Sunday, 2 July 2017

Adventures along the Kintyre Peninsula

Goat Fell from Brodick, Arran
I am sure that you could take a relaxing break along the Kintyre peninsula, but with so much so see and do the question is, why would you?  We were off adventuring to celebrate a milestone birthday (I'm not a big parties kind of a gal and decided that exploring a quiet corner of Scotland would be way more fun!).

Anyway, as there was SO MUCH to see and do I thought I'd tell the story with words instead of pictures.

 Our Base

For the bulk of our stay our base was the superb Port Ban campsite at Kilberry which I cannot rate highly enough - it was utterly superb.  The views were fantastic, the facilities pristine and the folks that run it were so utterly lovely we felt relaxed from the moment we arrived.

View from the pitch

Nearby Kilberry Inn
Sunset behind Jura


Campbell's Tomb

Fabulous mini golf

Excellent sea swimming
Gigha

As the site was within easy reach of a few ferry ports we decided to make the most of it with a spot of island hopping.  CalMac ferries were superb throughout - though I was disappointed with the lack of Captain Birdseye beards...

The Isle of Gigha is just 7 miles long and half a mile wide and is perfect for exploring on foot or by bike - the ferries run regularly throughout the year and the crossing is only 20 minutes.  We packed a picnic and our wetsuits to make the most of the stunning beaches.






Arran

While I'm on the subject of island hopping we also nipped over to Arran - a slightly longer crossing at 30 minutes and a much bigger island.  This time we bought round island bus tickets which allowed us to hop on and off the bus network and complete an entire lap of the island.

Although it's considered one of the larger of the Scottish islands it's still only 20 miles long and, all told, is around a quarter of the size of London.  There's still a north/ south divide though - the big pointy bits are all in the north and gentle rounded hills are in the south and all of it is well worth seeing. (Someone on social media pointed out that my photos don't do Arran justice and they're absolutely right - no photos do it justice, you really have to go and see it for yourself.)

Goat Fell

Holy Island

Lochranza

Kilbrannan Sound

Beach at Blackwaterfoot

View to Ailsa Craig
Islay

The final island we visited and the only one we went to with a specific purpose in mind.  This was the longest crossing of the three at 2 hours 20 minutes and if you're just going over for the day get the 7am ferry and treat yourself to a fry-up from the ace on-board cafe.

We took the bikes to give us tome for a quick visit to Laggan Bay (breathtaking) before spending the afternoon at the Laphroaig distillery.  I've been a huge fan of Laphroaig since I was a student and, as it was a big birthday I was celebrating, we opted for one of the big tours, spending time exploring the distillery, visiting the source of the water they use and finally cutting peat before heading back for a few more tastings.  They were very generous with their tastings and if one of you is driving they save them all for you in tiny bottles which you can take away and enjoy later.

Laggan Bay
Steve cycling on the beach...
 



Mull of Kintyre

It wouldn't have been a proper trip if we hadn't gone all the way down to the tip of the peninsula, though the drive to the Mull of Kintyre is not for the faint-hearted (especially if you're driving a campervan!).  Just after we arrived, as per the song, the mists rolled in and we couldn't see much,  Still, at least we'd been.
 
Mull of Kintyre lighthouse just before the mist rolled in
Campbeltown

Campbeltown is worth a visit for two main reasons - firstly the haggis nachos at the Royal Hotel have to be tasted to be believed - they are AWESOME!  The second reason is the cave painting on Davaar island.  No ferry required this time, just check the tide tables as it's a fairly long walk along a causeway which is completely covered at high tide.

We'd heard about the painting from a lovely man in the heritage centre (another place worth visiting to give you a feel for the history of the region) but even then the directions were sketchy.  Best advice is to look for the cave marked on the OS Map and it's just past there.  The painting is a life size depiction of the crucifixion and was completed in 1887 by a local man who was then exiled from the town.  It's been restored a few times but is worth visiting for a refreshingly untouristy experience - no gift shops, entrance fees or tour guides - even the signs to the cave are hand made/ painted - just be sure to wear good sturdy shoes as the beach is very rocky.

Davaar Island

Sign at cave entrance

Archibald MacKinnon's painting

Carradale

The views on the drive down to Carradale are absolutely stunning - uninterrupted views over to the mountains of Arran.  Carradale itself is a very quiet and pretty fishing village and the campsite is right on the beach - another excuse for a quick swim!

Carradale Bay
Carradale Beach
Carradale wild goats
The journey home...

All great holidays must come to an end and so it was with this one - but we still fitted in a few fabulous views on the way back.  If you're in the area definitely take a detour to Crinan to visit the canal - it's a work of engineering genius and a very pretty spot to boot!




Our last stop was at the Camping and Caravanning Club site at Luss on the shores of Loch Lomond.  We've stayed there several times on our journeys up and down to Scotland and it never disappoints - this time they even organised a beautiful rainbow for us.

Loch Lomond 

Luss

Loch Lomond

Another excellent adventure and a corner of Scotland well worth taking the time to explore - I'll just leave you with one photo of my wild birthday celebrations - cheers!  😀