I have been wanting to walk to this Island for a whole year, but I have been unsure of the crossing times. Thankfully, I picked up a sheet of tide times from the Tourist Office on the main high street and I was ready to go. For today the safe walking times were from 11:30 A.M. till 16:00 hrs but I always make sure I have crossed back at least an hour or so before the actual time. I also took a small lunch for myself so I could indulge myself while taking in the views.
If you are coming from Campbeltown Centre, then with the roundabout straight in front of you looking at the harbour take a right and follow the road until you get to the causeway. This walk will take about 30 minutes.
As you walk along the road you will just have to judge when to walk towards the causeway, it’s just common sense really. The walk across to the island is about 20 to 30 minutes. When you get to the island you will have options to go left or right.
Now if you want to see the Jesus cave then you turn right and follow the rocks around. It is quite tough walking across the boulders so always look for the smoothest path and be careful, because you could still slip and sprain an ankle.
As you walk around to the right it is about the third cave along and it isn’t signposted so look out for other people. It is not that hard to spot but you have to walk a little bit into the cave to see the painting.
The painting was the work of a local art teacher named Archibald MacKinnon, who in 1887 had a dream in which he was prompted to paint the scene. The dream also told him where to paint the scene. MacKinnon worked in secret, painting directly onto the cave wall. The result is simply stunning, a vividly coloured masterpiece of late Victorian religious art.
The painting was discovered by fishermen, but no one knew that MacKinnon had been labouring away in secret, so the artwork was thought by locals to be a miracle; a sign from God, a divine revelation. When the story came out about the painting’s true origins, MacKinnon is said to have been driven out of Campbeltown, though he returned to retouch his painting twice, once in 1902 and again in 1934.
Once you have seen the incredible cave painting you can then return to the centre of the island and you have a further choice. Assuming you have enough time you can walk directly up to the top of the island following the blatant path right in front of you.
The path is quite clear and is quite steep but can get you up there in about 20 minutes to enjoy the breathless views at the top.
Or you can follow my dodgy route and walk towards the lighthouse and follow a route behind the lighthouse.
The lighthouse itself is a work of art and the views from behind it an on towards the Isle of Arran are astounding, as you can see by my pictures.
The lighthouse was built in 1854 by the famous lighthouse engineers David and Thomas Stevenson. Thomas was an innovative engineer and inventor of the Stevenson screen, a protective shelter still used today for weather stations. He is best remembered today as the father of author Robert Louis Stevenson.
If you look behind the lighthouse you see a track leading up the hill through the fern. It is easy to walk but a bit steep. It comes to this cross in the roads and you have a choice. I initially followed the right path but it took me on a long and winding road which may eventually lead to the peak on the other side of the island where everyone else went but I went back and then took the path to the left, the opposite way and ended up opposite the peak but on a nice spot on my own which I was quite happy about. I just sat on a rock and had my lunch and played some Leonard Cohen.
The view! The View! It’s all about the view!
And this is what is good about the other path just turning round catching photos like this.
And of course just head back home make sure you are not to late and the tide does not come back in. And head for a nice pint in the local pub to quench your thirst.