Our first time of ‘wild camping’ at Ronachan was a success and we still live to continue. Today we headed south to our first stop Campbeltown. We went to the Tourist Information Centre on Campbeltown Pier to book a sea tour to see seals, puffins and other seabirds, but all tours have been cancelled until further notice as the boat has engine problems. The guide after advising us that the last 6 miles of the road to Mull of Kintyre was unsuitable for motor homes suggested we visit Mull of Kintyre Southend where St Columba landed in 563AD and is only 13 miles from Ireland and Machrihanish Seabird/Wildlife Observatory.
At Southend we walked to an area on a small mound where there were two footprints in a carved rock known as St Columba’s Footprints. Legend has it that he landed stood there and looked back to Ireland. One is known to have been carved by a local stonemason in 1856 and the other is ancient and may have been used in the inauguration of Kings who promise to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors. Below this is the graveyard which dates as early as 1350.
Further along are the Keil Caves which were used as dwellings for centuries and at the end of the road is the Rock of Dunvarty which stands overlooking the sea and is the scene of a brutal massacre in 1647 where a garrison of 300 men who surrendered were put to the sword or flung to the rocks below.
As we were walking back to the van we spotted a seal mounting a rock and as the water ran over its body its tail kept lifting. It was a magical site as this is the first time we have seen a seal mount a rock to bask in the sun.
Then we caught a glimpse of a rabbit in the field and around the corner was a herd of cows strolling along the beach.
We then drove to Machrihanish to the Seabird and Wildlife Observatory. At the end of the drive we entered a single-track road with sheep running everywhere bleating. They were not very happy with us. We walked to the end of the peninsula where there is a red wooden shack overlooking the ocean and the bay which has been set up for observing any wildlife that is in the area. The warden, Eddie Maguire, has on display amazing photographs of wildlife he has captured. We used binoculars to see through open windows and take pictures but there was limited wildlife about because today was a very still sunny day. Ian walked out with a DVD for £10 of the 2017 wildlife accompanied by traditional music – suckers!
On the road back, we saw a seal basking on a rock, then around the corner 3 more seals on rocks and then further on another 6. A great day of spotting seals!
Next stop was Tarbert to walk to the castle. The castle is on an isthmus overlooking the harbour and Loch Fyne and was built in the 1200’s as a fort and added to by Robert the Bruce in 1300’s. The views from here are stunning. The hill is home to sheep with an abundance of rabbits. Tonight, we head dinner at Starfish a seafood restaurant, so we just had to have a seafood platter which was scrumptious.
We then drove 15 miles along a single lane road to our campsite for the night at Port Ban Holiday Park. On way three deer were on the road, heaps of lambs and rams and a gorgeous coloured bird, not sure what type it is but must find out!
It was definitely a day for seeing wild life! As the sun was starting to go down, we finally arrived at our campsite and we had the most spectacular view was over to the islands of Islay and Jura across the Sounds of Jura.