373am Barcaldine to Port Appin

I am reassured to see a local man waiting for the bus. But he asks me if the bus is really running, and tells me he doesn’t normally catch public transport. We wait with growing unease. This is supposed to be the school bus, but there are no children waiting. Oh dear.

The bus is due to arrive at eight minutes past eight. At exactly seven minutes past eight, several school children come running out of nearby houses, pulling on jackets and slinging rucksacks over their shoulders.

The bus arrives a minute later. Wow! Talk about split-second timing.

It’s a quiet journey. The children are still half-asleep. I guess they might be going on to Oban, but I get off at the Barcaldine bus stop.

01 Barcaldine bus stop, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Now, according to my rules, I should really follow the road, as it provides the closest route to the shore. But everything is travelling at high speed, and the pavement comes to an end just outside Barcaldine. So, instead, I stick to the Caledonia cycle/walking path.

This meanders inland, but is a very pleasant route, passing through Barcaldine along quiet roads.

I notice something odd. Oak leaves growing out of what looks like a silver birch. Maybe young oak trees have silver coloured bark? (I make a mental note: I really must find out more about trees.)

02 oak leaves on silver birch, Ruth Livingstone

I love the simplicity of this signpost. I don’t need to worry about the speed limit of 10mph. My walking speed rarely exceeds 2.5mph. North or south? I’m going north, of course.

03 Caledonia Way, Ruth hiking the Scottish coast

Barcaldine is surrounded by forests, but there is farmland close to the village. In a nearby field, a group of cows are lying down.

04 fields of cows, Ruth hiking up the west coast of Scotland

I pass an old walled garden, with a camp site inside. I’d read about this site on the web, and had half-considered staying here. It’s a pleasant setting, but my wild-camp last night had a much better view.

05 campsite in walled garden, Ruth Livingstone in Barcaldine, Scotland

The next patch of woodland comes as a surprise, because it hosts a grove of Douglas firs. An information board tells me how Lord Sutherland imported these trees from North America.

06 Sutherland's Grove, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

The trees are 150 years old, but still nowhere near fully grown. It’s hard to capture their height in a photo… but they are truly impressive.

07 Douglas Firs in Sutherland's Grove, Ruth's coastal walk, West Scotland

There’s a car parking area inside the grove, and I wonder about camping here tonight, with these enormous trees for companions. But I decide midges could be a problem because there are few breezes in this sheltered space.

I really enjoy walking through Sutherland’s Grove. There is something magical about these stately trees. I can see numerous walking tracks running through the surrounding forest… but I mustn’t get sidetracked… now, where’s the Caledonia Way gone?

I pick up the cycle track again but, sadly, it soon joins the A828. Only for a brief spell, before it turns off to the right once more.

08 back on the A828, Ruth hiking up the West Coast of Scotland

You can tell this used to be an old railway track I walk through an impressive cutting in the rock…

09 Caledonia Way to Appin, Ruth walking in Scotland

…and then through areas of woodland. It really is a wonderful route, although I’m a little frustrated at not being able to follow the shore more closely. I get occasional glimpses of Loch Creran through the trees.

10 view over Loch Creran, Ruth walking the Caledonia Way to Appin

And so, eventually, I reach Creagan Bridge. Remnants of an old railway viaduct are still visible in the water, but the old crossing has been replaced by a modern road bridge.

11 Creagan Bridge, Ruth hiking up the west coast of Scotland

The bridge is starkly functional, but the views are terrific. I spend some time taking photographs and looking up to towards the top of Loch Creran, which is circled by a minor road. That looks like a beautiful drive.

12 view inland from Cregan Bridge, Ruth's coastal walk

Onwards, along the A828, and I reach the Creagan Inn. It promises to serve food all day. Much too early for lunch, but I make a mental note. It would make a good place to stop for an evening meal.

13 Cregan Inn, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I walk past a holiday park with a small site for touring vans. This is another place I could stay but, although the site is on the banks of the loch, it seems quite close to the main road. I watch as one of the caravans opens its door, and a trio of enormous dogs come leaping out.

Hmm. I like dogs. But do I really want to sleep close to a pack?

Beyond here, the cycle path leaves the road and takes a parallel course. The verges are bright with daisies and other summer flowers.

14 Caledonia Way, Ruth hiking off the road, Scotland

A couple of touring bikes overtake me. This cycle path continues all the way to Appin and beyond, but I’m going to turn off down a minor road to the left, and follow the shore around to a place called Port Appin.

Here’s the turnoff. The road is very narrow, very straight, and virtually traffic free.

15 Single track road to Port Appin, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

I can just about see the water of Loch Creran. It’s over there, beyond the fields and behind a screen of trees. A sweet smell attracts my nose. Ah, honeysuckle.

16 honeysuckle along road to Port Appin, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

It’s a seven mile hike along here to Port Appin. Normally, I dislike road walking, but this is really very pleasant. Love the summer flowers, the beautiful meadows, and the occasional pretty cottage.

17 cottages along road to Port Appin, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

I leave the fields behind, and walk through forests. At one point, in a place called Rudhagarbh Wood (what a name! sounds like a cough and a spit), I stop and sit on a log and have a rest and a snack.

18 rocks and trees, road to Port Appin, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

I daren’t stop still for too long, because the midges are dancing in the shade under the trees. Must keep moving.

After three miles, the road runs close to the shore again. I look across the water, and recognise the woods where I got lost yesterday. And those are the houses I admired so much along the shore road.

19 view over to Benderloch, Seabank, Ruth's coastal walk

With my camera on full zoom, I can even see Barcaldine Castle. It looks impressive.

20 Benderloch Castle across Loch Creran, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

And there is the fish farm. A fishing boat is doing something… what? I don’t know.

21 fish farm at Benderloch, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Further along, and I can see the long pier that stretches out into the loch, the one I think was carrying a conveyor belt. Today there is a ship at the end of the pier. I wonder if it’s offloading fish?

22 ship at the long jetty, Benderloch fish farm, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I’m tempted to leave the road, and walk through the fields that border the water. But then I see a very large highland cow. Actually, I think it’s a highland bull.

23 highland cattle guard the coast, Ruth walking to Port Appin

I stick to the road, as it curves away from the shore again.

24 road to Port Appin, Ruth's coastal walk, west Scotland

The views inland are wonderful. I think that peak in the distance is called Beinn Donn. It looks like a mountain but, at only 473 metres, it’s only a hill.

25 empty countryside, Port Appin, Ruth's coastal walk

I’ve reached an area called North Shian. Although the countryside inland is relatively empty, there are a surprising number of houses along the coast. And some new buildings are going up.

26 new buildings on the coast, Appin, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Beyond this new building, on the other side of the loch, is the slipway at South Shian, where I stood yesterday. According to another coastal walker, Ju (aka The Helpful Mammal), a ferry used to run between South Shian and North Shian.  Sadly, the service stopped many years ago.

27 slipway across from Shian Bay, Ruth's coastal walk, Appin, Scotland

Now, I must stop gazing across the loch and get on with today’s walk. I’ve still got two or three miles to walk before I get to Port Appin.

[to be continued…]

Route so far today:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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12 Responses to 373am Barcaldine to Port Appin

  1. Eunice says:

    Love the view of Loch Creran through the trees – and Rudhagarbh wood I mistakenly read as Rhubarb until I looked at it again – maybe I need to go to Specsavers! 🙂 🙂

  2. jcombe says:

    Well they look like oak leaves to me too! The wood looks lovely. The more modern house near the end looks Alpine in style, like it might be in Austria or Switzerland perhaps. I’m glad the school bus came and was quiet. I always avoid school buses on my walks if at all possible as I’m always fearful that it will be full of noise rowdy kids and I’ll be the only adult (other than the driver) on there. Sounds like it’s not so bad after all!

    • Yes, they were very, very quiet, but they were secondary school kids, and it was only 8am. (We all know teenagers don’t wake up until midday!) I once rode a school bus on Anglesey that was full of primary school children coming home, and I thought my ear drums would explode.

  3. John Bainbridge says:

    We were lucky to see a distant otter when last in Port Appin, on the way to Lismore. Lovely photos.

  4. Karen White says:

    Loch Creran is very beautiful and your photos are splendid, as always..

    I made the mistake of visiting the zoo during the summer holidays – the constant noise from the children spoilt the day, gave me a headache and meant many of the animals had hidden themselves away. You were lucky that your school bus had teenagers on it. I think I am now officially a ‘grumpy old woman’! 😀

  5. jcombe says:

    I did this walk today but used the ordinary bus (Oban to Fort WIlliam route) which turned out to be a coach so avoided the school bus.

    I parked at the woodland where you took a picture of the “Tremendous” notice. Then walked back to the bus stop and took the bus up to Duror. The other campsite you mention is around the old station at Creagan and seemed to have pitches on both sides of the road. The station building was still there even with the old (or probably replica) name signs in place.

    The road under the bridge used to be the A828 before the bridge opened, which I saw from a notice opened in 1999 – it saves 6 miles.

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