The track I’m following is one of Scotland’s core paths. As I’ve discovered, core paths aren’t always well maintained and in some cases are completely unwalkable. But this is a good one.
Over a rise, and here’s a better view over Seil, and I even get a glimpse of Seil Sound.
Shame the atmosphere is still hazy, and the sun has disappeared again, so my photographs of this section of the walk don’t turn out very well.
Now I’m going downhill, with a view of rolling hills, a mix of pasture and woodland. Beautiful.
And then I spot the bush with a fence round it. There are very few fences up here, so this seems a bit odd. But, when I get closer, I realise…
… it’s the Money Tree! Or, according to my map, it’s the Wishing Tree. Actually, it’s a hawthorn bush, ancient and twisted, with thousands of coins stuck into the cracks in its bark.
Some of the coins have been here a very long time. I see old pennies, green with age, and a few more extravagant silver shillings. I wonder how old the bush really is?
Of course, I can’t resist adding a coin to the collection, and I can’t resist a photo-opportunity either.
Beyond the Money Tree, I reach a junction. My map shows a track going off to the left and heading down to Ardmaddy Bay. I can see the bay below me, but the track is horribly overgrown – with just a vague impression of a route through the grass. I was planning to go down there… but now I have second thoughts.
The tide is high, and I might not be able to get round the bay. My walk today is pretty long (for me) and I’m worried about adding extra miles and struggling to complete the day. So, I conduct a lengthy and heated argument with myself.
“Don’t be such a coward.”
“I’m just being sensible.”
“You’re walking the coast, so get down there.”
“What if I get down there and then have to come all the way back?”
“So what? You’ll just be tired and grumpy, but you’ll survive.”
“How do I know I’ll survive? What if I have a fall and break a leg?”
“Why would you fall? You’re being ridiculous. Remember the rules.”
“They’re my rules and I can break them if I want to.”
“Thought you were worried about breaking your leg.”
and so on…
In the end, my cautious self wins the argument, and I carry on along the core path. Unfortunately, that means I’m not walking close to the sea, but it’s still a lovely walk.
There’s a whirring and skidding sound behind me, and a mountain bike flashes by. Oh, that’s a surprise. It’s the first person I’ve seen for a long time.
Eventually I come to a gate, and the beginning of a tarmac road. There’s a car coming towards me. It parks by the gate, and a man gets out. He’s going for a walk in the hills.
Shortly after the gate, I reach a turning that leads down to Ardmaddy, where there appears to be a garden you can visit, and I feel cross with myself for not being braver and following the more coastal route. Too late now.
The road is narrow and virtually free from traffic. The sky has cleared and the sun is out. I make rapid progress along the tarmac.
It’s a remote area, with only a few houses scattered around. I’m walking quickly now, in an easy rhythm, and don’t take much notice of my map, but I think I’ve reached a group of houses knows as Barnayarry. Great name.
I come out of woodland, and the countryside opens up below me. Good, that’s Seil Sound again.
Oh, a bull. It gives me a long hard stare as I walk past.
I reach a road junction. If I turned left, I would reach the Clachan Bridge (the famous “Bridge over the Atlantic“) that leads onto Seil. My map shows a pub just on the other side of the bridge… now, that is tempting.
Then I read the road signs. Kilninver is still ten miles away. Ten miles? Oh no! That can’t be right.
10 miles to go… I don’t believe it. Pull out my map and check again. No. It’s not right. Three or four miles, maybe, but definitely not ten.
Onwards, along the road. This section is reasonably busy because it’s the route anybody visiting the island of Seil must take.
I was planning to walk along some tracks off the road. There are none that closely follow the coast, but I could do a circuit that would take me away from the traffic and nearer to the water… but… here’s a gate that leads to one of the tracks.
The sign isn’t very welcoming. “Take care.” “Parent animals can be aggressive when protecting their young.”
The sign looks old, and so may not be relevant today. And it might refer to sheep… but sheep are never aggressive, so it MUST be referring to cows. I remember the bull I’ve just seen.
Another internal argument follows, between my adventurous self and my timid core, but this discussion is quite short. We both agree we should stick to the road.
After a mile, I reach the beginning of Loch Seil. Despite its name, Loch Seil is not adjacent to the island called Seil, but is an inland lake on the mainland. It would be very pretty if the hillside behind it hadn’t been scalped by logging.
What’s this handsome plant? Oh no, it’s the dreaded Japanese Knotweed. It’s a plague in England and I’d read somewhere that it had reached Scotland. What a pity.
I take some photographs of the plant, and make a mental note to contact the local council and let them know. Japanese knotweed is a foreign invader, and will simply take over the area, crowding out the native plants and wildlife.
I’m feeling tired and hot, and stop on the verge to sit in the shade of a tree. Time for a drink and a snack. But I don’t dare to stop for very long… the midges are out.
Overhead is a buzzing sound. A microlight.
The road goes up and down. I’m feeling the usual frustration at being nowhere near the water, when I come to a steep drop and realise I’ve nearly reached Kilninver.
Kilninver is a strange place. It’s, basically, a loose collection of houses, and the village straggles around a triangle, with one side of the triangle being the A816, while the other two sides consist of minor roads.
I drove around the triangle, twice, this morning, trying to find somewhere safe to park my Beast. Sadly, Kilninver is not a place that encourages visitors, as there are no parking layby’s and even the car park near the bus stop – which looked promising – was reserved for local residents and the nearby school.
But at least I get a view of the sea from Kilninver. Well, to be more precise, a view of the opening to Loch Feochan.
I come to the place where there’s a bridge and the minor road splits. The left fork is the coastal route, but I take the right fork, because that will take me back to my van.
It’s a steady walk, uphill, through woodland. There’s a stream running on the right hand side of the road, creating a pleasant musical accompaniment, but also providing a shady haven for midges.
Luckily, the Smidge I’m wearing still seems to be working.
It’s mid June, and the baby lambs in the fields are no longer bundles of fluff, but have turned into stocky little sheeplings. Hello, there. You still look cute.
I reach the top of the road, where The Beast is patiently waiting for me.
It’s been a great day of walking, and I’m surprised when I check my Garmin to see I’ve only walked 14 miles. I thought the route was longer. It’s only 5pm, but I decide to stop at the pub in Kilmelford (which boasts it does meals all day) and have a good evening meal. I’m very hungry.
I love sleeping in the Beast, but I do miss my cooked breakfasts!
High points: discovering the Money Tree
Low points: my cowardice and not walking down to Ardmaddy Bay.
Walked today = 14 miles
Total around coast = 3,842 miles