Posted by: natsevs | June 10, 2010

Knap to Tighnabruaich

In the morning, the loch was completely hidden in mist, but the peaks on the opposite side were clearly in view so it was quite eerie. I actually managed to get off by half 9 which was early by recent standards and carried on down the hill towards Ardentinny. When I reached there at around 10:30  I ate the food I was intending on having for lunch at a picnic table. It would have had views down the loch but the  mist was still pretty heavy and couldn’t see very far down at all.

After going along the sea front of Ardentinny I was onto the road to Blairmore and arrived there at 12:30 still quite hungry. Once round the point I went into the village shop at Strone. The selection was poor though so I just bought a can of coke and a pack of jaffa cakes (100% extra free) and gradually made my way through all but three in the next half hour. Not an advisable thing to do.

It took seemingly ages to get to the top of Holy Loch and I felt a little ill as I got there. The whole day had been really muggy once the mist had started to lift slightly but as I came down the other side of the loch the sun finally came out properly. The weather was therefore really nice once I reached Dunoon and I got to where I was staying at around half 3. I washed my clothes in the bath as usual then collapsed on the bed. After a while though I forced myself up and went to the supermarket to get supplies for the next few days as well as food for tea. The dining room of the hotel was full as I returned and not one person in the place was under 70 by the look of it.

The following morning at breakfast I found that pretty much everyone else there was on a coach trip and the service was really slow. I was somehow still away by 10 and out into the mist again. It took about an hour to get to Inellan on the road but by then the sun was coming up. Onwards from there I headed down to Toward point in the heat and sunshine. Just past Toward I stopped for lunch then walked along the road at the bottom of the peninsula. The road went in quite soon but there were dirt tracks on the map staying close to the coast which I headed for. I was blocked by a big gate with a ‘no tresspassers’ sign but some walkers stood by it told me the smaller pedestrian gate was open.

I went through to find an empty mass of concrete with nature creeping its way back over it. There were a few other people walking in there but all on the front, I was soon on my own heading up the side. After a while I came to a fish farm and went through it to the beach and out of the weird place. Off the beach I was back onto coast road which was a single track road up the shore of Loch Striven. This went past an MOD fuel station then onto Glenstriven where it stopped. It was ridiculously hot by this point and I was very thankful for any shade I could get. From Glenstriven it was onto a path along the coast which had been allowed to get really overgrown and was also very boggy. I opted for the beach instead before going onto a better path.

I had one or two stops as I went along then when I reached another fork in the dirt road I realised I had left my map at some point. I decided to go left. I was wrong. The track went towards the shore past a house but then became a track through the end of their garden. This was not a path, it was a sheep track and it wasn’t very easy walking. I was too stubborn to turn around though and figured I’d refind the path eventually. The track went up the side of a steep path that I almost slipped off a couple of times. It then came down to a beach with a dead sheep on it, this didn’t inspire confidence.

I wanted to get to Balliemore at the top of the loch at 4.30, I got there at 6. The whole way was tracks through ferns, bogs and thick pine trees on steep lochsides or climbing over some serious rocky outcrops. It was knackering and boiling and I slipped more times than I could count as well as getting scratched constantly. It eventually broke me and I started shouting and having a tantrum, asking where the ‘cough’ path was. It turns out by that point it was right there.

That took me to a dirt road and past some actual houses. I had, however, drunk all my water so was drinking straight from springs as I went. The path climbed up to get to the road near Balliemore, which may have been the final straw toward exhaustion. I took that road around the head of the loch but then had to leave it again to get down the other side. This side didn’t even have a path so I was due more of the same.

I had decided to walk til 7 to get a decent distance done. It started fine along beach but I was soon climbing and scrambling once more. I was not feeling good either, slightly sick and dizzy. All I wanted to do was jump into the loch to cool off but I didn’t think I would have the strength to pull myself out again. There didn’t seem to be any good camping spots and when there were there was no water to be seen to fill up my bottles. On one scramble along the side of the loch I slipped and slid down the slope only stopping myself by holding onto some heather. There was no grip for my feet so I had to pull myself and my bag up grabbing hold of the plants above me. Then I really felt exhausted. I finally stopped just before 8 and set up really slowly, wanting to just lie down. I forced down some noodles which made me feel so much better then went straight to sleep.

I had set my tent up on a slight slope because it was the best of some very poor sites. This meant that all through the night I kept slipping to the bottom of it but despite that I slept pretty well and was feeling a lot better by morning. I got some water from the stream and packed up ready for more of the same in the morning. Plenty of climbing and getting caught and scratched in the pine trees. The worst of it though was that I opened my cereal and the bag split right open. I salvaged most of it into a carrier bag. I finally climbed up a rock and over a wall to fields and a dirt track.

I have never been so happy to see a dirt track. That soon became a single track road and took me round the point to Colintraive. I got there at around half 3 and the sun was in full force again. Past Colintraive it was proper road for a while before back onto smaller ones to stay nearer to the coast. It was quite up and down but as long as I wasn’t getting stabbed or climbing I was happy.

The road rejoined the A road and this took me to the top of the loch where a river entered it so I had to go a fair way further to get across. In fact I realised it was taking too long so I went down to the river and paddled across bare foot. I was onto the Cowal Way on the other side and turned off the main road towards Craig lodge. Here the road stopped and the path went up the hillside steeply enough to warrant ropes. I thought I was done with that.

It came back down to a beach then along to a farm. After the farm I was on a track round the headland to a few houses. Coming out of there I was offered a lift then when I said no they told me it was an hours walk to Tighnabruaich, it was 7:15. Unfortunately they were right and I didn’t get to the b&b I was staying in until gone 8. I was obviously exhausted by that point and probably looked a state. The guy there rang the local pub to see if the kitchen was still open and they said they would do me some food if I went over there. I had an awesome chicken burger watching tv and the guy was pretty cool. When I paid he gave me a mars bar and snickers free. Then I went back to the b&b and collapsed.

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