Seal basking in the Sound of Jura
Seal basking in the Sound of Jura

It was a disappointingly overcast start to the day, but not windy or cold. We soon turned off along the B8024, a lovely quiet undulating road through woodland beside West Loch Tarbert, its still grey water merging into the sky. We stopped to chat to a Scottish cyclist coming the other way, he’d camped overnight at Kilberry Head, and the campsite café saved us from a hungry afternoon since we passed no other food sources all day. We enjoyed a good lunch of soup and cake, and the friendly Hull man who ran the site recommended a better alternative to the Sustrans route. He’d been out fishing in a rowing boat the previous day when two Minke whales surfaced alongside his boat.

We continued through Knapdale along Loch Caolisport, the clouds having dispersed by now. At Achahoish we had to decide whether to play safe and take the shorter Sustrans route to Lochgilphead, where shops and a campsite could be found, or the alternative narrow road along Loch Sween. We opted for the latter, initially along the west shore of Loch Caolisport through lush vegetation and past large isolated houses and gardens, wondering who lives in them, then steeply up along a track with great views of sea and coastline. We joined a metalled road which took us past the ruined Castle Sween, hugging the eastern coast of the loch to join the B841.

We phoned the bothy at Kilmartin, luckily they had room for us so we cycled the six miles or so along a delightful level road and track along the glen. It transpired that we had the bothy to ourselves for the two nights we were staying there, and at £10 each per night it was very good value. The bothy is aimed at small groups, but if they’re quiet they may accept bookings from individuals. The shop closed at 17:30 so we had no food for dinner. We checked out the hotel, which offered cask ales but an uninspiring menu for vegetarians. Previous visitors had left some wholewheat pasta, canned chick peas, mixed veg and tomatoes in the bothy so we knocked up a quick meal. We then returned to the hotel so I could sample Highlander Ale, brewed in Argyll, a beautiful rich malty ale.

Exploring Kilmartin