32.a Fowey to Polruan

This was another ’round the estuary’ walk to complete a circuit round the River Fowey, which I was making due to having previously used a ferry while walking the SWCP. I had intended to do two days in Cornwall,  but the tides were against me.

I decided to save fuel and parked at Lostwithiel, the first bridging point over the River Fowey. Lostwithiel, is a small ancient market town and a place I had never visited before. The weather was forecasted to be dull and overcast. I decided to head towards Fowey first, making my way along quiet country lanes, tracks and footpaths. I left Lostwithiel at 7:30 when I had enough light to start walking. The sky was very gloomy and there was a fine drizzle as I headed south near to the railway track. After passing underneath a railway viaduct at Milltown I emerged onto a small road. The rest of the walk onto Fowey would be along  lanes and roads. Unfortunately, most of the roads were sunken, which meant they had large steep and high embankments (up to 12ft), with trees atop and very narrow. This meant that the odd car that I met had me pressed to the side of the embankment, although thankfully the car inched past me at low speed. Of course walking along such roads gave me zero views. The drizzle persisted for most of the morning and I was glad when I entered Fowey.

Heading south along the River Fowey on a very gloomy morning
On one of the many sunken roads

My first port of call in Fowey, was The Cornish Bakery, where I bought 4 large Cornish pasties. One for my breakfast, the other 3 for my family’s dinner that night. I munched on my pasty as I caught the foot passenger ferry across to Polruan. The weather was beginning to brighten up now as I climbed the steep slopes and steps in search of a footpath, The Hall Walk, which would take me towards Pont. I was heading above Pont Pill, one of the many creeks and inlets that connect to the River Fowey. I met another walker who had mistakenly caught the Boddinick car ferry instead of the foot passenger as he walked the SWCP. I was now on tarmac all the way back to Lostwithiel.

The Fowey – Boddinick car ferry
Heading towards Polruan
Crossong the River Fowey
Looking back ay Fowey from near Polruan
Looking west towards St Austell and the china clay spoil heaps

As the road climbed up one of the many small hills, I got a grand view of the topography of this part of Cornwall. A landscape of small flat-topped hummocky hills about 100m high  and dissected by steep valleys, hiding the presence of tidal inlets or flooded river valleys (Ria’s). I headed through Lanteglos Highway, Lower Penpoll, where I resisted temptation to purchase Cyder from a local farm, Saint Veep and Lerryn. As I neared Lostwithiel, close to Treditchick I noticed a brightly painted kissing gate. There was a printed card on which a disgruntled local farmer had vented his spleen on “spineless do gooders (ramblers)”, also referring to them as “parasites”. Oh well it takes all sorts!

Not the best days walk.

Crossing a tidal creek at Lerryn
Disgruntled, bitter and offensive farmer’s notice
The old bridge across The River Fowey at Lostwithiel

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 3,232 miles

 

 

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184. Liddesdale to Kinlochteagus

I had planned to sleep in the back of the car  close to the Lochaline ferry jetty, but bright lights and the hum of a nearby generator serving the Cal Mac ferry berthed up for the night, meant I would get little sleep. So I drove around to the deserted road to Kinlochteagus and parked in small Forestry Commission car park at Aoineadh Mor, close to the site of a village emptied in 1824 during the Highland Clearances.

The following morning I set off on my bike to cycle the 2 miles to the A884 road, park my bike and catch the 8:15 school bus #507 to Liddesdale. I was walking the route in reverse because of the public transport timings. The bus dropped me off at the end of the road to Laudale. I followed the public road alongside Loch Sunart for 2 miles, where it became a private road on the Laudale Estate. It was a very dark, grey and gloomy morning with a very gusty wind. I felt it would begin raining at any moment, but true to the forecast, it never did.

When I reached Laudale House a polite notice asked walkers pass around the house via the shore route. I rejoined the main road track which snakes its way north-west along Loch Sunart. I could make out Strontian, Resipole and Salen across the loch and the area where I would be walking on my next trip. I pass a recently forested section and pass some diversion signs for Walkers walking the Coffin Track.  At Rubha aird Earnaich, Loch Sunart turns to the south-west and I continue to follow the Estate track for another 4 miles. The track is in good condition and appears to have vehicles driving up it. I am only offered some glimpses of the Loch as the foliage, which although turning brown is still extensive.

Heading down Loch Sunart
Heading down Loch Sunart
Entering Glen Laudale with Meall an Damhain in the distance
Laudale House
Typical view following the coastal track

I make good time as I enter the Glencripesdale Estate and come across a Landrover heading towards me. I chat to the Keeper, who says my intended route up to the Bealach Sloc an Eich (below Beinn Ghormaig) was in a bad way with a great deal of blown over trees. He said a couple of blokes who came over that way last year, said it was very difficult to find any path. He offered an easier, quicker(?) but longer route on one of the Estate roads which would go all the way to Kinlochteagus (where I was heading). I had a quick think and set off in the direction he suggested. He was going 3 miles up the same road to do some work and offered me a lift which I politely refused. I was slightly uncomfortable in that this route would be going off my map, but I persevered. Almost an hour later I met up with the chap again and he gave me the final pointer, which was quite straightforward. However, I did have second thoughts about this route, due to its up and down nature and the fact I had climbed far more in  height and walked some 3 extra miles than my original route. I was now heading for the Bealach to the right of the hill that was now dominating my view –  Beinn Iadain (571m). Beinn Iadain is a striking hill with its prominent rock bands of basalt and Upper Cretaceous sandstones, shales and mudstones.

Entering Glencripesdale
Looking down a very gloomy Loch Sunart at Glencripesdale
Looking back down Glencripesdale
Heading for the bealach to the right of Beinn Iadain
Below Beinn Iadain
At the bealach below Beinn Iadain

For Shills: I first thought this hill was the one Rounsfell wrote about in his recent report …… although the report was about Beinn na h-Uamha (some 110m lower than Beinn Iadain). Its quite amazing how similar in shape, aspect and geology these two hills which sit just two miles apart.

I emerge from the forest and climb a deer fence to pass from the Glencripesdale Estate over into The Rahoy Estate. Its all downhill now as I follow the Estate track down to the  isolated hamlet of Kinlochteagus, with its scattering of cottages. I still have almost 2 miles to walk back up the road  to the car park at Aoineadh Mor.

Heading down to Kinlochteagus

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23845

 

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 3,216 miles

 

 

183. Lochaline to Kinlochteagus

I had changed my mind a couple of times on how to tackle the next two remote walks along the northern coast of Morvern. I was originally going to do a single walk with an overnight wild camp roughly half-way. However, I did not fancy carrying a full weight rucksack over 40 miles – unless I really had to. So I decided to break the northern section into two walks.

I had also changed my normal procedure in driving to the Highlands. Instead of setting off after a few hours sleep and then driving up through the night. I decided to drive up in the late afternoon of the day before and sleep in the car. This allowed me a better nights sleep and had me more refreshed to start the walk the following day.

After an overnight stop at Dalrigh near Tyndrum, I headed to the Corran Ferry to catch the 6:30 across to Ardgour. First port of call was the end of the public road at Kinlochteagus, where I dropped off my bicycle. I then drove around to Lochaline and parked up at the ferry terminal. It was a lovely sunny morning with a stiff breeze. No need for public transport today as I would be walking to my bicycle. Before I set off I got some early morning carbs down me, as I had realised as I drove up that I had left all my cooking gear – cutlery, crockery and stove – at home! Doh! So I bought a nice haggis burger with bacon and a cup of coffee from the snack shop at the ferry terminal.

I set off down the Drimnin road at 8:15 and the road was quite quiet enough  to relax and not worry too much about traffic. I had great views across the Sound of Mull towards Mull, I was also walking with my back to the wind which made for quick progress. The Sound of Mull dominated my view and I could see a number of boats going up and down the Sound. After a couple of miles I could see a naval vessel travelling south towards me. I examined it through my small binoculars and could see that it was a Norwegian vessel – M352. I later found out this was an Alta-class Minesweeper called Rauma and was built-in 1996.

I came to Clach na Criche (The Wishing Stone), which appears to be a vertically inclined basalt dyke, with a large hole in it. Legend says that the stone would grant a wish to anybody that passes through the hole without touching the sides. I climbed through the hole ok, but would have to say the only way to pass through the hole without touching the sides would be to attempt a Fosbury Flop, although the landing may be rather painful with all the rocks thereabouts.

Looking north up The Sound of Mull from West Pier, Lochaline
Norwegian Minesweeper Rauma – M352 in the Sound of Mull
Clach na Criche
Clach na Criche
Looking north towards Ardnamurchan, with Tobermory left
Tobermory
Looking south down the Sound of Mull with Ben More in cloud

As I approached Drimnin I could see the picturesque village of Tobermory on Mull. I could also see the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, which I would be walking around in weeks to come. The path around Drimnin House had directed me up the hillside onto the old drovers road east to the former old inn at Diorlinn. The drovers road is a delight with high level walking at a steady height with views across to Sgurr na Seilg, Kilchoan, down Loch Sunart and Ben Hiant on Ardnamurchan. The track ran for about 5 miles above Loch Sunart before it dropped down through the cliffs at Sgeir Bhuidhe and across the Drambuie Bridge to Druimbuidhe (which was occupied). Approaching Diorlinn the path petered out and I knew I had to negotiate about 700 metres of very rough pathless ground. After beating my way over bog, bracken and waist-high vegetation I found the path I was looking for. I passed through a deer fence and continued along an ATV track. I had entered Loch Teacius and the path I was now on would take me through a series of forestry roads all the way to Kinlochteagus.

On the drovers road looking across to Ben Hiant and Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan
Looking east along Loch Sunart on the drovers road
At the Sgeir Bhuidhe above Loch Sunart
The route ahead at Diorlinn
Deer Fence with gate

 

 

Looking back up Loch Teacuis at Kinlochteagus

After something like 8.5 hrs walking I arrived at my bike. I now had to cycle 7.5 miles back to Lochaline which was tough going as the wind that was with me in the morning was now a headwind, and a strong one at that!

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23844

 

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,195 miles

 

Use of Ferries

I have had a serious re-think of my use of ferries to cross rivers and estauries on my walking route around the coast of Great Britain. When I was walking the South West Coast Path, the official path route advised on the use of ferries to cross over rivers and estauries. At the time I had no intention to walk around the whole of the coastline of Great Britain and thus made use of these ferries. Now that I have set myself the challenge of walking the entire coastline, I have had serious concerns about the ethos of using these ferries in my challenge. To this end I have decided that the sections of coastline in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Merseyside and Lancashire where I have taken ferries will become VOID. I will therefore walk around all rivers and estauries to their nearest bridging point to ensure I have walked a complete and full section of my walking record.

This will involve some additional 300+ additional miles which I will do as one-day walks over the next 12 month period.

The Ferries in question relate to :

Dorset: Sandbanks (Poole) to South Haven Point (25 miles approx)

Devon: Exmouth – Starcross (18 miles approx)

Devon: Teignmouth – Shaldon Beach (3 miles approx)

Devon: Kingswear to Dartmouth (25 miles approx)

Devon: East Portlemouth – Salcombe (13 miles approx)

Devon: Bantham – Bigbury-on-Sea (9 miles COMPLETED)

Devon: Wembury to Noss Mayo (8 miles approx)

Cornwall: Plymouth  – Cremyll (34 miles approx)

Cornwall: Fowey – Polruan (16 miles COMPLETED)

Cornwall: St. Anthony – St. Mawrs – Falmouth (55 miles approx)

Cornwall: Helford Passage – Helford Village (8 miles approx)

Cornwall: Padstow – Rock (16 miles approx)

Merseyside: Birkenhead – Liverpool (48 miles COMPLETED)

Lancashire: Fleetwood to Knott End (15 miles COMPLETED)

122.a Knott End to Fleetwood

My local football team was playing an away match at Chorley today, so I thought it would be an opportune time to do one of my outsanding to do ‘used’ Ferry links. The only left in north of Devon was the walk around the Wyre Estuary between Knott End and Fleetwood which I had previously bypassed.

I drove to and parked at the large free car park in Knott End. The River Wyre was at low tide and I could see the ferry-boat on the Fleetwood side, marooned on a muddy bank. There is a huge tidal range here, some 8 metres plus! I set off walking along the river bank and am soon diverted inland across the golf course. I soon realise that this is not the route of The Wyre Way, which I am following for most of the todays walk. I soon get myself back on the correct path. I arrive at Barnaby’s Sands, a salt marsh, and walk along the top of a levee, built to keep flood tides out of the surrounding land. I then enter Burrows marsh, another salt marsh, this time walking below the levee. I continue along Burrows Lane, through the small hamlet of Staynall and along Wardleys Lane into the village of Hambleton. I walk around Wardleys Creek, a small inlet of The Wyre. There is marina, of sorts here, most of the yachts have seen better days and are moored in what are described as “Mud Berths”. The low tide has left just a trickle of water in these creeks. The river course continues to make a series of turns and I can see the tide is still well out. I follow a path of sorts over the flood plain. I had decided to wear my walking shoes, knowing that I may get my feet wet along this section. Although I avoided many of the wet patches I arrived at The Shard Bridge, which crosses The Wyre, with wet feet.

Looking across The Wyre towards Fleetwood, the ferry can be seen grounded on the mud
Looking up The River Wyre from Knott End
Walking on the levee at Barnabys Sands
“Mud Berth” at Wardleys Pool
Approaching the Shard Bridge
Looking downstream from The Shard Bridge over The Wyre

I crossed over the bridge and almost immediately began following another wet trail on the opposite side of the river. I arrived at Skipool Marsh and headed inland slightly to join a busy roundabout and soon turned to walk along a tidal road around Skipool Marsh. I passed a series of raised wooden jetty’s, most in a dilapidated state, setting out from the road and path. For about a mile I passed many moored boats in a varied state of repair. The walking underfoot was good, with a firm hardcore path to walk along. I emerged onto an even wider path that came from the Wyre Country Park, which I soon passed through. I passed many walkers, mainly with dogs. I walk alongside the site of the old ICI Chemical works at Hillhouse, mostly used for the making of Chlorine. The works closed in 1992 and had its own power station (now demolished). Most of the works seem to have been taken over by an assortment of other businesses. A large palisade fence keeps the old site and shoreline path separate. To avoid lagoons, marsh, sewage works and docks I head inland onto a busy road. I pass at least 3 holiday parks on the way. At the roundabout I walk along a busy road until I come to Copse Road, which takes me through the suburbs of Fleetwood. I pass many commercial and industrial units along the way, including the  Fisherman’s Friends (menthol and eucalyptus lozenge) factory, which are still made in Fleetwood. I walk along the high street and decide it would be nice to have some fish and chips. I don’t think much fish is landed at Fleetwood these days. I arrive at the ferry landing stage. The River has undergone a transformation, with very choppy conditions on a now full Wyre estuary. I pay £2 to cross over on the ferry to my car parked at Knott End.

Moorings at Skipool Marsh
The old ICI Buildings
Heading along Copse Road into Fleetwood
Looking back at the ferry and Fleetwood from Knott End

Distance today = 15 miles
Total distance = 3,172 miles

 

 

182. Kingairloch to Lochaline

The main reason for coming slightly inland and not follow any coastal route was to visit the Graham – Beinn Mheadhoin (739m). The hill has commanding views and with the weather looking good, hopefully I would not be disappointed.

I spent the night in my car at the remote car park at Loch Uisge. It was very peaceful and a slight breeze kept the midge away. With nobody within miles of the place I was treated to a wonderful clear night with a sky full of stars.

The plan for the day was to drive about 14 miles around to Lochaline, dropping my bike off at the B8043 road end on the way. I parked my car near the jetty at Lochaline and got myself a coffee from the snack shop near the ferry terminal. I then called Kingairloch Estate, to enquire about the stalking. Yes, you guessed it, they were stalking exactly where I wanted to go on Sgurr Shalacain. I told them where I intended to go and asked for an alternative route, but was advised “to go elsewhere”. Sorry that’s not good enough and not within the spirit of the access code. I then decided to make a reasonable adjustment to my intended route.

I caught the Shiel bus service #907 towards Fort William and got off at the road end to Kingairloch. Here I jumped on my bike that I had stashed away earlier in the morning and cycled back down to Loch Uisge. I had decided not to use the stalkers path which would have got me a good way up onto the Shalachain ridge from the car park. Instead I decided to walk down the road, pushing my bike, that I had just cycled along. After about 2 miles I dumped the bike and began to make my way uphill. I intended to take a long sweeping circular route around Meall a’choire Bheithich to the west, gaining height slowly and eventually headings towards Beinn Mheadhoin. I was 2 miles away, downwind and out of sight for the majority of the walk, so hopefully I would not disturb anyone.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and it was extremely hard work gaining the height through the long grass, bog and uneven terrain. Most the surrounding hills were cloud-free, but Beinn Mheadhoin which although was not in sight yet, had some dark clouds above it. It took about 2.5 hours to reach the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin and I encountered just a single stag who headed off in the direction of Sgurr Shalachain.

Gaining height from the road
Contouring around Meall a’choire Bheithich
The Rum peaks in the far distance
Approaching the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin

Although the summit was cloud-free, low cloud prevented extensive views. I was able to make out the peaks of Rum, Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Beinn Resipole and great views down Loch Linnhe. I could hear sounds of plant coming from the Glensanda quarry, but could not see anything. I could also hear the bellowing of the stags on the nearby hill of Meall na h-lolaine, obviously The Rut had already begun.

From the summit I headed south down alongside the Eas na Fidhle ravine. Although grassy, the underfoot conditions were poor, especially in the longer grass. I descended to the Allt Buidhe Mor and then over the shoulder of the gently sloping hill of Caol Bheinn. I was heading for a footpath that came up from the Glensanda quarry and would continue west alongside the isolated Caol Lochan. I now had a better view of the Glensanda Quarry with workers in bright orange overalls dotted on the mountainside and heavy plant operating. I was now on a footpath marked on the map heading west, unfortunately the ‘footpath’ was no more than a muddy deer track. I found no foot prints at all along its length. The path continued and passed Loch Tearnait. As I neared the Bothy at Leacraithnaich the path disappeared entirely. I popped into the bothy and I am pleased to report it was in excellent condition. I read in the Bothy visitors book that it had been occupied just three times in September. I also joined with a couple and their three dogs who were returning from a visit to the Loch and also heading towards Ardtornish, where they were parked. Coincidentally, it turned out that they were also staying in one of the Kingairloch Estate cottages, just opposite the couple I had met yesterday evening.

Looking SW down Loch Linnhe, with low cloud obscuring the view
Looking NE towards Ballachulish
Looking towards Loch Tearnait, in the far distance is the Sound of Mull
The route ahead alongside the Eas na Fidhle ravine
Looking back up towards Beinn Mheadhoin
Looking across to the Glensandra Quarry
Gate to Nowehere – looking across Loch Linnhe to Lismore
Looking west along Caol Lochan
Looking back at my route – Beinn Mheadhoin is left
Leacraithnaich bothy
Inside Leacraithnaich bothy

The next 3 miles went very quickly as I chatted away barely noticing the recently created loch of Lochan Lub an Arbhair for a Hydro scheme. At Ardtornish I bid goodbye to the couple and their dogs and continued through the Estate and onto the public road. I headed down the old shore road alongside Loch Aline, passing the Silica Mine close to the harbour. The mine has a rich, almost pure white sandstone layer, which is mined and conveyed onto a moored bulk tanker, one of which was moored at the jetty. I finished the walk at 5:30 and realised I had not eaten since breakfast. I needed carbs!

Hydro Scheme above Ardtornish
Silica mine near Lochaline

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23835

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,157 miles

 

 

181. Ardgour to Kingairloch

A small meteorological High had formed off North West Scotland which presented me with at least two days of good weather; so off I went to Ardgour.

Public transport is quite infrequent in this part of Ardgour, so I took along my bike, just in case. I drove to and parked at a small isolated car park at Loch Uisge. As part of a recent hydro scheme the original Loch was dammed to allow a larger Loch to form.

My plan was to cycle the two miles up the B8043  to where it meets the A884. There I would dump the bike out of sight and catch the #507 bus to Strontian, then the #506 to Ardgour. I waited some 20 minutes  after the bus was due, until it slowly dawned on me that it was not coming. I quickly revised my plan. I retrieved my bike and headed towards the Carnoch Bridge, which the #506 bus would pass in 40 minutes time. But I needed to cover the 8 miles in that time in order to catch the bus to Ardgour. Unfortunately, there was a long long pull up the road to the bealach, which meant getting off and pushing for most of the way. By the time I was descending at speed down to Loch Sunart, I knew it was touch and go if I could make the bus. I could see the Carnoch Bridge in the distance and I kept glancing across the loch, looking for signs of the bus. With about 400m to go, the bus appeared, I had missed it by 2 minutes! Bugger! I then locked the bike up at the bridge and tried thumbing a lift. No joy, there was there was very little traffic. So I unlocked the bike and cycled the remaining 12 miles to the Ardgour Inn. I had cycled 22 miles that morning and I still had a 19 miles walk ahead of me! It also meant that I would have to push the bike back along my walking route; either that, or be faced with a 40 miles round trip to retrieve the bike.

It was all road back to my car at Loch Uisge above Kingairloch. For the first 6 miles it was walking back down the A861 alongside Loch Linnhe. I decided to divert down the old ferry road which passes through the nearby village of Clovullin. I popped into the local to buy some food and enquired why the bus from Lochaline had not run that morning. She said that it was half-term  for two days – so no bus. Schoolboy error on my part I think!

The walk down the A861 was quite quiet, punctuated every 30 minutes by a small flurry of traffic as the Corran Ferry disgorged its occupants. At Inversanda I noticed a large bird fly gracefully overhead. At a distance I had always thought this type of bird would be a Buzzard. However, this bird was definitely a Golden Eagle and I was very happy as this was my first confirmed sighting of one. Soon after, I turned off the A861 down the even quieter B8043 which hugs the shoreline of Loch Linnhe for most of the way. I catch a final glimpse of the mountain Garbh Bheinn, a superb hill, west up Glen Tarbert.

Looking across Loch Linnhe to the ferry slipway at the Nether Lochaber side
The Memorial Hall in the village of Clovullin
Looking up Glen Tarbert towards Garbh Bheinn
The start of the B8043

The walk along the B8043 was very easy and I managed to fix my rucksack to the bike and push it along. I had beautiful views across and down Loch Linnhe. All of the high hills were cloud-free and I had a gentle breeze to keep me cool. I turned into the small loch inlet of Loch a’Choire and had an excellent view up Glenmadale to the twin Corbett peaks of Creach Bheinn and Fuar Bheinn, which I climbed back in 2008.

I arrived back at the car and started cooking my meal. Although I had brought my tent, I knew it would be more comfortable sleeping in the back of my estate car. The occupants of the car parked next to mine in the car park returned from the hill. We spoke at length and I learned they were staying in one of the Estate Cottages. As it was the stalking season I decided to call an Estate number to enquire about stalking activity the following day. I was advised to call back the following day.

Heading down the B8043
Looking back across Loch Linnhe to Beinn a’Bheithir (left) and Fraochaidh (right)
Looking up Glen Galmadale towards Creach Bheinn
Looking back down to Kingairloch
My room for the night below Sgurr Shalachain at Loch Uisge

NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=23833

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 3,139 miles