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" The Mull of Kintyre - Gigha Island "

 

Date & start time:    Tuesday 18th September 2018.

Location of Start :   The Tayinloan Ferry Pier, Mull of Kintyre.

Holiday location:     Argyll Hotel, Bellochantuy near Campbeltown, Argyll. Scotland.

Places visited :        Gigha Island including the Achamore Gardens at Ardminish.

Walk details :           Local walks from the car during the day.

With :                         Ann and our dog Dylan.

Weather :                  Rain to start clearing to a fine, sunny day.

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We have been staying at the Argyll Hotel in Bellochantuy, and this was to be our last full day on the Mull of Kintyre. 

The evening before I felt the simple lighting system over the entrance to the hotel was worthy of a photo,

taken while I was out walking the dog last thing in the evening.

The forecast for tomorrow was reasonably good provided the early morning rain moves away.

We woke to high winds and blustery rain showers !

Still there's lovely breakfast on offer . . . but it was so good I ate it all before I had chance of a photo !

With hope in the air and waterproofs in the car we set off for Tayinloan a short distance up the coast to catch the ferry.

The total lack of planning meant we had three quarters of an hour to wait till that light turned green.

Still . . . no problem, the weather was dry so I took the dog on a walk along the beach.

An old mooring buoy had washed ashore . . .
. . . as had this old fishing boat.

The Island Queen looked in a sad state . . . it couldn't set to sea again in that condition.

With another rain shower heading up channel the dog and I wouldn't stay dry on the walk back either !

Being there early meant we were first to load onto the Gigha Ferry.

Macbraynes offer an hourly service and the crossing each way would be a leisurely twenty minutes.

Just three vehicles on this mid-morning ferry today.
We clamber up the companion way to enjoy the views ahead.

Looking south west, down the length of Gigha, to the rocky headland of Cara Island at its southern tip.

With rain still on the lens we disembark and drive up to the main road, the only significant road on the island.

Shall we head left or right, south or north, to start our exploration ?

The northern route won and we headed up to the slightly more rugged end of the island,

past several farms and their fields of mainly cattle, which were set between rocky outcrops.

The top of the island looks out north up the Sound of Jura towards Corryvreckan.

At the end of the road a concrete block is all that remains of Port Mór harbour pier.

To the north west the distant high hills of the Paps of Jura are shrouded in mist

even though we ourselves are now enjoying some welcome sunshine.

A brief sojourn up the hillside to a small cairn came to nothing as the going was extremely wet and muddy and our footwear rather unsuitable.

It is blackberry time . . . though they were not as tasty as some.
Hooded crows with the hills of Islay beyond.

We were informed that most of the crows on the Mull seem to be this type, in fact they are known locally as grey crows.

Like carrion crows, hooded crows also feed on dead animals.

Unlike black crows they can be more sociable in the feeding habits and groups of them may be seen together in fields . . . RSPB

The only walker's signpost we saw at this end of the island was to 'Eilean Garbh and the Twin Beaches'.

They were created by the action of the sea and the wind

building a sand causeway between the main island and the smaller offshore island . . . a classic tombolo for the geographers amongst you.

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Lunchtime and The Boathouse has a good reputation for food.

It is situated next to an old harbour jetty . . .
. . . now the new yachting pontoon for island visitors.
   
We were offered a choice from the extensive seafood menu . . .
. . . or afternoon tea and cake.

Sadly the super breakfast from our hotel meant that we didn't need lunch, but a nice piece of carrot cake with trimmings went down rather well.

From the jetty we saw a beach we had been to before . . .
. . . last visited in 2004 when we stayed at the island hotel.

It is a delightful white sandy bay with landing steps on the rocks, an old boat launching ramp, a nice rock seat on the sand

and a building which was presumably an old boat house for the hotel.

It also had a nice view back to the Boathouse Restaurant, the pontoon and the ferry jetty in the distance.

Dylan was enjoying the sand . . .
. . . sitting still for a photo or two for a moment.
   
A picture from 2004 with a very young Harry (the hotel behind)
Circa 2018 with four year old Dylan on the same beach.
   
We try out the old steps to the landing point . . .
. . . and find an old winch half hidden in the undergrowth.

Around the corner was a rather nice renovated cottage down by the water's edge.

Time to leave the bay after a very relaxing half an hour of peace and solitude.

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At the southern end of the island is a sheltered deep water pier used by larger visiting boats and a few fishermen

and also the overnight mooring for the Gigha Ferry.

Dylan was rather unsure about walking along this long pier.

Perhaps too much open sea on either side !

Mooring ropes ready for later in the day.
Clean looking lobster pots . . . ready for use apart from the bait.

Cara Island and the closer Gigalum Island protecting the moorings from easterly gales.

Above it all a bright sun and big skies.

- - - o o o - - -

Gigha, like Iona, was an important island in the spread of Christianity throughout western Britain.

On the way back towards the ferry we had plenty of time to stop off and visit the old church of Kilchatten.

An ivy bordered information board . . .
. . . and the inside of the old ruin with the signboard's window.

An ancient cross engraved on a red sandstone block can be found within the window surround.

The view through to the mainland.
An ancient burial slab, like the ones we saw recently at Saddell.

- - - o o o - - -

Just down from the church is Achamore House,

traditionally the home of the Laird of Gigha.

In 2002 when the islanders bought the ownership of the island

the house was sold separately from the gardens

as part of the funding arrangements.

 

The gardens are now owned and managed

by the Gigha Heritage Trust and are open to the public.

After signing in at the information centre (for a gift-aided donation not security)

we strolled up the main drive towards the gardens.

The estate is famous for the national collections of trees and shrubs

but the first thing we noticed was the amazing cirrus clouds now adorning the sky.

Ardmore House is now privately owned, but stands in the estate which include the ornamental gardens.

The mansion was built in 1884 for the then owner Captain William Scarlet Honeyman and it incorporated an earlier house.

In 1944 it was sold to Sir James Horlick, when the story of the creation of the great gardens of Achamore began.

The gardens are home of Horlick’s renowned rhododendron and camellia collections.

They are now managed by a smaller crew of gardeners and volunteers under the auspices of the Achamore Gardens Trust.

There were peacocks there in 2004 . . .
. . . and we were delighted that they were still there now.

Flourishing in Gigha's warm microclimate, the 54 acre Gardens hosts many notable and unusual plants and trees from around the world.

The gardens benefit from the mild climate and the gulf stream influence which warms the seas surrounding the island.

There are nicely kept formal gardens . . .
. . . with often recognisable plants.

At the top of the hill behind the formal displays there's a welcoming seat

where you can sit and appreciate the views across to Islay and Jura.

The wider panorama includes the rocky Craro Island and the low hill of Meall a Ghlamaidh here on Gigha.

Back down through the formal gardens,

passing some old gardening equipment that has seen better days.

" Meet the Gang "

Despite walking quietly behind them they suddenly disperse,

some taking flight up onto the shed roofs.

" King of the Castle."

Walking slowly back to the car . . .
. . . . passing newly flowering hydrangeas.

Next to the main drive was a very colourful tree, possibly an acer.

The pond is a haven for wildlife and is covered in water lilies which should be a great sight in full bloom.

The woodland walks have unusual rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and New Zealand tree ferns.

- - - o o o - - -

 

 

The woodland walk back to the car

 

also included these giant rhubarb

 

known as Gunnera,

 

as well as all manner of moisture loving

 

woodland plants.

 

 

- - - o o o - - -

- - - o o o - - -

At the centre of the village, or at least at the cross roads to the ferry, is the well stocked village Post Office and Store.

We buy a couple of new Gigha pottery mugs to replace old ones that have seen better days back at home.

Down at the ferry jetty we have a short while to wait so I take another short ramble, to an adjacent old pier.

A grey heron patrols the water's edge . . .
. . . but takes flight after a fruitless search.

A Subaru Forester sits patiently in the queue.     

Do you think I could get sponsorship for this photo . . . if only to pay for a car wash ?

As the ferry pulls in, the same Fisheries van that we saw on the way out is waiting ahead of us.

Staring into the intense afternoon sunshine . . .
. . . or sunbathing on deck (neither were quite true !)
   
A final photographic contrast - Dylan 2018
Holly and young Harry 2004

The island website says:    Gigha, named by the Vikings 'Gudey', The Good Isle or God's Isle

is such a special place that once you visit, you will always want to return.

You're right . . . we did.

- - - o o o - - -

The sunshine stayed with us all the way back to our hotel in Bellochantuy.

Chance for an early evening walk towards the beach to capture get a sunny panorama from the front terrace.

Click here or on the photo above for a larger version of this panorama

- - - o o o - - -

The hotel is famed for its sunsets from the dining room.

A local shower drifts up the Sound of Jura as the sun dips behind the cloud.

A short while later the rain had passed Islay heading north east towards Oban.

A glass sculpture on the window caught the light beautifully . . .
. . . subtly changing colour as the sun dipped.

[ We were so impressed with this piece that we traded it for several coins of the realm and it now resides at our cottage.]

Supper time . . .
. . . everything on the menu is nice . . .
but which salt and pepper do you want ?
     

For those staying longer you'll be pleased or just intrigued to know that there were a whole sideboard of different cruets to chose from.

Far too many to describe or photograph in full before we left.

Night falls and the veranda calls for one last photo.

The white lights are the moon, stars, a planet, a single street light and some solar l.e.d. patio lights.

Our bedroom is the square small window on the first floor.

Time to be heading up for the night.

- - - o o o - - -

Next day Storm Ali was due to blow through.

Rather than spend the day watching the wind and rain, we headed home a early

after an enjoyable and eventful holiday here on the Mull of Kintyre.

A big thank you to Ian, Nick and all the Argyll Hotel team who looked after Dylan and ourselves during our stay.

- - - o o o - - -

 

Technical note: Pictures basically taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix Tz60 Compact, or my Panasonic Gx8 mid-range System Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a lovely breakfast to set you up for the day and a lovely meal to come back to.

Go to Top . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

A previous time in the area - May 15th to 23rd 2004 Early Summer in Scotland 2004

Next Cumbrian walk 22nd September - Walla Crag and Ashness Bridge

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