It’s hard not to think of Robert Stevenson, or Thomas Smith, or any of the others who came to this place and tried to tame it. Above us is a slope of thistle, gorse and heather; below us are “The Merchants of Three Pedlars”, a dark group of boulders and rocks that warn us to go no further. And coming in from the sea, the lightest veil of white: a bank of mist mingling with the sunlight. We’ve come to the end of our land, and it’s beautiful.

The journey prepared us well. We started in Glasgow, but bit by bit the city and the noise dropped away. Motorway, then A-road, then B-road, then single track, then a path that goes down, and down, to the place we want to see. There it is up ahead, where the land is trying to stop the sea but the sea is fighting back: a small cluster of white buildings with a black-capped tower. The result of Robert Stevenson’s efforts, and Thomas Smith’s, and all the others: the Mull of Kintyre lighthouse.

It is an extraordinary place. At the front of the structure is the power house and a cluster of bedrooms and in the middle is the tower, still resisting the wind and the water and the salt. We make our way through the corridors between the buildings, where the wind dies, and up ahead is the old foghorn perched on the line between cliff and sky. It’s rusted and old and hasn’t been used since the 1980s but it still points out to sea as if it’s ready to issue the warning.

The light is automated now of course, but it first shone here 233 years ago, when Smith, the engineer, assisted by Stevenson (of the famous lighthouse family), and the mason George Shield and his assistants succeeded in planning and building a lighthouse in the most unlikely spot. It is 240ft above the sea; there is no access by boat; there was no road; the materials had to be loaded by boat six miles away and taken on horseback over the hills. It took two years but they did it. And here it is: still there.

We wander round the buildings and lie on the grass in the little, sloped garden where the keepers used to hang their washing before heading back and it’s not easy. The slope that was an advantage on the way here is the disadvantage on the way back, but it’s rewarding. Regular stops and rests are needed, even for Molly the dog. But it’s a beautiful day and every time we turn round, we’re rewarded with that view: the point where Scotland stops and the Atlantic starts. How wild it is here, how wonderful.

There’s a similar view all along the west coast of the peninsula, with glimpses of Gigha, all the way back to where we’re staying at a B&B in the little village of Glenbarr. Glenbarr Stores has rooms that are neat and comfy, but there are nice twists as well. For a start, the B&B is connected to a small garden centre, café and shop, grouped round a courtyard, which gives it the atmosphere of a small community. The staff have prepared a couple of platters for us which show off local cheeses, and an awesome homemade tomato chutney which I’m desperate to buy and take home. We sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy our food in the sun.

The manager who runs the B&B and shops, Zofia, has introduced a few other little quirky touches, like the bedding which is made from the fleece of the small herd of alpacas she keeps on the farm she runs with her husband Paul. And the coffee, which is a blend she developed with the Argyll Coffee Roasters, who are based in Tighnabruaich. It is called Zofie’s Coffee, and it’s part of the charm here: friendly, personal, uncorporate.

The B&B is also close to another of those views we’re becoming addicted to. We walk down from the village past the extraordinary and empty Glenbarr Abbey which the locals tell me was never an abbey and has never had a monk anywhere near it but I never solve the mystery of its name. Further on is Killegruer Beach, a long stretch of sand that seems to have stolen the sun from somewhere hotter. A little bit further on is another handsome beach, A’Chleit. It is our private place today; the dog chases sticks; the sea chases our feet; and the guillemots and the gannets provide the soundtrack.

And so to the east coast of the peninsula, which provides a different view. Here, we are looking back over our shoulder at where we came from. We head to the village of Skipness and the seafood eatery there. It’s early evening, the sun is lingering and we sit at the tables outside with Arran casually providing the most dramatic of backdrops. We can also see Skipness Castle, where there is all the usual history of ruins: the fate of kings, in this case James VI, and the end of wars, in this case the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in the 17th century, and, naturally, a ghost, in this case the Green Lady. But mainly, it’s about the food, and the wine, and the view.

The following day, we eat our way south, ending with cake at the Muneroy tearoom in the village of Southend. The cake is homemade again and it’s a great cliff of sponge running with caramel. We munch it as we walk, fingers sticky with sugar, and follow the signs for another beach. Later today, we will have to reverse the process of a few days ago, and single track will become B-road, then A-road, then motorway. But that’s later. For the moment: cake, beach, bliss.


Mark Smith was a guest of Glenbarr Stores, B&B, award-winning Cafe & Garden Centre, which is 30 minutes south of Tarbert (Loch Fyne) and 15 minutes north of Campbeltown. The house has four bedrooms, all en-suite or with private bathroom, and a one-bedroom suite with prices starting from £95. The shop and cafe promote local produce including Highland Beef from Zofia & Paul’s farm, local cheeses, milk, smoked salmon, venison, lamb, eggs and alpaca products. Book via