Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sisters Trip - Arran and Kintyre

Originally we'd planned a Scottish island-hopping trip with Helen's eldest Sister Jenny, then during their visit last summer Alison's husband suggested she'd enjoy it so then it was natural to extend an invitation to Kate, too.   Roll forward 11 months and the morning had arrived, all four Sisters were present and correct, the minivan was bigger than expected but still within the allowed size by Calmac, the ferry operator, and it was time to get going with an early start on the Monday morning.

We'd booked the first ferry to make the most of a day on Arran, however the previous night the Sisters had decided they wanted to ascend Goat Fell so that was going to take up the bulk of the day.

The seas were calm on the voyage between Ardrossan and Brodick, however Arran was blanketed by an oniminous and heavy cloud:

The cloud lifted a little while we ate breakfast together and a little more as we started the walk up:

So much so that you could see Brodick and the bay from about halfway up the hill:

I'd made a bit of an error in being not as fit as last summer and carrying an 18kg pack of camera equipment made the walk/climb much tougher than it need have been.   Helen was also not as fit as she had been and we were soon left behind by the other three Sisters.   Luckily there was a phone signal so I called ahead and let them know we'd meet at the bottom of the hill so they weren't waiting for us at or near the top.

In the end both Jenny and Alison did reach the top, Kate stopped close to the top and was collected by the returning walkers who then joined us at the cafe at the NTS property at the base.

Given the time we then drove up to Lochranza to board the car ferry to Claonaig, whence we drove down the West side of the Kintyre Peninsula to our hotel in Bellochantuy.   We drove in light rain, a disappointment after the prior two weeks of wall-to-wall sunshine, however as we sat down to a delightful dinner at our hotel the clouds had lifted and we enjoyed a glorious sunset looking out to distant Islay:

The following morning was overcast again but after a hearty breakfast we followed plan A and drove to the Mull of Kintyre on an increasingly narrow and rough road.  The Sisters all walked down to the lighthouse and then the steep walk back to the car park.  I made it part way before my vertigo disagreed so i hung around on the path photographing birds in the poor light conditions and waited.

When they reached me we finished the walk back to the bus and then made our way North and along the East coast of the peninsula, passing through Campbeltown, then some foundations for old WW2 defences:

Before reaching our destination, Saddell Castle with the cloud gone and sun shining:

You're only allowed in on foot so there's a walk down the road used only by residents but flanked both sides in woodland, before walking past the castle and on to the beach it abuts.

On that beach there's a single Antony Gormley Statue, joined here by the Sisters looking on at Arran across the water:

From the beach we headed up the narrow river and crossed by the bridge:

To wander along the wider stretch of beach there.  A Common Ringed Plover was meandering through the rocks on the shoreline:

 From Saddell we headed back to Campbeltown and made a beeline for the Sprinbank Distillery there, in time we hoped for the 3pm tour, which we made:

It's a fascinating tour that covers the entire production process and is the only distillery in Scotland that does everything on site.   This is an empty malting floor, cleared ahead of their open day which we were just before:

From Springbank, armed with a brand new bottle of their cask strength 12 year old, we headed back for our last night at Bellochantuy and another glorious dinner and accompanying sunset:


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