Pitch your tent on the grass beside the sea and dream of dolphins. Kilbrannan Sound squeezes shoals of mackerel between Arran and Kintyre making it a bountiful hunting ground for pods of harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin. If you’re up early enough you may see otters fishing close to the shore or foraging from the rock pools. Sip your morning coffee, enjoy the panoramic views of Arran’s craggy mountain tops and pinch yourself just to make sure that you haven’t drifted off to Middle Earth.
For those of us trying out wild camping for the first time the single track road between Claonaig and Skipness has several spots where you can park up and pitch. The road is part of the Kintyre trail so is also a suitable stop off for walkers and cyclists traversing this hundred mile route across the length and breadth of the Kintyre peninsular. There are no facilities here so you’ll need to be completely self sufficient and leave no trace on departure.
Nearby, in the village of Skipness, look out for a blue sign attached to a stone wall next to the old post office. From here the trail heads up into the hills following the path of the Skipness River. A couple of miles climb is enough to find small waterfalls and white-throated dippers bobbing on the glistening rocks beneath a canopy of ancient broad-leaved woodland.
At Glenskible, where the pine forest begins, there are cup-marked rocks and you may hear crossbills as they flit through the treetops. A pair of binoculars may help to pick out their brick-red plumage.
Beyond the village, Skipness Castle stands guard over the sea. The MacSweens built their stronghold here eight hundred years ago. It passed into the hands of the Stewarts and the Macdonalds who fortified the structure into the castle you see today. When you’ve had your fill of history it might be time to fortify yourself. The tempting scent of smoked fish draws diners to the nearby smoke house where coffee and smoked salmon sandwiches are on the menu.
© Robin Redfern 2022