258. Beinn nam Ban Bealach to Ullapool

I had committed a schoolboy error in preparing for the longest walk of my 3 day trip to Ullapool…. by not checking for bus services along the southern shore of Loch Broom. I only discovered there was a bus service when one passed me! It took a while to calm down at my own stupidity. Anyway, there was no getting away from the fact that I would have to do an out and back, involving an additional 3 miles and some stiff climbing, to get to the start of the walk.

I split todays walk into three sections – firstly, an out and back from Loggie up to the Bealach below Beinn nam Ban, Secondly, the minor road along the southern shore of Loch Broom and thirdly, the A835 along the northern shore of Loch Broom.

I drove to and parked in the walkers car park at Inverlael alongside the A835. I then cycled down the A835 a short distance before turning off along a road running along the southern shore of Loch Broom to the end of the public road at Loggie. Although a footpath is marked on the OS map, on the ground there was little evidence of it. I then had two miles of switching between a rocky and very slippy shoreline and climbing around small rock bluffs and vegetation. I emerged eventually at a small salmon farm which had a bulldozer track snaking up the steep hillside to the public road at the bealach below Beinn nam Ban. I was happy to turn around and descend back to the shoreline of Loch Broom. At this point Ullapool is only a very short distance across the loch and looks enticingly close.

I arrived back at the bike and started pushing it back along the minor through a series of small hamlets – Rhiroy, Ardindrean, Letters and Clachan. It was along this road I came across the 813A bus service from Ullapool….Grrrr! Still, the road walk was quite pleasant, with the sun now out of cloud. I made good time back to the car park at Inverlael. I was not looking forward to the next section which involved walking along the  busy A835. However, I had to first drive to Ullapool to chain my bike to a railing near the Harbour, I did not fancy pushing my bike along the busy road. I then drove back to the car park at Inverlael.

Passing Loch na h-Airbhe at the bealach below Beinn nam Ban
Looking down on Ullapool across Loch Broom
Old wreck on Loch Broom
Looking across Loch Broom up Gleann na Sguaib with Eididh nan Clach Geala(l), Meall nan Ceapraichean(c) and Beinn Dearg (r)
Direction overload at Clachan church
Looking down Loch Broom
Crossing the River Broom

I set off down the A835 with the sun disappearing behind an increasingly cloudy sky. The road section back to Ullapool was basically a series of long straights with some occasional bends. It was a high-speed road and I therefore had to be careful. Thankfully, the verges were quite wide and I was able to switch sides of the road depending on the traffic direction. It was not a particularly enjoyable walk compared to the early morning section. I was glad to see Ullapool again and located my bike. The cycle back to the car, was tough, even though the road was quite flat. A tough day, but glad to have reached Ullapool and probably the last of the ‘larger’ towns until I reach Thurso.

Approaching Ullapool
Ullapool

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=24484

Distance today =  21 miles
Total distance = 4,614 miles

 

 

5 thoughts on “258. Beinn nam Ban Bealach to Ullapool”

  1. I’ve been planning doing a walk probably on the same route. A useful tip for the 813a bus, I will see if I can find it online. On the A835 section I’m thinking of following tracks that are marked on the map in the woodland parallel with the A835 for about half it’s length from Ullapool to the southern end of the loch as a way of escaping that road section.

    There is a bus service from Inverness to Ullapool which I’m sure must use that road so I can avoid having to walk it both ways, but I can’t find any details of it stopping on this road. Perhaps it only stops at specific points in the timetable (it is “Scottish CityLink”) and not elsewhere. I was wondering if you might have been able to use that and answer that puzzle for me, but I guess not!

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    1. Hi Jon, to save you looking

      http://www.decoaches.co.uk/timetables/
      I have also now done a more thorough research of all the bus routes up to Durness. The good news is that more or less the whole route is covered. I just need to get the specifics sorted.

      To be quite honest, although fast, the A835 is not the busiest or worst major trunk I have walked along. It has reasonable verges for the majority of its length, but an off-road alternative, even if half way, would be better.
      The taxi fare from Ullapool to Inverlael car park is c.£12 – but that was not for me!

      Citylink drivers are generally miserable gits! I have had problems with them before. However, depending who run the city link service, some of the drivers are ok. The Campletown service was run by West Coast motors who were really good and friendly!

      So March is here and you’ll be continuing your next leg?

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      1. Thanks for this most helpful. Regarding the buses as far as Durness the one from Lairg/Ullapool to Durness (804) via Kylesku only runs in the school summer holidays, but hopefully you had already seen that! The Dial-A-Ride bus around Drumbeg I was not able to summon. The landline number was re-directed to a mobile that I then got a message to so that it is not available. The mobile number gave the same response. Not sure if you were looking at that one.

        I did drive the A835 last year and didn’t look too bad but I’d still prefer an alternative if there is one. The taxi fare you mention is lower than I expected. I might call Scottish CityLink nearer the time and ask if I can get off at the end of the loch they might say yes. Or I could try asking the driver in the morning I guess!

        Sadly my next leg in Scotland is not until May. I wanted to wait until after the clocks change and I was not able to find any accommodation in April. However I am going to Northern Ireland to walk the “Causeway Coastal Way” past the Giants Causeway. Not sure if I’m going to do all the coast of Northern Ireland yet but this is a start, with a well marked route on a hopefully beautiful part of the coast, so I’ll see how I get on there. I’m afraid with a full time job I’m not able to just wait for a good weather window and head up, as I have to give notice for time off and it is too far the weekend really. Though I am considering doing a few weekend/long weekends around Glasgow (which is not so far and with easier logistics) and starting to work up from there so that at some point i’ll join up the two “legs”.

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      2. I changed my mind on tackling this walk. On one day I took the bus (813) from Ullapool to the start of the road leading to Inverbroom bridge and Clachan. Then I walked back to Ullapool. The tracks marked on the map just east of the road didn’t really seem to exist so I gave up with that plan and stuck to the road or the verge alongside it. Not great, but not as bad as I feared.

        Then the next day I drove to the junction of the A832 and the road to Badrallach and parked on the roadside there (next to the post box and the sign warning that the ferry no longer runs). Then I took the footpath marked on the map directly east over the hills back to Inverbroom bridge. I was worried about this, but the path was actually easy to follow and in pretty good condition. Then I walked north along the road on the west side of Loch Broom to Loggie. Then as you had warned me, the path onwards to the fish farm and Loch na h-Airbhe which I kept finding and losing, and was quite hard to follow. Then I followed the track up the hill to the road and back along the road to the junction where I parked. A long way, but very enjoyable as the weather was so good.

        Next time I plan to take the road and then path up to Scoraig and back.

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  2. Oh and thank you for the bus link. It goes to the end of the road at Loggie (never expected a bus to go there) so hoping to be able to walk from Ullapool to Loggie in time for the 16:12 bus back to Ullapool. THen I won’t have to bother about the CityLink coach and whether that will stop.

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