserable because we were not cold and our wet-weather gear was doing its job, but we had to admit we weren’t getting much out of it.  We thanked her for her offer and explained to her about our Trek — we didn’t want to accept a lift because it would only mean we would have to finish the Walk tomorrow.
It seemed a long way to Saddell where we had planned to have a short rest in the bus shelter which we knew was there.  We came to a beautiful wood about half a mile before it, and the rain stopped quite suddenly.  The sun came out and it got very hot, so we peeled off the layers and got out our cameras again.  We were in a much more buoyant mood as we descended the steep hill into the tiny hamlet of Saddell.  It stayed dry and warm for the rest of the Walk, so we were really pleased we hadn’t accepted that kind lady’s offer of a lift.
A small Cistercian abbey was founded in Saddell in the twelfth century, and disbanded in the sixteenth century by James IV.  There is very little of it left, and the ruins have been used as a graveyard for many years.  Apparently it is haunted by a huge black spectral  hand!  (Good thing we were there in brilliant sunshine!)  But twelve medieval stones have been preserved — one cross, six grave-slabs and five effigies.  They are kept in a shelter and looked after by Historic Scotland.  It had been raining so hard the floor inside this open shed affair was quite wet.  As we entered I slipped on some slimy concrete, but fortunately I was carrying my walking poles which saved me from falling right over.  No injury, we were both very relieved!
We returned to the bus shelter, but we were able to sit outside and eat our apples because the weather was now lovely.  A family came out of a nearby house to say ‘Goodbye’ to two of their number who caught the last bus of the day into Carradale.  We were amused by the antics of a child called Isaac who didn’t like to do as he was told!
When we felt sufficiently rested we marched on.  We passed a horse chestnut tree where the leaves were turning brown far too soon in the year.  So the horse chestnut leaf miner (a moth that has flown over from the continent) has got this far north!  It is the larvae of this moth that does the damage — it ‘mines’ into the leaves turning them brown prematurely.  Many of the beautiful trees on our local common in Malvern have been ruined by this moth which only arrived in this country at the beginning of this century.  It has spread at a phenomenal rate, and now here it is in Kintyre.
Colin found a slow worm in the long grass of the verge.  We love these fascinating legless lizards, they bask under the lid of the grit box at the end of our drive at home.  This one looked as if it was a female fat with eggs, so we replaced her very carefully in a safe place, well away from the road.
We found some wild orchids too, deeper in colour than the ones we saw yesterday but equally as beautiful.
By now Arran had reappeared, and looked good with its clouds atop.  I would like to go there one day.  We could see the promontory on which Carradale is situated far away in the distance.  When we passed a milepost telling us we had walked thirteen miles, we knew we only had four more to go.
We came to Torrisdale Bay where we sat on a rock to eat our chocolate.  We were both very tired by now as we had walked a long way, so we didn’t relish the thought of walking uphill for the next bit.  Part way up the hill the Kintyre Way led off to the right over a huge stile.  On the map it looked as if this waymarked path went smoothly round the coast to Carradale avoiding the hill altogether.  So we climbed the giant stile and descended steeply down a field, following green markers on posts for there was no vestige of a path.  We upset a herd of cows, and a group of oystercatchers which kept flying round our heads squawking fit to bust.  The posts led us increasingly steeply downhill to a swamp!  It was far too much of an incline to walk comfortably, and very slippery too.  I became increasingly unhappy.
We got to the ‘beach’ which was covered with enormous jagged-type rocks, not the sort you can easily clamber over.  A green marker post seemed to indicate that we climb over one of the rocks, but we couldn’t because there was a minor cliff the other side!  There was no way we could go on.  Colin climbed up one of the rocks, but failed to see any more marker posts amongst the forest of jagged boulders.  There was no way through, and the rocks were impossible to climb.
We were both furious!  This is supposed to be a way-marked path, but it was more like rock scrambling.  Once more the Kintyre Way had let us down!  I could just see one of us breaking an ankle, or worse, so we had no choice but to retrace our steps.  We had to climb back through the swamp and up the steep slope to the stile, annoying both the oystercatchers and the cows again.  That detour cost us at least half an hour, and we were both so tired by now.
We route-marched the rest of the Walk, all the way to Carradale Pier.  It was the only way I could keep going.  As we passed the village hall we noticed the car park was full.  It was very quiet, and a poster told us there was a play going on (local Am-Dram) tonight.  We wished we could have gone to it, we both love that kind of thing.

That ended Walk no.273, we shall pick up Walk no.274 next time at Carradale harbour.  It was eight o’clock, so the Walk had taken us nine hours.
We had our tea and biscuits and then drove back to our caravan in Machrihanish.  My feet are in fine fettle after two days walking, but my legs ache!  Not a sign of a blister, thank goodness.

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