Again it is raining when we wake up, just like the whole last night. Every time we woke up we heard the tick of the drops on the windowsill. Oh, how nice a dry hotel room is! When we get into the car at 10 o'clock it is only 13 degrees and we are immediately attacked by a heavy downpour. But soon it clears up and the temperature rises to 18 and sometimes even 20 degrees.
We drive first through the Kilmichael Glen which runs slightly east of Kilmartin. Glen Kilmartin is already beautiful, but this glen is really fantastic. A narrow road, where we occasionally have to open a gate as a replacement for a cattle grid, brings us through a lonely but fantastically beautiful area. Occasionally we come across a house, more cattle than people and there are some prehistoric sights, although you have to look for them.
And it is green, we call it rain green. There is a lake in the valley, Loch Leathan with a crannog, a fortified island from the Iron Age, and there are some tributaries but the most of the plants will really be fed by the rain. We are lucky again and cherish ourselves in the sun. This road (12 kilometers long) is easily skipped but definitely worthwhile to drive if you are here a in the area.
We get back on the A816 and drive north and take every side road that we see. Along Loch Craignish is a dead-end road to Ardfern where in the distance we see a small castle that is not on our map. From Ardfern you can arrange a boat to one of the many, often uninhabited, islands off the coast.
We drive on to the southern tip of the peninsula where a few houses form the village of Aird. It is quite busy on the narrow road and we regularly have to go backwards to let an oncoming car pass. On a following road we meet no one and we make a joke about the garbage containers along the road: the garbage is collected today. And less than 2 minutes later we are face to face with the wide garbage truck and we have to maneuver to pass each other.
We drove the road to Craobh Haven once before, in 2000. The road to this populous village with 30 houses is not really well maintained and at the beginning of the road is a very dirty and dilapidated van to advertise the harbor, so not really attractive. But Craobh Haven is the starting point for a visit to the many islands in the area and there are quite a lot of boats in the harbor.
In Kilmelford we stop at a hotel for a cup of watery coffee that is also way too expensive (5 pounds, so & euro; 7.50 for 2 cups of coffee water!) After that we take the single track road to Denish. It is quite busy on the road and what strikes us is that the people here react very gruff when you meet each other. Almost anywhere in Scotland, you raise a hand to wave when you pass each other on a narrow road but here people look mainly in front of them. We are completely surprised, we have rarely experienced this in Scotland! Well, the landscape and the beautiful skies compemsate for the unfriendly people.
We hardly encounter anyone on the road to Loch Scarnadale, but there are no villages here, just some lost houses. The sky is changing again completely, it gets colder and then the engine of the car suddenly starts to hitch, falter and simmer. We switch to gasoline which goes fine, but when we switch back to LPG the engine falters again.
Driving at about 30 km. an hour, the engine suddenly turns off completely. Just before the holiday our head gasket leaked but that has been repairde € 850 (yeah, sir, you have that if you drive with LPG, then the engine will wear out faster ...). The engine was too hot, so we fill the radiator with some loch water, and for a moment the problem seems to have been solved. We still hope for pollution in the LPG, but a few kilometers later the engine turns off again. We have had so many car problems in recent months that we are not a bit surprised ... We drive on petrol and try to forget the problem, we are going to a garage tomorrow, but it does not feel good if only since driving on LPG is much cheaper.
At Ardmaddy we encounter a 15th century castle with a tower that is separate from the house, of course privately owned. But we are allowed to walk through the gardens. And from there we drive up the Easdale peninsula, again one of those short foothills to the south as there are so many here.
Easdale itself is located on a small island, a few hundred meters from the coast, in sight of the village of Ellanbeich. The village was washed away in 1881 by a storm and never completely recovered. The slate quarries had flooded and there are less than 50 people living there; most houses are rented out as holiday homes. Even keeping the island an island is a difficult job because the sea separating the villages has to be dredged constantly.
From Seil a ferry goes to the island of Luing where once more than 600 people lived. Nowadays there are 2 small villages and the island is mainly dependent on tourism and lobster fishing. We save the island for another time and continue with our discovery of remote roads on the mainland, although we realize Great Britain is one large island, of course.
Through the beautiful green Glen Lonan we drive east towards Loch Awe and we meet a few large herds of Scottish Highlanders who are lazy eating. The Highlanders form a fairly old cattle family, give little milk and the meat is actually too fat for the contemporary consumer, but they are excellent animals to graze an area and for this they are increasingly being used for in the Netherlands. They are almost never aggressive but they are big boys (and girls), so we remain cautious. Always a nice view!
We drive a bit along Loch Awe where the sky is now much clearer than the day before yesterday and then take the beautiful road along Loch Avich. We will have to drive this road once again because we are more busy with the car problem tham with our surroundings. We have switched to gas again and the car seemed to be running well for a while. Until the engine turns off ... on petrol all is going well but we are worried if driving on is good for the engine, we can not judge properly that.We drive, on petrol without problems, back to Lochgilphead, fill up the petrol tank this time (€ 75 for 50 liters, what a lot of money, LPG is so much cheaper!) And we ask for garages in the village. Tomorrow morning we will go there but probably nobody can help us, because cars on LPG are scarce here, we are being told.
To make matters worse we hear that we can not extend our stay in the hotel because everything is reserved for tomorrow. So we have to go to Glasgow or Inverness. We choose for the latter, hoping the car will keep rumming until then. The rain is falling again from the sky, but despite the breakdown we have had a very nice day with all the new areas we have seen.