I had been looking forward to this walk, especially the section around the northern part of the peninsular. But first I needed to do some road walking, which meant dropping down to Glenelg. Glenelg is a nice quiet little village, with its own Inn. The village has also a twin……… on Mars! NASA named the area close to the Mars Science Laboratory (where the Curiosity rover) was based.
I had left my car in Glenelg and also dumped my bike 7 or 8 miles away on the top of the Mam Ratagan; well it would be a free and enjoyable ride back down! I headed across to the outflow of the Glenmore River, passing the ruined Bernera Barracks which were built-in the early 18th century and deserted in 1797. I then came to the public road towards the Skye ferry at Kyle Rhea. At this point the Sound of Sleat narrows considerably and on this quiet morning I could have easy shouted to someone on the Skye shore and received a reply back. The public road ended at the ferry and a good footpath continued on. New footpath signs indicated that Totaig was some 10.6km away. The path was well constructed and very enjoyable to walk on. After a mile the path which runs alongside Kyle Rhea emerged into Loch Alsh and also dropped down to the shoreline.
I continued along the shoreline path to Ardtintoul. Ardtintoul once housed buildings used as a Royal Navy fuel store during the Second World War, now deserted and used by the local salmon fishing farm. This was also the place where the good footpath ended and poor signage began. My first obstacle was the Allt na Dalach burn, at the shoreline it would be above my knees deep, which meant going further upstream and fording it there. I did that quite easily, then I had to climb over a deer fence on steep bank. The fence was in bad shape and could not have taken my weight, plus it had a barbed wire top! Fortunately I came across a hole in the fence that deer had been using to pass through. I emerged on an ATV track which was going in the wrong direction, I was also faced with a large section of woodland which had been de-afforested about 10 years ago. I struggled across the cut down forest to where I thought the footpath might be.
I entered Ardtintoul Wood, but could not pick up the old footpath. The good thing about mature plantations is that there is good spacing between the trees and the lower branches snap off easily. I used the land contours to continue in the direction I needed to go and after about 20 minutes picked up a track that had been marked out with red and white plastic tape. The path was very wet and boggy. Eventually I emerged onto open moorland and could look down Loch Alsh to the Skye Bridge and Kyle of Lochalsh. I descended slowly to Totaig, passing the ruined Broch of Casteal Grugaig.
Totaig was really just a small two roomed cottage, which appeared to be no longer habited. This was the north-eastern bit of the Glenelg peninsular where Loch Alsh passed into Loch Duich and just a short distance from Eilean Donan castle on the opposite shore. Totaig was also at the end of the public road, which I then had 5 or 6 miles of walking down to Shiel Bridge. To get back to Glenelg I then needed to climb up the twisty road to the top of the Mam Ratagan. Needless to say I was quite tired when I eventually reached the top. The bike ride back down to Glenelg was worth it though!
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 = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,763 miles