|Distance:||101.8 miles (163.8 km)|
The Kintyre Trail is primarily known from 2 large signs on the A83 approximately 3 miles north of Tarbert. The route does not appear to be signed again after this, although it is fairly easy to assume the route. A single website yields further clues, by listing places visited along the trail, although this has not been updated for almost a decade. Below is a brief outline of the route based on the website details.
Tarbert - Campbeltown
From the 'Welcome to the Kintyre Trail' signs, the trail heads south on the A83 into Tarbert. This pretty fishing village sits around the head of East Loch Tarbert, with the harbour often full of a mixture of fishing boats and yachts. A short distance along the A8015 on the south shore, the Portavadie Ferry crosses to the Cowal Peninsula. The town is home to a variety of shops and services, and is a good base for exploring the area. Heading south, the A83 quickly crosses to West Loch Tarbert, and runs along the lochs south shore to Kennacraig. In addition to being the mainland port for the Islay Ferries, this is also the junction with the B8001.
The trail turns east, recrossing the Kintyre Peninsula, on the B8001 to Claoniag, from where ferries cross to Arran. A short detour north along the end of the B8001 leads to Skipness, with its ruined castle and chapel on the shore. From Claonaig, the trail follows the B842 south along the east shore of Kintyre. This road is often single track as it winds along the coast, climbing over the hills between steep, narrow valleys as it passes through Crossaig and Grogport to reach Carradale. Here, the B879 runs out to the coastal village, whilst the B842 continues south.
The hills are steeper now as the road passes Torrisdale with its castle, and into Sadell, with a ruined abbey lying alongside the river. The coast eases a little now, the road widens and a little speed can be gained as the road makes the final few miles into Campbeltown. This town is not always famous for the right reasons, often portrayed as a backward dead-end sort of place where all the residents are keen to escape. This is no longer true, and in recent years the town has been revitalised to a certain extent. It is true that the journey to Glasgow is far more complicated than the 'as the crow flies' distance would suggest, but there is definitely growth in the area.
The Mull of Kintyre
The tidal Island of Davaar sits at the entrance to Campbeltowns natural harbour, and can be explored with care. It is reached via the unclassified coast road that runs around the east coast of this southern end of Kintyre. It passes numerous scattered farms and houses, before finally reaching Southend, back on the B842. As its name suggests, this is the southernmost village on Kintyre, although not quite the southernmost point - a virtually inaccessible cliff to the west. On clear days Northern Ireland is clearly visible away to the south.
Continuing west, another unclassified road leads out to the car park at the Mull of Kintyre. The Mull, made famous by Paul McCartney is home to a lighthouse, which is accessed by the steep private road down from the car park. There are a variety of routes back to the B842, which heads north back to Campbeltown. Before reaching the town, however, the B843 heads west out to Machrihanish, home to Campbeltown Airport and also the western end of the tiny railway line that connected a coal mine to the harbour in Campbeltown.
Campbeltown - Kennacraig
Back in Campbeltown, the Trail follows the A83 north up the west coast of Kintyre. In many ways, this is the finer coast, more accessible and with fine views out to Islay and later Gigha and Jura. On a bright blustery day - of which there are many - this is a fine drive, with the wind blowing the sea into surf-topped waves, and the spray drifting across the road. The road dips inland a little at Glenbarr, and then a couple of miles or so north a picturesque church stands at the end of a little headland at A'Chleit. North again, and the Gigha Ferry sails from Tayinloan, and for walkers and cyclists a fine day can be spent exploring this small island.
The road returns to the shore north of Tayinloan, and the coast is as spectacular as ever. There are many small sandy bays just down from the roadside, and plenty of laybys and car parks from which to explore. At Ronachan, the road finally turns inland, passing the small village of Clachan, which is mostly bypassed, and then climbing through the hills back to Kennacraig.
- Tarbert Website guide (Last updated 2007)