Today should be slightly easier than yesterday with no serious off-road sections planned. I should be walking predominantly on footpaths, cycle tracks, quiet roads and a bit of A85 verge hopping. It was a beautiful start to the day, with a full sunny day forecast. I hurried my breakfast down as the midge were out in force
I drove to and parked at Creagan Bridge and caught the 8:16 #405 bus to Oban. The bus was full of tourists and people going to work. When I arrived in Oban the place was very busy, even at this time of the morning. I could see a large cruise ship, The Aegean Odyssey, had anchored just off-shore and its three tender vessels were busy ferrying its passengers into Oban. I spend some time admiring printed copies of famous classical paintings hung on the exterior of the Oban chocolate company building. The paintings had been cleverly doctored to include a chocolate theme.
I followed the coast road past the cathedral and lighthouse and onto Dunollie Castle. The road dropped down to a newly built estate of private housing at Ganavan Sands, at which there is a large car park and small sandy beach. I turn inland slightly up a newly constructed cycleway, part of the Caledonia Way or NCN78. A small rise in the path had a bizarre sign “CAUTION STEEP HILL”, how would one exercise caution going up a steep hill? The slope wasn’t even steep. The cycleway travelled across open moor down to the main A85 at Dunbeg. The road was very busy and I was grateful for the occasional protection of a footpath, however, that disappeared so I was forced to stay on the verge almost all the way to Connel.
I have passed through Connel many times before and had only ever seen The Falls of Lora from a passing car, so I was looking forward to getting a closer look at this natural phenomena. This amazing sight is caused by a flowing/ebbing tide forcing its way up and down Loch Etive. Although the effect can be seen with a flowing tide, the best effects are when the tide ebbs, creating a height difference between the height of the water in the Loch and the sea. A volcanic extrusion, a sill, acts as an underwater barrage, obstructing the free flow of water. From the bridge I get a great view up and down the loch.
At the far side of the bridge I turn left and pass through a small estate of housing and pass onto a track that skirts around Oban Airport. The airport has some commercial flights, but is generally quiet. This is the closest I’ve been to the beach on this trip and I enjoy a mile of beach walking as far as the North Ledaig Holiday Park. I rejoin the cycleway up to Benderloch where I turn off down a minor road which takes me through Barravullin. I pass the impressive tower house of Barcaldine Castle, originally built in the early 17th century, it has now been converted into a B&B hotel.
As I emerge back on the main road, the A828, my left foot begins to ache again. I swap into the spare pair of trainers I had been carrying and it improves things for the first couple of miles at least. On my left is Loch Creran and I am walking on the well constructed Caledonian Cycleway, part of which follows the route of the old Ballachulish branch line. I have wonderful views west and north and I can easily make out the giant pinks scars of the Glensanda quarries on Morvern. The heat is now beginning to take its toll, but thankfully I soon reach the bridge and my car.
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:
Distance today = 18.5 miles
Total distance = 2990 miles