188. Laga to Achosnich

After a reasonable nights sleep in the back of the car, I awoke early as I had to drive around to Kilchoan to park the car. I parked in the small car park opposite the church and rustled up a warm drink and porridge from my small stove. It was still dark as I waited for the 7:50 Shiel Buses #506 bound for Fort William, the same bus as I caught yesterday.

A number of  children heading for Acharacle Primary School were picked up along the route together with a number of adults heading for Fort William. I had to pay close attention to where I wanted dropped off, as the road looks very similar. I got off at the old Forestry Commission car park at Camas nan Gall. The road was quiet this morning and I walked a lot quicker not having to push the bike. It was a lovely sunny morning, crisp, still with a few high clouds. One of my goals for today was to deviate my route to include the sub-2000ft Marilyn  – Ben Hiant. Although only 528m, it commands a brilliant 360 degree perspective. I had read a number of trip reports of Ben Hiant and I was keen to climb it on fine and clear day. I was also hoping to that I may get a better view of the volcanic ring complex to the west.

I continued along the B8007 past the hamlets of Laga and Glenborrodale. I managed to get a glimpse of the red sandstone castle of Glenborrodale Castle, currently on the market for offers of over £3.75m, boasting 16 bedrooms and 132 acres, as well as the Isle of Risga. I found an interesting sign on a number of gates , displaying a slightly threatening message – “Glenborrodale Castle PRIVATE trespassers do so at their own risk”. At risk of what, being shot? Catching the plague?

Looking west along a tranquil Loch Sunart
Interesting sign at Glenborrodale
Ardnamurchan – Adelphi distillery

I continue on past the Ardnamurchan – Adephi distillery built-in 2013 and producing it own single malt. The road climbs steeply up towards Ardslignish, where I am confronted with a glorious view across Camas nan Geall towards Ben Hiant, which shows an interesting array of slopes, cliffs and greenery. I continue along the road which hugs the very steep hillside. As I the road tracks north along the slopes of Ben Hiant I headed up the steep er slopes making for the first step of rock bands. The underfoot walking was easy, with most of the bracken died back and the grass short with not too much moisture. I gained height easily and within 30 minutes I had gained the main ridge. I joined up with the path coming up from the road and climb onto the small summit area of Ben Hiant. I am treated to a brilliant view which took in Rum, Eigg, Muck, Skye to the north ; Mull and Morvern to the south; down Loch Sunart to the east and to the North West the faint outline of Barra and South Uist in the outer Hebrides – a truly great viewpoint.

The view towards Ben Hiant
The view back towards Loch Sunart
Approaching the summit of Ben Hiant
Looking north towards Eigg and Rum, with Skye in the far distance
East over Loch Sunart
West towards Kilchoan
Looking back at the descent route off Ben Hiant

To the west I could see the road heading towards the village of Kilchoan, spread out along the northern shore of Loch Sunart. I descended steep slopes from Ben Hiant heading towards the footpath passing behind the north flank of Beinn h-Urchrach. The going was easy as I headed to the B8007 road. Climbing over a deer fence gate I entered a deer enclosure, obviously a farming technique practices by a number of Estates in this part of Ardnamurchan. I arrived at the road and continued into Kilchoan. By the time I reached my car outside of the church, a funeral service had just taken place and there were scores of mourners and cars parked around the Church.

At this point and to advance my walking mileage and curtail the distance to get around future walks along the northern shore of Ardmnamurchan, I continued walking for another 3 miles towards the lighthouse at Ardnamurchan point. I climbed up the minor road out of Kilchoan and arrived at the cemetery just as the hearse was arriving. Scores of mourners had driven up the steep road to pay their final respects to the deceased. I quickly passed by them feeling out-of-place.  I continued on for another mile to my bicycle which I had stowed away the day before hoping for a quick descent back downhill back to Kilchoan. In 15 minutes I was back at the car and soon heading south back home. Hopefully, I may still reach Mallaig by Christmas.

Heading into Kilchoan
Lochan na Crannaig – close to where I finished my walk

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=23888

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,307 miles

 

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187. Liddesdale to Laga

I finally found a couple of days that would give me some reasonably dry and bright weather to continue my trek around Ardgour. Unfortunately, the forecast of dry and bright weather did not ring true, well at least for the first day anyway! I left Shropshire in the afternoon, the day before my first walk. This enabled me to get as far as Glencoe, before pulling over and sleeping in the car.

I caught the 6:30 Corran ferry and drove to Carnoch Bridge where I dropped my bike off. I then drove on until the old Forestry Commission car park at Camas Nan Gall near Laga, on the B8007 Salen to Kilchoan road. I then caught the Shiel Buses #506 bus back to Carnoch Bridge. This bus service runs once a day starting out from Kilchoan at 7:50 in the morning and arriving Fort William some 2.5 hrs later via the Corran Ferry.

Today was all about road walking, lots of it! I got off the bus at Carnoch Bridge and collected bike, which I pushed for 3.5 miles towards Liddesdale – where I finished my last walk. I was then able to cycle back to Carnoch Bridge. I could have then left my bike there, but this meant driving back and a round trip of some 35 miles. I therefore decided I would push the bike back to the car. As with previous trips, locals stopped and enquired if I needed a lift, presuming I had a puncture! As I crossed over the Carnoch Bridge I passed out of the district of Morvern into Sunart.

The first of the non-forecasted rain showers hit me as I approached Strontian and this pattern of drizzly rain showers continued on and off all day. I walked out of Strontian on the A816 towards Salen. Although the visibility was not brilliant I could make out my previous walks along the southern shore of Loch Sunart. The road walking, intermittent showers and traffic made the walk increasingly tedious. After passing through Resipole, where I had once set out from for Ben Resipole 8 years ago, I picked up my pace. I was glad to get to Salen, as I knew I only had 4 miles to the end of the walk. Leaving Salen along the B8007 meant I was also leaving Sunart behind and passing into Ardnamurchan, an area I had never before visited.

Heading towards Carnoch Bridge with Garbh Bheinn in cloud
Carnoch Bridge
Entering Strontian
Looking down Loch Sunart from Strontian
Looking down Loch Sunart, the hill in cloud is Ben Laga
Salen
Who needs a Guy when you’ve got Formula 1?
Bagh an t-Sailein

By the time I had reached the car park the showers had all but abated. I decided to drive onto Kilchoan and look for a place to park up for the night. Lots of “No Overnight Parking” signs had me heading off back down the B8007, where I managed to find a sheltered flat spot just off the road on the slopes of Ben Hiant; a hill which I planned to climb the following day. After 10pm, little if any traffic passed along the road and I was treated to a quiet night.

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=23887

Distance today = 20 miles
Total distance = 3,289 miles

 

 

184. Liddesdale to Kinlochteagus

I had planned to sleep in the back of the car  close to the Lochaline ferry jetty, but bright lights and the hum of a nearby generator serving the Cal Mac ferry berthed up for the night, meant I would get little sleep. So I drove around to the deserted road to Kinlochteagus and parked in small Forestry Commission car park at Aoineadh Mor, close to the site of a village emptied in 1824 during the Highland Clearances.

The following morning I set off on my bike to cycle the 2 miles to the A884 road, park my bike and catch the 8:15 school bus #507 to Liddesdale. I was walking the route in reverse because of the public transport timings. The bus dropped me off at the end of the road to Laudale. I followed the public road alongside Loch Sunart for 2 miles, where it became a private road on the Laudale Estate. It was a very dark, grey and gloomy morning with a very gusty wind. I felt it would begin raining at any moment, but true to the forecast, it never did.

When I reached Laudale House a polite notice asked walkers pass around the house via the shore route. I rejoined the main road track which snakes its way north-west along Loch Sunart. I could make out Strontian, Resipole and Salen across the loch and the area where I would be walking on my next trip. I pass a recently forested section and pass some diversion signs for Walkers walking the Coffin Track.  At Rubha aird Earnaich, Loch Sunart turns to the south-west and I continue to follow the Estate track for another 4 miles. The track is in good condition and appears to have vehicles driving up it. I am only offered some glimpses of the Loch as the foliage, which although turning brown is still extensive.

Heading down Loch Sunart
Heading down Loch Sunart
Entering Glen Laudale with Meall an Damhain in the distance
Laudale House
Typical view following the coastal track

I make good time as I enter the Glencripesdale Estate and come across a Landrover heading towards me. I chat to the Keeper, who says my intended route up to the Bealach Sloc an Eich (below Beinn Ghormaig) was in a bad way with a great deal of blown over trees. He said a couple of blokes who came over that way last year, said it was very difficult to find any path. He offered an easier, quicker(?) but longer route on one of the Estate roads which would go all the way to Kinlochteagus (where I was heading). I had a quick think and set off in the direction he suggested. He was going 3 miles up the same road to do some work and offered me a lift which I politely refused. I was slightly uncomfortable in that this route would be going off my map, but I persevered. Almost an hour later I met up with the chap again and he gave me the final pointer, which was quite straightforward. However, I did have second thoughts about this route, due to its up and down nature and the fact I had climbed far more in  height and walked some 3 extra miles than my original route. I was now heading for the Bealach to the right of the hill that was now dominating my view –  Beinn Iadain (571m). Beinn Iadain is a striking hill with its prominent rock bands of basalt and Upper Cretaceous sandstones, shales and mudstones.

Entering Glencripesdale
Looking down a very gloomy Loch Sunart at Glencripesdale
Looking back down Glencripesdale
Heading for the bealach to the right of Beinn Iadain
Below Beinn Iadain
At the bealach below Beinn Iadain

For Shills: I first thought this hill was the one Rounsfell wrote about in his recent report …… although the report was about Beinn na h-Uamha (some 110m lower than Beinn Iadain). Its quite amazing how similar in shape, aspect and geology these two hills which sit just two miles apart.

I emerge from the forest and climb a deer fence to pass from the Glencripesdale Estate over into The Rahoy Estate. Its all downhill now as I follow the Estate track down to the  isolated hamlet of Kinlochteagus, with its scattering of cottages. I still have almost 2 miles to walk back up the road  to the car park at Aoineadh Mor.

Heading down to Kinlochteagus

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=23845

 

Distance today = 21 miles
Total distance = 3,216 miles

 

 

183. Lochaline to Kinlochteagus

I had changed my mind a couple of times on how to tackle the next two remote walks along the northern coast of Morvern. I was originally going to do a single walk with an overnight wild camp roughly half-way. However, I did not fancy carrying a full weight rucksack over 40 miles – unless I really had to. So I decided to break the northern section into two walks.

I had also changed my normal procedure in driving to the Highlands. Instead of setting off after a few hours sleep and then driving up through the night. I decided to drive up in the late afternoon of the day before and sleep in the car. This allowed me a better nights sleep and had me more refreshed to start the walk the following day.

After an overnight stop at Dalrigh near Tyndrum, I headed to the Corran Ferry to catch the 6:30 across to Ardgour. First port of call was the end of the public road at Kinlochteagus, where I dropped off my bicycle. I then drove around to Lochaline and parked up at the ferry terminal. It was a lovely sunny morning with a stiff breeze. No need for public transport today as I would be walking to my bicycle. Before I set off I got some early morning carbs down me, as I had realised as I drove up that I had left all my cooking gear – cutlery, crockery and stove – at home! Doh! So I bought a nice haggis burger with bacon and a cup of coffee from the snack shop at the ferry terminal.

I set off down the Drimnin road at 8:15 and the road was quite quiet enough  to relax and not worry too much about traffic. I had great views across the Sound of Mull towards Mull, I was also walking with my back to the wind which made for quick progress. The Sound of Mull dominated my view and I could see a number of boats going up and down the Sound. After a couple of miles I could see a naval vessel travelling south towards me. I examined it through my small binoculars and could see that it was a Norwegian vessel – M352. I later found out this was an Alta-class Minesweeper called Rauma and was built-in 1996.

I came to Clach na Criche (The Wishing Stone), which appears to be a vertically inclined basalt dyke, with a large hole in it. Legend says that the stone would grant a wish to anybody that passes through the hole without touching the sides. I climbed through the hole ok, but would have to say the only way to pass through the hole without touching the sides would be to attempt a Fosbury Flop, although the landing may be rather painful with all the rocks thereabouts.

Looking north up The Sound of Mull from West Pier, Lochaline
Norwegian Minesweeper Rauma – M352 in the Sound of Mull
Clach na Criche
Clach na Criche
Looking north towards Ardnamurchan, with Tobermory left
Tobermory
Looking south down the Sound of Mull with Ben More in cloud

As I approached Drimnin I could see the picturesque village of Tobermory on Mull. I could also see the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, which I would be walking around in weeks to come. The path around Drimnin House had directed me up the hillside onto the old drovers road east to the former old inn at Diorlinn. The drovers road is a delight with high level walking at a steady height with views across to Sgurr na Seilg, Kilchoan, down Loch Sunart and Ben Hiant on Ardnamurchan. The track ran for about 5 miles above Loch Sunart before it dropped down through the cliffs at Sgeir Bhuidhe and across the Drambuie Bridge to Druimbuidhe (which was occupied). Approaching Diorlinn the path petered out and I knew I had to negotiate about 700 metres of very rough pathless ground. After beating my way over bog, bracken and waist-high vegetation I found the path I was looking for. I passed through a deer fence and continued along an ATV track. I had entered Loch Teacius and the path I was now on would take me through a series of forestry roads all the way to Kinlochteagus.

On the drovers road looking across to Ben Hiant and Kilchoan on Ardnamurchan
Looking east along Loch Sunart on the drovers road
At the Sgeir Bhuidhe above Loch Sunart
The route ahead at Diorlinn
Deer Fence with gate

 

 

Looking back up Loch Teacuis at Kinlochteagus

After something like 8.5 hrs walking I arrived at my bike. I now had to cycle 7.5 miles back to Lochaline which was tough going as the wind that was with me in the morning was now a headwind, and a strong one at that!

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=23844

 

Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 3,195 miles

 

182. Kingairloch to Lochaline

The main reason for coming slightly inland and not follow any coastal route was to visit the Graham – Beinn Mheadhoin (739m). The hill has commanding views and with the weather looking good, hopefully I would not be disappointed.

I spent the night in my car at the remote car park at Loch Uisge. It was very peaceful and a slight breeze kept the midge away. With nobody within miles of the place I was treated to a wonderful clear night with a sky full of stars.

The plan for the day was to drive about 14 miles around to Lochaline, dropping my bike off at the B8043 road end on the way. I parked my car near the jetty at Lochaline and got myself a coffee from the snack shop near the ferry terminal. I then called Kingairloch Estate, to enquire about the stalking. Yes, you guessed it, they were stalking exactly where I wanted to go on Sgurr Shalacain. I told them where I intended to go and asked for an alternative route, but was advised “to go elsewhere”. Sorry that’s not good enough and not within the spirit of the access code. I then decided to make a reasonable adjustment to my intended route.

I caught the Shiel bus service #907 towards Fort William and got off at the road end to Kingairloch. Here I jumped on my bike that I had stashed away earlier in the morning and cycled back down to Loch Uisge. I had decided not to use the stalkers path which would have got me a good way up onto the Shalachain ridge from the car park. Instead I decided to walk down the road, pushing my bike, that I had just cycled along. After about 2 miles I dumped the bike and began to make my way uphill. I intended to take a long sweeping circular route around Meall a’choire Bheithich to the west, gaining height slowly and eventually headings towards Beinn Mheadhoin. I was 2 miles away, downwind and out of sight for the majority of the walk, so hopefully I would not disturb anyone.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and it was extremely hard work gaining the height through the long grass, bog and uneven terrain. Most the surrounding hills were cloud-free, but Beinn Mheadhoin which although was not in sight yet, had some dark clouds above it. It took about 2.5 hours to reach the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin and I encountered just a single stag who headed off in the direction of Sgurr Shalachain.

Gaining height from the road
Contouring around Meall a’choire Bheithich
The Rum peaks in the far distance
Approaching the summit of Beinn Mheadhoin

Although the summit was cloud-free, low cloud prevented extensive views. I was able to make out the peaks of Rum, Sgurr Dhomhnuill, Beinn Resipole and great views down Loch Linnhe. I could hear sounds of plant coming from the Glensanda quarry, but could not see anything. I could also hear the bellowing of the stags on the nearby hill of Meall na h-lolaine, obviously The Rut had already begun.

From the summit I headed south down alongside the Eas na Fidhle ravine. Although grassy, the underfoot conditions were poor, especially in the longer grass. I descended to the Allt Buidhe Mor and then over the shoulder of the gently sloping hill of Caol Bheinn. I was heading for a footpath that came up from the Glensanda quarry and would continue west alongside the isolated Caol Lochan. I now had a better view of the Glensanda Quarry with workers in bright orange overalls dotted on the mountainside and heavy plant operating. I was now on a footpath marked on the map heading west, unfortunately the ‘footpath’ was no more than a muddy deer track. I found no foot prints at all along its length. The path continued and passed Loch Tearnait. As I neared the Bothy at Leacraithnaich the path disappeared entirely. I popped into the bothy and I am pleased to report it was in excellent condition. I read in the Bothy visitors book that it had been occupied just three times in September. I also joined with a couple and their three dogs who were returning from a visit to the Loch and also heading towards Ardtornish, where they were parked. Coincidentally, it turned out that they were also staying in one of the Kingairloch Estate cottages, just opposite the couple I had met yesterday evening.

Looking SW down Loch Linnhe, with low cloud obscuring the view
Looking NE towards Ballachulish
Looking towards Loch Tearnait, in the far distance is the Sound of Mull
The route ahead alongside the Eas na Fidhle ravine
Looking back up towards Beinn Mheadhoin
Looking across to the Glensandra Quarry
Gate to Nowehere – looking across Loch Linnhe to Lismore
Looking west along Caol Lochan
Looking back at my route – Beinn Mheadhoin is left
Leacraithnaich bothy
Inside Leacraithnaich bothy

The next 3 miles went very quickly as I chatted away barely noticing the recently created loch of Lochan Lub an Arbhair for a Hydro scheme. At Ardtornish I bid goodbye to the couple and their dogs and continued through the Estate and onto the public road. I headed down the old shore road alongside Loch Aline, passing the Silica Mine close to the harbour. The mine has a rich, almost pure white sandstone layer, which is mined and conveyed onto a moored bulk tanker, one of which was moored at the jetty. I finished the walk at 5:30 and realised I had not eaten since breakfast. I needed carbs!

Hydro Scheme above Ardtornish
Silica mine near Lochaline

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=23835

Distance today = 18 miles
Total distance = 3,157 miles

 

 

181. Ardgour to Kingairloch

A small meteorological High had formed off North West Scotland which presented me with at least two days of good weather; so off I went to Ardgour.

Public transport is quite infrequent in this part of Ardgour, so I took along my bike, just in case. I drove to and parked at a small isolated car park at Loch Uisge. As part of a recent hydro scheme the original Loch was dammed to allow a larger Loch to form.

My plan was to cycle the two miles up the B8043  to where it meets the A884. There I would dump the bike out of sight and catch the #507 bus to Strontian, then the #506 to Ardgour. I waited some 20 minutes  after the bus was due, until it slowly dawned on me that it was not coming. I quickly revised my plan. I retrieved my bike and headed towards the Carnoch Bridge, which the #506 bus would pass in 40 minutes time. But I needed to cover the 8 miles in that time in order to catch the bus to Ardgour. Unfortunately, there was a long long pull up the road to the bealach, which meant getting off and pushing for most of the way. By the time I was descending at speed down to Loch Sunart, I knew it was touch and go if I could make the bus. I could see the Carnoch Bridge in the distance and I kept glancing across the loch, looking for signs of the bus. With about 400m to go, the bus appeared, I had missed it by 2 minutes! Bugger! I then locked the bike up at the bridge and tried thumbing a lift. No joy, there was there was very little traffic. So I unlocked the bike and cycled the remaining 12 miles to the Ardgour Inn. I had cycled 22 miles that morning and I still had a 19 miles walk ahead of me! It also meant that I would have to push the bike back along my walking route; either that, or be faced with a 40 miles round trip to retrieve the bike.

It was all road back to my car at Loch Uisge above Kingairloch. For the first 6 miles it was walking back down the A861 alongside Loch Linnhe. I decided to divert down the old ferry road which passes through the nearby village of Clovullin. I popped into the local to buy some food and enquired why the bus from Lochaline had not run that morning. She said that it was half-term  for two days – so no bus. Schoolboy error on my part I think!

The walk down the A861 was quite quiet, punctuated every 30 minutes by a small flurry of traffic as the Corran Ferry disgorged its occupants. At Inversanda I noticed a large bird fly gracefully overhead. At a distance I had always thought this type of bird would be a Buzzard. However, this bird was definitely a Golden Eagle and I was very happy as this was my first confirmed sighting of one. Soon after, I turned off the A861 down the even quieter B8043 which hugs the shoreline of Loch Linnhe for most of the way. I catch a final glimpse of the mountain Garbh Bheinn, a superb hill, west up Glen Tarbert.

Looking across Loch Linnhe to the ferry slipway at the Nether Lochaber side
The Memorial Hall in the village of Clovullin
Looking up Glen Tarbert towards Garbh Bheinn
The start of the B8043

The walk along the B8043 was very easy and I managed to fix my rucksack to the bike and push it along. I had beautiful views across and down Loch Linnhe. All of the high hills were cloud-free and I had a gentle breeze to keep me cool. I turned into the small loch inlet of Loch a’Choire and had an excellent view up Glenmadale to the twin Corbett peaks of Creach Bheinn and Fuar Bheinn, which I climbed back in 2008.

I arrived back at the car and started cooking my meal. Although I had brought my tent, I knew it would be more comfortable sleeping in the back of my estate car. The occupants of the car parked next to mine in the car park returned from the hill. We spoke at length and I learned they were staying in one of the Estate Cottages. As it was the stalking season I decided to call an Estate number to enquire about stalking activity the following day. I was advised to call back the following day.

Heading down the B8043
Looking back across Loch Linnhe to Beinn a’Bheithir (left) and Fraochaidh (right)
Looking up Glen Galmadale towards Creach Bheinn
Looking back down to Kingairloch
My room for the night below Sgurr Shalachain at Loch Uisge

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=23833

Distance today = 19 miles
Total distance = 3,139 miles

 

 

Across the Queensferry Crossing

Back in June of this year I read about a unique event which was organised by the Scottish Government to allow 50,000 people to walk over the New Queensferry Crossing above the Firth off Forth. The event was to take place on the 2 – 3rd September. The selection of the 50,000 people to make the walk was to be by a ballot and available to anyone. I entered the ballot as a group leader, the other person in my being my daughter Nicola. I had something like 14 days to wait until the ballot ended and the draw made. I did not hold out too much hope of being selected.

On the 6th July I was told that my entry was successful and that I had 48 hours to confirm my booking. I learned that 226,000 people had entered the ballot and that 5000+ people with postcodes outside of Scotland had been successful together with 400+ from abroad. My allocated date to make the walk was at 16:20 on 2nd September, with Edinburgh Park as my travel hub.

In August I received my official invitation as well as our security ID tags. I started to plan the  journey with my daughter. We decided to make a day of it by driving up to Edinburgh and visiting the Zoo in the morning.  In particular we wanted to see the Giant Panda’s. It had been some 43 years since I last visited Edinburgh Zoo.

The Official Invitation
Security ID Tags

We set off from Shropshire at 05:00 and arrived at the Zoo at 9:45, it was a beautiful late summer morning and the Zoo was not busy. The Zoo was brilliant, particularly with the conservation work being done. We managed to get a great view of the male Panda Yang Guang in his enclosure. Tian Tian the female Panda was not available as the news of her recent pregnancy had keepers especially careful in keeping her undisturbed.

We left the Zoo for Edinburgh Park and thought we may have a few hours to kill as we were very early before our allotted slot. We were pleasantly surprised therefore to see that a continuous and rolling procession of people were processed on arrival. After clearing the security check we just carried onto the bus stops where buses where coming and going on a continual basis. We had a 20 minute drive to the south side of the bridge. The Police and road transport employees where everywhere, together with the Event Ambassadors – volunteers who were very welcoming.

The departure point at Edinburgh Park
Boarding the bus
Approaching the bridge
The southern end of the Bridge

We got off the bus and joined the snaking trail of people already walking the bridge. We could see on the opposite carriageway a similar train of people walking and thought at first that we would have to walk back over the bridge. This was not the case as other walkers travelling from other Travel Hubs were walking the bridge North to South.

It was a surreal experience walking over the bridge, even though I have walked over other motorway bridges this was special. The Bridge up close is just as beautiful as it is from a distance. The sweeping hyperbola of the crossing wire rope from the three towers is perfectly smooth. I thought that it would be very windy on the bridge, however, the weather together with the 3.5 metre glass wind shielding meant there was just a gentle breeze blowing. Although you cannot see clearly through the windshield the organisers had clearly removed the slats at head height to allow views up and down the Firth of Forth.

Setting off
Looking west up the Firth of Forth
Looking east across the carrigeways to the two other bridges
The start of the wire supports
Looking back
Myself and Nicola
At the first tower
Amazing!
Nearing the end of the walk looking back

As we passed the towers, we could see the equipment and plant to enable the brilliant light show that had lit up the bridge in a public display a few days before. As we passed over the gentle curve of the bridge arch we seemed to quickly arrive at our finish point and jump on one of the waiting buses. By 16:00 we were back at Edinburgh Park.

The end of the walk
Looking across to the new bridge from the old bridge with wire ropes creating their own spectacular Crepuscular Rays

This really was a proud day for Scotland and equally for the United Kingdom as a whole. This was a unique, spectacular and innovative way of celebrating an engineering achievement for its design and beauty. The organisation was truly amazing. The whole event, from the communication, the signage, the security and to the thousands of people on the ground, particularly the Event Ambassadors – A big Well Done!

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=23801