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

 

 

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