379 Inversanda to Kingairloch (am)

[Note: this walk took place on the 28th June 2018]

Last night I camped with The Beast on a track just off the main road. No view of Ben Nevis this time, but a splendid view over Loch Linnhe. There isn’t room for my bike in the van with the bed pulled out, so the bike has to sleep outside. I think this puts it in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

There are no buses on the route I’m following today, so I drive to the midway point of my planned walk, park the van, and pull out the bike. It’s horribly heavy and, as usual, gives me a fight as I struggle to unfold it. (There’s lots of reasons why I call it The Monster!)

It’s another warm, sunny day, and I’m prepared for everything. I’ve got water, insect repellent, sun screen, and midge protectant. What could possibly go wrong?

It takes me just over an hour to cycle the 6.5 miles back to my starting point. I’m never going to win awards for speedy cycling! To be fair, I do have to push The Monster for the last couple of miles, because the slope is too steep for the wretched thing to manage. I’ll really have to teach this bike how to climb hills.

When I reach my starting point, I throw the bike into a ditch…

… and stop for a minute or two to take a few last photographs of the view from the top of the hill. There’s Ben Nevis again. I’m going to lose sight of him soon, so this might be the last photo I take of that wonderful old-volcano mountain.

I slap on some more sun block, and then I set off on my walk back along the road. It’s a steady downhill slope from here, so easy walking. I’m a mile or so inland of the coast, and I can see the road curving ahead, and swinging around a pretty little lake. Lochan Doire, according to my map.

A signpost says it’s 24 miles to Lochaline. That’s definitely too far for me to manage in one day. I won’t get to Lochaline until tomorrow.

Onwards, and I make rapid progress. Round a curve, and there’s another little loch below me. Lochan na Criche

My road crosses a bridge over a river. This bridge brings water down from the high ground and feeds into Lochan na Criche. But, wow, the riverbed is nearly dry.

I pass a forested area surrounded by a deer fence. At first I think the fence is designed to keep deer in, but then I notice the size of the trees. They’re very young. And I realise the fence is there to keep the deer out, and to let the young trees grow.

Excellent. Once Great Britain was covered in forests, but now much of our green space seems to be taken over by marshes, moorlands, or grazing pastures, and we really do need more trees.

My quiet road continues winding downwards in a series of gentle curves. Round another bend and – oh – the sea. I’ll be down there soon. A signpost warns me not to go over 10 mph because of the skid risk. No chance of that!

On the way up this road earlier, on my bike, I decided to leave one of my water bottles here to pick up later. I did this to reduce weight in my backpack. and also to prevent myself from guzzling all my water before I started the walk. It is a hot day.

Now… where did I leave the bottle? Close to the signpost, hidden in the bracken… almost too well hidden. Ah, finally, there it is.

Past another forested area, protected with another deer fence. The stiles are very substantial.

Now, signs on the road warn me of roadworks. Yes, there is a gang of workmen busily resurfacing the tarmac somewhere ahead. I passed them once in my car driving down here, and then again on my bike coming back up. Each time, they had to stop work and move their vehicle over to the side to let me get through.

Now they’re going to have to stop work again, and this time I’m on foot. I wonder if they’ll recognise me – the isn’t much traffic, so they probably will – and maybe they’ll wonder what I’ve done, first with my car, and then with my bike.

No sign of the workmen yet, and I’ve nearly reached the shore. The sun is bright in my eyes, making photography a little difficult, but the view across Loch Linnhe is superb.

A few hundred yards further, and I meet a little calf. Very odd. It just stands in the road and doesn’t move when I approach. Then I realise it has a broken leg and can barely limp along. Oh dear! Poor thing. Was it hit by a car?

I met another calf with a broken leg about a year ago, near Kirkcudbright, and suffered terrible guilt because I didn’t turn back to seek help for it. So, I’m determined not to make that mistake again.

There are no farms nearby, but there is a cottage further along the road, and I spot someone sitting in the garden. I head down the driveway.

The man in the garden is on holiday, and is only renting the cottage, but he tells me the farm is a just ahead. I hurry on to get help for the calf.

Ah, here is the roadworks lorry. It’s parked, with plenty of space for me to get by. I guess the workers have stopped for a break. Don’t blame them. It’s hot.

Across a little bridge, and I spot the farm. Good. Now I can tell them about the injured calf.

It takes me a while to attract the farmer’s attention. He is rounding up sheep with another man and a sheepdog.

“Excuse me. There’s an injured calf just down the road,” I tell them. “I think it might have been hit by a car.”
“No,” he says, looking irritated. “It was born with bad legs. It’s fine.”
“Oh,” I say.

Well, now I do feel a bit foolish. But if I hadn’t gone to ask for help I would have been filled with guilt, and I would have worried about the calf all day.

I walk past an outdoor centre. A net stretches across the grass, and beyond that is some sort of obstacle course. I don’t see anybody using the facilities, but what a fantastic place for a child to come for an outdoor adventure.

Onwards. The road is quiet. The sun is hot. I’m about to start along a wild and beautiful section, and I’ve been looking forward to this all morning.

The views across Loch Linnhe are stunning. I look back up towards the indentation in the coast where the Ballachulish bridge crosses the mouth of Loch Leven, with Glencoe behind. Soon I’ll lose sight of those landmarks, but I’ve hiked along the coast over there and it’s all familiar territory.

I can remember walking along the shore near Appin, and staring across Loch Linnhe to this far side, and to the high wooded slopes that border this shore. It looked so wild and remote – I felt panicky at the thought of what lay ahead. Now, here I am, walking along this beautiful road underneath these slopes, and I’m fine.

There’s a campervan ahead. What a great view they have.

Oh, and further along, another van. Well, this one is more of a motorhome.

Uh oh. Cattle. All across the road, on both sides, and with young calves. They weren’t here earlier. I walk slowly and carefully, avoiding eye contact. I wonder if the young calf with the bad leg belongs to this herd? In which case, they seem to have deserted him/her.

I get past the cows without incident and, when I’m a safe distance away, turn around to take some photographs. Funny how cattle never look scary in the photos!

There are sheep walking all over the road too. Hello sheep. I’m definitely not scared of you.

I stop and sit on some stones. It’s time for a rest and a snack. Oh, that view! I realise I can still see Ben Nevis, and probably Glen Coe too, although that mountain is less immediately recognisable to me. Maybe this will be my last view of Ben Nevis.

Onwards. I pass a third motorhome. The third in three miles. Pfff! The place is positively crowded. And this couple know how to camp in style. They’ve got a gazebo tent set up.

The gazebo has netting, and I guess this is to keep the midges away. I’ve not really had any trouble with midges during the day – they don’t like the sun – but they do come out in the evening. So, I guess a netted tent is a good idea.

The road becomes very narrow and winds around the bottom of rocky cliffs. It’s very attractive, and very unnerving to drive along here, as passing places are few and far between. And very narrow. (You can see a ‘passing place’ in the photo below.)

Signs warn me of falling rocks, and I can’t help looking up. Yes, this is a tricky road and I would hate to meet another car. Not only would it be difficult to reverse along such a narrow, twisting road, but you could get squashed by rocks in the process.

The road curves round a bend, and Glen Galmadale comes into sight. This is, I think, all part of the huge estate of Kingairloch and all owned by the same family. Most of the houses and cottages I’ve seen are holiday lets.

I’ve left the beast parked here in a little car park at the bottom of Glen Galmadale Kingairloch may be a privately owned estate, but they seem very welcoming to visitors.

I’m only half way through today’s walk and it’s nearly 2pm. Time for lunch, which I eat in the van. After that I must drive back along that narrow winding road and go and pick up the horrible Monster bike. I’ll need it for the next part of my walk.

Miles walked this morning = 6.5 miles
Total around coast = 3,953.0

Morning route:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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19 Responses to 379 Inversanda to Kingairloch (am)

  1. patriz2012 says:

    Beautiful photographs – why is the bike so horrible? Is it a fold away one?

    • Brenda McHale says:

      Really lovely photos. I’m trying to get my head round the logistics here. If there are no bus routes you cycle the same route that you are walking, obviously the other way round? That’s impressive!

      • Thank you Brenda. Yes, I cycle either to the start of my walk, or back from the end of the walk. If the cycling route is mainly uphill I try to get the cycling over at the beginning! When I know I have to use the bike, I try to keep each section of the walk to 6 or 7 miles, just in case I get a puncture and have to push the damn thing all the way back to the car.

    • Yes, Tricia, it’s a fold up bike, but very heavy. It folds with the chain on the outside, so it smears oil on me every time I have to lift it into the car. Also, it really doesn’t know how to go up hills 😄

  2. Steven Hale says:

    Loved reading today’s report Ruth. I’m there! Or we (wife and dogs) will be beating up the road to the Isles in a months time in our 30 year old campervan. Can’t wait! Calling in at Tarbert at the best B and B to see our pup’s mum again and some of his relations. To follow him (the puppy that is) on FB. See “Dougal’s diary (with Ruby)” . See you soon Andrew! Steve

  3. chuckles4th says:

    Beautiful photographs! Your route around Western Scotland looks a wee bit tricky .. hopefully the beauty of the place will keep lifting your spirits!

  4. Eunice says:

    Wonderful views again. I’m glad you stopped to get help for the calf even if it wasn’t necessarily needed, but I don’t think the farmer’s attitude to it was particularly sympathetic 😦

    • I don’t think that calf was going to survive, to be honest, Eunice. It must still be suckling but it’s mother seemed to have abandoned it, along with the rest of the herd.

  5. Robin Massey says:

    Thank you Ruth, I know I’m saying the same as others but I am blown away by the beautiful photos! Very inspiring.

  6. If it helps, so long as you don’t have a dog with you, I find cows having calves is usually a good thing. Just don’t get between a calf and its mother, or back them into a corner.

    Cows are pretty dim and easily frightened but when they have calves their main desire is to keep the calves safe. So, if you’re not an immediate threat (i.e. you don’t appear to be trying to cut the calf out of the herd by getting between it and mum) then the safest thing they can do is generally keep well away from you. After all, why would Mother Cow risk a confrontation which might injure her? That would definitely harm her calf’s chances of survival.

    Not that they think this through rationally, but their maternal instinct is generally to be cautious unless you seem to be an urgent threat. So if they have calves and you can walk calmly past them (at a distance for preference) all should be fine.

    Of course, the cows haven’t read the textbook and there’s no accounting for one that’s just a bit mad. But that’s true of all animals, humans included.

  7. Jacquie says:

    If it’s feasible why not sell the Monster and invest in a battery assisted bicycle. After all you’re on a walking challenge – not a cycling one – no different from using any other vehicle to achieve the walk by your rules.

  8. Karen White says:

    Your relationship with the ‘Monster’ always gives me a smile. It does sound a difficult contraption to manage.

  9. jcombe says:

    I did this walk today though not in such fine weather! I agree though it is a lovely walk and funnily enough (without having re-read this) I also thought Kingairloch was a friendly and welcoming place with a few car parks provided, plenty of signs showing walking routes, things to see and so on and maps and was very well kept.

    The outdoor centre was looking a bit run-down, not sure if it is still in use.

    Fortunately I did not have to drive this road and thought at the time it really didn’t seem like a B-road especially the bit at the bottom with cliffs and rocks on one side and the wall on the other, with the pot-holed road with grass growing down the middle. I don’t understand how a road like that can be classified as a b-road! I drove to the nature reserve car park at Acharn (I think you stopped there too) and then took the bus (Tuesday and Thursday only!) to the other end of the B-road at Inversanda. I think the driver was a bit surprised for me to get on there and off somewhere else in the middle of nowhere. He didn’t have a ticket machine on the bus telling me it was a new bus and they’d not go round to putting in a machine. He was prepared to let me on for free but I had some change so he had to get a bit of paper out to check the fare and I noticed it did have Kingairloch on their fare chart, even though the bus does not go down that road. Not sure what that is all about.

    Your comment about the workmen amused me because I have sometimes thought that to do these walks using a bike, as I’ve sometimes done too I can often end up traversing the road 4 times in one day! Once on foot, once by bike and then a their and back drive to get the bike! In fact I remember on a walk earlier this year to Kilchoan near the western end of Ardnamurchan I had caught the bus back and then decided that before heading back I’d also cover the dead-end road south west from there via Ormsaigbeg. So on getting off the bus I got my folding bike out of the car and began to cycle down the road. A van was blocking the road (I later found it had a trailer that had detached). A car was also waiting to get along the road but I could get past it on my bike. The driver of the car turned out to be the bus driver (who had presumably parked the bus somewhere and was now driving home in his car). He recognised me was surprised to see me and commented “where did you get the bike from?”. So I had to explain that bit too!

  10. That road was stunning, wasn’t it. And you can guess how nervous I was driving my van along Luckily I never met another vehicle, so it was OK. A wonderful experience.

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