The Herald - The Herald Magazine

Mull of Kintyre: No soundtrack needed – it provides its own mood music


IN January 1966, Paul McCartney, encouraged by his then girlfriend Jane Asher, bought High Park Farm, a remote estate in Kintyre, as both a tax break and a place to escape to when the pressures of Beatlemani­a became too much.

When he first took the woman who would become his wife, Linda Eastman, to the property, the Manhattan heiress’s daughter was not impressed. The fact that McCartney was sleeping on a “bed” made up of old potato boxes didn’t help.

But the McCartneys would eventually make a life here after the break-up of The Beatles in 1970. “I liked its isolation and I liked the privacy and the end-of-theworld remoteness,” McCartney told his biographer Barry Miles.

In the years that followed, the couple would spend time at High Park Farm, raising children and plants in Kintyre (McCartney was fined for marijuana possession by the local court in Campbeltow­n), while hatching plans for a new band, Wings.

In 1977, by way of tribute to the area that had offered a retreat and a new beginning, Wings recorded Mull of Kintyre. It became the band’s best-selling single and one of the best-selling singles of all time in the UK. In doing so it made the headland of the Kintyre peninsula world-famous.

The Mull of Kintyre doesn’t need a soundtrack, though. It provides its own mood music. On a good day you can see the Hebrides from here. Arran and Ailsa Craig, too. And, of course, Northern Ireland. Kintyre is only 12 miles from the Antrim coast, so it’s closer to Belfast than to Glasgow.

The Scoti are said to have made the crossing from Ireland in the fifth century AD, extending the Gaelic kingdom of Dalriada into Argyll and ultimately lending their name – a derogatory descriptio­n given to them by the Romans – to Scotland in the process.

The links to Antrim are strong. They could be stronger. Scottish architect

Alan Dunlop has suggested that a bridge from Mull of Kintyre to Torr Head on the Antrim coast might be possible. Many are sceptical about the entire idea.

There’s another question that might be asked, though. Practical or not, does anyone really want to undertake a massive infrastruc­ture project in this corner of Scotland? Is remoteness something that needs to be conquered? Or does it not offer something we can’t get in our towns and cities? A place to escape to, whether you’re a member of the most famous band on the planet or not.

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