369pm Kilmore to Oban

Although being forced to walk inland has been rather irritating, I’m grateful to be off the horrible A816, and glad to have discovered the beautiful Loch Nell. I prop my camera on a gate post and take a self-portrait.

20 self portrait, Loch Nell, Ruth Livingstone in hiking gear

There are a few houses around the shores of the loch. Nice place to live. I spot a little yellow sports car, and love the number plate. Yes, looks like a lot of FUN to drive.

21 lots of fun, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

The road climbs above the Loch, and begins to swing inland. Trees provide some welcome shade.

22 road above Loch Nell, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

The house ahead is called Killiechoinich (I think) and I’m hoping to pick up a track somewhere close to this point. With luck, the track should take me around the slopes of a hill, through a forest, and down to Oban. I just need to find it…

23 cottage above Loch Nell, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

Yes. Here it is. The gateposts are interesting and old. The gate is tied with a metal chain, but it easily unclips. I’m surprised to see an official “Passing Place” sign, just inside the gate.

24 track up Cnoc Mor, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

The sign seems a little unnecessary. I guess the track is used by farm vehicles, but I find it hard to believe many other vehicles would drive along here.

The track doubles back on the road, climbing higher around the slope of a hill called Cnoc Mor. The views from up here are staggering.

25 looking down at Loch Nell, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I keep stopping to take photographs of the scenery. Sometimes the sheer space and beauty of the Scottish countryside is almost overwhelming.

The track cuts across open slopes, and I can see there’s a pine forest ahead. Wondering how far I have yet to go, I pause to check my map, and realise there is a “cup marked rock” somewhere nearby.

26 farm track towards Black Mount, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I’ve seen plenty of these marked rocks featured on the OS maps, but I’ve not actually spotted one in real life – not while I’ve been hiking in Scotland, anyway. So this seems too good an opportunity to miss.

I drop my rucksack on the track, and head off down the slope to find the rock. The ground is rough, and there are a number of stones scattered randomly around. Which one is it? None of them have any markings that I can see.

Oh, this group looks promising…

27 searching for stones, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

… yes, this must be it. I can see a definite something carved into the stone surface of one of the stones. (Although, I must say, if I wasn’t actively searching for an ancient symbol, I wouldn’t really have noticed it.)

Having worked hard to find the rock, I feel reluctant to leave it. Run a hand over the surface, feel the furry coating of lichen, trace the grooved marks beneath. Wonder what moved some ancient ancestor to cut this shape here, in this place. What rituals were involved? What mystical and magical beliefs?

28 cup marked rock, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

But then I’m seized by an irrational fear.

I’ve left my rucksack on the track. It contains my water and food, my phone and – most importantly – the keys to my lovely Beast. If someone was to pick it up and taken it… oh, no, what if I lost my stuff?

Anxiously, I look back up the slope. The track is invisible from down here. What’s happened to my rucksack? I must find it. Stumbling over the rough ground, I hurry back through grass and ferns… oh, what a relief…

My rucksack is safe and sound, and sitting exactly where I’ve left it.

29 rucksack on the track, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

But now I can’t believe I was worried. Who could possibly have picked up my pack? There’s absolutely nobody else up here. What an idiot I was for panicking!

Onwards, along the track. Below is a marshy-looking area. Lochan a Bhuig Bhith, according to my map.

30 Lochan a Bhuilg Bhith, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I’m approaching the forest and, as I enter the shade of the trees, I feel a sudden sharp pain. Instinctively, I slap my arm. Oh no! A horse fly!

Hope I got it before it had time to inject me with any of its nasty anticoagulating gunk.

I stop and search around in the bottom of my rucksack. Here’s the Smidge… but I’m already covered in that, and it didn’t deter the horse fly. Ah.. here’s some Jungle Formula insect repellent. Good.

31 smidge and jungle formula, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I add a layer of insecticide to the layer of Smidge, which sits on top of a layer of sunblock. Hope that does the trick.

Onwards, into the forest.

I don’t usually enjoy walking through pine forests – too dark and barren. But, apart from worrying about horse flies, I really enjoy this section of the walk. Love the way the light filters through the branches.

32 forest track, Black Mount, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

My narrow track soon joins a rough forestry road, and I’m surprised to see a car coming towards me. Where is it going? Down to Loch Nell?

33 car on forest track, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

A few minutes later, I’m overtaken by the car coming back. Perhaps they’re lost?

I reach an area of logged woodland, where my forestry track joins another, even wider track. What does this warning sign at the junction say?

34 road closed sign, Black Mount, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

Ah. Road ahead closed. Well, you couldn’t say that car wasn’t warned.

road closed, Ruth hiking in Scotland.jpg

(This is the sort of sign that would have thrown me into a state of anxiety if I was walking the other way, but I now simply feel smug because I safely negotiated a section of road that may, or may not, have been officially closed!)

There’s water to my right. Check my map. Lochan Eileen. Lochan means a small loch, and Eileen means an island. So this is a small loch with an island in it, I guess.

35 lochan Eilean, Ruth hiking Black Mount, near Oban

The pine trees have thinned, and been replaced by natural woodland. And the verges are lined with summer flowers. Foxgloves, buttercups, flowering rhododendron bushes, and even some lingering blue bells.

36 flowers on Black Mount, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

There is quite a network of tracks through the forest. I hear the car again, coming up behind me. They really are lost!

I come to another junction. Decision time. If I continue straight ahead, I would soon reach a minor road. But if I turn left along a narrower path. I should be able to get down to Oban through the trees.

37 lots of paths, Black Mount, Ruth Livingstone hiking to Oban

The path is lined with ferns, and drops down through the woodland. Good choice, I think to myself. This is much better than walking along a road.

38 path down Black Mount, Ruth walking to Oban

I just have one niggling worry. I know there’s a railway line ahead, and have no idea if I can get across it. But the path seems clear and well-trodden. It can’t be a dead-end. No, it must lead somewhere.

Yes, it joins a wider track, and there’s a proper crossing over the railway line.

39 stop look listen, trains, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I continue downhill, and reach a small parking area. Hmm. Could be a good place to stay the night… if I wasn’t already booked into a campsite on the other side of Oban.

40 down off Black Mount, Ruth hiking to Oban, Scotland

(I’ve discovered “wild” camping – if you can call it “wild” in a campervan – is somewhat addictive!)

Now I join a road, and then a larger road with residential developments. Luckily traffic is light.

Footsteps behind me – and I turn expecting a fellow walker. Oh, it’s a lady going shopping. She’s walking faster than me and, despite wearing fashionable boots, soon overtakes.

41 Glencruitten, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland, Oban

I really am a very, very sloooow walker!

I’m on the outskirts of Oban, and this area is called Glencruitten. To my left is a golf course. They’re everywhere in Scotland, but I haven’t seen one for a while.

42 Glencruitten Golf Course, Ruth Hiking to Oban

I’m amused by the Night Golf sign. One thing I’ve learnt from sleeping in The Beast, is that midsummer nights never get truly dark at this latitude. But then I read the date on the sign. 18th November!

43 Night golf at Glencruitten Golf Course, Ruth's coastal walk, Oban

I walk past a series of shed-like buildings, and am surprised to see a sign suggesting one of the buildings is a centre for multiple sclerosis. Hmm. Doesn’t look very promising.

44 Action for Research Multiple Sclerosis sign, Glencruitten, Oban

Onwards. The houses are becoming more numerous and the road a little busier. I must have nearly reached Oban.

45 approaching Oban, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

After the isolation of the last few miles, it is always a shock to be thrust into the hurly-burly of a busy town. I wasn’t expecting Oban to be so large. Or so full of people!

I walk along the waterside for a while. There are people carrying rucksacks, people with shopping bags, cars everywhere, and different languages being spoken. I’m almost overwhelmed by the bustle and noise…

46 Oban waterside, Ruth Livingstone hiking the coast of Scotland

… and then realise I’m going the wrong way for the campsite. I turn round. Ahead is a quay and the ferry port where the ferries leave for the Hebridean islands – and that ‘s the main reason why Oban is so busy.

What’s the pub across on the quayside? A Wetherspoons? I didn’t realise there was one so far north!

47 Wetherspoon on the quayside, Oban, Ruth's favourite eating place

The are many reasons I love Wetherspoons. They’re cheap. They don’t have music blaring or TV screens. They’re often sited in historic and interesting buildings, and each one has a unique carpet. And – best of all – they serve food ALL DAY LONG.

I go into the Spoons, and order a steak and chips. And a glass of cider. Lovely. It’s only 4pm. The women on the table next to me are having tea and cakes, and whisky!

After a good meal, I leave the pub and head westwards. The road system on this side of Oban has changed, and neither my OS map nor my Garmin shows the new roads. But the campsite owner said there was a walking-route and short-cut into Oban, and it should be somewhere around here.

I walk through Tesco’s car park, and then go the wrong way down a side road. I retrace my steps and eventually find myself in a rather ugly industrial park.

48 through industrial area, Oban, Ruth hiking to Roseview Caravan Park

Is this the right way? I follow the road over the railway line.

49 over railway line, Oban, Ruth's coastal walk

And then turn left along a dead-end road. Is this really the right way? The road sign appears to have a small walking figure in the corner… but it might just be a random daub of paint. Oh well. I’ll keep going and see if I can get through.

deadend road.jpg

I’ve left the main part of Oban behind. There are scattered houses along the road, and then I’m walking along the side of a steep hill, with modern buildings below me. There’s a black cat ahead. Must be lucky.

50 dead end road to Roseview camp site, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland, Oban

Round the corner, and I discover the road really is a dead-end, but only for traffic. Walkers and cyclists can easily get through.

51 closed road, Druim Mor, Ruth's coast walk to Oban

Now I’m back on the approach road to the campsite – and I recognise the route from my drive here yesterday. Below is an extensive area of new housing, with wide new access roads, none of which are shown on my map.

52 new development, Oban, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

I climb higher up the hill. There’s more new building here, too.

53 more new developments, Oban, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland

And then the road narrows into a single-track lane, and runs along the side of a lovely valley. Below are sheep fields. Ahead is the sea – the Sound of Kerrera.

54 road to Roseview campsite, Ruth's coast walk around Scotland, Oban

I’m passed by a jogger with a dog. The bustle of Oban is far behind. This is a different world.

55 jogger on road to Roseview, Oban, Ruth Livingstone

And here’s the campsite, and my faithful Beast is waiting for me.

56 The Beast in Roseview caravan site, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

Although wild camping is wonderful, I’m really enjoying access to hot showers, proper toilets, and electricity. There are plenty of buses in and out of Oban and I don’t really need to drive tomorrow. So I decide I can let the Beast have a couple of days rest, and we’ll stay here another night.

High points = Discovering beautiful Loch Nell, and finding a cup-marked rock.
Low points = Walking along the horrible A816.

Midge bites = 0
Horsefly bites = 1

Miles walked today = 14 miles
Total around coast = 3,860.5 miles

Route: (black in morning, red in afternoon)

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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17 Responses to 369pm Kilmore to Oban

  1. Pam Ley says:

    You aren’t a slow walker Ruth! You look around as you walk as well, unlike these folk who consider they’re ramblers but couldn’t tell you anything at all that they’ve passed! That’s crazy and we can never see the point of walking at all unless you ‘see’ things along the route!

  2. John Bone says:

    Hi Ruth

    Another advantage for walkers I found in the excellent Wetherspoons chain is their generally spacious layout, allowing the weary walker to swing off the rucksack without whacking any fellow drinkers! I niche advantage I admit …


    • Oh yes, John, I agree. And another good point I’ve just remembered: Wetherspoons don’t allow you to book tables. If you can find a seat, you can sit in it. (The pub I went to the previous night was empty, but ‘fully booked’ for the evening meal. They only let me eat there because it was 5:30pm and I promised to be finished in an hour!)

  3. There is plenty to see in Oban. The Wetherspoons is named after a whirlpool, I think! If your itinerary excludes exploring, see what you missed on my blog! https://sueswordsandpictures.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/oban-dunollie-castle-and-mccaigs-tower/

  4. I’m so behind in reading your blog – you’re just finishing off Anglesey in the bit I’m up to! I was trying to read in order, but have been jumping ahead to a bit to some of your more recent posts. i can’t believe you’re already in Scotland! And you’ve bought a campervan. I know exactly what you mean about wild campervan camping being addictive – I’m always noticing places and thinking ‘hm, that would be a good place to stop’ even when I have no need to.

  5. coaststomper says:

    There is a Wetherspoons in Wick in Caithness.

  6. Karen White says:

    I would find the draw of hot showers and proper toilets too much to resist! Roughing it with Wild Camping for emergencies only, also I don’t think I’d sleep well if I was on my own – my imagination is much too vivid!

  7. jcombe says:

    Walking this bit of coast has proved a bit of a pain! Starting from Oban I followed the coast road south to the end of the public road at Gallanchmore, then looped back on the road you followed I think passing the campsite you used and then turned right on a new road through that estate that was being built when you walked here, which brought me out on the A816 by the hospital.

    Then I followed this road south to the turn for Ardentallen and walked again to the end of the public road then retraced my steps most of the way back, but found a track I could follow to shortcut slightly back to the A816 then turned right and followed the road to Kilmore where I took the bus back to Oban. As you say, access to the coast is tricky here.

    • I’ve spent far more time retracing my steps in Scotland then I care to remember! It’s not easy, with few coastal paths. Made me really appreciate the achievements in England and Wales with so much of the coast easily accessible to walkers. Glad to see you out walking this year. I’ve not got started yet! Too many family commitments at the moment.

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