377 Corran Ferry to Camusnagaul

[Note: This walk was completed on the 26th June 2018]

The Corran Ferry is a busy little ferry. The website gives precise crossing times, but in fact the ferry simply shuttles back and forwards continually, carrying traffic across Loch Linnhe. If you travel by car, the short crossing is ridiculously expensive, but if you travel by foot… it’s free!

01 Corran Ferry, Ruth Livingstone coastal walker, Scotland

The ferry arrives on the west shore at a place called Ardgour, although my OS map doesn’t show anywhere called Ardgour. (I’ve discovered it’s not unusual in the Highlands for places to have several names. There’s the English version, the Gaelic version, the name the locals call it, and then the name identified on the OS map, which may be completely different.  Needless to say, I find this all slightly confusing.)

Anyway, here I am in Ardgour and today, according to my rules, I should simply turn left along the coastal road. But… well, Fort William seemed a big milestone and I thought it would be a shame to miss it out. So, instead of turning left, I’m turning right and heading back up Loch Linnhe.

02 Ardgour to Camusnagaul, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

The route I’m walking is part of the official Caledonia Way, the same long-distance cycle way I’ve been following, off and on, since I left Oban. By crossing over on the Corran ferry, the Caledonia Way avoids the busy A82 and follows the much quieter A861, which runs along the western shore of Loch Linnhe up to a tiny place called Camusnagaul. From Camusnagaul you can catch another ferry back over the loch to Fort William.

A nearby information plaque gives more details of the geology of the area. Loch Linnhe marks the rift formed when two tectonic plates collided – causing the Great Glen Fault – and I am now walking on land which should, in fact, be part of Canada. It got left behind a few hundred million years ago.

03 shear line, Ardgour, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

It’s rather a dull day, and I feel strangely unsettled. I’m acutely aware I’m walking the wrong way, away from my coastal route. Yes, I’d planned to do this – to walk up towards Fort William – but now I’m wondering if I’m just wasting the day.

Oh well, it’s too late to change my mind. My wonderful van – aka The Beast – is parked up by the Camasnagaul ferry. I must go this way. Onwards.

04 setting off for Camusnagaul, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

On the shore, a group of children are receiving instructions on how to operate canoes. Or maybe they’re kayaks? I don’t really know the difference. The water looks calm.

05 canoe lessons, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

Nearby is yet another fish farm. Scotland is full of them. And what a fabulous view up Loch Linnhe. Such a loooong stretch of water.

06 fish farm, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

I knew the A861 was going to be quiet, because I drove along it earlier. In fact, it’s a single track road, hardly an A road at all.

07 A861 single track, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

I only meet the occasional car, a few cyclists, and quite a lot of sheep. Sometimes the three things combine… and I managed to catch a mini episode of traffic congestion in the photograph below.

08 cars, cyclists and sheep on A861, Ruth's coastal walk up Loch Linnhe

A post office van comes by. I do love these vans. The postal service in the UK is amazing – and we all take it for granted – but there are thousands of these little vans bustling about the roads and carrying mail to the most isolated areas. I just love spotting them.

09 post office van on the A861, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

A nearby rock is painted with a disturbing face, Banksy style. A screaming woman trapped in stone?

10 fossils and Banksy, on A861, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

The landscape doesn’t suggest anything so sinister. Loch Linnhe is serene and… is that Ben Nevis across the water? I think it is.

11 views of Loch Linnhe and Ben Nevix, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

In a layby, local school children have contributed their art work to a notice board. “NO FLY TIPPING”. Who would spoil this lovely area by dumping rubbish? Obviously somebody must have in the past, or they wouldn’t need the sign.

12 no fly tipping, Loch Linnhe, Ruth Livingstone hiking around Scotland

The road is very quiet and I begin to feel a bit lonely. Ah, here’s a friend. Hello sheep.

13 sheep, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

Somebody has painted the word “Chips” on the tarmac, along with a helpful arrow, directing me into another layby. Chips? Yes, please. But, sadly, there is no sign of a chip van today.

14 chips on the road, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

I reach a place called Inverscaddle Bay, where the road swings in a wide loop around the edge of a marshy area. Apparently this road is liable to flooding. Fortunately it’s dry at the moment.

15 road liable to flooding, Loch Linnhe, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

There’s a great view over Loch Linnhe. Shame the weather isn’t more cheerful, but that’s definitely Ben Nevis.

16 Ben Nevis, from Inverscaddle Bay, Ruth hiking around Loch Linnhe

I’m getting fed up with tarmac walking, and a track off to the left looks inviting. Twenty miles to Strontian. Hmm, I think I’ll be heading there one day, but not just now. Another sign warns me to ‘TAKE CARE’, because the path goes through remote and potentially dangerous mountain country. Oh dear.

17 footpath to Strontian, Ruth's coastal walk up Loch Linnhe

I’m sticking to the road anyway.

Inverscaddle Bay is where the Inbhir Scaddail river empties into Loch Linnhe. Despite the marshy surroundings, the shallow waters at the river’s mouth are crystal clear. Beautiful.

18 clear waters of the river, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I pass two identical vans parked together, but not quite together. In fact, it looks as if they’ve had a tiff and aren’t speaking to each other.

19 two vans not speaking, Ruth's coastal walk, Loch Linnhe

Further along the road, I spot a large house across a meadow full of wild flowers. Check my map. That must be Conaglen House. Looks impressive. Apparently you can rent it as a holiday let.

20 Conaglen House, Ruth's coastal walk around the UK, Scotland

Onwards. This road seems to go on for ever and, disappointingly, I have no view of the loch at the moment.

21 long and winding road, Ruth Livingstone walking around Loch Linnhe

It is pleasant enough. Sometimes I walk through rocky cuttings, which may or may not be natural. The day is gloomy, it’s late afternoon, and I begin to worry about midges.

22 A861 to Camusnagaul Ferry, Ruth hiking in Scotland

I begin to walk faster, wishing the day was over. Perhaps this detour was a mistake and I’ve not only wasted a day going in the wrong direction, but I’m going to be eaten alive by midges too.

Ah, here’s another view of Ben Nevis to cheer me up. And another fish farm in the loch.

23 Ben Nevis from across Loch Linnhe, Ruth hiking to Camusnagaul Ferry

In Scotland, they seem to signpost every bridge with the name of the river it crosses. This creates useful way markers for walkers, and helps me work out where I am. Yes, I really am making good progress now.

24 across another river, Ruth walking in Scotland

I hear the rumble of a truck, and realise I’m walking past the fish farm, which turns out to be a salmon farm run by Marine Harvest. It’s a familiar name as they seem to run multiple farms in the area. Well, we all like a piece of tasty salmon, don’t we?

25 Marine Harvest fish farm, Ruth hiking the shore of Loch Linnhe

Another river, another bridge, and another signpost. Allt Ruadh. Only a few more miles to go.

26 another river, Loch Linnhe, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Ben Nevis is clearer now. There’s snow on the top! What a shame there’s no sunshine and the photos I take are very dull.

27 Ben Nevis on the other side of Loch Linnhe, Ruth Livingstone

I come to a place signposted as Sron A’Chreagain or Stronchreggan. As so often the way, it’s not really a village at all, just a collection of buildings.

28 Stronchreggan, on A861, Ruth hiking in Scotland

Onwards. The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I… well, I’m worrying about midges and, to be honest, a bit fed up with all this road-walking.

29 never ending road to Camusnagaul, Ruth hiking in Scotland

The A861 has a few cattle grids. Luckily, I’ve seen no sign of cattle. Only sheep.

30 cattle grid on A861, Ruth's coastal walk in Scotland

Just beyond the cattle grid, a sign tells me I’ve nearly reached Trioslaig (or Trislaig). Good, I’m nearly there. Only a mile or so to go.

Now the road runs close to the water again, and I get some great views of Ben Nevis – and there’s Fort William, just across the loch.

31 Fort William and Ben Nevis, Ruth Livingstone in Scotland

Trislaig is a scattered collection of cottages, nestling up against a steep bank of hillside, and all set back from the road. Maybe once they were crofters cottages?

32 Trioslaig, Ruth hiking up Loch Linnhe, Scotland

There are sheep in the surrounding fields. Rather bizarrely, a woman is mowing one of the fields. Maybe she is trying to get rid of the coarse grass to allow the softer grass room to grow? Or maybe there aren’t enough sheep to keep the grass down?

33 mowing a field, Trioslaig, Ruth hiking in the Highlands

She seems to have a very small mower for such a very large field.

Beyond Trislaig, and the road runs close to the water again. There is Ben Nevis, and Fort William below it.

34 Fort William and Ben Nevis, Ruth Livingstone hiking to Camusnagaul

At last I’m approaching Camusnagaul, and the end of my journey.

35 Approach to Camusnagaul, Ruth hiking up the shore of Loch Linnhe

The last few hundred yards seem very long. Why am I so tired, and why have I been so negative about today’s walk?

Camusnagaul is a tiny place, with just a handful of houses, a bus stop, and the jetty where the tiny little ferry runs across to Fort William. It’s where I parked The Beast this morning. Oh, he’s such a welcome sight.

36 The Beast At Camusnagaul, Ruth Livingstone hiking in Scotland

Unfortunately, the ferry service here is very infrequent and the last ferry over leaves at 4:30pm. (It is now nearly 6pm.) Knowing I would spend the day in a state of anxiety about missing the last crossing, I actually caught the ferry over this morning, and wandered around Fort William for a while, before catching the bus to the Corran ferry.

So I’ve done this walk back to front, so to speak.

Actually, I didn’t think much of Fort William. Crowded, packed with tourists, and full of twee shops selling overpriced shortbread and tartan. Not a good experience, especially as the bus station was unsigned and it took me some time to find it, and even longer to work out which bus to catch and which bay to catch the bus from. All very frustrating.

Never mind. The walk is finished now. I make my way to a picnic bench and sit for a while, admiring the view of Ben Nevis, surrounded by enormous daisies.

37 picnic benches Camusnagaul, Ruth ending her hike up Loch Linnhe

Next task is to find a place to park The Beast for the night. I’m going to drive back along the A861 because I’ve spotted a few potential places on my walk…

[to be continued]


Miles walked today = 10.5 miles
Total around coast = 3,937.5 miles

Route:


 

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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4 Responses to 377 Corran Ferry to Camusnagaul

  1. patriz2012 says:

    Hi Ruth,

    My husband was brought up in Fort William when it a very different place. As you say it is a bit of a theme park now.
    I have just started walking again after a long illness – blog posts to follow. I do admire you for taking on Scotland – the logistics of transport and accommodation would be too much for me. Good luck with it 👏

  2. Glad to see you are walking again, Tricia, and look forward to catching up with your blogs.

  3. Eunice says:

    Your opinion of Fort William is the same as mine, I wasn’t impressed with the town at all though I did like the municipal gardens which run alongside the A82 and the loch side.

  4. Jayne Hill says:

    Wow, you have just taken me on a wonderful ‘memory lane’, thanks Ruth!

    A long time ago a good friend lived near Camusnagaul, and as often as possible I would drive up, taking my little car across the Corran Ferry and turning right. Fort William was tired back then, but there were far less tourists. Easy to mock the gift shops, the tatt and the twee, et al, but it brings money into an otherwise very sparse economy.

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