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" The Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse Walk "
Date & start time: Saturday 15th September 2018. 11.15 start.
Location of Start : Argyll Hotel, Ballochantuy Bay, Argyll
Holiday location: Argyll Hotel, Ballochantuy near Campbeltown, Argyll. Scotland. ( NR 663 324)
Places visited : Campbeltown, Glen Breackerie, Light house, Southend, and back.
Walk details : 2.4 miles, 775 ft of descent then 775 ft ascent back up, 1hr 50 mins.
With : Ann and our dog Dylan.
Weather : Overcast, high cloud, occasional sun, cool, just the odd spot of rain.
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The Mull of Kintyre is the long arm of Scotland that extends down into the Irish Sea.
From its tip it is only eleven miles across the channel to Ireland.
The main conurbation of Campbeltown splits the peninsular more or less into two
and we explore the southern half today, including a return visit to the light house, thirty one years after we first visited the area.
A fine if overcast and cool morning
as I take a stroll over the road to take a photo of our hotel.
It sits adjacent to the old road and the new Campbeltown highway now runs a few yards to the side,
meaning they have easy parking and no fast traffic immediately outside the door.
We're visiting the southern end of the peninsular today
and after driving just a few hundred yards we get a view ahead of the higher end of Kintyre's southern-most coast.
Out beyond it is more land, hidden slightly in the poor visibility, making it difficult to identify.
It is a fifteen minute drive to the harbour in Campbeltown
where we have a brief stop to see the harbour and visit the Tourist Information, in search of a more up-to-date local map.
The various floating pontoons and the jetty here cater for both leisure craft, fishing boats and the Campbeltown Lifeboat.
Up and over the high ground . . . looking back to the north as we skirt the forest.
Down the other side through Glen Breackerie past several hill farms.
Wildlife moving slowly out of the way as we approach.
This pheasant was totally unphased when we stopped and pointed the camera at it !
High above us there's greater commotion as a flock of crows mob the larger buzzard, trying to push him out of their territory.
I'm always surprised when we see this.
Why is it that the buzzard doesn't get riled and have a go at one or two of the smaller birds I just don't know.
After reaching the coast we climb again and get super views east across to Sheep Island and the larger Sanda Island.
The sea beyond is the southern reaches of the Clyde Estuary where it enters the Irish Sea to our right.
Did you notice Paddy's Milestone . . . the blue granite island of Ailsa Craig out there in the distance.
The uninhabited island was formed from the volcanic plug of an extinct volcano and marks the entrance to the Clyde.
Climbing further now as we turn west and head for the "end of the road".
On the heather moorland we spot two red deer
We study each other . . .
Is that an indignant look or just concentration ?
After a short while they see we pose no threat . . . and wander off across the rough moorland.
We set off down the road past the locked barrier.
The light is 400 feet above the sea but that's still 750 feet below us here.
We followed the light house road as it meandered down the steep hillside.
Near the bottom are the walls of an old garden where the lighthouse keepers would have grown food.
[ It's great to look back at old photos and be able to scan them into the website here.]
Visibility is not so good today as it was for our '87 visit,
but this is today's view north along the rugged shore of the Mull of Kintyre.
The land we saw from near the hotel turned out to be Rathlin Island
and from here we could see a great deal more of the north coast and high hills of Northern Ireland itself.
Two boats pass the Kintyre light, the red one heading north out of the Irish Sea, the other south and much closer to the far coast.
Sorry Dylan . . . no hard hat so you can't visit today.
Surprisingly there were actually workmen on site today.
[Normally these type of notices are posted and no-one's about . . . or is that just me being cynical ?]
Out to the right of the photo we could see the flashing beacon of the Rathlin Island light house.
The advancement of technology has not only made fog horns redundant, they have made lighthouse keepers redundant as well.
The station is no longer manned and the market garden has sadly gone back to nature now that no-one lives there any more.
We were delighted to see that this lady (and her husband) had made use of her electric mobility scooter to
make the journey to see the light house. She's stopped on the flat helicopter pad just up from the light.
The only "home" down here now is this renovated cottage sitting a few hundred feet above the end of the road.
It must be one of the most remote 'mainland cottages' we've ever seen.
I remember the event as the crash, which killed so many government and security officers, was at the height of "the troubles".
The helicopter crashed into the steep hillside, which was hidden in the low cloud.
Immediate conspiracy theory blamed it on the IRA, but after a RAF tribunal blamed the pilots, the verdict was finally reversed
and the cause of the crash put down to a fault with the aircraft flight systems.
It was a long way down . . . and an equally long way back up.
The lady and gentleman with the mobility scooter said they only just had enough battery power to make it back to the car.
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Back in the car once more, we retraced our route over the moorland
and headed for the village at the southern end of Kintyre called . . . Southend.
Along the way . . . we see fallow deer close to the edge of the forestry.
More nervous than the larger red deer, she moves into hiding soon after we stopped.
St Columba was a visitor here on his mission to bring Christianity to Scotland in early 563 AD . . . here he left his personal mark.
Either he was wearing heavy size 9 boots or there's a quirk of nature in the stone !
A few yards in the opposite direction were several sea caves at the foot of the large cliff.
Due to a change in sea level they are now quite a height above the shoreline.
Maybe they would have made good shelters for "prehistoric man".
More modern man set up a "Technical School" here at the foot of the peninsular but the house and school buildings are now in ruins after a fire.
Alongside is the old 1939 art-deco Keil Hotel which was requisitioned as a military hospital soon after opening.
It re-opened as a hotel after the war, but closed in 1992, and since then has stood empty.
More information here courtesy of the "Undiscovered Scotland" website.
On around the eastern coastal road and past the hamlet of Feochaig . . .
. . . till we reach a viewpoint for Davaar Island.
It has a sand spit which is uncovered at low tide and a gate allows access on foot to the island via the causeway.
Strangely it says no dogs due to the goats . . . but I don't imagine that a goat would be too frightened of a visitor's dog in that environment.
Full circle now as we approach Campbeltown once more, this time from the east.
A short fifteen minute drive finds us back at Bellochantuy's Argyll Hotel at the end of the afternoon.
Surely it must be time for a pot of (Bellochan)tea me-thinks.
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