The journey took his party a full day, first by steamer and then by horse drawn coach. Barnard repeats a line from his initial journey from London to Glasgow, stating his original intention “to enter the land of Whisky by way of the sea”. Campbeltown could at that time be considered the land of whisky within Scotland as it had the highest concentration of distilleries of any town. That distinction now falls to Dufftown in Speyside; the boom and ultimate collapse of Campbeltown’s whisky industry is the fascinating story to follow.
We now receive our first clue as to the timing of Barnard’s journey. He had originally intended to travel all the way ‘Doon the Water’ (pronounced watter) to Campbeltown by way of the steamer Davaar, named after the island that sits at the entrance to Campbeltown Loch. However, he had heard that “it would be crowded with Glasgow Fair holiday people, together with the prospect of a number of women and children tumbling about in all directions in the event of the voyage proving unfavourable” and so changed his plans.
|Local Gossip on the Davaar|
|Arran from near Skipness|
The coach journey from Tarbert to Campbeltown, a distance of around 40 miles, took six hours so it was as well that the scenery offered much to distract his party. They arrived in Campbeltown just after 6pm and found quarters at the White Hart Hotel “after some difficulty, the town being full of visitors”. I am a little surprised that they didn’t book ahead, particularly knowing the Davaar was crowded. Telegraph had been fully developed in the mid 1800s but perhaps Campbeltown was not yet connected to the network, remote as it was? Alas I didn’t head the warning from Barnard and my own frantic phone calls just before my journey again found the whole town to be busy and I was lucky to secure a bed for three nights at short notice!
|White Hart Hotel|
My own journey to Campbeltown commenced from Gourock where I took the ferry Jupiter to Dunoon, across the watter, sorry, water. I was keen to drive round the Cowal Peninsula as I had learned of some great driving roads and stunning views from reading Iain Banks whisky travelogue Raw Spirit. I was rather more hurried than Barnard as I was already on a later ferry than intended and had to reach a further one on the other side of Cowal to cross to Tarbert. I was not to be disappointed by the drive.
|Kyles of Bute West|
|Kyles of Bute East|