[This walk was completed on the 12th April 2019]
I’m not in a good mood. This morning, I must catch the one-and-only bus of the day, and its starting point is getting further and further away from my B&B, so I must set off in the car while it’s still dark.
Firstly, I’m definitely NOT a morning person and, secondly, I’m forced to miss breakfast. The drive along the single-track road is surprisingly quick, because nobody else seems to be up. I reckon I can afford to stop the car for a few moments, and watch the sunrise over Loch Sunart.
I park in Kilchoan and realise I’m half an hour too early for the bus (which I guess is better than being half an hour too late). After the usual dilemma of where to wait – as usual, there is no sign of a bus stop – I wait outside a hotel.
I’m the only passenger. The driver doesn’t seem to know where Glenmore is, but he does know where the Ardnamurchan Visitor Centre is, and this is where I get off.
I plan to have breakfast at the Visitor Centre, but I’m 10 minutes too early and it hasn’t opened yet. Outside, the information boards tell me how to recognise sea eagles (I’ve spotted several over the past few days) and golden eagles (not sighted yet)
I’m not very good at identifying birds, but I know the sea eagles have white tails. But, hang on, I look at the information board again…
Juvenile golden eagles have white tails too!
Oh dear. Now I’m not sure if I’ve really seen a sea eagle or not. Then I remember the huge bird gliding overhead near Kinlochteacuis. It’s underside was all black, and its tail was all white. Definitely a sea eagle. Definitely.
After a tasty cooked breakfast, I start off down the road towards Kilchoan.
What a lovely morning! The road takes me sometimes inland, and sometimes along the edge of a series of little bays. Port na Croisg, Camas Fearna, Camas Ban.
Apart from the huge fishing farms, I haven’t see much evidence of local fishermen, but this bay has a wooden jetty and several small fishing boats are moored nearby in the loch.
I’ve met very little traffic this morning, so am taken by surprise when a huge forestry truck rumbles past.
I look up Loch Sunart. The morning sun is low and bright, and the hills in the distance are graded shades of blue. Stop to take more photographs.
Highland cattle are munching the grass in a nearby field. This one takes an interest in me, trots up to greet me at the gate, and poses nicely for a photograph.
As I move away, a farmer drives up and begins throwing food bales into the field. Ah, so that’s why the beast was so interested in me. He/she was only waiting for breakfast to be delivered.
I pass a group of self-catering cottages down by the shore. Lovely place to stay.
A little further along, and I come to some grand new houses. Holiday homes? Probably. Splendid views over Loch Sunart, but miles from anywhere.
Spring in the Highlands is always a few weeks behind England, so I’m surprised to see bluebells are beginning to appear here too.
The landscape opens out, and the big bulk of Ben Hiant looms ahead. A rumbling sound behind me, and I turn to see a bright yellow digger coming along the road. Stand aside to let it pass.
It stops for a chat with a couple of lorries parked nearby. Looks like there are roadworks planned.
The digger continues round the corner of the road, closely followed by the two trucks. This leaves their parking place free… and, oh, what a parking place!
I spend some time in this beautiful spot, looking over to the slopes of the nearly-mountain Ben Hiant, which a notice board informs me was once part of a giant volcano.
Just look at that view! Below is a perfect little bay – Camas nan Geall – filled with clear blue water. There is a chambered cairn down beside the beach, along with other ruins.
[Later, I will return to this spot in the car, and revisit it on several subsequent days. It becomes my favourite place to stop for rest and recuperation at the end of each walking day. I always plan to walk down to visit the beach and the cairn, but I never do!]
Onwards. I follow the road around the corner, as it turns inland and hugs the curves of the hill Beinn Bhuidhe…
… before crossing over the valley, and over the Allt Torr na Moine stream, to hug the slopes of the opposite hill, Ben Hiant.
It’s a long uphill slog, now, and I soon lose sight of the loch. But I don’t mind because the scenery is beautiful. A milestone marker informs me I have 7 miles to go before I reach Kilchoan.
Just beyond the next marker, I come across a bevy of parked cars. What are they doing here? The middle of nowhere.
Pull out my map, and realise I’ve reached the spot where a footpath leaves the road and heads over the northern slopes of Ben Hiant, before rejoining the road on the other side.
The footpath is a more direct route to Kilchoan, but I was planning to continue along the road, because I was worried the footpath on the map might not actually exist on the ground. Now I can see the footpath looks very clear and must be well used. And all those parked cars must belong to walkers too.
Oh, dear, that path looks very, very tempting. What should I do?
Although the footpath over the slopes of Ben Hiant is a more direct route to Kilchoan, I know it might not be a quickest route. The terrain might be rough and difficult. But, time doesn’t really matter, does it? After all, it’s only 10:15am and I have no other plans for the day.
But, because I was anticipating road walking today, I haven’t brought my walking pole. Nor my personal locator beacon. And I’ve only got a limited supply of food and water left.
[To be continued…]