Southend to Machrihanish (Almost)

Carskey BAy

Carskey Bay

A Spring holiday in Kintyre gave us the chance to walk the final section of the Kintyre Way.  The extended route is 100 miles from Tarbet in the north to Machrihanish in the south taking a meandering route across and down the peninsula.  This last section is regarded as the challenging final section that goes into some remote country.  Fortunately we had great weather as getting into bad weather here would be dangerous.

Sanda Island

Sanda Island

Northen Ireland from Southend

Northern Ireland from Southend

Sheep in flower meadow

Sheep in flower meadow

The start in Southend is very pleasant with views over to Sanda island, Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast.  The path follows the lane beside the sea with seals basking on the rocks.  The view past the Mull of Kintyre shows just how close Northern Ireland is here (and it was getting a bit wet).  After a nice view of Carskey Bay we turn inland and have to bash tarmac for too long as we head up Glen Breakerie.  Finally we turn off the road and join a nice path beside the Breakerie Water where we had lunch knowing that the easy bit is over.

Stile and picnic bench in a bog

Stile and picnic bench in a bog

Kintyre Way marker

Kintyre Way marker

Mile marker

Mile marker

After lunch we have a climb up onto a ridge of hills.  The path is poor here with lots of boggy sections.  Near the top is a brand new picnic table in the middle of one.  It must of been an effort to get that here and our theory is that it was as an apology for having dragged us up this hill.  The path maintainers have done a good job putting in distinctive blue way-markers and even mile-posts which make navigation pretty easy.  The path drops down to Landrover track and we can pick up the pace until we reach a junction.  This is the last opt-out point: turn right to (eventually) get back to the road; turn left to continue into the real remote section.  Left we go.

Panorma from Kintyre Way

Panorma from Kintyre Way

Jazz on Kintyre Way

Jazz on Kintyre Way

Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island

Islay and Jura

Islay and Jura

Soon we are back near the coast and have to head up Binnean Fithich.   This is where we start to hate the blue way-markers as we can see them wandering up the hill.  So it’s a bit of a slow slog up.  However, the view from the top is stunning stretching from the Mull of Kintyre, Rathlin Island off the Antrim coast, round to Islay and Jura all bathing in beautiful blue sky and sea.  It was the highpoint of the walk.  The path continues along the top before deciding it needs to drop towards the bay at the mouth of Innean Glen – the only problem is that there isn’t an obvious route so it zigzags its way down over rough ground.  The only good point is that at this time of year the bracken hasn’t shot up to hide the markers.  This is tough going and our progress has dropped to a crawl.  It’s also the remotest point and twisting an ankle here isn’t something to dwell on – we’d need to get the lifeboat from Northern Ireland to get us!

Jazz above Innean Glen

Jazz above Innean Glen

Machrihanish Bay

Machrihanish Bay

Looking up Innean Glen

Innean Glen

The view over the bay at Innean Glen towards Jura and Islay is gorgeous but then we head back inland and at the head of the wee valley we can see the markers heading up another hill.  That just isn’t nice.  However, at this point we seem to be surrounded by Cuckoos and even had one sitting on a post just 10m away.  Having climbed this final hill we are on the top of dull moorland that undulates to a point where we see our first view of Machrihanish Bay.  We follow a quad-bike trail which is slightly easier going but there are gates blocking the path – these are all padlocked and so it means I have to lift Jazz over – I’m getting to the point where I’ve had enough of this section.  So it was with huge relief that I spot the Missus parked at the end of the public road meaning we don’t have to trudge down the last 2km to the official end at Machrihanish.  Instead, we drive down and Jazz gets to play in the bay.  So this is a tough old day and while the views were stunning you can get them much more easily, so this walk was added to the folder of “walks I’ll never be doing again”.

Distance:26km
Effort:
Scenery:
Do It Again:
Duration:8 hours