197. Lochailort to Acharacle

I struggled to get these two walking days in before the end of January due to bad weather in actually driving to the area; throw into the mix my 65th birthday which left me doing the walks with a couple of days left in January. So walking-wise I really had to take what the weather had to offer, although with both days predominantly road walking I was not too concerned if it rained a bit!

I drove up to Scotland on sunday afternoon with the weather getting progressively worse the further north I got. I needed to catch the Corran ferry to enable me to catch a 7:10 bus from Acharacle the following morning. I spent a very stormy night in the back of my car parked at the old road loop below the Corbett Garbh Bheinn. By the morning the storm had abated and moved off towards the east.

I was governed in which direction I could walk with the timings of the local bus service. Most of the buses on Ardgour operate a single bus service Mon- Sat to Fort William; where the drivers work at the garage until 15:00 before returning whence they came – basically  taking the kids to school and bringing them home again.

It was still dark when I got off the bus at Lochailort. I donned my hi-vis vest with matching red/white strobe lights as I set off down the road back to Acharacle. The A861 was very quiet with the odd infrequent car passing me. The road hugged the shore line of Loch Ailort for most of the first four miles. I could easy make out the tops of the Corbetts An Stac  and Rois-Bheinn which I had climbed from this road back in June 2008. As Loch Ailort opened out I had excellent views across to the Isle of Eigg and Rum, with the peak An Sgurr on Eigg prominent.

Early morning on the A861 looking back up Loch Ailort
The Corbett An Stac from the A861 near Roshven

When I reached the small settlement of Glenuig the road headed south up and over a  bealach before descending down to Loch Moidart. Moidart was in fact the area I was walking through today and would be my final district on the Ardgour peninsular. This area is a complex area of small islands and peninsulas which make it very difficult, on the ground, to tell what is mainland and what isn’t. I was now heading east along the shore of Loch Moidart; the route ahead was marked by the snow-capped summit of Beinn Resipole. I passed the rather inconspicuous cairn dedicated to the Seven Men of Moidart – supporters of Bonnie Prince Charlie. In fact the Prince stayed at the nearby Kinlochmoidart House (the old one which was burnt down in 1746) while awaiting support before raising his standard at Glenfinnan.

Glenuig Community Shop
Looking north to Loch Ailort at Glenuig

After crossing the Bailey bridge across the River Moidart I reached Ardmorlich. The next section of my walk would be along the southern shore of Loch Moidart, along what is called the Silver Walk.. The Silver Walk is so-called after a hoard of silver coins were found during the paths construction in the late 19th century. Most of the maps do not have the path continuing from Ardmorlich, but I had read of a path that kept close to the shore all the way along the southern shore. Signage was very poor, in fact there are just two signs, one at the start and the other at the end. However, the whole walk is actually a delight, which although wet and muddy at the start keeps you very busy as it twists and turns. Certainly the best part of the walk is at its western side, where you find it very difficult to believe that a footpath could exist along the very steep slopes. Eventually, after passing around Sgiorbaid Dubh, you enter the estuary into which the River Shiel enters Loch Moidart.

Looking east down Loch Moidart with Beinn Resipole in the distance
Seven men of Moidart cairn
Looking west down Loch Moidart across the Bailey Bridge from the old packhorse bridge over the River Moidart
Looking west down Loch Moidart from the Silver Walk
Looking east back up Loch Moidart
Passing through a ravine on the Silver Walk
On the Silver Walk
On the Silver Walk
On the Silver Walk

From this point I got my first sight of the ruins of Caistel Tioram situated on its own tiny tidal island. The tide was out so I was able to walk across the small sandy bar out to the ruins. At first glance the castle looks quite small, however,  when I entered the castle through a small grill, which I suspect is normally locked, the castle showed itself to contain a good number of features.

I joined up with the public road and continued south. The road took me along the banks of the swollen River Shiel has it made its way out of Loch Shiel into the sea. I crossed over the River Shiel just as the road entered Acharacle where my car was parked.

Eilean and Casteal Tioram
Casteal Tioram
Inside Casteal Tioram
Along the banks of the swollen River Shiel

I had booked myself into the Fisherman’s Mission Bunkhouse in Mallaig, quite basic but warm , cheap and friendly at £25 per 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=23997

Distance today = 22 miles
Total distance = 3,500 miles

 

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