May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


The Bridge Over the Atlantic
I drove through Oban and headed for Easedale, one of 'slate islands' close to the mainland, and part of the Inner Hebrides. The road crosses Clachan Bridge, known as the 'Bridge Over the Atlantic' which links the western mainland to the slate island of Seil, over the Clachan Sound – part of the Atlantic Ocean. I had my lunch at Ellenabeich, once the centre of the slate mining, by the harbour waiting for the ferry to the island – it doesn't run at lunchtime. The island is carless and the 12-man ferry runs backwards and forwards throughout the day for £1.85 return. Easedale, and its neighbours Seil, Luing and Beinahua are “the islands that roofed the world” and once it had a population of 500 people. But the slate mining industry on Easedale came to a grinding halt after a terrific storm in 1881 when houses were destroyed, animals washed away, mining equipment was wrecked and the mines filled with water. The other islands continued mining, but not for long, and Easedale was deserted. But it feels alive again now; some 50 or 60 people live there permanently, and the old miners' houses are let to holidaymakers.
Each household has a barrow for their shopping!

I stopped at Kilmartin Church to see the extraordinary Stones – elaborately carved slabs which would once have covered graves. They date from 900 – 1600AD and were removed after the Reformation but unearthed again in the 1950s.
The sun was low when I got to Dunadd, still in the Kilmartin Valley. Once an elaborate hill fort it was here that the Gaelic kings from 600 – 900AD came to place their foot on a ceremonial stone footprint to become one with their Kingdom. All that is left now is the hill and the stone (and I think that is a replica) and other stones. But it is a special place and worth the climb, particularly at sunset.
Footprint for a King
On to Lochgilphead, I stayed with Belinda Braithwaite, a friend of a friend and now my friend. We had a great evening, a delicious supper and a bottle of wine – which was lovely after all those stones!
The next day I set off down the west side of the Mull of Kintyre and the weather started to look very ominous.

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