374pm to Duror

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.

51 cycle track to Duror, Ruth Livingstone walking the coast of Scotland

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.

52 24 miles to Fort William, self portrai, Ruth Livingstone

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.

53 end of cycle path, Route 78, Ruth walking in Scotland

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.

54 shore walking to Duror, Ruth's coastal trip around Scotland

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!

 

56 blocked bridge, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

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.

road bridge, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland.jpg

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.

55 Salachan Glen, Ruth hiking the coastal path to Duror

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.

57 A828, walking to Duror

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?

58 Glencoe Wood, Ruth hiking the Scottish coast

And so I find myself in the Highland Titles Nature Reserve. What an odd name.

59 Highland Titles Nature Reserve, Duror, Ruth hiking in Scotland

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).

60 visitors centre, Highland Titles Nature Reserve, Ruth's scottish adventure

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…

61 Highland Titles woodland walks, Ruth hiking in Scotland

…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.

62 lochs and painted boxes, Ruth hiking to Duror

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.

63 pine forest, Laird's Wood, Ruth hiking to Duror, Scotland

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.

fairy house, Laird's wood, Ruth Livingstone.jpg

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.

64 Lairds Wood sign, Highland Titles, Ruth's coastal walk to Duror

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.

65 Duror cemetery, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I’m intrigued by the densely worded sign. Goodness me. There are a lot of rules and regulations for this small, rural, burial ground.

66 lots of rules, Duror Burial Ground, Ruth Livingstone

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.

Onwards.

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…

67 dangerous blind bend, A828 to Duror, Ruth Livingstone

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.

68 cycle path begins, Duror, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

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.

69 Duror general store, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

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)


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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21 Responses to 374pm to Duror

  1. Yeah, I found that to be a bit of an alarming road section too. I was very glad to get off it.

    I’m dying to see which way you went onwards from Duror and whether it featured a herd of disinterested cattle. I guess I’ll find out in your next post…

  2. jcombe says:

    Another long lunch break!

  3. Katherine Valdes says:

    Hi Ruth, I have just found your blog and have loved reading it. As I inch towards retirement or lifestyle change I am inspired by your adventures and taking such pleasure in the scenery and culture of the coastline.

    • Hi Katherine and thank you for your kind words about my blog. Perhaps when you retire you’ll tackle a similar walking adventure? I’m sure you’ll love retirement. Best wishes, Ruth

  4. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – have you stopped for the year or are you still walking? I am looking forward to hearing how you coped with the section coming up south of Fort William and if you went to Glensanda? I am about to do my last stint of the year in Yorkshire. Best wishes Chris

    • Hi Chris, and hope the weather stays fine for you in Yorkshire. Yes, I have finished walking for the year, but have got beyond Fort William. In the end, I decided to bypass Glensanda and stick to the roads. Still 14 miles away from Lochaline. Apologise because I’ve been very slow in writing up the walks, due to a number of family dramas. ☹️

      • Chris Elliott says:

        Just got back. Sorry to hear of dramas. Hope all okay. Walking in winter is tough when you rely on public transport to get back to your car as buses have stopped running to holiday camps. Yorkshire coast is fabulous though. Some of the best cliff top walking in the UK. Loved Whitby / Staithes / Robin Hood’s Bay. May try to cram more walking in this year. Currently approaching Spurn Point. All the best for 2019. You will be doing arguably the best stretch of the UK, but also the toughest stretch walking wise.

        • Glad to hear you had a successful trip to Yorkshire. I visited the coast there when I was a child, and my parents lived in Scarborough for a brief period. It is lovely, as long as the mists hold off and you can actually see the sea!

  5. Jacquie says:

    Had thought that you had probably stopped walking for the winter. Sorry to hear you’ve had family ‘drama’; hope that life hasn’t chucked to much stress your way and that you and yours are ok.

    • Hi Jacquie and thank you for your good wishes. I still have a few walks from this year to write up (hope I can remember them now!) and will start afresh in the spring next year. I’ve had an incredibly difficult year, and will give a brief update in a few months, when some time has passed and I can make sense of it all.

      • Jacquie says:

        I look forward to reading the remaining write-ups of this year’s walks but most importantly hope that the year end brings a peaceful conclusion and you can your family can go into the new year with optimism.

  6. This is great. Just stumbled across your blog. Lovely photos and very detailed descriptions. Felt like I was on the walk myself – now I don’t have to do it ;P

  7. Lara says:

    Hi Ruth, well done with this massive achievement so far, lovely to have met you In Madeira xx

  8. EJ says:

    I’ve never walked in Scotland or around the coastal areas, but trees. Oh Yeah. I love to get off trail and discover places footpath hikers never see. I trust the signage in Scotland is better than England.

    • Hi there. Scotland is very beautiful, but they lack clear public rights of way, and the signage is generally nonexistent 😄

      • Jacquie says:

        Good to see you’re still around 🙂 Hope life is sorting itself out . I miss your write ups and ‘m sure I’m not he only one. More importantly I hope you can continue with your amazing challenge this year. All the very best. Jacquie

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