Established in 2006, the Kintyre Way is one of Scotland’s youngest walks, while at 87 miles (140 km), is one of the top 10 longest in the country.
The terrain on this walk changes from open moorland, to thick forest, before transitioning to beaches and hills. Along the way you will visit both sides of this thin peninsula and trek through some of the small fishing communities which are dotted along the way.
The remoteness of this area, and the paths stunning backdrop, are part of the draw for visitors taking on the Kintyre Way. For some sections of the walk it is possible to see very few signs of civilisation for the entire days walking. There are also some excellent views of the coastline on both sides of the peninsula, as well as the surrounding islands which include Jurra, Arran, Gigha and towards the end of the walk the Northern Ireland mainland.
Normally taken on over a 6 or 7 day period, the Kintyre Way has seen its popularity rise since its inception. Back in 2006 approximately 200 trekkers completed the entire route. Presently, over 1000 individuals walk the Kintyre Way from start to finish and that number grows with its popularity each year. The rising numbers have helped bring an increased revenue from tourism to the area, which in turn, has led to improvements in facilities and accommodation along the length of the route.
Kintyre Way 7 Day Plan
|EST TIME||4 hours||5 hours||4 hours||6 hours||8 hours||2 hours||7 hours|
|DISTANCE||9.5 miles/ 15.3km||12.5 miles/ 20km||9.25 miles/ 15km||14.75 miles/ 23.8km||20 miles/ 32km||5.25 miles/ 8.75km||18 miles/ 29km|
By car- The northern tip of the Kintyre Peninsula and the start of the Kintyre Way is Tarbert. Getting there by car involves a 2 hour drive from Glasgow taking the A82 and A83. An advantage of taking this car journey is that it takes you past some beautiful sights, such as; Loch Lomond, highland mountains, Inverary and Loch Fyne. There are plenty of parking spaces available in Tarbert especially around the area of the castle. If in the unlikely event there is no parking in Tarbert, any of the towns and villages in the Kintyre Peninsula will be able to get you to the start via local bus services or taxi’s.
If you would prefer to leave your car at the end of the walk, local bus services and taxi’s are available to bring you to the start point. Alternatively, you could use a bus or taxi to take you to the end of the walk from Tarbert and complete the route in reverse.
By bus- Citylink currently run a bus service from Glasgow to Campbeltown, with plenty of stops along the way. Although using a bus service will typically be much slower than taking a car, you may end up being glad that you don’t have to drive yourself, especially on the way home. Once in Kintyre, local bus services run regularly up and down the peninsula.
By ferry- Arran to Campbeltown ferry’s run regularly along with services from Northern Ireland in the summer months. The various ferry services which take travellers to, and around the peninsula are very popular due to the Kintyre Peninsula’s location.
By air- There is a Flybe regular route from Glasgow to Campbeltown which runs as often as twice a day during peak season. This regularity will decrease dramatically in the winter but it is still possible to fly during these months. As always, it is important to check availability for your outbound and return journeys.
The route starts in Tarbert and then follows the small Kintyre peninsula south on a path which zigzags all the way down to Dunaverty on a journey which typically takes 7 days. The route is well signposted from start to finish and is relatively easy going for the vast majority of the walk.
The exception to the easy level of difficulty lies within the last section of the Kintyre Way. The route can become very boggy underfoot, especially during and immediately after inclement weather, and the steep incline and declines along with the rougher terrain can make navigating a little more difficult. However, the majority of the walk will be well within the capabilities of most walkers and the final, slightly more difficult section, can be overcome with a little grit and determination.
Kintyre Way Ultra
For those seeking a more arduous challenge, the Kintyre Way is not only used by those hoping to enjoy a walk surrounded by stunning scenery. Usually taking place in May, the Kintyre Way Ultra is a 67 mile race from Tarbert to Campbeltown, or from Tayinloan to Campbeltown for the 35½ mile “easy” option.
The all time record for the race is 8 hours and 32 minutes set in 2011. Of course this is not a challenge for the faint hearted or unprepared and decisions to enter such events should not be taken lightly. However, completing such a race can give an incredible sense of achievement and for some can lead onto bigger challenges. Some people use this race to help prepare them for the even longer West Highland Way Ultra Marathon which is considered by many to be Scotland’s most fiercely contested Ultra.
Anyone seriously considering entry to this event should pay close attention to stage cut-off times which, if not achieved, could mean expulsion from the rest of the race. Such events are physically demanding and prior preparation is absolutely essential for all prospective competitors.
As with the rest of the United Kingdom, it is important to be aware that weather conditions can change rapidly and summer is no guarantee of sunshine and clear skies. However, the Kintyre Peninsula does enjoy slightly higher temperatures than the UK average.
As with any long distance walk, preparation is vital and the extended duration demands a greater amount of kit to be taken along. It is absolutely essential to ensure that you take clothing which will be suitable for all types of weather. This should be based around a layer system. This will incorporate some thin under layers which can be used in good weather, with long sleeve shirts and trousers to go over the top. When the weather deteriorates more layers should be added up to and including waterproofs to keep you as comfortable as possible.