Heather’ s Trek s-Tar bert Cas­tle and Meal­dar­roch cir­cu­lar

Argyllshire Advertiser - - OUTDOORS -

The walk starts op­po­site Tar­bert Par­ish Church, which stands proudly over the vil­lage’s west­ern as­pect. Many a coin has been thrown down its

banks to chil­dren by new­ly­weds and the build­ing is a fine ex­am­ple of Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tec­ture. And you wouldn’t wish to visit Tar­bert with­out ex­plor­ing the re­mains of Tar­bert Cas­tle. Here Robert the Bruce un­der­took ma­jor works in 1325 to for­tify and en­large it in or­der to pro­tect his ter­ri­tory from the Lord of the Isles. How­ever, it was not un­til the late 15th Cen­tury that James IV added the Tower House, the re­mains of which give the cas­tle its main out­line to­day. Above Tar­bert paths and tracks open up grand views and are worth the ef­fort of the steep climbs.

1. Turn left out of the car park in front of the church. Fol­low the road for 200m and cross care­fully over to the seafront. Con­tinue to­wards the pier, which once was crowded by jostling herring boats and piled high with wooden fish boxes as the catch of the day was sold on. Just past the Loch Fyne Gallery you will see steps up to your right sign­posted to the cas­tle and Kin­tyre Way, take these.

2. The cas­tle is soon reached and is wor­thy of ex­plo­ration. The Tower House is well pre­served and I re­mem­ber many a ghost story was told here when we were chil­dren. To con­tinue leave the cas­tle grounds through the south gate to join the Kin­tyre Way, which passes the com­mu­nity or­chard on your right. Soon af­ter you go over a small rise, ig­nore a path to your left lead­ing to houses at the top of the Big Brae. Just be­yond is a Y junc­tion; take the right hand fork leav­ing the Kin­tyre Way.

3. You will now be fol­low­ing a well-kept route, which was once merely a faint heath­ery sheep track with lit­tle sign of bracken, rarely trod­den. Keep an eye out for adders, they do live here and en­joy sun­bathing on sun­nier days but are very shy. Af­ter 150m turn right. The path will now climb steeply on the right-hand side of a burn. Af­ter 250m there is the first view point to your left. The sec­ond is just 100m fur­ther on your right and has a wider view over the vil­lage. Both are worth tak­ing time for.

4. Di­rectly af­ter the sec­ond view­point and be­fore a bridge there is a path right. This is the 4km ex­ten­sion I would usu­ally rec­om­mend for those de­sir­ing a longer walk. How­ever, there are cur­rently forestry op­er­a­tions and the last 1km of path

prior to the main track is now a night­mar­ish quag­mire. For the main walk con­tinue over the bridge and up the hill. The path me­an­ders and goes up steeply be­fore reach­ing a fi­nal rise and drop­ping down to the main forestry track from Cor­ran­buie.

5. Turn left. Con­tinue for 1km, ig­nor­ing the first path on your left (the Kin­tyre Way lead­ing back to Tar­bert). The track crosses a large burn, passes a turn­ing area on your left and drops gen­tly down. Just be­fore go­ing round a right-hand bend look out for a small cairn on your left. Turn left onto the path by the cairn. If you start to go back up­hill you have gone too far!

6. The path me­an­ders down to the burn crossed ear­lier but is easy enough to man­age un­less in spate when it can usu­ally be ne­go­ti­ated slightly up­stream. The grassy path is pleas­ant walk­ing and of­ten drag­on­flies can be seen here through­out sum­mer. On reach­ing a well-pre­served sheep fank – a re­minder of pre-forestry days - the path leads up­hill. Look out for the gi­ant’s seat on your right!

7. Over the brow of the hill you will see where the path joins a stony track ahead that takes you on but look out for well beaten bracken on your right in­di­cat­ing a se­ries of small paths kept open by Tar­bert res­i­dents and seeded with wild­flow­ers. These lead out to gain an ex­cel­lent view over Loch Fyne, worth a small de­tour. Re­turn to the path or track and head down­hill. At a T-junc­tion you should turn left and the steep tar­mac road leads you down to the sea.

8. Turn right and head to the end of the road. A small path on your right leads you to the shell beaches, a re­minder that thou­sands and thou­sands of scal­lop and quee­nie shells were once de­posited here. Re­turn­ing to the road it is now a nice easy 2km am­ble back into Tar­bert via the old pier, ferry ter­mi­nal and yacht club.

Safety in the out­doors

The de­scribed route and ac­com­pa­ny­ing in­for­ma­tion are there to be used as a guide and do not re­place the use of map and com­pass and the skills re­quired to use them.

Whilst ev­ery ef­fort is made to en­sure the route is ac­cu­rate at the time of go­ing to print please be aware that track and path clo­sures can hap­pen at any time.

All walks are un­der­taken at your own risk. Please con­tinue to ad­here to cur­rent guide­lines as set out by the gov­ern­ment, ex­er­cise re­spon­si­bly and use ap­pro­pri­ate cloth­ing and equip­ment for your cho­sen out­door ac­tiv­ity.

In­form a con­tact about your route/where­abouts and don’t for­get your phone, snacks, drink, any med­i­ca­tion/first aid sup­plies you may need and to check weather con­di­tions.

Most walks are dog friendly but please keep your dog un­der close con­trol, es­pe­cially around live­stock and wildlife. Please fol­low the Scot­tish Out­door Ac­cess Code.

OS Map Links:

https://osmaps.ord­nancesur­vey.co.uk/route/6174968/ Heath­ery--Heights--Tar­bert-Cas­tle--and--Meal­dar­roch-Cir­cu­lar

Heather Thomas-Smith.

Tar­bert’s his­toric cas­tle.

A misty Tar­bert har­bour.

Map of the route.

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