Day 175: Castlesween to Keillmore
Distance: 22.81 miles
Ascent: 1998 feet
Weather: Sunny & Very Hot
Accommodation: Wild camp Near Keillmore
I woke up in the shadow of Castle Sween. Castle Sween is actually the oldest dateable castle in mainland Scotland, being built around 1100 and inhabited for approximately 500 years. In fact it was built before Argyll was even part of the Kingdom of Scotland. The day started a bit like yesterday, striking out from the tent straight along the coast with no specific path but there appeared to be some trails as I followed the shore for a couple of miles before joining the quiet road.
It was clear it was going to be another hot one, and I got into my Lawrence of Arabia style get up to protect myself from the sun. The road walking was alright, roughly following the edge of Loch Sween. I was surprised to suddenly see a coffee sign randomly outside a remote cottage, but low and behold they had a little hut out front which had a coffee/tea machine inside and a selection of cakes all of which you paid for in an honesty box. I had been walking for 2 hours so thought this was an omen for me to have a tea break which was very nice.
Not long after Achnamara the road turns to the West along the top of the loch before it then heads up a steep hill. At this point I left the road to follow a forestry track which started at Seafield Farm and after heading 2/3’s of the way down the little peninsula it loops back and up the other side of the ridge passing a small but beautiful loch (Loch Craiglin) before rejoining the road.
After about a kilometer I turned of the road again after Gariob Cottage and climbed another forestry track, this time quite steep, up and sort of across the next peninsula as no option to go down one side and up the other. The track become a path which I had been worried about finding but it turns out it is a forestry commission one with coloured posts to show the way. This path took me passed the lovely freshwater Loch Coille-Bharr, which up on this hill amongst the trees was beautiful. Just after this my plotted route cut straight across to the next sea loch rather than diverting inland, but on getting to the point it was clear I could not cut across and would have to take the track inland which would add a couple of miles on.
Eventually I got to a car park, and it was here that I found out there were beavers in Loch Coille-Bharr, and I wish I had walked up the other side of the loch as apparently there is evidence of beavers having gnawed of tree stumps and it you are really lucky you can spot them. I now had a road section that started going in the wrong direction before turning sharply and taking me back down to the next loch (Caol Scotnish).
From here it was simple road walking (though now a little busier) down to Tayvallich. I randomly bumped into a guy from South Korea who was cycling through Ireland, Scotland and England for four months. Tayvallich is a very smart town, seemingly from the houses, presumably where the local wealthy live or more likely the holiday homes of wealthy from the cities. It had a little café with an adjoining small but good shop with plenty of stock, and I managed to stock up on lots of bits to get me through to my rest day. I sat in the café for about 45 minutes enabling me to get some of the diary done as I guessed tonight I would have either no signal or a bad signal.
It was still hot when I left, and I had 6 miles or so of extremely quiet road walking to go, but eventually I made it to Keillmore. I took of my backpack and scrabbled up the little hill to Keill’s Chapel, this dates back to around 1100, but some of the carved stones including the impressive freestanding high cross date back to the 7th century.
I eventually reached the end of the public road (which unusually had gates you needed to open) which culminated at a historic slipway and jetty. This was an incredibly scenic location and indeed a couple of couples also came down to see the view. I slightly struggled to find a good spot to pitch but I settled on a seemingly precarious, tiny spot, mere inches from the water. It turned out to be just perfect and is definitely the best wild camp spot of the whole trip so far. On top of this I had lots of food to eat which was great.
A good, scenic day but also a tough day due to the heat and mileage.