Fancy a challenge? How about heading down a seeming road to nowhere in search of Kintyre, a place that truly encapsulates the phrase ‘out on a limb’?
Getting anywhere near Kintyre can itself be a long and arduous undertaking, involving a route around the shores of both Loch Lomond and Loch Fyne. You can try crossing the two lochs aboard a ferry – it may not be any quicker, but it’s more relaxed and even feels a little exotic – or take the recently opened direct route, ferring all the way across the Firth of Clyde from Ardrossan with dramatic views of the Isle of Arran along the way.
But is Kintyre really worth all that travel time? Well, rest assured that the doubts that may have plagued you along the way (despite all the glorious scenery en route) are bound to evaporate on reaching this very special place. Perching on not-so-towering cliffs that measure just over a metre in height, Muasdale Holiday Park sits directly above the purest white sands. The calm waters that reside in this bay are so sheltered that, despite the campsite’s proximity to the water’s edge, there’s no danger of sharing your sleeping bag with the sea.
The beach itself is exceedingly beautiful and the water warm enough for extended bathing. But what really stole the hearts and minds of the Hipcamp team was the view over the water to the islands of Islay and Jura. It wouldn’t be out of the question to simply sit here with a good book for a whole week, occasionally glancing around to confirm you’ve won big in the lottery of life.
Taken over in 2016 by friendly owners Alan and Ailsa, the campsite is part of the tiny straggling village of Muasdale, which retains an air of everyday life about it that is yet to be troubled by tourism. The camping area takes up a slither of well-drained, midge-free ground between the main road and the sea, and with no more than eight pitches available, it’s rather small. The official Hipcamp inspection took place over the school holidays, but the place wasn’t full, nor did the road prove noisy at night, even though we slept right next to it.
Should you finish your book, hole your canoe, break your bucket and spade or lose your Speedos, it’s worth popping your derrière on to a bike saddle, as the mainly flat road on the western side of Kintyre is made for two-wheelers. The ferry to the small island of Gigha is a four-mile pedal, or you could present your thighs with a real challenge and cycle the amazingly scenic road on the eastern side of the peninsula. Surf dudes and chicks can find some serious waves at Machrihanish Bay, or you could take a ferry ride to the island of Islay to the west, where the distilleries produce some of the finest malts in the world. If you do take your bike over, stick to the east of the island and enjoy the impressive sights of nearby Jura as you pedal.
On the other hand, that might be one challenge too many, so maybe just sit back, relax and open another book.
The Argyll Hotel (01583 421212) at Bellochantuy, 5 miles south, is famous for being sprayed with machine-gun bullets by an aircraft just after the outbreak of the Second World War – it turned out to be an RAF plane testing its weaponry. It should be safe now, though, and has a good selection of food. The Putechan Hotel (01583 421323), also in Bellochantuy, was recently refurbished to a high standard and is worth a visit. For more choice, head into Campbeltown (14 miles) where, among the eatieres, there are also new fewer than 3 different distilleries.