173. Ardfern to Kilmelford

With the football season fast approaching, an important pre-season friendly on Wednesday prohibited me from making this a 3 day trip. So it was an overnight drive and park up at Kilmelford in order to catch the 9:43 #423 bus to Ardfern. This was a later start than I normally do, mainly because of the school holidays, which meant a restricted service.

Today I was trying out some gel inserts in an attempt to relieve the pain and discomfort on the ball of my left foot. My impression after the first day of wearing these inserts was that I was unsure whether they actually made any difference. Certainly walking in my walking shoes, rather than my boots, helped.

Renovated and converted church in Ardfern

It was a lovely still and sunny morning as I walked down the quiet cul-de-sac road out of Ardfern alongside Loch Craignish. I was  shaded part for part of the way by with trees that lined the road. My first port of call was the ruined chapel with 14/15th century carved stones – The Craignish Sculptured Stones. Although there was a partial roof to the ruined chapel housing the stones, the quality of the stones were not as good as those stones I had seen previously at Saddell, Kilmory and Kiels. Most of the stones had  a lot of the detail lost.

Giant Butterbur[?] near Craignish Castle
At the entrance to Craignish Castle I met and struck up a conversation with a retired couple, Norah and Chris from Hampshire. It turned out that both Norah and Chris were also walking around the coastline of Great Britain! They were also not that far off completing their journey. They were only the second group of people, ( well third if I include Helfpul-Mammal) that I have met who are walking the whole coast. I spent a good 45 minutes chatting to Norah and Chris, before I moving on.

Craignish Sculptured Stones

I round Craignish Castle, walking along the muddy beach and head for high ground on the west side of the promontory. I have a good view of the castle, which is now converted into apartments and my way further north. I can also see a route ahead, keeping to the higher ground and avoiding the worst of the bog and bracken. Cattle have been roaming through the bracken, which have created a myriad of tracks, although not always in my direction of travel. I drop down into a small bay from Druim an Achanarnaich and I met an elderly gent who seems to be searching the rocky foreshore. This is Tony, a retired commercial mariner, now living in nearby Ardfern. Tony is searching for a special type of whelk which he sends off to a marine biology department for research purposes. I spend almost an hour chatting to Tony about this and that. I tell Tony I’m heading for Gemmil, a farmstead that appears to have a good track running north from it. Tony asks me to send his regards to a lady that lives at the house.

Walking around Craignish Castle
Looking across to Cruach Scarba on the Isle of Scarba
Craignish Castle
The route ahead towards Druim an Achanarnaich
Heading down to Creag Ban, where I met Tony

I walk across boggy ground just below the large house of Barrackan, heading for high ground again. This rough walking  has not been particularly bad; by keeping to the higher ground I have been able to  plot my route using sheep, cattle and atv tracks. Although at times I have still had to battle through bog and bracken, but nothing too difficult. Just after rounding the isolated hummock where Dun Ailne was once sited, I could make out Gemmil, about a mile away. I picked up an atv track which took me right past the door of the farmstead. I passed on Tony’s regards to the occupant and continued on a newly driven estate road.

Looking back towards Druim an Achanarnaich
Looking NW towards Mull with the islands of Luing and Shuna in the middle distance

I entered onto an extensive area of Lunga Estate roads, which had a large collection of houses. Most of the roads seemed to lead down to the marina at Craobh Haven. The rows of newly built  houses at Craobh Haven appear to have been set out as mews/ terraces with the intention of looking like a quaint village. However, they still looked very new and out-of-place. Although the island of Scarba has dominated my view for the last two trips, the hills of Mull have slowly come more into view, becoming larger and more distinctive. I can now see the islands of Luing and Shuna, quite close offshore. After walking down a dirt track for a mile I emerge on the A816 for the walk back to Kilmelford. the walk back along the road is not enjoyable because of the constant verge-hopping.

Craobh Haven

I finally get back to the car and my left foot is particularly sore, but I should be ok for tomorrows walk, which will not involve any main road walking.

Distance today =  15.5 miles
Total distance = 2935 miles



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