Stage 108, 25th June: Carradale Bay to Peninver
Waking up to the pitter patter of rain on the roof of the van six inches above my head is never encouraging and looking out I suspected that I might be in for a wet day. My forecast from Kate at home told me it was light rain. It might have been light in terms of weight per drop but the density of drops indicated that this would be the “your going to get wet” variety.
In trying to source a replacement by phone for my second leaky tap from a caravan shop in Dumfries, I set off out a little later than planned. But with the wet stuff falling in sheets it wasn’t a problem as I had decided to cut my day short. I was a day ahead of schedule due to my routing mistake last week, so I had plenty of miles up my sleeve to play with.
A short woodland and foreshore walk along the Kintyre Way sported some very long grass and decidedly slippery rocks. The prospect of keeping any part of my anatomy dry was unlikely. I was also very aware of the slippery rocks, but the grass caught me off guard and I slipped down a deep hidden hole, wedging my foot in the cleft as my momentum took me forward. My left achilles pulled sharply. The pain shot through my ankle and I stood for a minute or two flexing it gingerly until the pain subsided enough for me to continue. I considered myself lucky as I slowly walked it off and within twenty minutes I was back up to pace with another complacency warning shouting in my head.
The Kintyre Way then left me on the road for a pretty miserable walk down to the shortened rendezvous point at Peninver, with one complete idiot in his grey pick-up 4×4 trying to play chicken with me by tucking his car straight in towards the verge and aiming it at me with a smug grin on his face. I skipped in to the high nettles to escape. Missing him and the joke, I walked on boiling over with anger and rather hoping that I might see him again if only so he could see the funny side of things with a walking pole wrapped around his neck.
Stage 109, 26th June: Peninver to Dunaverty Bay
The rain was still there as I left Snickers for a road walking day down to Southend and Dunaverty Bay. I was told that the day would improve weather wise, but it was sheeting it down as I rounded the headland towards Campbeltown. I didn’t really want successive days of being completely soaked but my forecast was good and within an hour the rain eased enough for me to take off the waterproofs and stretch my legs without that horrible claggy feeling even the very best waterproofs can’t avoid.
Campbeltown was a bustling working town and looked as if it had seen better days with historic wealth on show in the form of large houses and a few grand buildings. However, the wealth had clearly dissipated somewhat and parts of the town now seemed a little rundown and in need of investment to bring a return to the prosperity.
The coast road became a lovely deserted lane running around the high water mark for a while before disappearing up into the hills. I returned down to a scruffy shingle bay for my lunch and sat on a rock watching as the cloud rolled in over the sea. By the time I restarted and made my way back into the hills and through Feochaig Forest, the trees were draped with a curtain of cloud and drizzle had set in to keep me company.
The cloud finally burnt away as I dropped into Southend and its golf course with cattle grazing on the fairways. Dunaverty Bay had a lovely sandy beach, but once again the little place had an air of lost wealth and the monstrous concrete lodge / castle which loomed over the village was in dire need of a refreshing coat of paint. Simon parked up for the night further south along the foreshore and out of sight from the caravan park edging the beach. Seals perched on the rocks and, as the light slowly faded, we had the pleasure of watching an otter repeatedly returning to the same rock as it spent an evening food shopping.
Stage 110, 27th June: Dunaverty Bay to Machrihanish
Things had brightened considerably and my forecast from Kate at home now included added midge and likely phone signal forecast. Prospects for all were good today.
I was to follow the Kintyre Way all day today and I set off along the otter rich foreshore to round Keil Point and head inland along the deserted lane. At last I ventured off-road and began a steep climb up to nearly 1,200 ft over Arnod Hill and into Largiebaan Nature Reserve. All told, I had three hefty climbs giving me far-reaching views over to Ayrshire in the East (photo), Northern Ireland in the South and lastly the islands of Islay and Jura to the Northwest.
Eventually a steep and boggy drop down into Innean Glen brought me to circle above one of those tiny gems of a hidden sandy beach. Alas, I needed to head up the glen across boggy moor, which was surprisingly firm enough to maintain dry feet. The last drop of the day brought me back down onto a lane and the road widened into Machrihanish with its expensive looking golf course, immaculate bowling green lawned houses and its wide open sandy bay stretching out to the North. I hadn’t seen a single soul all day and felt a little deprived that I now had cars and vans for company again, but a full day in the wilds was my first for a while and it was good day.
Rest Day, 28th June: Machrihanish
With Simon staying on for three weeks and thus no support driver change over duty, my life was much easier and certainly less hurried. With basic chores for me to do, Simon was able to head out for an eight mile walk of his own and I could have a think about how on earth I was going to fill the three weeks in North Scotland where I still desperately needed support drivers. I had leads, I had a few maybes. But without confirmations my worry grows with every day I have that those gaps stare back at me. This project could seriously just grind to a complete halt and I hadn’t even had an ice cream all week to cheer and chill me.