• Michael

#0005: The Train To Nowhere

Updated: Jun 2, 2020

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The Secret Coast is filled with instant beauty.

It seems that around every corner there’s a spectacular view or a postcard perfect cottage. It’s difficult not to stumble on something heart-aching in such a magnificent place.

For something really special though, you need to put in a bit of effort.

Ostel Bay is at the end of the line. The southernmost tip of the peninsula. To reach it, you need to park at Kilbride Farm and walk.

The flat, fifteen minute track takes you through pasture, marshland, native woodland and scrub, leading to white dunes tumbling into an endless, crystal sea.

As you approach the dunes, you’ll be rewarded with your first glimpse of Arran rising abruptly from the water, puncturing the horizon.

The beach is never busy, so stop a while. Cosy up in the dune. Light a fire. Take in the view.

But don’t think that the adventure stops there.

When I said that Ostel Bay is at the end of the line, I meant it.

Head due east, where the bay curves into a slender crescent, and you’ll find one of the coasts secrets.

There, arching gracefully out of the overgrown woodland and down to the clear water runs a railway track, rusted, decaying and forgotten.

During WWII, much of Cowal was used for military training. Depending on who you ask, the track might have been used to deploy an anti-submarine boom across the mouth of Loch Fyne, to prevent enemy interlopers from heading too far up the coast. It might even have been used to launch experimental, miniature submarines of own own.

Perhaps we'll never know the true purpose of these tracks, but one thing's for sure. The Secret Coast still has some stories to tell.

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