A guide to Carradale
|07/04/2011||Filled under Carradale, Scotland, weather|
It was a wild and windy day, another one, when I drove into Campbeltown to return the carpet cleaning machine we had hired to deal with our rather noxious stair carpet. It may be some days before we know whether the unwanted scent of dogginess has been completely removed from the house but it was certainly the most urgent of the jobs confronting us when we moved in here. Several others have since emerged, like the small leak through the flat roof over our dormer windows and some poor quality plumbing work which needs to be corrected. But these are minor issues and no different from those occurring in other houses we have lived in. They do not detract from our enjoyment of the house and its situation.
The fifteen mile drive into town can be quite a challenge in bad weather, so I discovered, although the views out to sea en route will never lose their dramatic charm. What did surprise me was to see a lone yacht escaping through the narrow passage out of Campbeltown Loch, sailing past Davaar Island heading for open water and into the teeth of a full gale. If there were prizes for boldness this crew was certainly earning them as when I looked again the yacht had a second sail set and was charging along like an express train, headed out past the southern end of Arran, if I am not mistaken.
That was late morning. By midday the rain had eased and during the next hour the clouds scudded away to the east and the sun’s warmth transformed everything. I then realised that the decision to sail was either lucky or quite a clever one as with the veering wind, the yacht would now be sailing free in clear air and brilliant sunshine. I almost envied them now.
The rapid changes in weather will be an inevitable feature here, something we must acclimatise to and which we intend to take full advantage of. The moment the sky clears and the sun blasts in through our front window we feel the urge to get outside, to explore some of the paths and tracks which lead off everywhere. One foray took us to the beach at Carradale Bay, a long, gently curving strand of sand. At one end of this lies a line of cottages known as Waterfoot and it is here that the river Carra escapes into the sea, the entrance being narrow and sandbank ridden. The holiday season is still some months away so not surprisingly the beach was deserted, apart from the random pebbles left behind by the tide (which we scoured for ‘pretties’ to add to our collection at home) and a single tractor tyre, now almost lost to view.
Just inland from the beach another sign led us to ancient stepping stones which, were the river not so swollen, might just be a viable route from one side to the other. My guess is that this is rarely a safe crossing though for the path to the river’s edge was not well worn.
By exploring in short bursts, often initiated by warm sunshine, we are slowly getting to grips with the layout of our scattered village. The main settlement, in which our house lies, is the largest but there are outliers such as that at Waterfoot, and another in the Glen at Carradale West where the fire and police stations lie just across the road from our village’s second post office (they each open to a schedule which allows no overlap). The petrol station here closed recently but there is still a store, inside which we have yet to venture because our part of the village has its own shop, which is also the bakery. Both east and west Carradales have a large enough population to sustain their own bars and there are several residential hotels too, a caravan site and numerous private establishments offering holiday accommodation. Here at Carradale East, however, we can boast something really special – our very own bank. But if there was to be a list of Carradale curiosities, for me this would be somewhere near the top because the solid looking, substantial building, sited just at the top of the descent to the harbour, opens its doors only once a week, for one hour. Nevertheless it is still a bank and it even has its own sort code – 831627.01 – although this would be difficult to enter on most paying-in slips I have seen.
Kate has just returned home with a piece of news, hot off the grapevine, from one of our neighbours. Contrary to what I have written above, and indeed since writing it, we now only have one bar in the village. It seems that the owners of the Glen Bar and Restaurant, who have been trying to sell the place for some time, can no longer afford to keep the place open. They have had to let their staff go. I am aware that this piece of news is likely to be of little interest to those who do not live on the east shore of the Kintyre peninsula but never let it be said that what we write here is not bang up to date.