Last night we made the most of our final views of the sea from the cottage on Islay.
We were leaving on a very early ferry this morning - 07.00 from Port Ellen, with final check-in at 06.30. Our experience with driving on the narrow roads on the island over the past few days meant that we felt we needed to leave a full hour for the drive to Port Ellen, so we checked out of the cottage at 05.30.
That was a pretty early start and we hadn't had any breakfast before we left, so I was pleasantly surprised when we boarded the ferry and found that the canteen was serving a full cooked breakfast, complete with "tattie scones"
The sea was very smooth this morning and we had a scenic journey back towards the mainland.
The journey back to Kennacraig on the Kintyre peninsula took around 2 hours and 20 minutes.
From there we had a drive of around 4 hours to our ultimate destination of Newton Stewart in the south of Scotland. We broke the journey at a National Trust place called Crarae garden.
Crarae garden is just outside Inveraray and from the car park we had great views of Loch Fyne.
There weren't very many other people in the car park; this definitely seems to be a lesser-visited National Trust place.
So much so that it wasn't actually manned; the visitor centre was closed and we were just able to walk around the gardens without showing our membership cards.
The gardens themselves were really beautiful, with a series of colour-coded trails. We followed the red trail initially, which took us alongside a river...
...from where we had a view of a little waterfall.
Every so often we caught glimpses of the loch...
...and there were some really colourful trees and bushes.
Once we'd completed the red trail we attempted the white one (of course, not choosing the easy route!).
The hard version of the route involved quite a few steps, but we were rewarded with some good views.
In general there was probably a bit more climbing up and down than is usual in National Trust gardens...
...but it was a really lovely place to visit, and so cool that we had it almost to ourselves.
The final trail was blue, taking us towards views of Loch Fyne.
The views from the marked viewpoint weren't necessarily much better than the views from the car park, but never mind
We retraced our steps back towards the car...
...and confirmed that we had successfully completed all the trails
From there it was a fairly long drive to Newton Stewart, where we are staying overnight in a hotel.
We managed to get booked into the hotel restaurant for an early dinner, which was good, and then went for a brief stroll around the town.
We've got another fairly long day of travelling ahead of us to get back home tomorrow, but the travelling has definitely been worth it for the experiences we've had on Arran and Islay