Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Walk 172

Glenelg to Nostie 24miles

Bernera Barracks
It was a bit of a grey miserable day as I started out today, I walked out of Glenelg via the Bernera Barracks  I took a photo but unfortunately due to the conditions it all looks a bit dull!

I'd done some research on the Web about today's walk the night before and found that where I was walking today is part of the Lochalsh Dirty 30 which is a cross country running race, this was useful to know as it may mean a decent path today if its well trodden.....or so I thought!!!

The first part of the walk was along a road which leads to the ferry crossing taking you to Skye. This is the last manually operated turntable ferry in Scotland, fortunately for me the ferry was being loaded as I walked past and I stood for a while watching the ferryman in action, its quite a snazzy bit of kit!!

Skye Ferry
I continued my walk along a good track walking under the electric pylons which had been so helpful on yesterdays walk, this lead me eventually to Ardintoul Point, I stopped here to ask directions as it was unclear on my map which way I was supposed to be going, the man I asked pointed me in the direction of a hill and off on toddled, I got halfway up and thought that this is wrong but I continued on anyway but low and behold he was correct! a sign at the top of the hill pointed me towards Totaig.  The track was quite good until I reached the forest and then it just stopped!! I had noticed though a white piece of tape hanging from a tree, I started to follow these markers because I assumed that they had been put there for the cross country runners. The markers took me deeper into the dense dark forest and I can now see why its called the " Lochalsh dirty 30" because it was just horrendous, talk about mud, I could bearly walk let alone run!!!
The Markers
The white tape markers soon turned to wooden sticks with an orange flash painted on them, this was very useful and I stumbled on through the forest eventually coming out at a clearing at the top of Castiel-Grugaig, and what a view from the top looking down on Dornie and the castle at Eilean Donan!!

The View to Dornie

I made my way down the hill arriving in Totaig and started the long long long walk to Nostie along the banks of Loch Druich, there were thankfully small minor roads to Sheil Bridge but then I picked up the busy A87 taking me to Dornie, where I stopped for the obligatory photo of the castle at Eilean Donan.

Eilean Donan
Accommodation: Sheperds Cottage, Nostie £50.00 Bnb . Nice but no TV!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Walk 171

Kinloch Hourn to Glenelg 20miles

After yesterdays exertions I was hoping for an easier day today, so I asked Joe the owner of the teas rooms about the terrain I was about to face and he gave me "that" look...oh dear.

I packed up my things and started on my days walk, thankfully it was only a shortish one today so that should soften the blow.  I followed the road for a while and then turned left along a track crossing the river Beag at the same time, there is a useful sign pointing me in the direction of Corran and it tells me its 9 miles.

The walk down from Kinloch Hourn

 The track began to climb and the good part about today's walk is that as long as I follow the electricity pylons I cant go wrong for the first 4 miles.  The track is rough and starts to climb steeply and tops out at 826ft which is bearly a pimple in these parts! I followed the track as it winds its way slowly down the valley and I'm glad I'm walking in this direction as when I get to the bottom of the valley I look back to where I have walked and wince at the sheer length of the climb back towards Kinloch Hourn.  At the bottom of the valley I had to negociate a river, its very shallow but quiet wide so I took 5 minutes to "pick my spot" where to cross, if this river was in spate it would be impossible to cross.  Once across the river I start to walk along its north bank until I reach a couple of small lochs where I decided to take a short break, its so nice to sit somewhere with just the sound of running water and wildlife around you.

River Arnisdale crossing
 Once break time is over I begin to follow the River Arnisdale down stream crossing 2 bridges along the way, but just before the path levels out I have to clamber down a 1/2miles stretch of track that definitely made me think that I have walked in the right direction today! talk about steep and rocky it was a nightmare!

As soon as I hit Arnisdale its tarmac all the way to Glenelg, this takes me through the forest on the way to Eilanreach, now I say "forest" because that whats shows up on the map but when I get there the forest has been massacred, I cant describe what a blot on the landscape this part of the walk is, they have taken all the trees and made no attempt to re plant, its an absolute disgrace. You can tell by the wood that's left behind that it was felled a while ago so there is really no excuse for what the landowners have done, SHAME ON YOU ALL!!

Once I had passed through Eilanreach I dropped down into Glenelg which is a pretty little village and my home for the night.

Accommodation: Balcraggie House.  A lovely BnB about a mile out of the village on the road to Sheil Bridge. Donna will look after you well. £30.00 BnB

Monday, 26 May 2014

Walk 170

Arisaig to Mallaig 10miles - Ferry - Inverie to Kinloch Hourn 15miles
The day was beautiful bright sunshine and within 5 minutes I was offered a lift into Arisaig! I once again decline the lift and ambled on through the village.  The journey for the first part of today to Mallaig was along roads but thankfully half was via quiet country roads and lovely sandy bays. All too soon I was back on the main road to Mallaig but at least this section had a cycle path so I wasn't having to dice with death!
I ducked into a cafe in Mallaig as I was 45mins early for my ferry to Inverie. The ferry is a costly £11.00 (wow!) but I had no alternative but cough up the cash! however for sheer exilaration its worth every penny, blimey its fast and just brilliant, money well spent!!!

So it was onto the main walk of the day Inverie to Kinloch Hourn. I started up a nice wide track out of Inverie through a forest this soon ends and I dropped down into a glen on the way to Loch an Dubh-Lochain, the weather and scenery is superb and I thought the best way to get this across is to flood this entry with my pictures.

The path followed the Inverie river until it reached
the loch, I had met 17 people along the path but as it
started to climb I was the last person standing and boy was it a climb! topping out at 1426ft, this I think
is the biggest hill I have had to climb on the whole of
my walk. The view from the top down into Barrisdale was just stunning I stood for a while to catch my breath and to take in the scenery. All too
soon I was descending down the track into Barrisdale this was quite a tricky decent but well worth it  Once I was at the bottom of the hill I passed by the Bothy at Barrisdale, I popped in but there was no one at home!

The next 6 miles were amongst the worst/difficult
I have had to travel along for quite a while, it wasn't
so much the mud but the path was very rocky and went up and down and up and down. It took me 4 hours to travel the 6 miles to Kinloch Hourn and I couldn't wait to see the tarmac as I entered the village! Really I cant stress how hard this section of coast is to walk. Good Luck!

Accommodation: Kinloch Hourn Tea Rooms £30.00 BnB. Remote and no mains Elec but nice accommodation.

Walk 169

Acharacle to Arisaig 27miles

Castle Tioram
I had two choices today and they were walk along the busy A road to Ardmolich or take the more scenic route via the castle at Tioram, I chose route 2 and I'm glad I did! Firstly I had to walk a mile or so along the busy road crossing over Shiel Bridge just after which I took a left turn towards Eilean Uaine, this is a nice quiet road that follows the river Shiel until it reaches a car park near the castle.  Castle Tioram is just at the end of a small causeway and is quite impressive, and I'm glad I took this route today!

Just after the castle car park there is a walk known locally as "the Silver Walk" this takes you along Loch Moidort, the walk itself is lovely but a little rough in places. Everything was fine and the path was well trodden until I came across a landslip which I carefully negotiated, I didn't want to end up in the Loch!.The trail took me past Eilean an Sheidh and on through Ardmolich Wood, I had 4 fallen trees to clamber over on the way and once I had reached the road at Drynie Hill I looked back to see a large sign telling me the path was closed due to fallen trees, it would have been nice if they had told me at the start!!!

Loch Moidart
The rest of the day was firstly along the busy A861 to Lochailort via Glenuig where it decided to pee down for an hour, I then took a left turn along the even busier A830 crisscrossing the railway line until I reached Borrodale where thankfully I took a left along a nice quiet but muddy track all the way to my BnB just outside the village of Arisaig.

Accommodation:  Hilbre BnB, Rhu Road. Arisaig £35.00.  Really nice couple run this BnB from their home, breakfast was nice and the room was lovely.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Walk 168

Sonachan Hotel to Acharcle 27miles
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse
I walked out of the hotel along a very quiet road on my way to the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan, this is the most westerly point of the mainland UK and is my 3rd cardinal point, I sat on the picnic benches outside the visitor centre to take in this information and felt very proud of my achievement.  Once I had finished basking in my glory! I had the main task of today's walk ahead of me. I walked back along the road from the lighthouse in order to make my way across land to Portuairk, I had noticed a track on my map as Id walked up to Ardnamurchan but unfortunately someone had put a very big metal gate behind which sat a static caravan park, so I walked a little further along the road and picked up a sign post to Portuairk. The track was rough in places all the way to Portuairk and I did manage to get lost on one occasion but my GPS soon pointed me in the right direction.  After Portuairk I picked up another rough track towards Sanna bay, this was much more distinct however the decent into Sanna Bay is not for the fainthearted as its steep and very rocky.
Sanna Bay

The weather was starting to warm up as I left Sanna Bay and started on the "Route One" walk to Fascadale, the first obstacle was a very boggy 2 mile section passing the ruin at Plocaig on the way, now I say "very boggy" but this does not in any way sum up how bad it really was in no mans land!! a couple of time I sank up to my knee in smelly brown water, it was disgusting. So once I was out of the swamp I picked up a rough track all the way to Fascadale it was well marked with way markers at several intervals. At Fascadale I picked up a road to the farm at Achateny, I ducked alongside the farm buildings and made my way across a field full of sheep heading for the phone box I could see in the distance at Kilmory, once I had negotiated the dry stone wall at Kilmory ( don't ask!) it was road and track all the way to just before Eilagadale, here I met a couple on a hiking day out and we had a chat about the track to Gortenfern which they said wasn't too bad and they were right!

The track to Gortenfern

At Gortenfern the track wound its way through the forest to Gortenorn via Singing Sands, then on around Kentra Bay and finally arriving in Acharcle.  This was a thoroughly enjoyable days hard walking and definatley in my top 10 walks so far on my journey.

Accommodation: Loch Sheil Hotel £50.00 BnB, best avoided unless you like being insulted by the rude staff.  There are a lot of other smaller BnBs in the village which I assume would be much nicer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Walk 167

Kilchoan to Sonachan Hotel 4miles

It took me 14 hours to get to my start point for this weeks walking at Kilchoan, needless to say I was glad that all I had to do was 4 miles. Though after only 2 minutes after walking off the last ferry of the day someone stopped and offered me a lift!! I love Scotland.

Accommodation: Sonachan Hotel £25.00 Bunkhouse (breakfast included) An overwhelming smell of damp from the bedroom in the bunkhouse but it was cheap!  The food at this hotel is rubbish!
Loch Shira - Inveraray
Eilean Musdile Lighthouse