262. Altandhu to Lochinver

Today would be more of the same as yesterday with both road and off-road walking.

As there is no direct bus service between Altandhu and Lochinver I had to catch two separate buses via Ullapool. I made an early start by first driving and parking in Lochinver and caught the 7:45 #809 Rapson bus service to Ullapool, where I had to wait about 90 minutes until my next bus. Fortunately, I did not have long to wait for The Tea Room to open where I could get a latte and scrambled egg on toast. At 10:00 I caught the same bus that I had caught yesterday, the #811 to Altandhu. I was the only passenger, so I managed to have another long conversation with Kenny, the accordion ‘star’ from the film Edie.

I got off the bus at Altandhu camp site and set off back up the road. I was going to walk across the whole of the Rubha Mor peninsula, but decided against it. Today the sun was out and the biting wind gone, so it was going to be a tough day walking in the heat. I continued walking across the Rubha Mor heading for Achnahaird. I came across a Rabbies minibus that had just disgorged its occupants to take a better look at the distinct and iconic Assynt mountains. I spoke to a Kiwi who was part of the group, who asked me how far I was walking today, I said Lochinver, but I don’t think he knew where that was.

Just before the turn-off at Badnagyle a car stopped with two ladies in it, they asked me If I knew where the car park for Stac Pollaidh was. I said they had passed the car park some 2 to 3 miles ago and pointed out Stac Pollaidh in the distance.

Isle Ristol, part of the Summer Isles
Hazy Assynt skyline
Cul Mor (l) and Stac Pollaidh (r)

After turning off the main Achiltibuie road, the amount of traffic diminished becoming a lot more quieter. The road climbed over the Aird na Coigich and dropped steeply down into Strath Polly. At Inverpolly just before I crossed over the River Polly I met a Dutch couple who were holidaying in the area. Just after the bridge I headed down an estate track that would take me towards Inverpolly Lodge and then a slow descent down to the shoreline and boathouse. Most of the Assynt coastline is riven with small inlets, coves and bays that make this coastline incredibly complex. I crossed over an old breached weir dam which emptied the small adjacent Lochan Sal. After crossing the dam I would be on a footpath for the next 2 to 3 km. I tried to stay on the footpath, but soon lost it. I tried using the contours of the small hummocks to follow or find the footpath, but it was not possible. Following my own route I finally picked up a track of sorts, but even that disappeared as I approached the stepping-stones across the Allt Gleann an-Strachain. The burn was very low and I easily crossed over and re-joined the narrow road. Over the next 3 km only a couple of cars passed me.

Approaching Inverpolly
Locals near Inverpolly Lodge
Dam and weir near Lochan Sal
Looking back towards Inverpolly
Stepping stones over the Allt Gleann an-Strachain

The road climbed again before dropping down again into Inverkirkaig, crossing over a bridge spanning the River Kirkaig, passing out of Ross & Cromarty and into the historical county of Sutherland. the car park at the bridge had a few cars in it, mainly for visitors to the nearby Falls of Kirkaig. There was also a coffee shop close-by where I topped up my water supply. I continued along the road into the late afternoon, catching the odd glimpse of Suilven, from the head-on position and managing to pick out 3 walkers on the summit!! After passing through the small settlement of Strathan I arrived back at my car that I had left 11 hours earlier. A tough days walk.

Crossing over the River Kirkaig
Goodbye (for now) Ross & Cromarty and hello Sutherland
The beach at Inverkirkaig
Suilven popping out from the Glencanisp Forest
Zoomed shot of Suilven with walkers on the summit

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=24510

Distance today =  19 miles
Total distance = 4,754 miles

 

 

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