I left Jersey at 09.15hrs on Friday with Flybe, headed for Birmingham. It was a perfect day for flying. We took off on time, and arrived on time. Then Flybe had a wobble when my 12.55hrs connecting flight to Glasgow was delayed then, half an hour later, they cancelled it. The best they could do was offer £10 compensation for the inconvenience and put me on the 19.20hrs to Glasgow 😠. So, when I finally arrived, our 18.40hrs ferry from Ardrossan (50 minutes from Glasgow) to Campletown, had long since sailed.
After overnighting in Glasgow and putting the FlyMAYbe disappointment behind me, we took the high road to Kintyre by car at 08.00hrs. Half an hour out of Glasgow, flashes of the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, start appearing from behind the trees and from there you are transported into another world as the road weaves its way through idyllic un-spoilt countryside.
Flat calm, shimmering lochs bathed in sunshine, forests of towering conifers clinging to rolling hills, scarce on buildings, but abundant with healthy livestock. It’s enough to bring out the poet in all of us.
After a three and a half hour journey, plus several photographic pit stops, we arrive in Campletown, before heading for Southend. Vast, rolling countryside, as far as the eye can see.
I am told it rains quite a lot in Scotland… but you could have fooled me, it felt like I’d just arrived in the Scottish Riviera, with the added attraction of sheep, cows and an abundance of wildlife.
Saturday night in Campletown and time for a drink outside The Burnside, as you do in sunny Scotland, before being entertained by The Democrats, a four-piece rock band covering music from the 60s to present, whose lead singer, Jamie, somehow managed to soldier on, having lost his voice.
Heading home to a cosy cottage, to be spoilt rotten by family. Beef goulash, fine wine, and a movie. The perfect ingredients to induce a great nights sleep, lulled into a deep slumber, with the soothing Wings classic, Mull of Kintyre, playing in my head.
I was woken the following morning by a cawing chorus, either a murder of crows or a parliament of rooks, flapping past my bedroom window. Opening the blinds, I am treated to the sight of sun swathed rolling hills and vales, grazing sheep and cattle, as far as my eyes could see. It’s the start of a full-on day.
Meandering through Southend, lazy seals bask in that Scottish sunshine, as I take in some of Kintyre’s history, which goes way back to a time of mysterious standing stones, Celtic legends and footprints in stone.
The remains of Dunaverty Castle stands on a rocky headland on the southeast corner of Kintyre, which serves as a reminder of Scotland’s often turbulent past. The headland it was built on formed a natural stronghold with the sea on three sides. The headland only approachable from the north, attached to the mainland by a narrow path, but the castle could only be accessed by a drawbridge. Standing proud, looking across to the Mull, until it was ransacked during the Civil War in 1647 by Scottish supporters of Oliver Cromwell.
Going back further to AD 563, St. Columba and twelve of his followers were exiled from Antrim in Ireland, only a twelve miles away across the Irish Sea. They landed in Kintyre with the aim of spreading Christianity throughout western Scotland and beyond. In Southend, there are four historic sites, three of which are linked to St Columba. It is said that he built a chapel in the grounds of Keil Cemetery, his footprints are carved into a rock, and a holy well.
Onwards and heading up the Mull with hopes of seeing an Eagle, but alas, not that day. Instead, we saw a lonesome male cuckoo who should have started his migration, a gulp of swallows getting ready to fly south, and an abundance of Meadow Pipets.
Mesmerised by the pastoral beauty and the abundance of wildlife around me, in the air, on the land, and in the sea, I put both hands on an electric fence, which bought me back down to earth with a jolt.
Back towards Campletown and turning left to Machrihanish Beach, a place where few people seem to go on a hot summer’s day
Seals, herons, picturesque golf courses draped across a panoramic and spectacular landscape.
Heading back to the Southend Riviera to paddle and walk on another beach before returning to Glasgow.
But, my adventure wasn’t quite over as we headed back to the Scottish mainland, this time courtesy of Calmac Ferries from Campletown. Seals, enormous jellyfish and a grandstand view of Arran all the way to Ardrossan.
So much to take in such a short space of time, and there’s so much more to see, which means one thing… I have to go back.
FROM MULL OF KINTYRE
© Paul McCartney and Denny Laine.
Smiles in the sunshine and tears in the rain
Still take me back where my memories remain
Flickering embers go higher and higher
As they carry me back to the Mull of Kintyre
Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea
My desire is always to be here
Oh Mull of Kintyre