The cycle path runs between the road and the sea. I’ve left the carcass of the dead deer behind, and now the air really does smell sweet.
I come across a marker stone beside the path, a modern one. “Fort Wm 24.” So I’m only 24 miles away from Fort William? I really am in the Highlands. Time for a self portrait.
Unfortunately, the cycle path soon rejoins the A828. It’s a mere 3 miles to Duror, but Sustrans haven’t yet managed to secure agreement from adjacent landowners along this stretch of the route, and there is NO safe cycle way.
The road isn’t particularly busy, but the traffic hurtles along at a frightening pace, and the verges are too narrow and uneven for pleasant walking.
I head down to the shore. Perhaps I can find a way along here instead? There does seem to be a path along the top of the pebbly beach.
My progress is soon blocked by a river. This is where Salachan Burn empties into Loch Linnhe. I consider wading across… but then I spot the bridge just upstream, and climb up onto it, intending to rejoin the road.
But, there’s no road up here! It’s the wrong bridge!
I realise this was once the railway bridge, but it’s now completely overgrown with bushes and trees. I’m not even sure if the span is still intact. Frustratingly, I can see the road bridge running parallel to this one, and just a few metres away. Out of reach.
Never mind. At least from up here there’s a great view across Loch Linnhe, despite the dull weather, and the low-hanging clouds. I stop to take photographs. The island directly ahead is… I check my map… Eilean Balnagowan.
I retrace my steps along the shore and rejoin the road. Sigh. I’m not looking forward to this, but it’s only three miles. One hour of walking if I get a move on. And the scenery is lovely.
I’ve only walked a short distance, when I spot a woodland off to my right, and a track. Hmmm. Perhaps I can find a way through here?
And so I find myself in the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. What an odd name.
It’s 5pm, and the visitors’ centre is closed. But an information board explains what the Highland Titles Nature Reserve is all about. Basically, you can buy a plot of land, acquire a Scottish title, and even plant your own trees (they must be a native species).
The idea may sound rather naff, but it’s a good way of raising funds to preserve this woodland. Our British countryside really does need more trees (I’m not a great fan of endless moorlands and bogs).
On an information board is a map with various walking routes through the reserve. I’m relieved to see it is possible to walk straight through the woods, and rejoin the road on the other side.
There’s nobody about. I love walking through trees. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep…
…and miles to go before I sleep. Well, only three miles really. I’ve booked into a campsite in Duror. Wild camping has been wonderful, but the Beast needs some water, and I need a shower.
I walk past an area with newly planted trees, and a few small ponds that look as though they’ve been created recently. Oh, and here are some splendidly painted beehives. No… hang on… not beehives. Bug hotels, I think.
Looks like local schools have been involved in this project. Love the bright colours.
I would like to stop and explore the area some more, but I have to keep moving to aviod the midges. They are beginning to gather as the light dims.
Now I’m walking through old woodland with tall pines on either side. I normally dislike pine forests, but this has a good feel to it. The trunks rise like pillars, and there is none of the usual crowding-out of light and space. Actually, quite magical.
I’m not the only person to have found these woods magical. I spot a pile of painted wood. Looks like a demolished doll’s house… or, perhaps, a fairy’s cottage? Sad to see it in pieces.
I follow a path down a slope, and through an area of mixed growth. Trees of various types, bushes, and ferns. A sign tells me this is Lairds Wood.
Further on, another sign tells me this is Keil Hill. None of these names exist on my map.
And then, all too soon, I’m back on the A828 road. I’ve emerged opposite a cemetery.
I’m intrigued by the densely worded sign. Goodness me. There are a lot of rules and regulations for this small, rural, burial ground.
It really is possible to create a sign that informs people of the rules without listing a lot of “No” and “Not allowed” instructions. In the context of bereavement, I think the wording of this sign is pretty insensitive.
I know what’s coming next… a truly horrible blind bend. Thick leylandii hedge on one side, crash barrier and steep drop on the other. Nowhere to jump to escape traffic. I try to avoid it by going down a track, but find it only leads to a private house.
Oh dear. I hope I survive the next few 100 yards…
Of course I do survive. And now I’m on the outskirts of Duror.
I pass a sign to Cuil, and see the cycle track begins again – heading off to the right across fields – but I stick to the road. Ahead is a pavement and safe walking at last.
The Beast is parked in a layby outside a village shop. I was hoping to buy some food here this morning, but the place has closed down. What a shame.
It’s 6:15, and I have no food for tonight, so I must drive back along the road to find a pub in Appin. Unfortunately, it’s a Saturday night, and everywhere I stop is fully booked. I’ve just resigned myself to a cold bowl of muesli, when I remember the Creagan Inn. Luckily they have a free table.
Miles walked today = 9 miles
Total distance around coast = 3,910 miles
Route: (first part in black, second in red)