I decided it was time to press on with my walk up the NW coast of Scotland. I could see at least three reasonable days, weatherwise, for the Ullapool area, so off I went.
For accommodation I managed to get 2 nights at the Caledonian hotel in Ullapool. Not one of the best hotels, but I got it cheap! The two times I had previously stayed at the hotel were not that pleasant, as the accommodation wing was ‘jerry-built’ with loud and persistent floor-board squeak from both adjacent rooms and above me; so much so that I could see my overhead light fitting shaking as the guest above me moved about!!
My first night was spent in the back of the car after my long drive up from Shropshire. I parked near Braemore Junction and had the large viewpoint car park to myself. The following morning I drove slowly into Ullapool and parked up. My bus was not until 10:00, so I had a few hors to kill. I had opted to take the bus to my starting point to avoid having to drive there and back to Ullapool.
I caught the 10:00 #811 bus run by KSM motors. The service destination is Achilitibuie, but the bus will divert to Rieff and Altandhu on request. I got chatting to the bus driver and I found out that he had been extra on a recent film called Edie, starring Sheila Hancock, on her quest to climb Suilven. Kenny, the bus driver, was featured as the accordion player in the film.
I got off the bus in Altandhu and started walking southwards along the narrow road. Most of the mornings walk would be on this road as it passed through the strung out settlements of Polbain, Achiltibuie, Polglass, Badenscralle, Achvraie and Achduart. Not much to say about the road walk other than it was into a strong and bitterly cold headwind, with hazy views out towards The Summer Isles.
At Achduart I transferred onto a path which would take me all the way to Strathcanaird, along one of the so-called “Posties Paths”, which skirted the western flank of the impressive Beinn Mhor Coigach. The footpath started very well with a heavy footfall and good signage both with stone and wooden posts. This meant the path would be easy to follow even when the bracken was quite high. I passed over the large boulder slopes of Garbh Choireachan, which would have been difficult in some places if not for the signs. However, after passing around the impressively large and deep ravine at Geodha Mor, the wooden signs disappeared. Fortunately, It was not that difficult to pick out a reasonable route. The stone signs did remain, but their infrequent placing meant they were on of little use.
Inevitably, around Creag Dearg I lost the path for good and so continued on my own route. With the mist and rain coming down I began to lose height and drop down to Strathcanaird. I could make out in the distance the bridge over the River Canaird that I needed to aim for – or so I thought. I checked my map a couple of times, as the tracks to and from the bridge looked a bit odd. Unfortunately, this bridge was ” a bridge too far!” as it was the wrong bridge! I had passed the closer bridge (which was out of sight) and this meant scaling a deer fence and walking an extra mile. My legs and feet were quite sore by now and the “Posties Path” had sapped a good deal of energy from me. However, the path was quite enjoyable and I suppose it depends really on how many miles you walk before and after the path.
I crossed over the River Canaird and continued along an estate track which continued past Keanchulish House and then onto the A835. The road was quite busy, even at 18:30, but the light rain which had started over a few hours earlier continued to fall as I trudged along the road through Ardmair. I knew I had a few more up and downs along the A835 before the final drop down into Ullapool, so I got my head down and got on with it.
Not a bad walk, particularly along The Posties Path, but the murky conditions and cold fierce headwind did not help.
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 = 23 miles
Total distance = 4,735 miles