Unfortunately, I knew as I went to bed the night before in the Bunkhouse, that I was not going to complete my objective in doing a circular walk out to the western shore of Knoydart and back to Inverie. I decided therefore to walk out to Airor and see how far I got after 2.5 hours of walking. I had been told by the locals that the river crossing at Inverguseran would probably not be on because of the amount of rain we had had.
In my planning I had looked at walking the northern shore of Knoydart. The only account of anyone doing so was from a young “Coaster” called Nat Severs who completed his walk around the UK coast back in 2010. Nat sustained a few injuries and falls while negotiating this section and I doubted my ability to complete such a section on much older legs. Surprisingly, on advice, Nat caught the ferry into Knoydart from Mallaig! I did think I could easily get as far as Croulin, but the river crossing put paid to that idea.
I set off from the bunkhouse at 6:20 in the morning along the tarmac road to Airor, a small hamlet on the western shore of Knoydart. I had decided not to simply try to get on the first ferry, but to go for the 11:00 one. The uncertainty on the ferry situation was still at the back of my mind. I pushed on at a fast pace, conscious that I would have to turn around at some point in time. I passed a section of the road where had been a large landslide, with work currently underway to stabilise the slope and nearby crags from rockfall. I noticed over my shoulder the 8:00 ferry returning to Mallaig, which spurred me on. I was much closer to Mallaig now and I could easily make out the buildings in the town. I had great views across and up the Sound of Sleat. However, as I dropped down into Airor I knew I needed to turn around.
I retraced my steps, back towards Inverie. About two miles from Inverie, a lovely lady called Sheila, (who owned the Post office), stopped and offered me a lift which I accepted. I held her little Jack Russell in lap as we drove back the short distance back to Inverie. Sheila was herself travelling to Mallaig for provisions and could not understand why the ferries would be cancelled. I popped into the Tea rooms and ordered a large mug of coffee and bacon/egg scone. I met the lady who first imported the information about the uncertainty re:the ferries, she was rather coy, but in all fairness she and others were just imparting what was written on the Western Isles website. I got on the 11:00 ferry.
Looking back it would have been nice to have completed a bit more of the west coast, but over the years I have done a fair amount of walking in Knoydart and doubt I go back again, there are many more challenges that still lie ahead.
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 = 9 miles
Total distance = 3,708 miles