West is best
The weather had been blistering hot all week and I had been hoping to take part in the Glencoe Midsummer shred. However I’d decided that the snow patches were just a bit too small this year, so instead I decided to drive down the Kintyre Peninsula to Campbeltown and in particular the beach at Southend.
As the crow flies the West coast is never far away. However if you want to dip your toes in the Atlantic proper, it’s a long and winding road, north initially up alongside Loch Lomond, then south, quite a bit further south than Glasgow. It’s a picturesque drive, but takes around 4 hours. Add another hour on for staring at the scenery and contemplating photographs.
I hadn’t left Glasgow till 9:30 a.m. so it was after lunchtime when I stopped to get something to eat in Campbeltown.
It had been many years since I’d last visited this spot. The beach sits at the very end of the long Kintyre Peninsula, pointing like a long wrinkled finger towards Northern Ireland. It was beautifully sunny and the haze almost, but not quite hiding the headland of the nearby emerald isle.
The beach now had a semi permanent neighbourhood of caravans lined above the dunes of Dunaverty Bay. Across the sand is Dunaverty Rock and Boathouse. These old bolding now survive as holiday homes. I crossed the sandy bay to the grassy headland that rises up to views across the Mull of Kintyre, towards the Ailsa Craig.
I took some time out here to eat some lunch and stare out into the hazy blue. I photographed the fulmars that nested on the rock face and watched the six spot Burnett moths, also known as love bugs, flit about.
Life is a Beach
It was getting late in the afternoon, and the sunbathers and paddle boarders had mostly packed up and left as I made my way back onto the sand.
I kicked off my sandals and pushed my toes into the warm sand as I sat back with my binoculars to watch the gannets and gulls fly to and fro over the water.
It was around 4:30 p.m. when I decided I better return to the car.
Picking my way across the beach I would notice one piece of litter, another piece of plastic, than as I got my eye in, I would collect a whole bunch of discarded bottle tops, cotton bud stems and aerosol tops amongst other detritus. This included a golf ball that looked like it had spent many years being scoured across the seabed before being washed up.
I took most of this litter home with me, but had to leave the large birds nest of fishing line and seaweed in a local bin.
This was particularly poignant, as it was only a week to go before I was to start my #GoPlasticFree month in support of the Marine Conservation Society (@mcs_uk).
Most of this plastic had washed up from the sea, and much of it looked like it had been there for some time. There were however some items that looked like they had just recently been discarded, such as plastic forks and cling film from someones picnic.
We continue to persuade and inform people through our #RoamResponsibly campaign the importance of looking after our landscape. However, the perpetrators are not likely to be reading these posts, so we are open to suggestions of how this message might be broadcast to them.
From Atlantic lows to Pacific Heights
I got back to the car and after a short nostalgic diversion to Macrihanish, I continued back up the coastal road. The sun getting lower in the west and the Paps of Jura rising through the haze. I had to stop several times here. The views were mind-blowing and very reminiscent of images of the Pacific Highway, from Los Angeles to San Fransisco. At least in my mind. But it was indeed Scotland. Beautiful sunshine, sparkling blue water and misty mountains. No wonder it was taking me longer to drive back home.
Stopping in Tarbert, I grabbed some chips for my dinner. I would have preferred to stop in Inverary, but it was now 8:30 p.m. I didn’t want to arrive there and find the chip shop closed. They would have been nice though.
Over the Rest and Be Thankful the moon skimmed over Glen Croe, round Loch Long and down Loch Lomond, the sun was sinking. I stopped briefly for a final burst of shots from Firkin Point and to enjoy the last of the evening light.
What a day.
Go Plastic Free
If you are interested in going plastic free for the month or longer. You can find hints and tips on the Marine Conservation Society website.