The Long and Winding Road
‘Mull of Kintyre, oh mist rolling in from the sea. My desire is always to be here, oh Mull of Kintyre.
At the extreme southwestern tip of the Kintyre peninsula sits the Mull of Kintyre. It’s a wild and remote place, made famous by the 1970s Paul McCartney and Wings’ hit. The song is full of passion for this far-flung rocky headland. If you want to understand why McCartney was so inspired by the place, then you need to follow the long and winding road that takes you there. It’s slow going and in some places tortuous, but the journey is worth it for the views alone - even if the mist isn’t rolling in!
Mull of Kintyre
The Mull of Kintyre is around eight miles beyond Southend, Kintyre’s southernmost village. It’s reached via a single-track road which takes you to the Mull of Kintyre Lighthouse at the tip of the Mull. There has been a lighthouse here since 1788. The current lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson and has been automated since 1996. If you fancy a longer stay on the Mull, the former keepers' cottages are now used for holiday rentals.
It’s a beautiful, bare and often very windy, spot. The views across the Atlantic to Ailsa Craig and the Antrim coast of Northern Ireland are immense. On clearer days it is also possible to make out Malin Head in Donegal and the Ayrshire coast on the other side of Ailsa Craig. The views looking back up the Kintyre coast are stunning too.
For even more rugged beauty and spectacular Atlantic panoramas, it’s well worth visiting the Scottish Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Largiebaan on the Mull of Kintyre. Covering 1,600 hectares, this diverse reserve consists of bog and heath, with patches of acid grassland and native woodland. The four-mile coastal strip provides views from the top of steep cliffs that are hard to beat. Look out for Golden eagles and other raptors, breeding seabirds on cliffs, orchids and other wildflowers and feral goats. As you’re travelling along the B842 from Southend to the Mull, taking a right turn for Homeston and then another right for Largiebaan.
Back in Southend there’s plenty to see and do, with some fascinating historic sites, a beautiful beach, an 18-hole golf course and the legendary Muneroy Tearoom.
More long distance routes on Kintyre
The road to the Mull isn’t the only long and winding route in Kintyre. Stretching 100 miles from Tarbert in the north to Machrihanish in the south, the Kintyre Way is one of Scotland’s top long-distance walking trails and off-road cycling routes. It criss-crosses the Kintyre peninsula, from the west coast with its sandy beaches to the gentler bays of the east coast right down to the Mull of Kintyre. Or how about cycling the Caledonia Way, National Route 78 of the National Cycle Network? It runs from Campbeltown on Kintyre all the way to Inverness.