376 Kentallen to the Corran Ferry

[This walk took place on the 25th June 2018]

I pack up the Beast and leave my friendly campsite behind. I drive northwards to park at the end of today’s planned walk – near the Corran Ferry – and catch a bus back to Kentallen to start my walk.

I’m soon hiking along the Caledonia Way cycle way. Cycle tracks are often quite boring for walking, but at least I make rapid progress. The A828 is below me and to my left, while the sea is mostly out of view on the other side of the road. I’m passed by the occasional lycra-clad speeder, and then by this more sedate woman on a touring bike.

001 touring cyclist on the Caledonia Way, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The Caledonia Way passes through woodland, and then across an area of open grazing. Hello sheep!

02 sheep on the Caledonia Way, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I come to a bench with a wonderful view across Loch Linnhe. One day, soon, I’ll be walking along the far shore. It looks very isolated and wild over there. Will I be able to cope? (I’m already worrying about the section near the giant quarry at Glensanda.)

03 great views, bench on the Caldonia Way, Ruth hiking in the Highlands

I’ve only been walking for 10 minutes, but it was a late start and I decide it’s time for lunch. And time for a self-portrait.

04 snack time on the Caledonia Way, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A nearby information plaque tells me how Loch Linnhe was formed in a gigantic fault caused by the collision of two continents. Basically, the land that lies on the other side of this Loch is really part of Canada.

0 Loch Linnhe information plaque, Ruth's coastal walk

As usual when I read about the tremendous forces that created our present landscape, I’m humbled by my own insignificance. Geological time is so vast, my life so short…

Come on. Enough musing. Onwards!

05 slow down, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

All too soon, the Caledonia Way decants onto the A828. Oh dear. Am I going to have to walk along this road again?

06 back on the A828, Ruth hiking around the Scottish coastline

Luckily, the answer is “no”, as the cycle route continues on the other side of the road.

07 Caledonia Way towards Fort William, Ruth Livingstone hiking in the highlands

This is better. Now I’m finally walking close to the water. And here I find a sequence of carved rocks…

08 on rock, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

…each one engraved with a few words. A poem?

09 birch grows, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A wooden board at the end brings it all together, spelling out the short poem in English and in Gaelic. What a splendid place for a poet to leave his or her mark.

“On rock, lichen circles, thrift quivers, birch grows, waters rush, a mooring.”

10 living things need a mooring, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

This section of the walk is wonderful. The cycle track is well maintained, and I walk close to the water of the Loch, surrounded by greenery and wild flowers.

11 caledonia way and wild roses, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Sometimes the path passes through deep cuttings in the rock, the walls dripping with ferns and mosses. Surely these cuttings weren’t created especially for cyclists along the  Caledonia Way? No, I guess this was once an old railway track.

12 Caledonia Way through a cutting, Ruth hiking in the Highlands

Down by the water again, the path swings round the curve of the shore, and is now heading due east. Ah, I can see the bridge ahead which crosses the mouth of this next estuary. What’s the tall mountain behind?

13 Pap of Glencoe, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I don’t have an OS map for the next section of my walk, and I’m about to go “off piste”. This always makes me feel a little nervous, even slightly dizzy, although I know I can rely on my trusty Garmin to find the way.

According to my Garmin, I’m looking up Loch Leven, and the tall mountain ahead is the Pap of Glencoe (I think). Glencoe! I’ve heard about this area because some of my braver friends come to ski in Glencoe and slither about on its icy ski slopes. Didn’t realise I was so close.

My cycle path leaves the shore, and takes me through the outskirts of South Ballachulish.

14 Ballachulish, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

And then takes me downhill and onto another major road. This is the A82, and one of the main roads leading up to Fort William.

15 A82, Ballachulish, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I follow the A82 towards Fort William, climb a slope, and cross over the mouth of Loch Leven via the bridge.

16 Ballachulish Bridge, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The views from the bridge are magnificent. Loch Leven is beautiful and those mountains look stunning.

17 view up Loch Leven, Ruth hiking in the Highlands of Scotland

After the bridge, I’m sorry to say, the walk becomes far less scenic. Well, the scenery is – I suppose – rather pretty. But the cycle route turns into nothing more than a wide pavement running right next to the traffic. Rather unpleasant.

18 A82 to Fort William, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I put my head down and trudge along. There are a number of bed and breakfast places here, but they all have signs saying “no accommodation”. Yes, Scotland is actually full!

I make a mental note of this garage ahead, because I probably need to feed The Beast, and petrol stations round here are rather infrequent.

19 petrol station, road to Fort William, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The pavement is frightening narrow for both bicycles and pedestrians to navigate.

Here’s a village hall. Looks like a shack, but its corrugated walls are painted a pretty green and there are flowering pots outside.

20 village Hall Onich, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A road sign tells me I’ve reached  village called Onich. Uh, oh. The pavement/cycle path has just got narrower. The markings suggest two-way cycle traffic is possible – which is rather optimistic in my opinion.

21 narrow cycle lane, Onich, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A trio of cyclists wobble past me. I don’t take any photos of them, because I’m too busy trying not to step into the road. Never mind, there’s a café ahead, and I’m looking forward to sitting down and enjoying a cold drink.

Oh dear. The café is closed on a Monday. What a disappointment.

22 sorry cafe closed, Onich, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I sit on a bench outside the closed café, and finish my snacks. I’m nearly at the end of my walk, and I must confess I ‘m finding this final section hard going.

I round a corner, as the road curves away from the sea, and the pavement widens again. This is nicer. Much nicer.

23 Caledonia Way to Fort William, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I meet a couple of touring cyclists, with laden saddlebags. At least there is room for us to pass each other.

24 cyclists on the Caledonia Way, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A sign invites me to try vertical descents. Apparently my adventure starts right here. No, thank you. I’ll stick to the road and keep walking. This is challenge enough for me.

25 vertical descents, Ruth hiking the coast in the Highlands

Onwards, and this last mile seems to last forever. Why is the last mile of any walk always the longest?

26 reduce speed, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

More cyclists overtake me. I must be nearly there now.

27 more cyclists on the road to Fort William, Ruth Livingstone's coastal hike

I round another corner, and a sign tells me the Corran ferry is just ahead. Oh, and thank heavens, there is my wonderful Beast, waiting patiently for me.

28 ferry signpost, on A82 to Fort William, Ruth Livingstone

I’ve parked next to the bus stop. It’s not the best place to park, and I was a little concerned that I might get an angry note on my windscreen or, even worse, pick up a few grazes from passing lorries.

29 The Beast, by Birchbrae lodges, Ruth hiking the Highlands

No need to worry. The Beast is fine.

I drive back to the lovely beach at Cuil Bay, the one I walked past yesterday. I’m not the only camper van parking here tonight. There’s a lady with a barking dog on one side of me, and a man playing loud rock music on the other. Oh dear. I thought this would be a peaceful spot…

A couple of hours later, the dog has calmed and the loud rock music has been replaced by snores. By the time the sun goes down, all is quiet. I watch the sun set behind the mountains and think how lucky I am to be in this beautiful place.

Miles walked today = 9 miles
Total distance around coast so far = 3,927 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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24 Responses to 376 Kentallen to the Corran Ferry

  1. Paul Hills says:

    I just finished reading your last post two minutes ago, and another one pops into my inbox! I love reading your wonderful posts Ruth, it feels almost like being there.

  2. Christine Williams says:

    I’ve missed your posts Ruth. Glad you are posting again. You ll probably be on the trail again soon! Good luck.

  3. Di iles says:

    Wonderful Ruth! All familiar holiday territory for me and just looking at those beautiful pictures is a tonic for the soul. Love the highlands and what amazing weather you had. I was there at the same time if that was June last year, it was amazing weather. Look forward to more.

  4. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, the view up Loch Leven shows three mountains Garbh Bheinn,(left) Sgurr na Ciche / Pap of Glencoe (the conical hill in centre) and Sgorr nam Fiannaidh, a Munro. The Pap is actually the lowest of these hills, but does draw the eye.
    Hmmm, the parking place was a wee bit naughty, especially for those emerging from the Birchbrae Lodges onto the A82.
    Shame you had to miss out walking around Loch Linnhe and Locheil through Fort William, but the 9 miles along the A82 is not for the feint-hearted. lol.

    • Thank you for the info about the mountains Alan. Yes, the Pap is dramatic! I did end up visiting Fort William, but not along the A82. Horrible road.

    • Chris Elliott says:

      I walked on the A82 into Fort William and around Loch Eil when I did this stretch. It was by far the most dangerous bit of road I walked anywhere. On balance I think what Ruth has done is sensible. Even the cycle route to Fort William crosses Loch Linnhe on the ferry and goes up the west shore, I just did not want to walk the same stretch twice once in each direction. Sadly a number of cyclists have been killed on the A82 south of Fort William recently. Hopefully one day the Council will improve things. Further south there is a cantilevered path beside the M8 near Glasgow just near the Erskine Bridge around the edge of the Firth of Clyde and they could do something similar south of Fort William, but it would be pricey.

  5. Ah, the A82 – it runs past the end of our road. If you had just headed south you’d eventually have come to my house in Glasgow! I must remember that path from Kentallon to S Ballachulish as we’ll be up there later in the year. Looks gorgeous.

    • It was a lovely walk up to Ballachulish. I’m now very familiar with the A82 roaf to Glasgow, as it’s been my main route into the highlands for the next stages of my walk.

  6. Jacquie says:

    The A82 is very familiar for me too as it’s the route to my sister’s at Kishorn; a long trip from Devon! I wonder if you have in fact reached as far north as that yet? Scotland in good spring weather is just fabulous. Hope the weather is good for your trip up this week.

    • I’m not sure where Kishorn is 😄 so I guess I haven’t got there yet! Weather has been wonderful, so far. Can’t say the same for the Internet connection- but you can’t have everything!

      • Jacquie says:

        No internet! Can be a blessing – at times. Kishorn is about 100 mile north of Fort William by that is by road – presumably a lot further as the coastal walker walks.
        Happy walking

  7. Eunice says:

    I love the lilac coloured bus shelter 🙂 Glad you didn’t get any angry notes on your windscreen for parking at the bus stop!

    • It is an interesting colour for a bus stop, isn’t it. Annoyingly, I discovered there was a public car park just by the ferry. I couldn’t find when I needed it because it was hidden by cars queuing for the ferry.

  8. Kate says:

    Welcome back, Ruth. I really enjoy your posts. I have done most of the coast from London to Dartmouth, so peanuts compared to what you have achieved. And I have been at it for many years! I did some gap filling around Pagham Harbour today. Gorgeous! And for the first time, recently, I met a fellow coastal walker. Most exciting! Looking forward to reading your next posts. Hugely impressed by your Highland Adventure…

  9. Jayne Hill says:

    Welcome back, so to speak. Lovely to be able to read further instalments of your amazing journey. I have always been in awe of the miles you cover, and how you sort out the logistics of this endeavour, particularly when you are on your own.

    Knowing I will never walk as far as you, I wondered if I could get around the coast, in stages, in my campervan. Just back from the first short trip, which did not go quite according to plan, I am now even more impressed 🙂 It’s a tricky enough undertaking in a vehicle, what you and the other coastal walkers are doing is hugely impressive. 👏 👏

  10. Karen White says:

    I too find the geographical forces incredible. As you say, it makes our time on this earth seem very insignificant.
    Another lovely walk though I wish that some of the road sections weren’t as hair-raisingly dangerous for you. The views of the mountains are beautiful.

  11. jcombe says:

    I did part of this walk today as I stayed last night in Fort William before heading home. It was too nice to just go straight home so I decided the closest bit of coast I’m planning to walk near Fort William is from Corran Ferry (I think I will cross there). So I was pleased to find on a Sunday morning there is a bus from Corran Ferry (on the east side) to North Ballachulish (just by the bridge) so I did that part of the walk this morning before heading home. All road walk sadly but lovely views as you say and at least the pavement means you don’t have to dodge the traffic.

    That petrol station was very useful to me for lunch. Even the Tesco Express in Fort William didn’t seem to open until 10am on a Sunday and no shops were open in the town.

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