[Note: this walk was completed on the 28th June 2018]
It’s nearly 5pm by the time I resume my walk. It took me longer than expected to drive back along the twisty coast road, retrieve my Monster bike, and then retrace my journey. Luckily, Scottish days are long in June, and the sun is still shining.
In fact, a farmer is out making the most of this good weather. Literally, he’s making hay while the sun shines.
I’m following the B8043 as it curves up through the Kingairloch estate. Sadly, the coastal section of my walk is about to come to an end. As I climb higher, I stop to admire the view over the little bay below (Camas na Croise) and take more photographs.
Further up, and I look back and down into Glen Galmadale. Hemmed by steep slopes on either side, the wide mouth of the glen is the only extensive piece of flat land around. You can just make out the farmer, still on his tractor, making hay in one of the fields.
Climbing higher, I’m surprised to see a church below me. There doesn’t seem much of a population around to support such a building. Is it now a holiday home, like every other building around here?
[Later I learn it’s still a church, and holds a monthly service.]
The road has curved around, and now heads in a north-westerly direction, above the shore of another inlet. Loch a’ Choire. A single sailing boat glides slowly, floating past yet another fish farm. The mountains rising on the other sight of the loch look intimidating, while the bright sun in the west makes photography challenging.
My road winds onwards. Ahead, a small lane leads down to yet more holiday cottages. Where is everybody? As yet, I haven’t met a single car all afternoon. What an empty landscape this is.
I can’t stop looking at the mountains across the loch. My map shows only a few tracks across the mountains, so I’m surprised to see a road threading up. The road looks new. In fact, there seem to be construction machinery still at work on it, but it’s hard to tell because I’m squinting into the bright evening sunlight.
I pull out my OS map again. No, there are definitely no roads marked, only tracks. I know that hidden somewhere in that wild landscape is Glensanda – a super quarry. It produces huge amounts of granite, but that is not carried out by road, it is shipped out. Maybe the road provides access for workers, or for equipment?
Behind me, the view over Loch a’ Choire is wonderful. And the low sunlight highlights the far shore of Loch Linnhe. Is that Appin over there? Looks lovely.
I’m heading inland now. The trees cast long shadows and I begin to worry about midges. Time to stop and reapply my Smidge spray.
There’s a river winding through a valley on my left. It seems to have multiple names according to my OS map, but a roadside sign tells me it’s called Abhainn na Coinnich.
These Gaelic names are real tongue twisters. I have no idea how you pronounce that!
To my right is a track, with a space to park a car and a welcome sign. The Kingairloch Estate has provided a simple map showing a suggested walk. Apparently, you can follow a track up the hill and over into Glen Galmadale.
Looks like an excellent route, but I must stick to the road. Onwards and upwards
Over the past few days I’ve been pondering what to do about Glensanda. I’ve learned it’s possible to walk across the mountains, and there is even a bothy up there, somewhere. Other coastal walkers have done it. But I would have to carry overnight provisions and camp in the bothy – if I could find it. And there is the constant fear of getting tangled up in the quarry workings, getting shouted at, being forced to turn back, and walking even further than intended.
Also, how do I get back to my van? It would be a long cycle back.
I look at the unmapped road on the other side of the loch. It does look enticing…
…and if I wanted to do it, I would turn off the road about here, and find a way down the valley and across the river… but, no, no, no! I’m not going to do it. Really, it would be too tough for me. I would need a bigger rucksack, and one of those personal locator beacons, and a bivvy bag, and a whistle – all the things I should carry but don’t!
I’m a coward.
Anyway, today I’m just going to enjoy walking along this lovely road, as it twists and turns up the hill.
A sign, nearly hidden in the bracken, tells me it’s only 15 miles to Lochaline. That’s tomorrow’s destination.
The slope begins to flatten out. Nearing the top of the climb, I look back down the valley. You can see the road winding down, the river beside it, and the distant blue splash of Loch Linnhe.
I may have left the coast behind, but you’re never far from water in Scotland. Here’s another lake. Loch Uisge. Very pretty. Because of the low, bright sun, I have to wait until I’ve walked its length before I can take a photograph looking back.
At the top of the loch, the road goes past a building that’s surrounded by decaying machinery, and scruffy looking series of shacks and sheds.
What’s that? A sudden horrendous noise makes me jump.
Dogs! A whole pack of them. Luckily they’re caged. They fling themselves at the fencing and yowl at me. Very aggressively.
Hounds? Hunting dogs? What a noise!
I hurry past, hoping the dogs won’t find a way to escape from their enclosure. Only when I’m safely out of their view, do I stop to take a photo looking back at the motley collection of sheds and containers. What a mess.
Meanwhile, a group of deer are watching me from the other side of the road.
Are the dogs used to hunt deer? I’ve never heard of such a thing. Surely not. Perhaps they hunt foxes (is that still allowed in Scotland), or perhaps its just a breeding kennel?
Somewhat flustered, I hurry on. The road is long and straight, and the sun very low and bright. I needn’t have worried about the dogs, nor about midges. They’re not the problem here. I’m about to be attacked by…
Horrible, horrible things. Luckily I’m wearing a long-sleeved top, but can horseflies bite through clothing? I think they can. And they take no notice of the Smidge I’ve covered myself with. I stop and shrug off my rucksack, while continually batting the flies away from my face, and pull out my insect repellent.
I soak my face and neck in the smelly insecticide – but the flies take no notice of that either. Oh no. I hurry on, flapping my hands constantly.
There’s the Monster, leaning casually against a fence, waiting for me.
But, before I get on my bike, I must walk a little further until I come to the end of the B8043, and the junction with the A884. Tomorrow, I’ll turn left along here and head for Lochaline.
For today my walk is finished. I return to collect the Monster, waving my arms like a mad woman and swatting wildly at the horseflies. But I need both hands to unchain the wretched bike – and they take advantage of my distraction.
Ow. That hurt! Ow, so did that!
The ride down to Kingairloch is blissful. Downhill all the way, with my speed keeping the horseflies away. My only fear is meeting a car and having to slow down… but the road remains empty.
Miles walked this afternoon = 6.5 miles
(Total today, walking = 13 miles, and cycling = 13 miles)
Total around coast = 3,959.5 miles
You can learn more about the Glensanda super quarry on Wikipedia.