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Can you walk to Davaar Island?

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

Can you walk to Davaar Island? Seems like an impossibility unless you are equipped with divine superpowers. Fear not though, it may not be as out of reach as you might imagine.

Davaar dominates the eastern end of Campbeltown Loch and at high water gives the impression that it’s surrounded by sea. However the ebbing tide reveals a submerged, shingle causeway (called the Doirlinn or Dhorlin) giving the island a temporary umbilical connection to the mainland. It’s about half an hour’s walk from Campbeltown, following the route of the Kintyre trail, or park the car in the layby close to the entrance to the Kildalloig estate and set off from there.

Safety first, access to Davaar is on foot so you must check the tide times to ensure that you have sufficient time to make your return. Depending on the state of the tides you will have around four hours on the island before the sea cuts off the route back across the causeway but don't worry as this is easily enough time to explore this beautiful craggy outcrop. The Doirlinn is rocky and uneven underfoot in places so be sure to allow around forty minutes to traverse its length.

A lighthouse, built in 1854 by David and Thomas Stevenson, sits at the northern tip of the island warning mariners to keep clear as they sail up the narrow waters of Kilbrannan Sound. The nearby cottages are holiday lets as are the new cabins tucked into the landscape overlooking the sea. As you arrive on the island head for these then make your way up a narrow path cutting through the bracken.

Davaar is farmed and supports a small herd of sheep and cattle as well as some illusive wild goats who inhabit the rugged terrain at the top of the island. It’s a strenuous ascent to the summit if you want to become acquainted with this hardy island tribe. The goats are usually to be found grazing amongst the bracken between the island’s twin peaks and are quite used to people walking by. Make for the trig point with views to Campbeltown and Machrihanish in the west and Arran, Ailsa Craig and the Ayrshire coast to the east. Take care on the descent as the path is steep and slippery.

A scramble over some sizeable boulders on the southern side of the island will bring you to several sea caves one of which contains a remarkable wall painting of Christ by local artist and school teacher Archibald MacKinnon. The painting was discovered in 1887 by fisherman who thought that it was a miracle because Archibald had kept the painting a secret. How he managed to get to the cave with his paints and brushes without people knowing still remains a bit of a mystery. Some of his other paintings can be viewed in the Campbeltown museum.

On your way back from the cave painting find a grassy spot, break out your flask and sandwiches, and enjoy the oystercatchers, curlews and redshanks feeding in the mud and sand of the shallow lagoon bordered by the Doirlinn. Check your watch from time to time. The tide is rising.

© Robin Redfern 2022

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