Mull of Kintyre visit

The actual Mull of Kintyre half marathon run itself is detailed on the running blog here. However as far as the trip to Campbeltown is concerned, we can thoroughly recommend it as long as you’re not in a rush. The round trip from Stranraer was just over 500 miles and the journey time there is around 5 hours. Of course you can shorten this by clever use of ferries, but a) they’re not cheap and b) you need to time everything properly to take fullest advantage.

The roads are pleasant enough and there are dual carriageways up to the other side of the Clyde, using the Erskine Bridge. Then you’re down to the slow tourist plod past Loch Lomond before the bulk of the traffic turns off on its way to the Highlands. The rest of the way is all single carriageway but through some lovely countryside which you shouldn’t really want to race through anyway. We sopped at Inverary on the outward journey, which was OK, although I recommend staying away from the chip shop on Main Street, which is crap.

The rest of the journey is pleasant but largely unexceptional, following the main A83 route through Tarbert and down the west coast of Kintyre. When you hit Campbeltown your first impressions are likely to be that it’s closed. Abandoned, in fact. There are a couple of interesting buildings, perhaps, but pretty it is not. Never mind – we drove through the town and on to Machrihanish to the west. We stayed at the Machrihanish caravan and camping park run by Dave and Chris, and rented a Wigwam for the duration, which we can recommend. Dave and Chris(tine) are refugees from dan saff, escaping the shitty side of UK society and enjoying their first season in Machrihanish. Good for them.

The only excursion we had time for was towards the Mull of Kintyre (Mull means point, apparently). We didn’t get as far as the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse, but we did stop at Keil Caves and had a fine view of the Mull and saw a seal sunning itself on the rocks and lots of otters playing around it, which we feel was much better than a crummy lighthouse.

Following the race we decided to take the scenic route back to Tarbert, and this really is one of those ‘musts’ people talk about. The road is narrow (single track) and hilly, but is a spectacular route. It’s on the national cycle path map (was it route 93? – I can’t remember) and I would think it would be a stunning cycle ride, with lots of things to see and places to stay.

We tried to stop at the Loch Fyne Oyster bar and restaurant on the way back, but apparently you have to book. How really tiresome. We ended up instead opting for the “Diner” you’ll see sign-posted at various intervals along the way. I won’t say too much about this experience, save to say that I hated my food and Naice loved hers. We were agreed that the service didn’t quite reach the dizzy heights of ‘pathetic’.

The remainder of the trip was uneventful and we deposited our Diesel Focus 1.6 back with Hertz in Stranraer before getting the Stena HSS ferry back to dear old Belfast.

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