Wullie Davidson’s Bus Pass Ramblings: Inverary and Tarbert
Today’s (30 June, 2021) trip would take me from Inveraray to Tarbert, ferry to Portavadie, bus to Dunoon, and ferry to Gourock. The highlight of the day would be a one hour walk to a watchtower on a high promontory overlooking Scotland’s longest sea loch, Loch Fyne. It was the warmest day of the year, with 24 C (75 F) expected.
The 0830 bus from Buchanan St to Oban arrived in Inveraray at 1016, and I headed for Inveraray castle, the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll. The trail to the watchtower begins at the rear of the castle.
It was an interesting walk, with some old, derelict buildings along the way, and giant redwood trees, far from their native home in California. I had read that red squirrels could sometimes be seen, but had no luck with that one. With the weather being so good, there were a fair amount of walkers on the trail, and I passed about ten returning back down.
The watchtower was added to the grounds as a purely ornamental feature in the 18th century. It looks tiny from the town, but is a much more imposing building close up. The views were quite stunning.
View from Watch Tower over Loch Fyne
There’s a ruined castle overlooking the town from which you can get some fantastic photos. The castle was built by Robert the Bruce, and was an impressive structure in its day, but almost all the stone was ‘recquisitioned’, mainly for building the harbour, and only a stump remains.
Remains Tarbert CastleThere are nature trails to the rear, which are worth spending some time walking, and there’s a flock of an ancient breed of Hebridean sheep, similar to the Soay, or St Kilda, which browse around the castle. They seemed quite tame.
Ferry from Tarbert across Loch Fyne
I spent two hours in Tarbert, before getting the ferry from Tarbert across Loch Fyne, to Portavadie, on the Kyle of Bute. There’s a ferry every hour, on the hour, and the crossing takes 25 minutes. Cost of single fare £2.90.
Ferry arriving at Portavadie
There ought to have been a connecting bus waiting at Portavadie, to take me on the 65 minute journey to Dunoon, but it was about 22 minutes late arriving, and lost about the same again, before finally arriving at Dunoon. It seemed to be losing power. This set the schedule back an hour, but allowed me time to get a fish supper. It’s an ill wind that blows no good.
The ferry from Dunoon to Gourock also took 25 minutes. The last time I got it, in 2019, it was operated by Argyll ferries, but the route has now been taken over by Cal-Mac. It’s the same ship, but with a new coat of paint. It’s a passenger only service, and Gourock train station is adjacent to the terminal. The train left 10 minutes after the ferry arrived, and took 52 minutes to arrive at Glasgow Central.
Wullie Davidson, June, 2021
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