The Mull of Kintyre is a very special place for my partner John so when we had a few days to spare we decided to revisit his favourite childhood holiday destination, Southend. We stayed with his parents on The Isle of Bute before getting the (tiny) ferry to Colintraive and driving around Argyll’s Secret Coast.
After navigating the sometimes hairy single track roads to Portavadie we caught the third ferry of our trip to the lovely fishing village of Tarbert.
We walked around the harbour taking in our surroundings and laughing at the fact the boy racer speeding through town was playing The Proclaimers at top volume. Then we grabbed a bite to eat before continuing on our way to Campbeltown and then on to Southend.
Southend is a small village at the very end of the Kintyre Peninsula, 8 miles from Campbeltown. John’s Grandfather discovered it when making a delivery in his job as a lorry driver and fell in love with the area. The family bought a tourer which they stored there, then later a static caravan and continued to visit Southend for many years.
The caravan site we camped at was the very same one John’s Grandfather discovered all those years ago, a farmer’s field right bedside the beach. As we approached John told me to drive up to the farm house so we could let him know of our arrival. The farmer saw us coming and asked about John’s family before giving us the keys to the toilets and telling us where we could camp.
The site is well situated above a sandy cove and next to Dunaverty Rock. On a clear day if you climb the steep rock you can see Ireland which is only 13 miles to the west, Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast to the east and nearby Sanda Island. The rock itself used to be the home of Dunaverty Castle which sheltered Robert the Bruce in 1306 but only slight traces of the structure can be seen today.
Once our tent was pitched John gave me the guided tour and tried to pick out the caravan which once belonged to his family. Although we couldn’t see the caravan he did recognize some familiar faces and the facilities certainly hadn’t changed.. if you’re planning a visit don’t forget a 20p piece to activate the hot water in the showers!
After a beautiful start the weather took a turn for the worst. As usual we were determined not to let it get the better of us so we walked along the coast to explore the neolithic caves and see the famous “St. Columba’s Footsteps” which mark the spot where Christianity was first brought to Scotland from Ireland.
Over the next couple of days we tried crabbing, with no luck! Fishing.. again with no luck!
But we did manage to find some seals on Keil shore and racked up some miles exploring the surrounding coastline and local villages.
The day before we were leaving we had the bright idea of tackling the single track road to the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse. The 6 mile public road is pretty scary in places and ends before the steep decent to the lighthouse. A walking website describes the road down to the lighthouse as “the most tortuous in Scotland” and we walked half way down before deciding that my bad knees wouldn’t get me back up again if we continued.
That evening we gathered wood for a fire on the beach since the weather didn’t quite allow for a BBQ!
To make our journey home more exciting we decided to get the ferry to Arran then across to the mainland. The ferry from Claonaig to Lochranza was the busiest I had ever been on and getting my car into position on board was quite a feat! So much so the staff weren’t quite sure how we had managed to get out when we arrived to buy our tickets. One thing we hadn’t been prepared for was how busy the Brodick to Ardrossan ferry would be and when the ferry staff asked us if we were staying the night we were a little shocked. They told us to phone ahead and book and despite it being before 12 the first ferry we could reserve a space on was 7pm!
Needless to say we arrived home a little later than planned but we had a wonderful 4 days seeing everything The Mull of Kintyre had to offer and learning the ferry system!