372pm Benderloch to Barcaldine

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”.

27 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!

28 out of the woods, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

29 view to Shian Bay, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

30 new building, Seabank, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

31 fish farm, Seabank, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

32 long pier, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

I leave the fish farm behind, and now I am walking close to the shore.

33 road walking, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

34 view over Loch Creran, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

sign to Bercaldine Castle, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland.jpg

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.

35 Bercaldine Castle, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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…

36 walk down to Pony Park, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

… 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.

37 main A828, Benderloch, Ruth's coastal walkaround Scotland

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.

38 cycle route along A828, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A sign tells me this is National Cycle Route 78, a joint enterprise between the Scottish Government and Sustrans, to encourage walking and cycling.

39 route 78, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

40 cycle lane, A828, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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?

41 mysterious church, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I get occasional glimpses over Loch Creran. Beautiful.

42 view to Sea Life Centre, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

43 bed and breakfast and pottery, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The cycle way is marked by ornate gates. Love them.

44 impressive gates across cycle way, Ruth Livingstone

A symbol tells me I’m on The Caledonia Way. Oh. Is that a walking route or a cycling route, or both?

45 Caledonian Way sign, A828, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

[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.

46 cyclist on the Caledonian Way, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

47 Sea Life Centre, Barcaldine, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

48 have an otterly good time, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

49 cycle route to Barcaldine, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I spot something bright among the grasses of the verge. Red berries? Ah, wild strawberries! How wonderful. I stop and pick some.

50 wild strawberries, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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…

51 cycle route to Fort William, Barcaldine, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

… and soon joins a track. I’ve reached the village of Barcaldine.

52 Barcaldine, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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.

53 Barcaldine bus stop, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

But the seats aren’t for sitting on. They’re actually the support for a makeshift book exchange. What a great idea!

54 book exchange, Barcaldine, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

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!

55 Barcaldine bus, Ruth Livingstone hiking around Scotland

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.

56 wild camping, Shian Wood car park, Ruth Livingstone

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)

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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26 Responses to 372pm Benderloch to Barcaldine

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, I sat on the very same eerge to have a quick bite and change of footwear

  2. owdjockey says:

    “verge” i meant to type

  3. jcombe says:

    Glad you made it out of the wood OK. I also ended up going round in a circle in woodland on a coastal walk in Scotland a couple of months ago, so it’s not just you (It was at Kirconnel Flow and I never did find the path I was meant to take so gave up and took the road).

    I share your frustration about that castle too (I love a good castle). It has a brown tourist sign with the Visit Scotland logo so if it’s a B&B then the sign is wrong (I know hotels and B&B sometimes also get the brown signs, but then they are marked with a bed symbol, not a tourist attraction symbol).

    Fish farms seem to be sometihng you see a lot of on the west coast of Scotland. I don’t recall passing any on the east coast but although I’ve only done a little of the west cosst, I’ve come across a lot of fish farms already

    Glad that busy road had a cycle path, it’s always a relief when dreading a bit of main road walking to find there is a pavement or cycle path after all!

    • You’re right. The sign was very misleading. Only later, looking at the photograph, did I realise it had a small B&B sign tacked onto the bottom. Maybe you could look round it, if you went and asked, but there was nothing that seemed to invite casual visitors.
      Fish farms are everywhere, on the west coast.

  4. Eunice says:

    What a gorgeous place to spend the night – with a view like that I don’t think I’d want to leave 🙂

  5. john says:

    Thanks for the ‘Grandma’ link (and much else besides…).

  6. You might be interested to know that the reason there’s a slipway at the end of the road at South Shian is because up until 1948 there was a ferry across Loch Creran to North Shian on the other side.

    • Ah, I wondered if there might have been. Interestingly, a couple are walking the coast and ‘pretending’ to use any ferry crossing they come across, including historic ones. So they could have used this one.

  7. John Bainbridge says:

    The cycle path follows what used to be the railway line from Oban to Fort William and offers splendid views. Appin features of course in the book Kidnapped. Very good walking country.

  8. Di iles says:

    Hi Ruth, especially loving your Scottish journey as I have a huge passion for the highlands myself. It’s a beauty that has been drawing my husband and I back for years. I’m fascinated by how you’re navigating the coast, it really can’t be easy planning your route. It’s an incredible place isn’t it? Sometimes I find the views are so breathtaking they make me fill up with tears. The good news you’ve got so much more of that to come because and in my opinion it just keeps on getting better the more north you go. I can’t wait to see more of your beautiful pictures and read more of your wonderful account. Looks like you’ve been blessed with the weather too thankfully 😊

    • Thank you Di. Everyone says how beautiful Scotland is, but you really have to be there to appreciate it, don’t you. Interestingly, during this lovely hot summer, there have been a lot of foreign tourists here – Japanese, Chinese, European – but relatively few English people. And, of course, absolutely everywhere was fully booked. Glad I’ve got my van.

  9. 829b says:

    I never realized there is an original Barcaldine. There is another near the tropic of Capricorn in Australia. As well as being the home of the Labor movement in Oz, Barcy is famous for how many pubs have caught fire over the years. It looks nothing like the Scottish version.


  10. deevmom says:

    I love hearing about Grandma Gatewood. As I recall she hiked the whole AT in sneakers and didn’t even sleep in a tent. Amazing! I love following your blog. I read it with my Michelin Atlas of Great Britain by my side so I can see where you are.

    • She was amazing, and walked the AT twice! You’re right, she didn’t carry a tent, but she often just sat down on peoples porches, and waited for them to offer her food and accommodation. I guess you can get away with that as an elderly woman 😄

  11. Jayne Hill says:

    I love your final photo. There is a joy in just chilling for an afternoon with the van nearby when the kettle is required!

  12. Karen White says:

    I have zero sense of direction and sometimes think I shouldn’t be allowed out on my own! I have a friend who always knows which direction north is and she can’t understand why I don’t – and I don’t understand how she does!

    • We have a magnetic chemical In our bodies, called magnetite. I think there’s a layer at the back of our eyes, and in other parts of our brain too, In some animals, it seems this magnetite can help in navigating – pigeons, for example – and possibly cows use it to line up because they usually face north while grazing. It’s possible that we humans, or some of us – like your friend – have some magnetic perception too, Just a theory at the moment, but an interesting one,

      • Karen White says:

        That is fascinating Ruth, and not something I was aware of. Now I know how homing pigeons do what they do – and also why at some point I picked up that cows know where north is!

  13. jcombe says:

    I mostly followed your route but the other way. I was able to drop down onto the shore at the fish farm and make my way, with a bit of difficulty to the Eriska bridge and couldn’t resist visiting and walking round that. I had originally intended to just connect the roads up and try to avoid the woodland where you went in circles, but got sidetracked! When returning from Eriska I passed the gate posts for the hotel. They made it look very private but fortunately no signs saying private the way I came and no one questioned me. The rest of the walk was the same, I used the same bus stop too but on the other side of the road. The book exchange is still there but in a more permanent wooden structure now. Looked a bit like a rabbit hutch!

    • jcombe says:

      Oh yes sadly the Sea Life centre has closed down and is boarded up and fenced off. I found that it closed on 31st October 2018, not long after you walked here it seems.

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