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" The Mull of Kintyre - Carradale circuit "


Date & start time:    Sunday 16th September 2018.

Location of Start :   Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy Bay, Argyll    ( NR 663 324)

Holiday location:     Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy near Campbeltown, Argyll. Scotland.

Places visited :        Campbeltown, Saddell, Carradale, Clanaig, and back.

Walk details :           Local walks at each of the stops.

With :                         Ann and our dog Dylan.

Weather :                  Overcast, high cloud, occasional sun, cool, just the odd spot of rain.

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The third day of our holiday and the weather is a little kinder by the look of it.

It is still cool and breezy but it will be nice for a drive around the northern half of the peninsular.

We start by driving to Campbeltown and viewing Davaar Island from a higher vantage point than yesterday.

The tide is low and the causeway to the island is open.

Apparently you can hire the lighthouse cottages for a self-catering stay . . . perhaps you could arrive by boat to save all the carrying ?

[ They say dogs welcome . . . take care around the sheep . . . that contradicts the sign we saw yesterday ! ]

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Part way to Carradale on the eastern coast of the peninsular

is the village of Saddell


This seems to have been a significant place

in medieval times as it was an important religious centre

at a time when the Bishops held power in the region.


The sign tells us that the great Cistercian Abbey here

was founded by Somerled in 1160.

From him and his son Reginald were descended

the MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles

who ruled the west of Scotland until 1493.


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The Abbey was destroyed in 1507 by James IV, part of the widespread dissolution of religious houses in medieval times. 

The lands were given to David Hamilton, Bishop of Argyll.

An artist's impression of the Abbey.
Some of the ancient grave slabs.

The grave slabs found here have been protected in a special display.

Four of the stones are thought to be carved by the craftsmen of Iona but the other four here are thought to be local to Saddell.

The slabs include engravings of knights, monks, ships, swords, salmon and otters.

The descendants of the McNairs, depicted on one stone, still live and farm locally today some 600 years later.

The ruins of the old Abbey and an extensive graveyard are found in the area behind the new display building.

Like all ruins they leave a lot to the imagination . . . but the artist's impression seen in the visitor display was very helpful.

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We left the car at the small car park in the village

and headed for the beach.


The estate welcome walkers who wish to visit the bay

by using the driveway to the Castle and Saddell House.


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We take up their suggestion and head down the leafy lane.

The moisture in the woods encourages the moss to grow.
Light at the end of the tunnel.

Saddell Castle is an early 16th-century Scottish tower house built by the Bishop of Argyll.

The castle had farm out-buildings added using the building stone from the ruined abbey in the village.

Now owned and restored by the Landmark Trust, it is available as a rather nice holiday let if you fancy a stay.

The name Saddell is derived from the Norse for 'sandy dale'.

The bay and the castle apparently featured in the Paul McCartney 'Mull of Kintyre' video promotion of his song of the same name.

Looking out from Saddell Bay we see the west shore of the Isle of Arran in the distance.

Where the river meets the sea it looks like there's someone standing on the rocks.

Ann's panorama including the castle and the man.

He hasn't moved . . . must be busy searching for something.
Dylan and I go out to see what he can see.

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The figure turns out to be

a modern Antony Gormley statue,

one of his more cubist interpretations

and part of his 2015 LAND project.



Five sculptures were placed near Landmark Trust buildings

across Britain in 2015

to celebrate fifty years of the charity.


They were only due to stay for the year of the celebrations

but this one was bought by a benefactor of the Trust

and will now be a permanent feature

of Saddell bay.

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"There is an excitement about making a sculpture that can live out here amongst the waves and the wind, the rain and snow, in night and day.

The sculpture is like a standing stone, a marker in space and time, linking with a specific place and its history

but also looking out towards the horizon, having a conversation with a future that hasn't yet happened."

Andrew Gormley - artist.

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After our walk we drive on towards Carradale Village and Harbour.

After passing a thriving looking school and village we stop at the end of the road.

The curved jetty of the well protected harbour nestles on the east coast so is doubly protected from rough seas.

It had a much larger herring fleet in its day but is still home to a small commercial fleet of fishing boats.

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The unusual box sections found in the fish boxes

shows they are often fishing for small crayfish or langoustine

The lobster pots behind show

they also fish for lobsters and crab.

The gull is after whatever is left over at the end of the day !

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A busy if somewhat disorganised village shop on the harbour side . . . it probably has everything you need !

Alongside the jetty is even more disorganised . . . but I suspect not totally abandoned.

Across the sound is the Isle of Arran . . .
. . . the poignant plaque on the wall to lost friends.

A reminder of the loss of the Carradale trawler 'Antares' which sunk off Arran, with the loss of all hands, in 1990.

[ Its sudden disappearance was eventually blamed on submarine activity in the area . . . a sad tale indeed.]

We say goodbye to the harbour and head back into the village.

A large breakfast doesn't mean you aren't allowed tea !
We stop for a cuppa at the Carradale Network Heritage Centre.

The tearooms were an old forestry office, now taken over by the village as a local meeting place and also serving light meals and teas.

The small building opposite has been recently renovated and surprisingly had an Australian eucalyptus tree growing outside.

When we returned that evening to our hotel the building was identified as the old village school (1187 - 1891).

Suitably refreshed we motor north up the coast to Grogport, Crossaig and Claonaig.

Across the sound are the hills of Arran including Beinn Tarsuinn (Goat Fell) and Beinn Bharrain.

The car ferry is crossing the Sound in our direction.

It plies its trade between Lochranza on Arran and Claonaig here on the Mull.

It is nearly here . . . but we'll not be using it today . . . sorry.

We have ventured on the previous boat to this one on this very crossing way back in 1987.

That's us with the car and caravan.

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Instead we'll continue on around our mainland circuit . . .

Something disturbs a large flock of gulls and crows from the stubble field back at Bellochantuy as we pass.

The west coast is decidedly more grey and windblown than the protected eastern side of the peninsular that we've enjoyed seeing today.

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For tonight's supper perhaps we'll pick

a couple of Herdwick sheep.


It's not that we need reminding of home,

nor does the lovely food need extra salt or pepper . . .


It is just that they look nice !


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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a keen eye, a local guide book or leaflet and a tune you can't get out of your head !

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Click the links for the full set of pictures:

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