Although this walk makes far too much use of roads and good wild pitches are hard to find, attractive coastal scenery, fabulous views to Ireland and Arran, spring flowers and noisy birds along with locals who are friendly and helpful made the Kintyre Way a thoroughly enjoyable backpacking trip. My feet may have ached but a south to north hike was exactly what I needed after a lay off from backpacking.
The 100 mile long route has clear way marking so navigation is not challenging. There are pale blue marker poles and mile posts as well as standard footpath signposts. The OS does not have its finest hour in Kintyre. Many established features have not been added to the two sheets needed. Although I had new maps, the OS had marked the old route of the Kintyre Way, which has a nasty stretch of road between Campbeltown and Macrihanish. I heard of a luggage service which is still inflicting the old route on clients so beware.
The official route starts in Tarbert and proceeds in seven stages of varying length to Macrihanish. Walk Highlands also has information on the route. There is an ultra race along part of the way and its website is a good source of maps marked up with the course of the Kintyre Way. The advantage of taking the route in reverse was being able to continue on to the even prettier and even harder on the feet Cowal Way.
Accommodation for those not backpacking probably needs booking in advance as Kintyre’s lovely coastline is tourist country. I was very lucky to be sent to The Hall B&B by Campbeltown’s tourist information office. They said I’d be well looked after and they were right. I also came across the excellent Ifferdale bunkhouse just as it started to rain. Breakfast and light evening meals are available at the bunkhouse.
I will eventually produce a diary of my time on the Kintyre Way. It will not mention meeting a plethora of other hikers because there weren’t many but it will describe my lowest ebb, when I struggled to find anywhere to pitch after a long day past Deucheran Wind Farm and its CCTV cameras. Let’s just say Loch na Naich offers precious little to the wild camper in a howling gale when the moors are sodden. The overwhelming impression left by the Kintyre Way, however, is that it’s a great place to enjoy spring.