156. Portavadie to Otter Ferry

A short two-day trip this time to continue my journey up Loch Fyne. I achieved an interesting milestone driving up along the M6, just after the Thelwell viaduct, my trusty Toyota Avensis clocked up 250,000 miles. I had bought the car from new in 2004 and undertook all of the servicing myself. Its been a reliable old motor and I’ll be sad to see it go, when it finally does.

This part of West Cowal is not particularly well served by bus routes and todays route was no exception. Tighnabruaich Service Station runs a request service only a couple of days a week, so I had to factor in these days with the weather and finding somewhere to stay.

The path to Glenan Bay
Glenan Bay
I just love Highland ‘Coos

I caught the 9:18 #473 bus service from Otter ferry to Millhouse, unfortunately, this service was the closest I could get to Portavadie where I last finished my walk. So it was a 55 minute wait for the #471 bus to Portavadie. However, I decided that as the distance was only 2.3 miles to Portavadie I would walk the rest of the way. Upon reaching Portavadie I continued walking  along the coast following a footpath through the nature reserve to Glenan Bay. On rounding a small headland I enter Crispie Bay. This area has a number of private houses connected by a dirt/tarmac road which veers slightly inland, but continues northwards. I am now on the Ardmarnock estate. I pass a single ‘No public right of way’ sign which I had just unknowingly walked through. However, I had no issues with walking on this estate or the other ones I passed through on this walk.

Looking north up Loch Fyne and down to the River Auchalick

I had planned to take this route, as about 2 miles up the coast I would come to the River Auchalick, which I did not know if it could be waded. I opted therefore for the dirt track which took me onto the B8000. The B8000 was very quiet and offered excellent views both up and down Loch Fyne. By the time I reached the first bridging point of the River Auchalick, close to Drum, I was about three-quarter of a mile from the coast. I could have bashed my way through thick forest and bog to get back to the shoreline, but decided to stick with the road.

Water fountain with Cadburys Cream Egg cup available

I continue up the B8000 walking onto the Otter estate arriving at the small village of Kilfinan just as it started to rain, albeit lightly. I took temporary refuge under the eaves of Kilfinan community centre directly opposite Kilfinan church and its graveyard. As soon as the rain abated I walked around the graveyard, examining the older stones dating from the late 18th century. Some of the older stones sometimes have an inscription on the back of the headstone. One such headstone was for Duncan Thomson who died in 1814 aged 52, the inscription at the back of his headstone had an hour-glass carving and the words :

“My Glass is run
And yours is running
Be wise in time
Your day is coming”

Kilfinan church

I must confess I had to look up most of the words because as the photo shows the writing is a little obscured. Anyway, I considered this advice and departed Kilfinan.

Duncan Thomson’s gravestone
Blown over spruce trees

The road now rose up to a densely forested area where I saw a vertical wall of soil and tree-roots, which appeared that a good 100m of spruce trees had been blown over in some storm at the same time. I now pass onto the Ballimore estate. I head along the South Lodge estate road, towards the shore. Unfortunately, I could not find a way that did not involve climbing over high enclosure fencing. I continue along another estate road towards North Lodge, where I meet up with the B8000 again. A short walk downhill then saw me arrive back at Otter Ferry.

This short walk only took 4.5 hours so I had plenty of time to sample the ale at the Oystercatcher Inn at Otter Ferry. As I entered the pub, I was greeted by the pungent smell of smoked fish, which I quite like. Not bad ale either, but rather pricey, which is the norm for this part of the world.

The gravel sand bar “Oitir” giving Otter Ferry its name

I would have put money on the Otter Ferry taking its name from the sea Otter seen hereabouts. However, the word Otter actually comes from the gaelic Oitir, referring to the nearby gravel sand-bar jutting out for almost a mile  into Loch Fyne and is marked by a light and bouy.

The Small Lodge at Glendaruel campsite

I’m spending the night at the Glendaruel camping park. To get there I need to take a small single-tracked road up and over the hills into Glendaruel. It’s a car journey worth taking with its views, height and twisting nature making for s stimulating descent. At Glendaruel I booked a small lodge for the night, well its just like a small wooden cabin, but very nice. With bunks for 4 people, heating, TV, microwave, toaster and kettle. You just need to supply your own pillow/bedding + kitchen utensils. I had the place to myself and it was excellent.

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:


Distance today =   15 miles
Total distance =    2626 miles



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