[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.
The Caledonia Way passes through woodland, and then across an area of open grazing. Hello sheep!
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.)
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.
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.
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!
All too soon, the Caledonia Way decants onto the A828. Oh dear. Am I going to have to walk along this road again?
Luckily, the answer is “no”, as the cycle route continues on the other side of the road.
This is better. Now I’m finally walking close to the water. And here I find a sequence of carved rocks…
…each one engraved with a few words. A poem?
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
I follow the A82 towards Fort William, climb a slope, and cross over the mouth of Loch Leven via the bridge.
The views from the bridge are magnificent. Loch Leven is beautiful and those mountains look stunning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I meet a couple of touring cyclists, with laden saddlebags. At least there is room for us to pass each other.
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.
Onwards, and this last mile seems to last forever. Why is the last mile of any walk always the longest?
More cyclists overtake me. I must be nearly there now.
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.
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.
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