CampbeltownYou are Here: Scotland; Argyll; Campbeltown
I had to be in Tarbet for 10am for a meeting. In the end, I was there at half nine and had time for a wander first. I was surprised at how quickly I got there, although to be fair the roads were empty! The meeting was a little over three hours, so by half one I was free for the rest of the day. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and my exhaust was making one hell of a noise so I headed south!
KintyreThe furthest south on Kintyre I had been previously was Kennacraig, the ferry terminal for Islay. Today, however, I was heading further south, to the bitter end if I had time - the Mull of Kintyre. Along the way I had nearly 50 miles of road and scenery to enjoy, yes Kintyre really is that long! First stop was a pretty little village called Clachan, but then it was on again to Tayinloan.
Tayinloan is the ferry port for the small island of Gigha. Gigha lies parallel to Kintyre, but is just 6 miles long by about a mile wide. Somehow, however, this little strip of land manages to block all sight of Islay beyond, and I couldn't be sure whether Jura was visible or not. It is, however, ripe for exploration and as I now know it is just two hours from home (as close as Skye!), I intend to head south one day and take my bike across to Gigha for the day.
Tayinloan itself is a nice place, with a couple of lovely old cottages. Beyond, the road drops down to the coast, running along just above the beach through Muasdale. It was here that I stopped awhile and watched the surf rolling in, with the wind throwing the spray back - quite an amazing sight!
The last outpost of civilisation!After many gorgeous miles of coastal driving, the road turns and heads inland to Campbeltown. After so many miles of beautiful scenery, this small town seems almost grim and unwelcome. However, on a blue sky day it is no such thing. Clustered around the small loch that gives the town a harbour on the east coast of Kintyre - the road runs down the west coast - Campbeltown is a very strange place. This bustling town shows lots of life despite being quite literally hours from anywhere at the end of the road. It has a similar feel to Thurso, although maybe a few years behind, in that there is a real will to make a go of the place. Yes, they live in this remote outpost, but that's their privelidge, not their punishment.
Wandering around the towns streets, there are a really eclectic range of architectural styles on show. Much of it is naturally Victorian, but there is the Edwardian Cinema, the very modern Library building and many other styles in between. In contrast to this almost vibrant heart, the surrounding estates are rather grey in character, but hopefully that change will spread.
The MullWell, having coming that far, there really wasn't any argument. I had to visit the Mull of Kintyre. One thing I should have mentioned before is that it was a little blowy in Campbeltown. You could stand upright, but it was a struggle now and then. I headed south, hitting the coast once more at Southend. Not Southend on Sea in Essex, of course, but Southend Kintyre. I don't suppose there can be many places better named.
I took a few photos here, finally ascertained the problem with the exhaust (it's amazing what damage a branch lying in the road can do), and got blown back into the car. I then took the tortuous road through the hills to the Mull. The car park is 400m above sea level, and then a private road drops down a series of hairpins to the lighthouse at the bottom. Apart from the fact that it was already 4pm and I didn't fancy the long climb back to the car, the wind was probably gale force there. It took me three attempts to get out of the car, and I was then blown in about three steps the 20 or 30m to the gate. After a couple of photos, and a half-hearted attempt at reading the information panel, I forced my way through the wall of air back to the car and gratefully sank back into the seat.
My next stop was, believe it or not, home. After an amazing high-speed zoom along empty roads all the way north (apart from the slow twisty bits obviously), I covered 130miles in under three hours...