374 Appin to The Highlands

I catch the bus to Appin, and get off at the now familiar bus stop. From here it’s just a short walk down the road to rejoin the cycle way.

01 leaving Appin, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

This vehicle, parked in yard, seems to have a message for me. “NO…LIFE.LIVEIT.” Huh? I have no idea what that means.

02 no life live it, Ruth Livingstone

Here’s the cycle way. I’m now retracing the last mile of yesterday’s walk, and that feels a little frustrating. It’s a dull day too. I put my head down and get on with it.

03 cycle track through Appin, Ruth walking around the coast of Scotland

Ah, a sign about route 78. I must have missed that yesterday. I stop to read the information…

04 route 78, Oban to Fort William, Ruth hiking in Scotland

…and confirm I can follow the cycle path all the way to Fort William. There is only one section still missing, where you must join the main road for 2-3 miles. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to tackle that road section later today.

Onwards, past the primary school. Yesterday there were children playing here, but today is Saturday, and the playground is empty.

05 school playground, Ruth hiking through Appin, Scotland

The cycle path is busier than yesterday. I think of my husband, who loves cycling, and could follow this route all the way to Inverness, if he wanted to.

06 route 78 to Fort William, Ruth hiking in Scotland

But cycle paths are often a little boring for walkers, because they run flat and straight. So, I entertain myself by taking photos of wild flowers along the verge. Love these cheeky daisies.

07 daisies, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I reach the turn off to the Jubilee Bridge. Really, today’s walk begins properly here, because I’m now entering new territory. I’m not the only person out walking this morning. A couple stride purposefully past me.

08 walkers and cyclists, Appin, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

I really am the slowest walker in the universe.

A little further on, and I get a good view of the Jubilee bridge. It’s a fine structure, and I’m glad they restored it.

09 yet another photo of the Jubille Bridge, Ruth Livingstone

Hello, horse. You’re very beautiful.

10 hello horse, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I come to a semicircular stone wall with a bench inside, and am intrigued to see there are a number of inscribed discs set among the stones. Apparently, the phrases are taken from poems written by local children. What a nice idea!

“The sun shines.” Well, sometimes, maybe, but not today.

11a the sun shines, Ruth Livingstone

“The sky is blue.” Ditto. Today it’s very definitely grey.

11b the sky is blue, Ruth Livingstone

“Waves glide and the water flows.” Yes. Nothing stops the tides.

11c waves glide, Ruth Livingstone

“The wind soothes.” Ah, that’s a nice phrase, and unusual because usually the wind “howls” or “rages”, but here it has been given a benign function.

11d the wind soothes, Ruth Livingstone

Onwards. Further along the cycle track I come across a row of recycling bins. From the poetic, to the mundane! Well, I guess they had to put them somewhere.

12 recycling centre, Appin, Ruth walking the Scottish Coast

Much of this cycle way follows the route of an old train track, and I soon come across a disused station platform. The station used to link Appin with Oban, but closed in 1966. Shame. The platform is now being used to store building materials.

13 Appin Station, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

Further along, and I get a great view of Castle Stalker. There’s a boat house and a little jetty here, and I guess you can get to the castle by boat. (Except at low tide when, according to Peter Caton, you can wade across.)

14 Castle Stalker, Ruth hiking the west coast of Scotland

Despite my rule forbidding me to think too far ahead, I have been worrying about how I will cope with walking along the far shore of Loch Linnhe. There’s a long stretch over there without any road access, although my map shows numerous tracks. But, I believe you can’t walk through that area because of the quarry…

I take a photo with my camera on full zoom and, yes, there really is a huge quarry over there.

14b huge quarry on other side Loch Linnhe, Ruth Livingstone

Onwards. I continue along the cycle track, and am soon rounding a corner.

15 cycle route to Fort William, Ruth Livingstone's coastal walk in Scotland

I’ve reached a promontory known as The Knap. I was going to try to follow the shore around this section, but am put off by the industrial yards. Look at that huge crane.

16 The Knap, Ruth hiking from Appin, Scotland

I come across an old boat, with a hull that looks too rusty to be restored. I wonder how long the old thing has been out of the water? Do love the colours though – that bright blue zings against the orange rust. So, of course, I must stop and take photographs.

17 rusty boat, The Knap, Ruth walking the Scottish coast

I’ve reached Dallens Bay and the Sound of Shuna. Here the cycleway widens out into a narrow lane, with parked cars and a huddle of huts. This is Linnhe Marina. In the water, numerous boats are making use of the shelter formed by Shuna Island, which lies just offshore.

18 Sound of Shuna, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

A friendly dog comes running out from one of the huts, and nuzzles up against my legs. He (or she) looks like a cross between a springer spaniel and a Labrador. Hello. I stop to pet it. Love dogs.

19 slobbery dog, North Dallens, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

It’s only after I’ve walked away, that I realise something wet and gooey is running down my legs. The dog has drooled all over my trousers. Well, I hope it’s only drool!

I reach a small layby, where a row of cars and camper vans are parked above a rocky beach.

20 Linnhe Marina moorings, Ruth hiking up the west coast of Scotland

I’m hungry, and clamber down to sit on a rock near the water. Time for lunch. And I manage to take a self-portrait.

21 picnic time, overlooking Shuna Island, Ruth

The next section of the cycle path is very pretty, because it runs beside the edge of the loch. Perfect. Just a shame about the dull weather.

22 cycle route along shore of Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk

For the next few miles, the cycle route plays piggyback with the road, sometimes running along the shore, sometimes alongside the road itself…

23 sometimes along the road, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

… and sometimes along a minor road through a forested area, just inland. It makes an easy walking surface, despite having to dodge the occasional cyclist.

24 sometimes along forest trails, Ruth hiking in Scotland

The only frustration about the inland section is the lack of sea views. Just occasionally I get glimpses of the loch through the trees. Wow, it looks wild over there.

25 mountains across Loch Linnhe, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

This smallholding catches my eye, along with a series of warning signs about red lights? “WHEN RED LIGHT SHOWS, WAIT HERE.” What red lights? Where are they?

26 when red light shows, Ruth hiking the Scottish coast

Then I realise the landowner has repaired holes in his fence with salvaged material from elsewhere, including these red-light road signs! Hope they weren’t important.

Onwards. The cycle path meanders along beside the road.

27 cycle route along the A828, Ruth's coastal walk in Scotland

I’ve become used to photographing landscapes on my walks, but now I don’t have any sea views, and I’m surrounded by trees. So, there is little in the way of open countryside to capture. Never mind. It’s late June, and a great time of year for wild flowers.

Here’s a beautiful flag iris.

28 flag iris, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

And here’s a collection of hollyhocks (oops, wrong flower!) foxgloves. The stems are so laden down by heavy buds, they hang sideways.

29 fox gloves, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

More cyclists overtake me. Couples enjoying their weekend together.

30 cycle route to Fort William, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

Then, through a gap in the foliage, I spot a sign on the road below me. “Welcome to the Highlands.”

The Highlands! I’m here at last. I walk back and then forwards again, crossing and re-crossing the invisible boundary. Now I feel I’m really, truly, properly in Scotland – and am filled with a thrill of achievement, accompanied by an even stronger thrill of terror.

31 welcome to the Highlands, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

I began walking the coast eight years ago, and started with the flat shoreline of East Anglia. Right from the beginning, people kept asking me how I would cope with the Scottish Highlands. I kept telling myself not to worry about… they were hundreds of miles away, and many years ahead.

Now I’m here. The Highlands! I take a deep breath. Even the air smells different… I take another breath. Yes, it really does smell different.  And not in a good way.

Uh, oh. A dead deer.

32 decomposing deer, Ruth hits the highlands

A dead deer isn’t a great start. Maybe it’s an omen? A warning of dangers to come? I walk around the carcass, and try not to worry about the wild country ahead of me.

[To be continued…]

The strange semi-circular stone bench was an arts project. You can read about the project here: The Sheep Fenke at Appin.

Route so far today:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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15 Responses to 374 Appin to The Highlands

  1. owdjockey says:

    Ruth, you’ve been in the Highlands since you crossed over by ferry to Arran. The Highlands you are looking at is merely an Adminstrative District and a large one at that! The Scottish Highlands are bounded by the NE/SW running Highland Boundary Fault and begin not far from Dumbarton and includes all of the Clyde Sea Lochs.
    BTW, the quarry you are looking at is the large Glensanda Quarry which has been in sight since Knapdale. There is a footpath from Kingairloch following the coast around to Glensanda and then on to Lochaline. I doubt you could do that in a single day and would probably an overnight wild camp. Almost a year ago today I did this walk, but opted to climb the Graham Beinn Mheadhoin which overlooks Glensanda. You could stay at the bothy at Leacraithnaich (by Loch Tearnait) 5 miles west of Glensanda, which would mean a lighter pack.

    • Oh, so I’ve been in the Highlands for ages?! Nothing to worry about then 😄
      I’d been looking at the tracks around Glensanda.The distances are too long for me, and I’m not strong enough to carry the stuff I’d need for wild camping, even if I didn’t have to carry a tent. I’m probably going to have to make compromises 😣

  2. I love the rusty boat. You obviously have the same pleasurable reaction to old rusty objects that I do. Here is a Dropbox link to a relevant Photoshop painting I did.

  3. Wow! I didn’t expect that highly magnified bit of my painting to appear her.e I think if you click on it you will go to the normal picture in Dropbox.

    • Great painting, Conrad. Yes, I love looking at objects made of rusty metal, or with flaking paint, or old timbers. You can’t beat an old boat, unless, maybe, an abandoned tractor covered in weeds!

  4. Paul Sennett says:

    Wow. You have really started to get in to the West Coast of Scotland round all those sea lochs etc

    Carol and I hope to finish the SW path this week. Two wee pieces left. Charlestown to Mevigissey. And Lamorna to Lands End
    Your blog remains a lifesaver to us. Thank you

  5. deevmom says:

    I don’t think you are the slowest walker. My husband and I walk about the same speed as you, possibly even a little slower. We always say it’s because we stop and take so many pictures.

  6. Kate says:

    *whispers* foxgloves, not hollyhocks 🙂 Love your blog, and your photos (even the ones you describe as poor due to the dull weather still capture the essence of the place beautifully!)

  7. Eunice says:

    The photo of the dead deer reminds me of an old joke – I’m sure you must know it 🙂

  8. Karen White says:

    A beautiful palomino horse and the lovely dog looks very much like an Irish Red and White Setter. Delightful wildflowers too but a shame about the not so delightful dead deer!

  9. jcombe says:

    I did this walk today. The jubilee bridge was a nice surprise to me as I hadn’t spotted it on the map and it saves a mile (possibly more) of walking further inland. The circular shelter is still there but a couple were eating lunch in there so I didn’t like to disturb them to go and read all the phrases.

    Castle Stalker is sometimes open a sign said, though I’ve no idea when. It looks lovely.

    I also didn’t go around The Knapp as I could see (coming from the other way) the promising looking track had a gate across it further along with a big “No Entry” sign on it and a lorry just behind it (not sure if parked or if the driver was about) so I also gave it a miss, it didn’t look like the sort of place that encouraged access.

    The blue and rust boat you photographed is still there and still blue and rusty. The border between Highland Council and Argyll and Bute is actually a stream that flows under the road and cycle path there. Perhaps you didn’t spot it in your excitement at the Highlands sign!

    I’m pleased to report that the dead deer has gone!

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