Round Britain: Tralee to Ardfern

We left Tralee to the sound of the birds singing in the wood behind the campsite. At Benderloch there are views over Ardmuckish Bay with Lismore in the distance.

There was a derelict boatshed on the beach.

We continued southwards on the A838 past Oban Airport and across the Connel Bridge which spans Loch Etive at its narrowest point.

A bridge was built in 1903 to carry the Ballachulish branch of the Callander to Oban Railway In 1909 a train service began between Connel Ferry and Benderloch on which road vehicles could be transported over the bridge. A single car was carried on a wagon hauled by a charabanc which had been adapted to run on rails. In 1914, a roadway was added to the bridge, alongside the railway line. Road traffic and trains were not allowed on the bridge at the same time and road users had to pay a toll. After the branch line closed in 1966, the bridge was converted for the exclusive use of road vehicles and pedestrians, and the toll was removed. It is still very narrow so has traffic lights. I first crossed this straight in 1961 when I was six weeks old with my parents in their motorbike and sidecar. We continued on the A85 before taking a diversion to Dunstaffnage.

The castle sits on a hill above the bay.

It was probably built before 1240 and was besieged by Robert the Bruce around 1308. In the 1460s ownership passed to the Campbells, earls of Argyll. In 1746 Flora MacDonald was held here after being arrested before being moved to the Tower of London.

There are views from the top.

In the nearby woods is a ruined chapel which was built by the MacDougall family in the 1200s.

Nearby there is an Ocean Explorer Centre and a Marine Science Centre. We returned to the A85 and continued through Oban without stopping because we had been there numerous times. On the A816 after passing Kilmore the road runs along side Loch Feochan and inland up Glen Gallain. It passes Loch Oude Dam and then descends steeply past some other small lochs before reaching Loch Melfort.

We visited Arduaine Gardens, now run by the National Trust for Scotland since 1992. The garden was begun by James Arthur Campbell in 1898 and look after by the family until Arduaine House was sold in 1965 and became an inn and then the Loch Melfort Hotel.

There are lots of rhododendrons

plus many other perennials.

Works are going on with trees after storm damage.

After looking around the garden we had coffee at the hotel and then travelled a little further past Craobh Harbour which had boats to hire before turning into the minor road that runs along the Craignish peninsula. Almost at the tip is a viewpoint with a car park. There is an old jetty

with a ruined building at the top.

It even had some street art inside.

We then settled into the motorhome park at Ardfern.  Ardfern is the largest settlement on the peninsula with a population of 400 plus summer visitors. The inn is thought to have been established in the 1600s or earlier to serve drovers who had ferried their cattle across to Craignish Point from Jura and Islay en route to the markets in Crieff and Falkirk.We hope it will be open for our evening meal tonight.

This morning we awoke to a low tide in Loch Craignish.

The seaweed was very yellow.

There is a church here but services are now held in the community hall and in a nearby parish.

We had coffee at Lucy’s café which also has art and crafts for sale. Nearby is the local book swap in the old phone box.

At the east end of Ardfern is the Yacht Club.

It was looking like a fairly wet day so we treated to the van for the afternoon.

Leave a Reply