Isle of Luing
|Isle of Luing|
|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Cuan Ferry (NM750141)|
|Distance:||7 miles (11.3 km)|
The Isle of Luing lies off the west coast of Argyll to the south of Oban. It is reached by turning off the A816 onto the B844, then the B8003 to reach the small village of North Cuan on the Sound of Cuan. From here the Luing Ferry crosses the Sound to reach the island. There are no classified roads on the island, but there are 7 miles of public highway for us to explore! The island has a main spine road heading south and three branches leading to the coast.
Starting at the ferry slipway, the road curves round, passes between houses and then climbs steeply up the hill. This is the main spine heading south, initially winding between high hedges with occasional narrow passing places. Then the road drops slightly to the island fire station, where a road turns right to Cullipool, the island's largest village. Just beyond a left turn leads over to Ardinamar Bay.
Continuing on the main route south, the road passes through a narrow gulley, with low rocky cliffs rising up not far from the verges on either side. Another couple of bends and the road passes the island school and church. It's now mainly downhill, at first between a stone wall and high grassy bank, and the suddenly the road emerges into a wide grassy field. This is not the famous machair found across the Hebrides, but similar with an abundant assortment of wild flowers growing in the grass. Grazed by sheep and cattle for much of the year, it can be a slow piece of road when the animals won't move!
At the far end of this idyllic scene, the ruined church of Kilchattan sits next to the junction where the road to Blackmill Bay turns right. The main road curves to the left, past Kilchattan Farm and drops gently along a long straight to the pretty village of Toberonochy. This is the end of the road, although it forks and circles through the village to reach the old harbour. Toberonochy is an old slate quarrying village, with a large quarry sitting behind the village, now flooded and hidden by bushes.
From the fire station, the road heads west through fields to the small settlement of Bardrishaig, really just part of Cullipool these days, and home to the island shop. The coast is now in full view, but it is the panorama beyond that really takes the breath away. The sea is peppered with islands and rocks, the small lighthouses on Fladda and Dubh Sgeir rise up in front of the Garvellach islands beyond. Then around to the north rise the cliffs of Mull, and on summer days a variety of yachts dot the sea between these islands.
The view only improves as the road reaches the shore, and turns to the north. After a short run the road turns sharp right down a pretty little street of whitewashed single-storey cottages, and then sharp left at a phone box. Another short street and a junction is reached, where the road splits into 3, each of which leads to a different part of the village, splitting and rejoining as they wind between ever more pretty white terraces. At the north end of the village the slate quarry cliffs rise up along the shore, and a couple of small pools are flooded quarries. Much of the slate waste is dumped along the shore providing a sea wall, once home to the tramway to the pier.
Ardinamir Bay Spur
The spur to Ardinamir Bay runs east for 3/4 of a mile, but it is very difficult to be sure how much of it is highway. Beyond the junction there are no signs, and the quality of the road steadily deteriorates. Two cattle grids are crossed, either side of the two properties that remain. Beyond the cottages, grass grows in the middle of the road, and then after the second grid the surface is so broken up that it is difficult to say if it was ever tarred! The road soon ends in a small parking area, from where the island of Torsa can be seen across the channel.
Blackmill Bay Spur
Heading east from Kilchattan, the road runs through gently undulating grassland towards Ardlarach Farm, with a rough track turning right back towards the main road. The road turns left at the junction, twisting and turning round the back of the bay before coming to an end at a junction. Straight on is a rough track leading to the old pier, once the most important place on the Island, where the steamer service from Glasgow to Oban called, bringing supplies, carrying away cattle to market and where friends and family would come and go. Today it is derelict and unvisited, a far cry from its heyday.