Stormforce

17. Juli 2012 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

So I’ve crossed the seas and arrived on another island: Ireland. But I’m still in the same state and use the same currency though there’s now the Queen on the notes rather than Sir Walter Scott or other heroes of Alba. The boat ride from Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre over to Ballycastle was a spectacular but a bit rough. The waves that we climbed in the small speedboat (a Redbay Stormforce 11 metre rigid inflatable boat, RIB) and jumped down from were impressive, although they can’t have been more than 2m in height. Half of the 12 seats in the cabin were occupied and my bike was tied to the railing outside. It got sprayed all over and is now coated with salty brine. First thing this morning, I had to give it a good oiling and greasing.
Campbeltown is somewhat of an oddity. It sits isolated near the end of the extended peninsula of Kintyre and used to be the whisky capital of the world with nearly two dozen distilleries. Most of them went down the drain as a result of low-quality mass production and the US prohibition. The town still has a rough edge to it, and it is said that Scots is or was the predominant language spoken, rather than Gaelic, because of the influx of workers from the Lowlands. I can’t find the one remaining distillery, Springbank, and would have had to give it a pass anyway, because there is less than an hour to go before my boat leaves. It’s the end of the 750km Scottish part of my trip and I postpone celebrating it till Northern Ireland in the evening. I resign myself to a Coke to soothe my stomach in anticipation of the choppy seas.
But there is another highlight before I even arrive at Campbeltown: as I stand on a hill overlooking the bay and admire a field of barley that gets combed by the wind, I spot a strange vessel entering the natural harbour. What I took to be water tanks are huge red chimneys, and the strange moving creatures are not cattle but humans. Two elderly gentlemen who have travelled here by car from Glasgow just to take photographs tell me that this is the Waverley, the sole remaining ocean-going paddle-wheeler (in Europe? in the world?). I ride down to the port speedily and have to acknowledge that the Waverley pipped me at the post. It’s pretty fast, this thing, perhaps not as fast as the Kyntire Express RIB. And it wouldn’t shake, rattle and roll so much over the waves.

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