A Weekend Around Cowal: Sunday25th November 2011
Being stiffer on a day that fitted in a lot of walking doesn’t mean that you have to be grounded as this piece hopefully will prove. Having alluring weather certainly helps, of course, as does the proximity of some attractive countryside where you can trot largely undisturbed. Hopefully, what follows will show that you don’t need to go too far away from Dunoon to escape in among some hills. In fact, it was handy that no form of transport other than walking did the trick for it was a little later in the day by the time that I did get out for a longer hike.
A Sunday Morning Opener
As if to loosen limbs after the previous day’s exertions, I took the chance to walk along the shore from Hunter’s Quay to the war memorial at Lazaretto Point on that morning. Even with tired limbs, the beauty of the morning was unmissable and I got to enjoy what I had seen from a bus the day before at a much slower pace. Views across Holy Loch towards Strone and Blairbeg Hill were in abundance, though their being to my east didn’t make photography so easy. In time, hills towards the north-west came into sight. Nothing might be all that high around these parts, but any hills do rise steeply from the floors of the glens that go through them, so their ascent is an energetic task. Reaching Lazaretto Point revealed further views up Strath Eachaig and more than me were wandering about the place too. With the vistas on offer, that was no surprise and I stopped on a nearby beach for a little while too before retracing my steps again.
To Glen Kin and Back
That morning stroll wasn’t the limit of my Sunday walking around Dunoon since it and a little rest had loosened my legs a little. In fact, I decided to explore some of the wooded hills behind the town itself. My entry point to their coniferous cloak was near Sandbank and there was heat to be felt too as I gained height. Signposts were there to be surveyed too, though the trees did cut down on any views of the surrounding countryside; all that was available were peepholes. If an enclosed world away from that of the everyday is what you need, then this could be cathartic.
Destinations on those signs included the likes of Dunan, where a clearing is shown in my O.S. Explorer map, so vistas may be available (maps may not keep up with tree cover though, so actually going there would be the best way of confirming this), and Glen Kin. It was the latter towards which I was headed as I lazily gained height and negotiated twists, turns and junctions.
As I was rounding Strone Saul, the quality of the track deteriorated due to ongoing forestry operations. There was plenty of wet mud about and, though the views were more open, the effects of tree harvesting were there to be surveyed too. Photography here wasn’t going to be as straightforward as on the slopes of normally open and largely untouched hillsides. Height started to be lost too as I dropped towards the floor of Glen Kin. This was something about which I wasn’t all that happy because height loss can mean later height gain too and I was conscious of having tired legs, not that they dominated my thoughts at all often over the course of the afternoon and evening.
Glen Kin became a place that I was to have to myself and it too showed signs of tree harvesting. That meant views all around me were more open than before the operations started and hummocks like Bishop’s Seat were easy to see. The strength of the sun remained discernible as I gained height on rounding the head of the glen. After the chill felt the day before, it was a change to feel some heat instead. A track that would have taken me down right alongside Glenkin Burn had been rejected in favour of a higher return route.
While I may have played with the idea of climbing the slopes to Bealach na Sreine to gain views down Inverchaolain Glen towards Loch Striven, a reassessment of the time of day meant that these ambitions were left unrealised. However, I did see a sign for the track that I would have used and got to pondering a day out that would involve starting from my hotel and making my way to Inverchaolain where I would start walking up the glen that carries its name to reach the aforementioned bealach and return to Dunoon from there. Of course, that’s something for another time, but walks and walking ideas can spawn even more walking ideas. Hopefully, I’ll be able to use at least some of the ones that have emerged in my mind in this way. Reconnaissance always is good.
Following that higher level route from the head of Glen Kin brought me onto the B836 near Clachaig. Though that is the road that one would follow to get to Dunoon to the Isle of Bute or to Portavadie for a crossing to Tarbert on the Mull of Kintyre, it was quiet at the hour that I was using it as my return route to Dunoon. Though tarmac bashing doesn’t give the best of walking experiences, taking it steady meant both progress and having time to savour my surroundings so it wasn’t so bad. In fact, the same approach was to accompany me all the way back to Dunoon that evening.
Monday saw me head home again after a weekend with a few hikes fitted into the few days. After having pondered spending a weekend in Cowal for a while and remembering that first glimpse while walking along the Kintyre Way from Claonaig to Tarbert, it certainly was no disappointment. In fact, there are other places that I can explore around there, so a return remains a possibility once I get the time to construct some sort of plan. Of course, such designs always are subject to change, but that can produce memorable and enjoyable surprises too.
Ferry from Dunoon to Gourock followed by a train journey from there to Macclesfield with changes at Glasgow, Preston and Manchester.
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