Day 171: Machrihanish to Tayinloan

Distance: 18.21 miles

Ascent: 846 feet

Weather: SUnny

Accommodation: Camping Near Gigha Ferry Jetty


I woke up after a good night’s sleep, and though I described it as cheeky yesterday this was actually the perfect pitch spot. The little cove though quite close to buildings, was well sheltered which helped with the fairly strong winds overnight and on opening the flap the views out over the sea on this sunny morning were lovely.

Today was going to be a very different day to yesterday, being very flat and not remote (well still remote from towns but not roads) at all. I walked straight down to the shore from the tent and I was onto the long and flat Machrihanish Sands. There was a little river near the beginning but fortunately the golf course had put a bridge across this making it easy to cross. This beach was about 4 miles long and the sand was a good consistency for walking making for quick progress. The one thing with long sand beaches is they create optical illusions as there is no real perspective, therefore even after walking for almost an hour it still looked like I had got nowhere nearer the end than when I had started.

I did finally reach the end of the beach, and after heading through the carpark I joined the A83 which would be my companion for most of the rest of the day. The sun was out there was a fairly gusty wind, and the road had a just about wide enough verge to make the walking not too bad. After about 3 miles my proposed route diverted from the road at a caravan park and tried to follow the coast even though there was no path. But I was pretty much out of food and I believed there was a shop in Glenbarr so I decided to follow the road there instead.

After passing the impressive Glenbarr Abbey, I reached the shop (Glenbarr Stores) which also turned out to be a café and small garden centre as well. I was so hungry that I let my stomach rule my head rather than the budget and decided to eat in the café. I had a soup and a little cake and half way through the waitress came over and incredibly kindly said lunch was complimentary which I was surprised but very thankful for. This café/shop was very well done up and the shop actually stocked stuff that would enable you to make a proper meal unlike a lot of shops I had been to recently. I stocked up on a few bits in the shop (was going to do full stock up towards end of day) and was on my way again.

The A83 dropped back onto the coast and the sun was still out, the road walking was not the greatest, but the scenery was nice. I decided to take a little break strangely in the cemetery of a ruined church as it was the only non-animal, non-private house part I came too for a while. There were some incredibly old gravestones, and sadly some of the more modern ones (still 50 years old) had fallen over and not been righted, sadder was that only one gravestone had flowers but I suppose that is the passing of time.

From here it was not long till I reach Tayinloan where I had hoped to properly stock up, but contrary to what I read online the shop was only open in the morning, so I would have to alter plans a bit. It was only half a mile from here to the ferry jetty for Gigha and the owner of Big Jessies Café had kindly offered to let me pitch my tent in a little field by the jetty.

Strangley I am picking up the CalMac ferry Wi-Fi from my tent which has enabled me to type this up, though not fast enough to actually upload photos or publish diary. The views from the tent are spectacular, which I have pitched behind a little wooden structure as it is a little exposed.

A fairly simple day which was a good thing after the tough day yesterday. Food is a never ending logistical nightmare at times up here, but just about managing to not go hungry at the moment. I end up eating my ‘emergency’ rations a bit too regularly.

charles compton