I’m lost in the woods!
I know that if I follow the same paths I took before, I’ll end up going round in a circle again. So instead of following the “long route”, I follow the “short route”.
This turns out to be not so easy, as the route soon branches into multiple paths and it’s not clear which one to follow. I decide to keep going downward, and scramble down a steep slope, clinging onto tree trunks to keep myself upright.
Ah, there’s a gate ahead… and there’s the coast road. Hurray!
I follow the road to the end, where there’s a cottage and a slipway. I stand by the slipway and look out over the mouth of Loch Creran. I just can’t get over how beautiful Scotland is.
Then I turn back, and follow the coastal road back towards Benderloch. The woods are now on my right, but on either side of the road is a mixture of old cottages, and some modern houses. This one is still under construction. Very nice. And with a fantastic view overlooking the water.
It would be a perfect area for smart residences, if it wasn’t for the industrial yards, the parked haulage lorries, and a collection of strange green tanks.
Of course. It’s another fish farm!
I walk past a very long pier, that seems to carry some sort of conveyor belt. Is it for collecting fish from the fishing boats? I think it must be.
I leave the fish farm behind, and now I am walking close to the shore.
There are some black bullocks grazing in a nearby field. Aberdeen Angus, I think. Despite the dull weather, the view inland is truly dramatic. I stop and take photographs.
The coast road turns inland, and takes me back to the crossroads. Here’s a sign I noticed earlier. Barcaldine Castle. Good, I’m looking forward to clambering around the ruins and, maybe, I’ll find somewhere nice to sit and eat my snacks.
But Barcaldine Castle turns out to be a rather posh B&B holiday place. No ruins to clamber around. And nowhere to sit and eat.
I perch on a grassy verge further down the road, overlooking a field of cows, and eat a cereal bar and some biscuits. It’s only 11am, but I’ve been walking for 4 hours and I’m hungry!
Onwards, down the road, past farmland with sheep, a pony park, and then a residential area…
… until I reach the main road – the busy A828. Actually, the traffic isn’t too busy, it’s just that everything hurtles along at 90 mph.
I haven’t been looking to this section of today’s walk, but luckily there is an excellent cycle/walking path running alongside the road.
A sign tells me this is National Cycle Route 78, a joint enterprise between the Scottish Government and Sustrans, to encourage walking and cycling.
Sadly, there appears to be a total absence of both cyclists and walkers on this stretch of the route. It all seems fairly new. There are even road markings for the cyclists.
The track closely follows the road, sometimes running alongside the main carriageway, and sometimes screened by bushes – which makes for far more pleasant walking.
I walk past a church, and check my OS map, but no church is shown on the map. There are no signs either. Weird. I wonder if the building is now a private residence?
I get occasional glimpses over Loch Creran. Beautiful.
There’s a turnoff to a farm a B&B place and a pottery. I’m tempted to stop and look at the pots, but I’m hoping to walk a good few more miles today, and I decide to carry on.
The cycle way is marked by ornate gates. Love them.
A symbol tells me I’m on The Caledonia Way. Oh. Is that a walking route or a cycling route, or both?
[Later I discover that Route 78 is the Caledonia Way, and it’s a 237 mile cycling route running from Campbell Town to Inverness. Strangely, I’ve walked up the coast from Campbell town, and can’t remember seeing signs for The Caledonia Way before.]
I meet my first cyclist. As usual, I think of my husband. He would enjoy this.
I reach a car park for the nearby Sea Life Centre. The cycle way is also the access route to the centre, and a minibus crawls slowly away.
There are advertising signs for the Sea Life Centre all along the access road. I like this one. “Have an otterly good time.” Makes me smile.
The access road soon swings away from the cycle path to join the main road. Now I’m walking through a pleasant area of woodland, slightly above the road.
I spot something bright among the grasses of the verge. Red berries? Ah, wild strawberries! How wonderful. I stop and pick some.
I’ve just read a book about a woman who walked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail in 1955. She carried very little in the way of supplies, and ate fruit and wild berries she found along the route. These strawberries are very tasty, but I wouldn’t like to rely on them as a food source.
Onwards. The cycle path crosses over the road…
… and soon joins a track. I’ve reached the village of Barcaldine.
I was going to continue further. But I’m suddenly overcome by a feeling of fatigue. The next bus stop is 4 miles away, at a place called Appin, and beyond Barcaldine the service is very infrequent.
The bus stop nearby looks so very, very inviting. And, look, it even has some comfortable seats nearby.
But the seats aren’t for sitting on. They’re actually the support for a makeshift book exchange. What a great idea!
I’ve seen an old, red telephone box used as a book exchange, back on the Kintyre peninsula, but this is the first time I’ve seen a couple of chairs used in this way.
Anyway, I decide to end my walk here. It’s always a leap of faith, waiting by a bus stop, with nobody else around, but there should be a bus arriving in the next 20 minutes.
I wait. And wait. And wait some more. Ah, there it is!
I return to Benderloch and find a café that does hot food all day. Yay! Then I drive The Beast up the narrow road to the car park for Shian Wood.
The car park is empty. The sun is shining. And, best of all, there’s not a midge in sight. What a wonderful place to spend the night! So quiet and peaceful. Just the occasional car driving past on its way to Eriska Island.
I spend the rest of the afternoon sitting in my chair, enjoying the view, reading a book, and drinking a large bottle of cider.
I’m woken just before midnight by somebody rustling a nearby bush. Oh no! Is someone going to attack me and my van? I grab a walking pole and peer out through the curtains.
It’s only a deer.
The lady who walked the Appalachian Trail in 1955 was Emma Gatewood, and the book about her adventures can be found here: Grandma Gatewood’s Walk
Miles walked today = 10 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,886 miles
Route: (black=morning, red=afternoon)