164. Southend to Campbeltown

My final walking day on this four-day trip to Kintyre and I was keen to get on with getting around the tip of Kintyre. Although, I would not be rounding the Mull on this trip I felt at least I was getting somewhere! I decided again to reverse my direction of travel due to the frequency of buses, as I did not want to be hanging around for a couple of hours at the end of the walk for a bus back to Campbeltown.

As I waited for the 7:55 #200 bus to Southend, I saw that there were two chaps catching the same bus. One of whom I thought, maybe, could be a fellow coast walker and one whose blog I have been following for a while. Unfortunately, I did not know what he looked like and his last blog entry had him at Brodick on the Isle of Arran so I did not approach him. When he and the other passenger got off in Southend village I thought that was it. The bus carried on about half a mile down the road and I got off. I thought nothing of this until the chap I suspected of being a fellow coaster walker also travelled back on the friday ferry to Ardrossan. It turns out that indeed, he was who I thought he was and has posted on one of my recent TR’s. His Blog name is Helpful Mammal and his blog can be found at:-


His blog is very well researched, well written and with a dry-sense of humour that I appreciate. We had come within minutes of meeting last year in Largs. I’m sure our paths will cross again at some time, at least I know what he looks like now.

Looking west towards the Mull of Kintyre from Kiel Gate
Inside the largest of the Kiel Caves
St Columba’s Footprints

Anyway, the bus turned around at Keil Gate and I continued a few hundred yards down the road to visit the Keil caves and some religious relic sites. I passed a large pod of seals basking in the early morning sunshine on rocks along the shoreline, I did not disturb them. My first port of call were the Keil Caves, the largest of the three caves was occupied in the early 19th century; the two other caves were quite small. I retraced my steps to visit St Columba’s Footprints. Well to be quite honest it just looks like someone has simply carved them out of the soft rock – which is apparently what happened. All a ruse to generate tourism – remember the Holy Stone of Clonrichart from Father Ted?

St Columba’s Well

Still unconvinced I also visited St Columba’s Well which looked really murky and the ruined chapel of St. Columba.

Conglomerate on Brunerican Beach

I continued east through a small caravan site alongside Dunaverty Bay to where Dunaverty Castle once stood. Nothing remains of he castle today, but 45 years before the massacre at Glencoe, Dunaverty Castle was the scene of an atrocity that is not so well-known as Glencoe. In 1647, the remnants of a Stewart army was besieged by a Covenanters army under the command of John Leslie. After agreeing to give the castle occupants “quarter” if they surrendered, Leslie under the influence of a Reverend Nevoy slaughtered over 300 MacDougalls their followers, women and children.

Sea Pink or Thrift

I crossed over the golfers footbridge across a small burn and walked along Brunerican Bay. The Kintyre Way for some reason had detoured inland, whereas I continued along the shoreline, which was easy walking. The Kintyre Way would rejoin the shoreline some two miles further up the coast at Kilmanshenachan and I would continue on the Way all the way back to Campbeltown. Although views were limited in the heat haze, my eyes were drawn to Sanda Island, a private island some three miles offshore. I passed the Celtic cross memorial to the Duke of Argyll and continued through a number of small and generally empty caravan and holiday home sites. As I approached Polliwilline Bay the geography of the coast began to change with steep cliffs dominanting the way ahead.

The Bastard

Meanwhile, the temperature had begun to rise and the effects of four days of walking was beginning to take  effect. The coast road I was now walking along began to rise steadily, but traffic was very light with only the odd car passing. I was now heading for a hill I had noticed on the map which stood out because of its name – The Bastard. Although  just a normal looking heather clad lump with a modest height of 188m, it was a hill that I would make a short detour to climb. It would certainly give me more street-cred! As the road was already about 130m, it did not take long to climb the heathery slopes. The views south were tempered by the heat haze, although I could just make out Ailsa Craig and Arran, but I could not see the Northern Irish coastline. I descended back to the road which descended and rose steeply in a few places. I began to feel the heat which was quite fierce now.

Davaar Island

The coast road eventually dropped down to the shoreline and I was able to get a good view of Davaar Island, which I was walking towards. Davaar Island is connected to the mainland by a thin sand bar which is called the Dhorlinn and is covered at high tide. I had planned to cross over to the island, but I was a good 90 min early to make the crossing. Over 80% of the Dhorlinn was still under water, so I continued on into Campbeltown. So the picture painted in one of the island caves of the crucifixion and the highest point of the island (115m) would have to wait. In truth I was relieved as I was quite tired now and it was still two miles into Campbeltown. The walk had taken about 6 hrs.

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 =   17 miles
Total distance =    2766 miles




2 thoughts on “164. Southend to Campbeltown”

  1. Oh my goodness, you met Ju (the Helpful Mammal). How wonderful! The nearest I’ve got to another coastal walker was when I missed someone (Martyn West, I think) by 2 days near Barnstable. Sounds like an interesting walk with lots of bloody history.


  2. I too, wondered if Alan was Alan but failed to ask. In hindsight, I had the easier end of that exchange as I could at least ask if he was him by name, whereas asking a complete stranger if they are the Helpful Mammal could be a little weird.

    My blog has moved since Alan wrote this, and is now at https://helpful-mammal.co.uk/ instead.


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