WALK 50 : SCOTLAND: ROUND THE COWAL PENINSULA from Portavadie to Strachur & Loch Scriven.

I continued walking on directly from the end of Walk 49: from Portavadie I walked round the coast to Ardlamont Point and then beside the channel known as the Kyles of Bute to the little town of Tighnabruaich.

I remember my walks in the area with great affection.  Most of the way the seaside walks were easy underfoot, the views were calm and beautiful, I found the people very friendly and for once the complexity of the bus timetables did not keep me awake at night!  The area is called The Cowal Peninsula.

In Tighnabruaich I stayed at the Tregortha Guest House which was definitely one of my better decisions.  Karmen and Gabor Horvath could not have been more friendly or hospitable.  They took great interest in my walks and helped me research local buses.  My requests for early breakfasts were never a problem.  Every evening when I returned to what felt like home they were keen to know how my day had gone, and every evening in my room, which had been rendered spotless, I found a clean towel and a little square of chocolate!

From Tighnabruaich I followed the coast as it twisted and turned all the way to Colintraive, Glaic and beyond to the West side of Loch Scriven.  Previously, on Walk 48, I had walked up the East side of Loch Scriven.  Now on the West side the single track road gradually became a lane, which in turn became a farm track which finally became a cattle trodden path across a field which ended in front of a dry stone wall.  Clambering over the wall I continued for several miles across wild country, fording streams, scrambling up and down waterlogged slopes, slipping, sliding and falling over.

Eventually I got back to the main road and tried to hitchhike back to Tighnabruaich.  A car screeched to a halt in a cloud of wayside dust.  The car was so full of just about everything imaginable that I seriously wondered whether the driver actually lived in it.  At any rate, space was found for me and we set off.  Helen was going to Dunoon but she went beyond her turning to set me down in a good place to pick up another ride and sure enough within minutes a car with blacked out windows drew up.

Cathy was returning from a shopping trip to Glasgow.  I mentioned that I had finished the book I was reading and she insisted on going out of her way to drop me off at the little bookshop in Tighnabruaich.  I chatted with the lady in the bookshop for a while.  She had spent many years as a bookseller living in Australia, which somehow seemed a very long way from Tighnabruaich!

Once back at Tregortha I spent a very pleasant couple of hours with Karmen and Gabor, drinking tea and enjoying Karmen’s excellent home made cakes, sitting in their conservatory talking books and travels and enjoying the extensive view from the Guest House all the way down the Kyles of Bute to the open sea.

I enjoyed my days in The Cowal Peninsula.  For most of the way walking around Great Britain I have seldom met other people.  Big empty landscapes, empty sea stretching to the horizon.  Sometimes I have felt very bereft of human company.  On occasions my voice has sounded strange in my ears and when I have met people I have often found that the sense of unfamiliarity has made it difficult to make conversation.  The warmth and friendliness of the people I met in The Cowal, and previously in Lochgilphead (Walk 49), made me feel as though I was at last coming home.  As I near my journey’s end, I feel I am coming in from the cold, and I greatly valued the warmth and welcome I received during these days.

Two mornings running I took the early bus from Tighnabruaich up to Otter Ferry on the South shore of Loch Fyne.  I was travelling on the school bus, on the outbound journey, so I was the only passenger.  Both days I chatted with the driver, Mark, all the way to Otter Ferry.

One day I walked from Otter Ferry back down to Tighnabruaich, and on my last day I enjoyed a wonderful peaceful walk beside Loch Fyne from Otter Ferry to Strachur.  I imagine the lochside single track B road to Strachur is quiet at the best of times but on this day it was quieter still because it was closed to traffic due to a collapsed section where the road had fallen into the loch.  I arrived in Strachur in time to catch the bus to Dunoon and then the ferry across the Firth of Clyde for the train back to Glasgow and home.

The next time I come to Scotland I will walk for a week and I will finish this 7,000 mile walk around the coast of Great Britain in Glasgow.  It hardly seems possible.  These walks have been part of my life for so long, I simply can’t believe that one day soon I will have finished.

© Nick Creagh-Osborne and manwalkstheworld.com 2018.

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