Posted by: natsevs | June 29, 2010

Achnamara to Kilchoan

I slept surprisingly well considering the previous evenings stresses. Or possibly because of them. it didn’t stop me waking up at 4.15 thinking it was time to get up. A storm had been predicted but that thankfully didn’t turn up and my first of many porridge breakfasts wasn’t actually too bad. I’m not a porridge fan but I figured it would be the easiest breakfast option and with enough raisins in, it becomes somewhere near edible.

Packing up the tent the midges were terrible, covering my face and arms. Despite wearing the recommended ‘skin so soft’ a few got bites in so I suspected that I might end up looking similar to the elephant man by the end of the day. I packed away a lot quicker than usual as a result and carried on along the track around the little outcrop. It took me back to the road which I stayed on for a bit until heading into forest again at the next headland.

In the forest I followed a cycle route parallel to the shoreline that then climbs upwards. It was too hot for all this going uphill again. The path came out at the bottom of a freshwater loch. This is where they have re-introduced beavers in the Scottish beaver trial. That’s what the sign told me anyway. I didn’t see one.

From there I took a track heading towards the end of the headland and came round in a big loop back up to the road again. The road led down to Tayvallich and I arrived just after 1. I had planned to stay in the campsite there so I went and set up my tent. Once I had done that I set off to tackle the headland with my “Bag for Life” shopping bag with a few things in. Tayvallich is a very picturesque little place which is probably why well over half of the residents seemed to be English. That’s definitely not been an uncommon occurence up here though.

On the east side of the headland I was able to stay on the road down to Keillis at the bottom. From Keillis jetty there is no path up the other side. It started with a farm track though so that bade well. It was soon gone and I was making my own way. The sea was so blue in the sunshine and looking out it was beautiful. The sun also made it bloody hot though. I was being made to be feel even more disappointed at my camera breaking (hence the no pictures of the beautifulness). It was hard going over rocks and through bog but worth it and I arrived at Carsaig after 6. From there it’s just under a mile across the neck of the headland to get back to Tayvallich. Back at the campsite I put my shorts on and took my boots off and went to the pub. I only stayed for one before returning to the tent to make some tea before midge time. There were people having a big get together on the site but they weren’t too noisy thankfully.

The midges were still about in the morning but not bad enough to stop me making breakfast. I think I may actually like porridge now?! I set off in my bright orange Ecuador hoodie to protect my arms and got a few strange looks from the locals. That was soon shed in the heat though.

The walk back to Carsaig seemed shorter today and from there I headed north onto a forest track which would take me all the way to Crinan. The initial part was a fair amount of upward walking which got the sweats going again. I disturbed a fox early on then later another one did a double take before fleeing the path. At the point I was sure I was supposed to be at Crinan the path kept going higher and higher. Worrying, as Crinan is a little harbour.

The little path off did turn up in the end and presented me with a steep descent my knees didn’t appreciate. Crinan is another posh place  and very pretty. The canal that starts here is the one which ends at Lochgilphead. I got to the sea loch and started along the tow path. Pretty soon I was being asked how far I was going by a Canadian repairing his little jetty on the other side. He was impressed enough by my response to go into his railway carriage home and come out with a print for me. He is an artist called Fraser MacIver and he rowed his little boat over to give me the print (of Lochgilphead) and two postcard pieces. He has a website you can check out (http://www.frasermaciver.com/). His house was awesome and I enjoyed our little encounter.

Soon the canal was crossed by the road heading over the estuary which I took. Once over I went off on the first left as far as the road would go before having to head out behind the last house on Landrover tracks. These actually lasted for quite a while, although the vegetation was making a good attempt at covering them up. At the end though I had to descend then get into the forest to try to find the track in there that the map showed. The down was fine with ferns the only barrier but then I had the stream to go over before climbing up rocks the other side to jump a fence. That was less easy with my bag getting caught and generally weighing me down as I tried to pull myself up.

There was a kind of path the other side which led to the track and suddenly everything was a lot less wild. After getting water at a stream I followed the path that went parallel to the coast then went out through a break in the trees on the other side. It was back to grass and bog here and I made my way up an ascending valley. Yet another fox scarpered then I saw a completely in tact cow skeleton stuck in the bog. Except the head was unattached seeing as it had nothing to keep it in the air.

It was still really hot so the climb was tiring but I was heading for a loch at the top hoping it would be a good spot. I got there and skirted the edge then had a little climb to end up on a perch at it’s end. The midges were already going for it so I got on long clothes, had a quick wash in the loch and got food on the go quickly. Then I hid for the night.

The tent was boiling in the morning which meant the midges were waiting outside in huge numbers. I did manage to have a morning poo without my bum being turned into a pin cushion though.

Once packed away as swiftly as possible I went over the top and down along the stream edge before a sort of track turned up to take me the rest of the way. I came to a field then dirt track before setting foot on the actual road. It was busy but I only had to take it to Ardfern which I reached around 12. I went into the shop there and got some food including a Smarties ice cream. It was another sunny and hot day. Not great for walking.

Out of Ardfern it was along a quiet single track road. This whole area seems to be very boaty and some of the cars followed me, not wanting to pass in case some of my muck got on their shiny cars I’m guessing. There was plenty of room for them to pass. At the bottom I went across on a dirt track. I somehow took a wrong turning but a nice local farmer helped me out and had a quick chat. The hot weather wasn’t pleasing him either.

The track took me to one house which should have had a path from it. It didn’t. I ended up scrambling through bracken and climbing down a ridge to get to a valley below the next house. It was boggy at first but that soon became nicer fields then I was on the shore. The shore was nice to start but it was back to the usual scrambling over rocks in no time. I made it out to Craobh Haven though, a very quaint little place with yet another marina. From there, a dirt road led to the main road.

Whilst walking on this some serious storm clouds were gathering ahead and I could hear thunder over my music. I got to the turn off at 4.30 still dry and started walking away from the clouds instead. This little road took me through Melfort, basically a holiday village, before I found a stream to get some water. I had a serious ascent I was not expecting then set up once down the other side next to a sheep field. Not the best site I have had, I had to cut down some saplings to fit my tent plus it was shaded so a midge haven. I wanted to stop though so it had to do. I cooked on the beach and for some reason decided now was the time for my first dip in the sea. It was bloody freezing and lasted seconds but I did completely submerge myself at least.

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