Friday, 18 April 2014

The Jouney Home From Oban

I just thought I would share some photos taken from the train on my journey home, they were all taken from inside the carriage so unfortunately I ended up with some reflections on the pictures (and some grubby windows!)

Walk 166

Drimnin to Lochaline 11.5miles Also Fishnish to Craignure 5miles

Lochaline Hotel taken from ferry to Mull
I had got talking to a couple of builders at the hotel last night, and it turned out they were working in Drimnin and they would give me a lift if I wanted, this was a bit of a bonus as I had no clue on how I was going to get there otherwise!
                 It had snowed on the tops of the hills overnight which had made everything really picturesque.
Isle of Mull
  So I was dropped in Drimnin by the builders and started on my stroll back to Lochaline, I say stroll because even though the ferries run regular to Mull (Fishnish) from Lochaline the ferries from Mull (Craignure) to Oban are painfully infrequent this time of year.  The walk was thankfully dryish and the road was single track so no need to worry about traffic, the route follows the Mull Sound and surprisingly there were no villages of any sort on this route but the views were fantastic! All too soon I reached Lochaline, I stocked up on food and waited for my ferry.

 Once I was on Mull I made a decision to wait 3 hours in the cafe for the bus to Craignure, but after 1 hour of nursing 2 cups of tea I just got up and walked the 5 miles and got very very wet! 
The walk itself was very uninspiring and as it was a fast road all of the way to Craignure I needed to keep my wits about me!  So basically there was forest on my right and the sound of Mull on my left for 5 miles and that was it!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Walk 165

Argour to Lochaline 32miles

A very big walk today as there is not much sign of life between these two points, a good example is my first pic below!  The forecast for the first 3-4 hours today was grim and the weatherman didn't let me down.  I had overslept and my alarm had gone off 8 times before I managed to rise up from my slumber, personally I knew the weather was going to be bad and I just didn't want to face it!!!
Mostly today's views!
So I had breakfast, put on my wet weather gear and walked solemnly out of the front door, it was lashing down and I thought (as it was a 9 hour walk) how am I going to manage if its like this all day?
I trudged along the road stopping at Clovullin for sandwiches and to catch some shelter, the road was quite busy so I thought I could always cadge a lift and come back and walk this section another day.  The rain continued and at Inversanda I reached a pivotal point because I had to turn left along the B8043 which is a single track road with no escape route!. I stood under some trees for a minute just trying to get my head around how wet I was and what would happen if I continued along what was a very traffic free road, I decided to just go for it and continued on in the rain.
                      The B8043 started to climb which was just making things worse! when I got to the top of the hill I looked back and saw a vehicle turn onto the road I was on....what a bonus, I could thumb a lift to wherever they were going and come back another day, however the pick up truck just stopped and I kept looking back thinking it will come along soon but no.... arrrrgh!!! eventually I stopped looking backwards and concentrated on going forwards!! and the weirdest thing happened, the rain started to relent and by the time I reached  the river crossing at Coire Mheall Challuim it had stopped at which point the pick up truck came along side me and stopped to ask if I wanted a lift, " No Thanks" I replied, but we had a good chat anyway and they were soon on their way.  The B8043 took me along to the only real settlement at Kingairloch where I met up again with my friendly council workers who were doing some running repairs on the culverts by the side of the road, I stopped for a quick chat and then I was on my way at which point the sun decided to make an appearance at last!! The road winds in and out of the glens and it was fantastic to see young Bucks chasing Does across the fields I just which I could get my camera out in time.
Loch Uisge
Eventually the B8043 meets up with the road I started on earlier on in the day (A884) and with Beinn Chlaonleud on my right hand side I wound my way through many a glen stopping only to take in the fabulous views and marvel at the remoteness of where I was standing.  The A884 soon took me to today's destination at Lochaline and I was surprised at how I felt after such a long days walking, even the landlady of the hotel commented that I looked great for someone who had walked so far.

Accommodation:  The Lochaline Hotel.  Really nice hotel with great views of the Isle of Mull from the bedroom window £37.50 BnB

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Walk 164

North Shian to Corran/Argour 22.5miles

The day started off with a bit of good news as I had found out that the footbridge across Loch Laich was open.  The footbridge is known as The Jubilee bridge as it was built in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond jubilee in 1897,  it has had to be restored quite a few times the latest was the back end of 2013/ early 2014, so I was really pleased to be able to cross as you get a great views of Castle Stalker and the surrounding mountains from the middle.
Castle Stalker
Once across the bridge I picked up the disused railway cyclepath this took me alongside the Isle of Shuna, leading eventually to the A828 and the long slog up to Duror where at least the cyclepath skirts around the village, but its short lived and the road hugs the coast all the way to the bridge at North Ballachlish, not long after the rain really started to lash it down so the ferry at Corran couldn't come quick enough.

Accommodation: The Inn at Argour.  Really nice but my room was next to the road where the ferry lands so I was awoken every time the ferry arrived, didn't stop me oversleeping though!!! £49.50 BnB

Walk 163

Oban to North Shian 20.5miles

Today started in full wet weather gear again, what is it with Scotland and rain?
Port Mor Lighthouse and Castle (in background)
So I ate breakfast at the cafe suggested by my guest house and then I wound my merry way through the streets of Oban.  Today was a mixed bag of cycle paths, main roads and single track road.

First up was Port Mor with its mini lighthouse and lovely castle, this was a single track road taking me down to the small village of Ganavan with its brand new white houses and for the first time for a while an actual sandy beach! the road soon ran out and was replaced by a brand new cycle path, this cyclepath is part of an initative to link up Oban and Fort William with one continuous safe path for cyclists and walkers alike, its still very fragmented but will be great once finished. The cyclepath ran out at Dunbeg which lies in Dunstaffnage Bay with its splendid castle and Marine Science Centre, the next couple of miles were along the busy A85 and boy was it busy! this in turn led to the bridge crossing at Connel.
Connel Bridge
As I was crossing the Connel bridge the rain and wind really picked up and I was in a "nowhere to run nowhere to hide" situation so I just gritted my teeth and put my head down and walked quickly, fortunately the bridge is only a few hundred yards long!  Once over the bridge I picked up the No78 cycle path again which took me past the very quiet Oban Airport (who knew Oban had an airport?) not a single plane arrived or left whilst I walked parallel all the way to the end of the runway.  The cycle path soon turned into a muddy disused railway line taking me all the way to Benderloch, I stopped for lunch at Benderloch and got chatting to an elderly lady who told me how as a child she used to walk along the railway track, its really nice to hear  stories from local people.  I was back on the busy A828 again but at least the sign warned me of the fact that the cycle path would restart again in 2 miles very considerate of them to tell me! The cycle path started again at the Sealife Centre on the banks of Loch Creran, this took me through the forest eventually coming out at the bridge at South Creagan.

Super Seal

I crossed the bridge at South Creagan without any drama as the rain had finally relented, a mile or so later I turned down the very quiet road towards Port Appin and my BnB for the night at North Shian.

Accommodation: Cruachan BnB, North Shian. Very comfortable and the owner will give you a lift to the      local restaurant in Port Appin free of charge! £35.00

Friday, 4 April 2014

Walk 162

Ardfern to Oban  30miles

The day started with a climb out of Ardfern and within 10 mins I was faced with a cow in the middle of the road, and a large one too! This was Highland cattle country, I carefully negotiated my way around the beast trying not to make any sudden moves or eye contact, it looked very disinterested in me which is always a good thing!
Highland Cow!
I made my way up and over the hill through yet another forest eventually arriving in Craobh Haven, which is a pretty little marina on the banks of Loch Melfort.
Craobh Haven
The track I was following soon turned into road and I was left struggling my way around the coast trying not to get run over, passing by Asknish Bay and Kames Bay on the way.  Eventually I turned down a small track which took me around the top of Loch Melfort and through its namesake village, the track swept through Fernach bay heading towards Dognish, I stopped for lunch opposite the small Isle of Eilean Coltair which was just lovely and the sun tried valiantly to make an appearance!

Me and my crisps at Eilean Coltair!
Just before Dogmish the track takes a complete U turn and I started to head upwards eventually arriving at an unknown peak (173 meters up), this is where things got a little strange as just after the peak of the hill there is a blackened tree stump which is fenced off and has many coins jammed into its crevasses, I have since tried to find out more about this bizarre phenomenon, but have hit a dead end as the internet seems to provide no explanation!

Anyhow I headed downhill towards Caddleton, on my left was the Island of Seil; I walked parallel with this very close island for a few miles before meeting up with the busy A816 again which took me around Loch Feochan, The rain started just before Kilmory on this busy road, so I plodded on miserably for the last 5 miles until reaching Oban. However my sogginess was not complete until a very unkind motorist decided to hit the puddle I was standing by whilst trying to cross the road. Despite this when the weather cleared Oban was revealed to be a lovely, bustling town, dispatching many a ferry to the outlying islands.

Accommodation: Ivercloy Guest House, Ardconnel St, Oban. This Guest House is room only. The owner Fiona is lovely and cant do enough for here guests, I was able to get breakfast from a local cafe with a 10% discount if you mention where you were staying. £30.00