Day 176: Keillmore to Duntrune Castle
Distance: 17.81 miles
Ascent: 2628 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells
Accommodation: Duntrune Castle
Well I woke up in my very special little pitch spot by the water, and it was actually surprisingly cool well I suppose it would be at 5:30 in the morning. I had decided I wanted to leave by 6:30 both to get some walking in before the heat got really hot but also to get to my rest day location as early as possible.
The start of my day was going to be 6 miles of off piste walking along the west side of the peninsula and I was ready for a couple of hard hours. The start was not too bad following a farm track and grazed areas for the first mile, but after going through a gate this changed into dense ferns, for this first stage I was hoping to follow the lower slopes and I used sheep trails to get through the ferns which fortunately took me all the way down to the water’s edge. Unsurprisingly walking through this fern, at times as tall as me, in the morning dew got my clothes soaking but I was not worried as with the sun and heat predicted it would dry on my very quickly.
I reached a bay that looked like it has some historical context maybe as a natural harbour though now is very remote, and after walking across the muddy bay I began the climb up to my first navigational reference point of Ardbeg which is a deserted farm/hamlet and the first of 3 ruined/deserted settlements I was hoping to help me navigate my proposed route. From Ardbeg I was roughly following a ridge where fortunately the vegetation wasn’t too think so the walking was quite easy. I saw my next reference point Barbreack another deserted settlement from quite a distance but for the first time on this walk saw highland cows and their calves in a remote area within the ruins. They were very interested in me even from a distance and to remove any possible issues I gave them as wide a berth as I could which did mean I had to annoyingly go through the thicker vegetation for a few hundred meters but got round without any issues. My next reference point was a small Loch and on the way to this I fortunately picked up a quadbike track which made for easier walking on this stretch, but I began to get a little worried when even only 100m from where I though the loch was I couldn’t see it. It turns out that the Loch is quite well hidden due to the topography and that it contains a lot of grasses and reeds meaning it is quite green so blends well in but I found it and followed it’s eastern edge before hitting my final deserted farm of Barnashaig from where I though a track would easily take me down to Carsaig. This track seemed non existent at the beginning and I followed the very discreet route that had been trodden through the vegetation though it turns out this must have been an animal trail as after a few hundred meters it was going in the wrong direction, so after a scrabble up a slope I found the actual track and descended into Carsaig.
I saw a couple leaving their house and asked whether I could fill up my water and they kindly obliged. The next stage was a simple forest track all the way to Crinan, but for some reason my body decided to have one of it’s lethargic moments and I felt absolutely exhausted. As always I don’t know what caused this, the heat may of not helped and possibly though I had eaten well last night and this morning over the previous few days the diet hadn’t been particularly nutritious. But I made it to Crinan where I stopped for a break and to have my lunch and seemed much better after.
The Crinan Canal was not something I had heard about, but it is mighty impressive. It was completed in 1801 to provide a safer route for boats from Glasgow to the West Highland settlements and islands, removing the need to head around the treacherous Mull of Kintyre. The part of the canal I was walking was very beautiful along the seaward side embankment and must have been quite a feat of construction in its day.
I crossed over the Benalloch Bridge and then after a short stretch I reached the driveway for Duntrune Castle, where very kindly and out of the blue I had been kindly offered a bed by Robin & Patricia Malcolm. After 6 nights in a row in a tent it was great to have a bed anyway, but this was more than that with a spectacular setting and house for my rest day and I knew after a good dinner I would sleep well.