[This walk was completed on the 11th April 2019]
I get up early, skip breakfast, drive to Glenborrodale, and catch the one-and-only bus of the day from Glenborrodale to Salen, where I’m dropped off at the Salen Hotel.
Salen consists of a string of houses lining the road as it loops up and around an inlet. With the tide high, the inlet is full of water and the view is very beautiful.
I set off walking along the road. Now I’m officially entering the Ardnamurchan Peninsula, and heading for the most westerly point on mainland Britain. I feel a thrill of excitement at the thought of reaching that milestone ahead.
Onwards, past several B&Bs, a phone box (I didn’t check if it was working), and a village hall made of corrugated metal. Sadly, they seem to have run out of paint half way down the walls of the hall. But, in the morning sunlight, the two-tone look is quite attractive.
I don’t usually enjoy road walking, but this is a delightful road. Narrow, single track, and with little traffic.
I pass multiple building sites. They are very busy erecting new houses on the outskirts of Salen. I guess it’s a good sign, but I hope the area isn’t going to become full of expensive holiday homes.
During my trek through Devon and Cornwall, I saw many places turned into ghost-villages, empty of people and devoid of services. I really hope this doesn’t happen up here too.
The road curves around, sometimes following the ins-and-outs of the shore…
… and sometimes separated from the water by a screen of trees.
At the Camas Torsa carpark – an official Forestry Commision site – there are some “wild” campers. Not very wild, really, but what a wonderful place to spend the night.
I’m just loving this walk along the shore of Loch Sunart. I decide THIS is my favourite Scottish loch of all time. (Of course, I’ll probably change my mind several times as I continue up the coast!)
The sky is clear, and the water is incredibly clear too. I keep an eye out for sea eagles and sea otters but, despite the perfect conditions, I don’t spot any. Shame.
Across the loch, I notice a bright patch of green grass and a small cairn of some sort… oh, yes, I recognise that from my walk in March. It’s Camas Salach with its strange stone monument. I take a photograph, but the far shore is half-hidden in shadow and the light is too poor for a clear picture.
What a magical coastline this is.
The road curves round a low headland, and I see some buildings ahead. Check my map… Camus Inas, possibly, or is it Camas Inas? Depends whether you use Gaelic or English spelling, I guess.
I leave the road and sit on some rocks overlooking the water. Time for a rest and it’s also breakfast time. I eat a croissant provided by the B&B, and admire the wonderful view looking back up Loch Sunart, a view dominated by the mountain that squats across the far end of the loch.
Out of habit, I reach for my iPhone and check for a signal, because I would usually send my husband a photo of such a nice view. But I remember we are separated now, and I feel suddenly melancholy.
Time to move on. I put the phone away and jump up.
A little further along, the track branches off and leads down to Camus Inas. I’m not sure if the track rejoins the road later, but I decide not to risk coming to a dead-end. So, I continue following the road as it curves around the bay, running above the houses, and crossing over the Camas Inas burn.
Oh. I’m startled by a screech of brakes. Watch out. There’s a minor traffic jam ahead – a post-office van and a car manoevre awkwardly to allow each other to pass.
I wonder how many accidents occur along this narrow road? Probably quite a few minor bumps and scrapes.
Around the bend, the road rises and unexpectedly widens. Two lanes!
On the hill, I’m overtaken by a puffing cyclist. Glad I’m walking.
At the top of the climb is an open area of uneven grass and rocks. A single car is parked in a small carpark, but there’s no sign of its driver. I sit on a bench and look at the view for a while.
I’m tired and hungry, again, but it’s only 11:30 and too early for lunch. I must get going.
Now the road leaves the coast, skirts around a piece of high ground, before dipping down towards Laga Bay.
Laga is a small settlement and, according to my map, is also a ferry running from here across to Tobermory. What a lovely view, but I can’t see any sign of the ferry port, nor can I see a ferry.
Ah, there it is, moored at the end of the jetty. But the ferry doesn’t look very big. In fact, it doesn’t really look like a ferry at all, and the jetty is just a rickety gangplank. Surely this isn’t the main ferry from Ardnamurchan across to Mull?
I feel a little confused until, further along, and just before I cross a cattle grid, a sign informs me that I can book a trip on the “Ardnamurchan Charters”. So, it wasn’t the Mull ferry after all. It was a charter boat.
I come across one of those old mileposts. This one has been recently renovated I think. Glenborrodale is only 1 mile away. I’m nearly there.
I snap a self-portrait in a convex mirror at the end of someone’s drive.
A little further along, and here’s the Glenborrodale sign. And also a couple of joggers coming toward me along the road. They seem rather mismatched in size and, when they get closer, I realise they’re father and son.
Son looks tired. Father is grimacing. I think running together could either make, or – more likely – break their relationship!
No sign of Glenborrodale yet, but here’s a lovely bay. The tide is beginning to receed, exposing a muddy shore.
Glenborrodale is a disappointment. I was expecting something bigger, and there seems no heart to the place. No focal point. No shop. No pub or cafe.
Earlier this morning, I’d had an anxious wait for the one-and-only bus of the day. The online timetable said the bus would stop at the Glenborrodale Hotel. But, there was no sign of a hotel. So I waited at the widest point in the road, near a phonebox, a postbox, and the turnoff to the Ardnamurchan bunkhouse, and hoped for the best.
I know buses usually stop ‘on request’ in rural areas, but I’m always filled with anxiety when I can’t see an obvious bus stop. When the bus came bumping round the corner, I put out my hand and, to my relief, it did stop. I should have more faith.
Just beyond here, the road rises, and I see signs on the fence to my left. “Glenborrodale Castle. PRIVATE. NO ACCESS.” and I’m informed that if I trespass it’s entirely at my own risk.
I hate these signs, and I immediately want to scale the fence and walk on the other side. Exactly what is the risk I run by trespassing? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll be shot.
A few yards further along the road and here’s a pair of gates and a drive. “Glenborrodale Castle. PRIVATE” says the sign. “Trespassers do it at their own risk.”
The castle is visible behind a fence to my right. Looks quite impressive, and huge, but not very old.
Oh, and here’s another sign on a gate to my left. “Private.” Yes, yes, we get the message. You’re an unfriendly bunch.
At the top of a hill is another set of gates and a gate house. This must be the main entrance. I want to see if there is yet another “PRIVATE” sign on these gates too, but a woman is standing on the drive with her dog on a lead, so I decide not to.
People must live here. Is it divided into holiday lets?
[Later, I look the castle up on the internet and discover it was for sale last year for £3.75 million. Compared to London prices… what a bargain!]
Beyond the castle the road dips again. The carpark – which I eventually discovered this morning – is just to my right.
I was the only person here when I parked my car just after 8 am. Now there are several other vehicles parked, and a group of men are studying the noticeboard.
They’re birdwatchers, and want to know where the footpath starts. There is one up the hill above us, but it starts from the road a little further up, I tell them. (I only know this because I studied the map earlier, and I’m going to use this footpath shortly.)
They ask me what birds I’ve spotted, but I haven’t been looking for any. I tell them about the sea eagles yesterday, but they don’t seem very impressed.
[To be continued…]