22 October 2011--Early to rise this morning, in order to catch the ferry at Port Askaig. We're riding the MV Finlaggan, in its first
year of service (and the reason the Port Ellen pier is undergoing refurbishment), and a lovely vessel it is. The crossing is a bit rough,
and as we drive off at Kennacraig, I find myself idly hoping for a bit of rain to wash the accumulated salt off the car. I realize almost
immediately that it's a bad thing to wish for...well, I didn't ask for it sideways, all day long, but that's what I get. The west side of
the car will be clean, anyway.
We drive up through Tarbert, and then westward onto an unnamed peninsula at the northern end of Knapdale. This is a lonely road-- Undiscovered Scotland makes a point of noting the lushness of the grass growing down the center of the single track. Near the end of the peninsula, on a steep hillside overlooking the road, stands Keills Chapel, a pretty typical medieval West Highland church, which has been rehabilitated by Historic Scotland, and now houses an outstanding collection of grave slabs. Curious, we walk farther down the road, into the teeth of the wind, to see what lies beyond. The road hooks back northeastward, and ends at a stone pier which seems to me to be at the very edge of the earth. With the rain and wind slapping at my back, I can picture Magnus Barelegs in his longboat, stopping in here on his way to claim Kintyre (although surely the pier is nowhere near that old).
We passed through the village of Tayvallich on the way down the peninsula, and on the way back we stop in at the inviting-looking Tayvallich Inn and ask if we are too late for lunch. Evidently we are, just a bit, but the cook is the bartender's son, and is subject to pressure therefrom. All we want is a bowl of soup, anyway, which is easy enough to heat up. Actually, all we really want is a pint and a look at a potential stopover for another occasion. We're told there isn't much around for B&B, and to be honest, I can't think of a good reason to stay here. It's an attractive place, though, with a calm harbor for visiting yachters.
Drive up north through Kilmartin Glen, thinking to visit Dunadd Hillfort, an egregious omission on previous visits to this area. The weather is just miserable, though, and it's getting a bit late in the day, as well. So we press on to Ardfern, another little yachting village on the Craignish Peninsula. Find our B&B and check in, and then drive down to the end of the road, where we find another stone pier that feels like the edge of the world. From a knoll above the pier, we can look out through the gap between the Isles of Jura and Scarba. This is the Strait of Corryvreckan, within which lies one of the world's largest and best-known whirlpools. We don't really think we'll be able to see any sign of it at this distance, but we peer out through binoculars anyway.
Dinner and pints at the Galley of Lorne Inn, right next door to our B&B. Good food and beer is, of course, the reason we've chosen to stay in Ardfern. I guess that kind of reasoning would apply to Tayvallich, too, wouldn't it?