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Picture of walkers crossing an improvised bridge through some gorse bushes This walk wasn't really new for me, I had already completed it twice: First during a visit with my sister in 2004, then again in August 2005 in a trial run for the walking week. Nevertheless I decided to participate in the walk again, as it is a really nice walk through beautiful landscape, especially on a sunny clear day this looked likely to be.

We met Callum Sharp who was going to be our guide today at Ardtalla and soon we were on our way towards Proaig. First over the wobbly metal footbridge crossing a burn and then out into the hills. The path turned out to be quite muddy in places, making progress quite slow for a time. But after a while conditions improved and while still fairly wet the walking was very pleasant. Proaig as our first destination came into view and after just over an hour we arrived at the girders to cross Abhainn Proaig.

Picture of walkers on a ridge, hills in the background Picture of walkers on a muddy path, a bay in the background
Picture of walkers using girders to cross a burn During the summer it's just as easy to ford the burn, but in spring with more water most walkers decided to use the girders to cross Abhainn Proaig to reach the bothy. We had lunch at the bothy, most people sitting at the wall near the beach.

After lunch it was decision time: Return to Ardtalla directly, wait at Proaig for the others to return or continue to McArthur's Head. The vast majority chose McArthur's Head.

First along the shore, then over a beach the walk continued until the first challenge arrived: Carraig an Ràtha. While not particularly high the hill is fairly steep and from sea level just under 100m high have to be climbed before levelling out and continuing towards McArthur's Head.

Picture of walkers on their way Picture of a few walkers on a beach, approaching a hill
Picture of walkers on a beach Picture of walkers up a steep hillside

A few walkers (who shall not be named) decided the climb was too much for them and stayed at the beach, the rest tackled the climb. Once enough height was gained we continued north over some quite rough ground. But the efforts were worth it when the Sound of Islay and the lighthouse came into view:

Picture of a view over a sound between two islands, a lighthouse just below
Picture of a lighthouse towering above a sound We then entered the grounds of the lighthouse for a look around the area.

The lighthouse was designed by Thomas and David Stevenson of the famous Stevenson family in 1861. There used to be a house and a garden for the lighthouse keeper near the lighthouse, but they were demolished after the lighthouse was automated in 1969. Large solar panels installed in 2005 now generate the energy to power the lighthouse.

Some of us the walked the 100+ steps down to the shore below McArthur's Head. The views of the cliffs and over the Sound of Islay to Jura were quite impressive. You can also view a QuickTime VR panorama of the view over the Sound of Islay from below McArthur's Head:

Picture of a sound between two islands
Picture of the entrance to a cavePicture of the inside of a caveNow it was time to explore the cave, believed to be used by illegal whisky distillers in the past:

The entrance is fairly well hidden (the illegal distillers probably liked it that way), I'm not sure if I had found it without help. But after climbing through the narrow passageway the cave is quite big, I think we were about seven or eight people going into the cave and we had plenty of space left.

We then climbed up the stairs to the lighthouse again and returned to Ardtalla the same way we had come. After 7-8 miles and 5 hours (incl breaks) we had earned another two points for a 'walkislay mug' and had completed our second dry walk of the walking week.

Picture of a man in a cave Picture of a lighthouse on the top of cliffs

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