I was looking forward to continuing my journey around the coastline of the Scottish mainland now that Skye was out of the way and I had planned a 3 day trip. Sadly that did not happen, due to an injury that I will elaborate on later.
Because of the lack of available public transport I needed to bring forward my originally planned last day to be my first! Applecross does not have a great deal of public transport options, so few, that the only bus out of Applecross runs on a Wednesday ( I later found out that a bus also runs on a Saturday). You also have to call Lochcarron Garage, who run the service, to book a seat. I just had to be in Applecross on a Wednesday morning for 8:00 am. I drove up via Inverness the day before and stopped overnight in the car at one of my old Munro and Corbett parking haunts at Coulags.
I drove from Coulags to Applecross the following day via the Bealach na Ba and parked in the free car park at Applecross. I came across a stag in an enclosed garden close to the public toilets making a meal of some tasty looking shrubs. The mini-bus appeared with a few elderly ladies already on board on their way to Lochcarron. Because we were picking up other passengers in the north of the Applecross Peninsular we set off on the long drive around the coastal route towards Shieldaig. It was a really pleasant drive along the narrow, twisting and scenic road. Tornapress, a small hamlet, sits on the A896, next to the Applecross road end – the road that goes over the Bealach na Ba – (Pass of the Cattle), would be the start of my walk. However, I would not be returning to Applecross via the road , instead I would be picking my way along the trackless and rough northern shore of Loch Kishorn as far as the bothy at Uags and then heading north via Toscaig back to Applecross.
From Tornapress, I set off along the Applecross road which climbed slowly. I was aware that a private road veered off towards the former dry-dock facility built initially for the Ninian Oil Field back in 1977. The following link is to a short film in the National Library of Scotland about the construction of the platform at Kishorn –
The last work carried out at the site was the building of caissons for the Skye Bridge back in 1992. The facility then lay idle for some 23 years. Today the site is being used for the Kishorn Wind Farm Project, as well as Salmon Fish farm and a depot for Ferguson’s. A small quarry has also sprung up on the west side of the dry dock, producing aggregate from the Torridonian Sandstone. The bad news for me is that all this industry didn’t want me walking through their front door!! So I continued up the minor road, gaining height slowly, until I could set off across the open moor and head down to the shore just west of the quarry.
I started along the rocky shore-line of Loch Kishorn; high tide occurred about 90 minutes ago, so I had some beach to work with. However, it was difficult walking on the slippy rocks. I thought I was doing ok until I slipped and fell. My camera went in one direction, my walking stick in the other, I landed heavily on my left knee. I shouted expletives out in pain and annoyance. I checked out my knee, nothing broken thank God! It bloody hurt though! After the initial pain subsided I found I could walk, the knee was beginning to swell and it was really tender. I left the beach and decided to keep to the higher ground. I continued through long grass, bog, heather and rough terrain. I managed to cross the Allt a’Chois ok and decided to try to follow the route of the wooden power lines. Eventually, I caught sight of some ruins and the house at Airigh-drishaig. The cottage is occupied sometimes by a chap called Martin (I think), he didn’t appear to be in today. The cottage is set right amongst a large patch of gorse. Airigh-drishaig is also the meeting point of the path from Toscaig and the other from Uags.
I did contemplate about taking the shorter route to Toscaig, but my left knee seemed ok and I did want to visit Uags Bothy. I was having second thoughts about the next two days walking though and It gradually dawned on me that I could continue on today, but not for two more 20 mile+ days. Bugger!
Although a footpath is marked on the OS map from Airigh-drishaig to Uags, on the ground there is little evidence of it. I did pick up the occasional footprint, but I generally picked out what I considered to be the best route. The light rain which had began shortly after my fall now began to fall quite heavily. It seemed to take an age to finally locate Uags Bothy.
Uags Bothy has a superb location, right by its own little beach and very popular with Kayakers coming over from Plockton. From the outside bolt I could see that no-one was home. I checked out the Bothy and found stairs leading to two large bedrooms, with two metal bed frames and both rooms clad with wooden walls. Downstairs was another sleeping room with a carpet in and tables and another room with the fireplace, tables and a collection of home-made chairs. The bothy was in good condition and reading the Bothy Book’s comments is well liked by all that have stayed. The last entry was 4 days before. I rested awhile considered what to do about my knee.
I had originally planned to stay at Uags for an overnighter but the short distance from Tornapress, meant I could easily make Applecross in a day and was therefore not carrying no food or a sleeping bag. I rested for almost an hour before setting off from the Bothy along a well trodden path. I had read reports that this path was indistinct in places, but I found an easy to follow footpath.
By the time I reached Toscaig, the rain had finished and the sun came out. I now had about 4 miles of roadwork to get back to Applecross. The knee became slightly more stiff and I knew I could not do a 20 mile walk tomorrow. I was really disappointed. It also dawned on me that making Cape Wrath by Christmas was a bit of a tall order. So now I am looking at a more realistic target of Ullapool.
The Applecross Inn was doing a fair trade as I got back to the car after 8 hours of walking. The Inn had a small Airstream Caravan which had been converted to sell food. I bought a Fish supper for £8.50! Ok. Plenty of chips but expensive. The long drive home beckoned.
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 = 18 miles
Total distance = 4,265 miles