188. Laga to Achosnich

After a reasonable nights sleep in the back of the car, I awoke early as I had to drive around to Kilchoan to park the car. I parked in the small car park opposite the church and rustled up a warm drink and porridge from my small stove. It was still dark as I waited for the 7:50 Shiel Buses #506 bound for Fort William, the same bus as I caught yesterday.

A number of  children heading for Acharacle Primary School were picked up along the route together with a number of adults heading for Fort William. I had to pay close attention to where I wanted dropped off, as the road looks very similar. I got off at the old Forestry Commission car park at Camas nan Gall. The road was quiet this morning and I walked a lot quicker not having to push the bike. It was a lovely sunny morning, crisp, still with a few high clouds. One of my goals for today was to deviate my route to include the sub-2000ft Marilyn  – Ben Hiant. Although only 528m, it commands a brilliant 360 degree perspective. I had read a number of trip reports of Ben Hiant and I was keen to climb it on fine and clear day. I was also hoping to that I may get a better view of the volcanic ring complex to the west.

I continued along the B8007 past the hamlets of Laga and Glenborrodale. I managed to get a glimpse of the red sandstone castle of Glenborrodale Castle, currently on the market for offers of over £3.75m, boasting 16 bedrooms and 132 acres, as well as the Isle of Risga. I found an interesting sign on a number of gates , displaying a slightly threatening message – “Glenborrodale Castle PRIVATE trespassers do so at their own risk”. At risk of what, being shot? Catching the plague?

Looking west along a tranquil Loch Sunart
Interesting sign at Glenborrodale
Ardnamurchan – Adelphi distillery

I continue on past the Ardnamurchan – Adephi distillery built-in 2013 and producing it own single malt. The road climbs steeply up towards Ardslignish, where I am confronted with a glorious view across Camas nan Geall towards Ben Hiant, which shows an interesting array of slopes, cliffs and greenery. I continue along the road which hugs the very steep hillside. As I the road tracks north along the slopes of Ben Hiant I headed up the steep er slopes making for the first step of rock bands. The underfoot walking was easy, with most of the bracken died back and the grass short with not too much moisture. I gained height easily and within 30 minutes I had gained the main ridge. I joined up with the path coming up from the road and climb onto the small summit area of Ben Hiant. I am treated to a brilliant view which took in Rum, Eigg, Muck, Skye to the north ; Mull and Morvern to the south; down Loch Sunart to the east and to the North West the faint outline of Barra and South Uist in the outer Hebrides – a truly great viewpoint.

The view towards Ben Hiant
The view back towards Loch Sunart
Approaching the summit of Ben Hiant
Looking north towards Eigg and Rum, with Skye in the far distance
East over Loch Sunart
West towards Kilchoan
Looking back at the descent route off Ben Hiant

To the west I could see the road heading towards the village of Kilchoan, spread out along the northern shore of Loch Sunart. I descended steep slopes from Ben Hiant heading towards the footpath passing behind the north flank of Beinn h-Urchrach. The going was easy as I headed to the B8007 road. Climbing over a deer fence gate I entered a deer enclosure, obviously a farming technique practices by a number of Estates in this part of Ardnamurchan. I arrived at the road and continued into Kilchoan. By the time I reached my car outside of the church, a funeral service had just taken place and there were scores of mourners and cars parked around the Church.

At this point and to advance my walking mileage and curtail the distance to get around future walks along the northern shore of Ardmnamurchan, I continued walking for another 3 miles towards the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point. I climbed up the minor road out of Kilchoan and arrived at the cemetery just as the hearse was arriving. Scores of mourners had driven up the steep road to pay their final respects to the deceased. I quickly passed by them feeling out-of-place.  I continued on for another mile to my bicycle which I had stowed away the day before hoping for a quick descent back downhill back to Kilchoan. In 15 minutes I was back at the car and soon heading south back home. Hopefully, I may still reach Mallaig by Christmas.

Heading into Kilchoan
Lochan na Crannaig – close to where I finished my walk

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=23888

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,307 miles

 

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187. Liddesdale to Laga

I finally found a couple of days that would give me some reasonably dry and bright weather to continue my trek around Ardgour. Unfortunately, the forecast of dry and bright weather did not ring true, well at least for the first day anyway! I left Shropshire in the afternoon, the day before my first walk. This enabled me to get as far as Glencoe, before pulling over and sleeping in the car.

I caught the 6:30 Corran ferry and drove to Carnoch Bridge where I dropped my bike off. I then drove on until the old Forestry Commission car park at Camas Nan Gall near Laga, on the B8007 Salen to Kilchoan road. I then caught the Shiel Buses #506 bus back to Carnoch Bridge. This bus service runs once a day starting out from Kilchoan at 7:50 in the morning and arriving Fort William some 2.5 hrs later via the Corran Ferry.

Today was all about road walking, lots of it! I got off the bus at Carnoch Bridge and collected bike, which I pushed for 3.5 miles towards Liddesdale – where I finished my last walk. I was then able to cycle back to Carnoch Bridge. I could have then left my bike there, but this meant driving back and a round trip of some 35 miles. I therefore decided I would push the bike back to the car. As with previous trips, locals stopped and enquired if I needed a lift, presuming I had a puncture! As I crossed over the Carnoch Bridge I passed out of the district of Morvern into Sunart.

The first of the non-forecasted rain showers hit me as I approached Strontian and this pattern of drizzly rain showers continued on and off all day. I walked out of Strontian on the A816 towards Salen. Although the visibility was not brilliant I could make out my previous walks along the southern shore of Loch Sunart. The road walking, intermittent showers and traffic made the walk increasingly tedious. After passing through Resipole, where I had once set out from for Ben Resipole 8 years ago, I picked up my pace. I was glad to get to Salen, as I knew I only had 4 miles to the end of the walk. Leaving Salen along the B8007 meant I was also leaving Sunart behind and passing into Ardnamurchan, an area I had never before visited.

Heading towards Carnoch Bridge with Garbh Bheinn in cloud
Carnoch Bridge
Entering Strontian
Looking down Loch Sunart from Strontian
Looking down Loch Sunart, the hill in cloud is Ben Laga
Salen
Who needs a Guy when you’ve got Formula 1?
Bagh an t-Sailein

By the time I had reached the car park the showers had all but abated. I decided to drive onto Kilchoan and look for a place to park up for the night. Lots of “No Overnight Parking” signs had me heading off back down the B8007, where I managed to find a sheltered flat spot just off the road on the slopes of Ben Hiant; a hill which I planned to climb the following day. After 10pm, little if any traffic passed along the road and I was treated to a quiet night.

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=23887

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,289 miles

 

 

186. Waren Mill to Craster

It rained incessantly all night, I thought the forecast may have got it wrong and I would be in for a wet day. However,  I need not have worried, as although the roads were flooded in parts, the rain had moved on. I parked  in the car park at Craster and caught the X18 bus back to Waren Mill.

I started walking from Waren Mill down the B1342 towards Bamburgh. About a mile down the road I headed down a green lane past Heather Cottages, through the dunes and onto the shore of Budle Bay. I headed along the beach and around Budle Point. The tide was still out as I passed the lighthouse at Blackrocks Point. The views became dominated by Bamburgh Castle, an iconic and amazing sight. I had previously walked around Bamburgh Castle when I was in the area some years ago. On this occasion headed for the grave of Grace Darling in St. Aidans churchyard. The impressive memorial to Grace had been replaced a number of times over the years, although contrary to popular belief she is not buried in the memorial tomb, but in a simple grave with the rest of her family nearby. I continue down the B1342 road. The Northumberland Coast Path (NCP) diverts inland, I suspect because there is no footpath, although it would be possible, at low tide, to walk along the beach. I soon arrive at Seahouses, still an active fishing port and walk around the harbour wall. I cut across a golf course and head down onto the beach which takes me all the way to the next village along the coast at Beadnell. As I enter the village I saw a large group of people around the village green. They appeared to be picking mushrooms, but on closer inspection they are actually planting bulbs, thousands of them.

The grave of Grace Darling
The memorial to Grace Darling
A rather murky Bamburgh Castle
Looking back at Bamburgh
Sculpture entitled “Rescue” at Seahouses
Heading along the beach to Beadnell

The sun has decided to show its self for a brief while as I again head down to the beach and begin the long sweeping walk around Beadnell Bay. One of the drawbacks of walking along the shore is sometimes you meet a small river or large stream that passes over the sand to the sea. These streams or rivers are generally not very deep, but crossing them could mean getting your feet wet. So the first large stream I came across I simply walked through. I did not mind the wet feet and it saved me walking an extra kilometre to the nearest bridge. After some two miles on the beach I followed the NCP along the shoreline heading for the small hamlet of Low Newton-by-the-Sea. It was quite busy and I could see a number of people strolling along the beach. In the far distance I could make out the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, where some people where making their way to and from. Although a ruin, Dunstanburgh Castle holds a similar prominent position on a volcanic outcrop as Bamburgh. The 13th century castle covers a huge area and had been unoccupied for hundreds of years. Today the castle is owned by the National Trust and administered by English Heritage. I later learned that as a member of the National Trust I could have gained entrance, but this was not explained on the charges board outside of the castle. As I leave Dunstanburgh I join a steady stream of people coming and going back to my destination, Craster. The walking was along grassy fields, cut back by grazing sheep. I enter Craster and head to the Robson smokery where I buy some lovely smoked haddock to take home.

Heading south along Beadnell Bay
Looking back at Beadnell
Heading along Embleton Bay towards Dunstanburgh
Dunstanburgh Castle
Approaching Craster

Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 3,269 miles

 

 

 

185. Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Waren Mill

I had been waiting for almost 4 weeks for a 3 day weather-window in Scotland in order to continue my walk around the Ardgour peninsular. However, no such weather window was forthcoming, so instead, I decided to open a ‘Second Front’, beginning the long walk south down the east coast of England. These walks, beginning at Berwick-upon-Tweed, would be predominantly undertaken in Winter as an alternative to my primary focus on getting around the Scottish coast. I had decided to start my walk at Berwick because I wanted to try to keep my Scottish walks sequential and in one piece. I also decided to make this trip a two-day outing and would be staying at the Budle Bay campsite. This caravan and camping site is run by Jayne and Matt. Matt is a top bloke, very welcoming and helpful.

I set off very early from Shropshire, aiming to avoid the notorious rush-hour traffic around Gateshead and Newcastle. Unfortunately things did not turn out as planned, as on the drive up I was getting ominous warning signs that the M62 was closed for repairs. I managed to circle around Manchester, only to be foiled by further closures at the M60 junction. I had no option but to head off up the M66 towards Burnley and then on to Skipton and Harrogate. By this time I was already mingling with the early morning commuters. By the time I reached The Angel of The North, I was stuck in very slow-moving traffic on the A1. Almost an hour later and I had just cleared the traffic, but only just made the 9:07 bus from Waren Mill to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

As I got off the X18 bus in Berwick, I could see that it was to be an overcast, but dry, warm and still day. I immediately sought out a Greggs to buy coffee and a bacon/sausage bap. I crossed over the old bridge, one of four that cross the River Tweed close to the town. I continued along the south bank of the Tweed all the way till it spilt out into the North Sea. I was now walking along the Northumberland Coastal path and also the Lowry Trail, named after the painter L S Lowry,  a regular visitor to Berwick.

This was the first bit of ‘real’ coastal walking I had done for a while and I was really happy to have some excellent views from the cliff-top grass track. At Cocklawburn Beach I descended to the beach, and  continued walking on the sand which was firm and enabled good progress. I stayed on the beach for the next 4 miles, only coming back onto land when I reached the tidal road which ran out to Lindisfarne. Because Lindisfarne is a tidal island I had no plans to walk out to it, although I had been out to the island some 10 years before.  I now joined joined the St Oswald and St Cuthberts Way’s, which also ran along the Northumberland Coasta Path. I could see a steady stream of traffic coming and going out along the tidal road to the island.

Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Crossing the Tweed along The Old Bridge
Looking back at Berwick
One of a number of Lowry Trail signs
On the Northumberland Coast Path looking back at Berwick
Descending to the beach at Cocklawburn

The next two miles was spent walking across agricultural land on a footpath that had seen little foot-fall over the years. The footpath emerged onto the very busy A1, but which fortunately  offered a wide protective verge. After about a mile of walking along the main road I headed off down a minor road with worrying signs telling me that the road was closed ahead! I persevered on through the hamlets of Elwick and Easington. I finally came to the problem, which was a bridge that was being rebuilt after collapsing. I asked the guys on the bridge if it was ok to cross. The fact that I was already half-way across meant that I was crossing anyway! I continued along the minor road all the way into Budle Bay and the small hamlet of Waren Mill.

Matt, at the campsite, had recommended the fish and chip shop in the nearby village of Belford. He was not wrong, one of the best fish and chips I have had for some time and at £3.60 great value for money!

Approaching across the salt marsh, the tidal road out towards Lindisfarne
On the very busy A1

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,252 miles

 

 

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