Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse
By chance, work today took me down to the Southend of Kintyre and along the road towards the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse. The visibility was fairly good and I could see well into Co Antrim and down to the Rhinns of Galloway. It was even possible to see the ferries passing each other as they crossed between Belfast and Stranraer.
Lots of strange sights on the road out, including yellow sheep and three squaddies on exercise. The walls along the road and surrounding the fields here are unusually-well built of squared local stone with projecting through stones immediately below the capping course. The stone is a rich, dark red colour, alternating with greys. I stopped and talked to a local farmer, who told me that he had been born about fifteen miles away, then stopped and pointed over to Northern Ireland where, he said, on a clear day he could see the fields of the family farm. He was moving some tups (rams) into a field where there were several others. The noise that they made as they butted each other was surprisingly loud. The sheep here were Scottish Blackface sheep, and the tups have the most astonishing curling horns, spiralling around one-and-a-half or even two times.
Finally out to the end of the public road, from which it’s a mile-and-a-half walk and a descent of one thousand feet to the lighthouse, which was built by Robert Stevenson to replace an earlier one. On the way down, stopped to stand and consider the monument to the RAF Chinook which crashed here several years ago. There are still flowers and wreaths left there; it is a few hundred metres from the road across rough hillside and commands a majestic view across the North Channel back over to Ireland from whence it had come. It remains a national shame that the RAF continue to blame the crash on pilot error, contrary to all evidence and the established rules of aircrash inquiries.
I met a chap who worked for the local electricity distribution company on the road down, who was doing the same thing as me and taking the opportunity of lunch to explore down to the lighthouse. On the road down there is a very substantial sheepfold, which can be seen in the photograph. The walls are nearly six feet high and the pens are very narrow, presumably to give the sheep some shelter from the wind and the rain in this extremely exposed location. The lighthouse complex itself is a pretty cluster of buildings huddled around the light, the buildings each sheltering the other from the elements. The only exposure for the residents would have been the walk down the garden to the two privies. Inside the building complex is a milestone, which reads “CAMPBt 16 MILES 1090 YDS”, obviously the mark of a precise engineer.
The views across the North Channel to Ireland were excellent. The whole of the Antrim coast could be seen, as could Rathlin Island and clear across to Inishowen and even as far as Malin Head. Islay and Jura were visible to the north and the Paps of Jura were dusted with snow above about 2000 feet.
The Southend of Kintyre is a soft, green land unlike the highlands to the north. The farmland in the glens is rich and well-suited to cattle and dairying. The buildings are solid and substantial. This is a part of Argyll that will reward future visits with more time to explore and walk along the shores and cliffs.