A weekend around Argyll: Part 222nd July 2008
It’s been a while coming but here’s the second part of the trip report for that weekend spent around Argyll at the end of May. The lengthy walk from Inverarnan to Dalmally meant that getting a rest on Saturday evening took more priority than planning where I was going on the day after so that had to wait. Anyway, two days of lengthy walks back to back might have too much even if I got every encouragement from the weather; it couldn’t have been more marvellous. The day after was just as good and left me kicking myself for not taking a day off from work to stay longer. That made me snatch every opportunity available on the way home and that’s for the next installation of the trip report. Sunday was to be an easier day.
So after getting a few things that needed doing out of the way, the day was clear for walking once I had decided where to go. With Sunday public transport and my exertions the day before, I was left in a quandary but ended up plumping for Kerrera. Even if I might have felt that I wasn’t making the most of the sunny weather, it was no mistake. I had been there before, on a sodden soggy Friday in November 2002. That time, I did catch it in a dry interlude but it just didn’t compare with the way that I found it this time around. The way there was the same as before: a one or two mile walk out of Oban and a short ferry ride across the Sound of Kerrera to the island. The obvious thing to have done was to repeat the circular walk around the south of the island but I was more mindful of time on this occasion. What happened was that I went for a more freestyle wander around the middle of the island, taking the opportunity to savour the views all around me.
Kerrera’s position does give it countless advantages when it comes to seeing what surrounds it. The highest point of the island may not exceed 200 metres above sea level but it really does punch above its weight on the scenery stakes. It really came as surprise to me that you could see inland as far as Ben Cruachan and that’s near Tyndrum and Dalmally! looking seaward, Mull does not loom as much in the vistas as you might think but, rather, it’s parts of the mainland like Morvern, Ardgour, Sunart and Ardnamurchan that really supply the main mountainous backdrop to the seascapes filling the senses. Those views really were more noteworthy than the freestyle wandering that I did, I ended up near the summit of Barr Dubh at one point on my visit. Otherwise, it was a case of following tracks for parts of their lengths.
I made for the 17:00 ferry. It didn’t leave on time thanks to the ferryman, a laid back character by all accounts, being engrossed in conversation. £4.50 was the return fair to be paid on the way back; it was £3 when I last used it. Once returned safely to the mainland after a short crossing on undulating seas, I plumped for a different course to Oban. Instead of the road, I set off on a right of way that took me through fields and along tracks on what was very much a glorious evening. In the meantime, the Kerrera continue to ply its way at times needed by day visitors to the island rather than any timetable. I suspect that he stopped at 18:00 but it was a welcome sight in this age of command and control.
I ended up on Pulpit Hill before making my way back to my accommodation. Ben Cruachan could be seen here too and I think that it might offer the best views over Oban too. If my memory serves me correct, I think that I was actually looking down on McCaig’s Tower. That November did see me up around the folly, revelling in the only sunshine to be found during the whole time. That was another Sunday and I left Oban in deteriorating weather conditions.
There was to be more to my walking that day than an over and back journey to Kerrera. A certain pattern of wandering were the mood took me had been developing all day it really showed its colours when I went out again to take in the delights of what remained of the evening. That ambling took me along Oban’s Esplanade and I continued out the Ganavan road until I picked up a path towards Dunollie Beg and kept pottering from path to path until I found myself next to the strand at Ganavan after all. I continued a bit further up the coast before turning around and heady back along the road to Oban and my bed for the night, ending a day that might have been taken up with gentler explorations. There are times when that is needed too.