Many of the places I want to go are all Tom Weir’s fault. He was a man who saw and appreciated the bigger view of Scotland, it was never just the hills. It was the landscape in all its forms, the people in it and where they lived. Weir’s Way has sent me many places I’d never have thought of and Davaar Island where he filmed back in ’86 as part of wander around Kintyre has long been a place of fascination.
The fascination came with many miles to cover to get there though and to the eternal shame of my younger mind, no big hills, so it was always a “one day” destination. That attitude is long dead of course and for years now we’ve had so much joy off the hills and exploring near and far, so when the work trip to Kintyre came around last month, Davaar was the #1 must see for the two of us.
Davaar is a tidal island with a shingle causeway called the Dhorlin that can be walked or driven over (if you own the island) outside of high tide. The causeway separates the sheltered Campbletown Loch and Kiladalloig Bay which is wide open to the Kilbrannan Sound and the Irish Sea beyond. That exposed nature was felt in a wind that didn’t let up the whole walk across to the island the from the handy layby on the shore.
It was low tide as we walked which I thought was a shame, I fancied the waves lapping at our ankles as we hurried across, but as my feet had covered a great many miles already on this trip, I think a saunter in the sunshine was probably a better idea. It’s a cracking walk anyway with well worn tyre tracks to follow if you get tired of stumbling along the pebbles and seaweed.
There’s an excellent feeling of space as you walk further from the shore and at the furthest point where you turn right at a wee navigation light you really are just in the middle of the loch.
Arran (oh, I need to write that trip up too…) is right across the sound, Campbeltown feels suddenly far away and Davaar is a short, straight stroll ahead with Ailsa Craig now bobbing around on the horizon to the right. It’s all familiar stuff, it’s just all in a different place than in the views from the hills of home.
The shingle soon meets the grassy fringes of Davaar and there’s a sign pointing us to the caves where the painting that’s part of the draw for the place lives.
Still windy but lovely and bright so Linda though she’d sit on a handy log and take some photies.
You know what’s coming.
As soon as she sat on it, it rolled backwards with her still attached to it and deposited her flat on her back on the grass. I ran over quickly to help, after getting a couple of shots.
Still laughing now. Although no, no it’s not really funny*
Past a ruined cottage the grass starts to thin as the caves start cutting into the cliffs, with some dramatic shapes and depths you can walk into. Concentration had to shift between the sights and our feet though, it was soon a boulder hopping adventure which continued all the way around to our final cave.
No mishaps this time, we took it easy.
The cave is split with two entrances and I wandered in the first one, marveling at the dark rock until I could walk no further. I came back out and then in the next cave entrance where Linda was already and I saw I’d been standing right below the painting and never saw it. Hard to explain, it’s probably best to visit it this weekend and it’ll make sense then.
It’s quite something: The crucifixion painted in 1887 by Archibald MacKinnon, a local artist who had a vision that had compelled him to paint.
He himself returned to touch it up years later and it’s been maintained by artists over the years.
It was defaced by some stupid who made a statement by painting Che Guevara over it in the 90’s, what actual statement that was we’ll never know as the courage to communicate it to the world was not in the vandals kit bag along with the red and black paint they used.
Currently it looks just as Tom Weir saw it and that makes me glad.
Some will visit this as a curiosity, as a tourist stop off, but looking around the cave at the mementos, some visitors are seeking the spiritual too. Maybe they they come to communicate to the intangible, maybe to remember, maybe to find hope. Whatever their needs and whatever one’s beliefs, these folks made some effort to get here and I hope they found something of what they needed. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone had a little more peace of mind.
The reverse boulder hopping was the same in that it was troubled free but protracted. We found a corner out of the wind and had some lunch as the waves rolled into Kiladalloig Bay a little faster and a little higher than we saw them on the way out.
We still beat the tide by hours although the mussel beds were starting to flood. And it’s not a tick off a list, it’s an update. Still to see the lighthouse, still to climb the hill.
Still to finish the Kintyre Way for that matter. Ah, what a wonderful wee part of the world.
*yes, yes it is.