Historic walk reveals Campbeltown’s best kept secrets

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Did you know there is a mermaid engraved on Campbeltown’s iconic 14th century cross?

That is just one of the well-kept secrets which is unveiled on Campbeltown Heritage Trail Group’s free historic walking tour.

Tours leave from the Aqualibrium at 2pm every Wednesday in July and August, and one of the Courier’s reporters went along recently.

Volunteer leader John Bakes was joined by 13 people and two dogs on the hour-long journey through the Wee Toon’s past.

Beginning with the Sir William Mackinnon statue, John explained that Campbeltown-born Mr Mackinnon was the ‘biggest and grandest industrialist to come out of Scotland.’

Born in Campbeltown, Mr Mackinnon founded the British India Steam Navigation Company and was responsible for the creation of a railway line between Mombasa and Zimbabwe in Africa.

The statue which now stands in Kinloch Street, once stood in Africa and was salvaged and returned to the Scotland. John said: ‘This statue has been half way round the world, and ended up four streets away from where the man was born.’

As the tour continued John explained that Campbeltown used to be two separate towns – Campbeltown and Dalintober. He said that Dalintober pier was built so its fishermen from could avoid paying the landing fees at Campbeltown’s Old Quay, which had more than 450 registered fishing boats at its peak.

John said: ‘Young ladies from Dalintober were told never to come into Campbeltown as it was thought of as a den of iniquity.’

Throughout the tour, John explained some of Kintyre’s Viking history, as well as tales of the town’s experience of the plague.

When John drew the walkers’ attention to the Ardshiel Hotel and explained that it had won awards for its wide range of whiskies, tourist Catriona Haston, from Ayrshire, gesticulated to her husband and said: ‘You shouldn’t have told him that.’ Husband John replied: ‘It’s going to be a long night!’

John and Catriona, who popped into Campbeltown in their boat, hoped to visit some of the town’s distilleries before continuing on their travels.

Holiday-maker Stephen Roberts, from Cheshire was visiting friends in Kintyre. He said: ‘The tour was super. People visiting Campbeltown would never have spotted some of the things pointed out on the tour, like the mermaid.’

Even the only local on the walk, Kathleen Brown, who grew up in Campbeltown but now lives in Inverness, was surprised to learn some new facts.

Kathleen, who was in Campbeltown visiting her mum, Christine McKellar, who still lives here, said: ‘I think schools should teach things like this because it’s good to know your local history. John was very informative and had a lovely manner.’

Tour leader John said: ‘Today has been a good turnout, it can range from just one or two to 15.’

If you want to know why there are two crossed guns on the wall outside the Victoria Hall, or where you can find a frieze depicting Campbeltown’s main trades at the time it was built, or even where you can see bullet marks from World War Two, go along to the next tour.

The group which took the tour, in the Linda McCartney garden, which was lead by volunteer John Bakes, left. 20_c31walk03_linda mccartney garden

Have you noticed the mermaid on Campbeltown’s cross before? 20_c31walk04_mermaid cross

Why are there guns outside the Victoria Hall? Find out on the free tour. 20_c31walk05_crossed guns