396pm Ardtoe to Shiel Bridge

[This walk was completed on the 8th May 2019]

I’m very pleased I decided to walk up to Ardtoe and discovered those beautiful beaches. Now I must walk back along the road. With less incentive to stop and take photographs, I make rapid progress.

On the way, I meet a couple of cyclists coming towards me up a hill. The man in front  leading the way…

… and the woman puffing after him.

I wonder if they will enjoy Ardtoe as much as I did? Apparently not. A few minutes later, they come back down the road and overtake me.

As I approach the turnoff to Newton, I see a white sheep with two lambs. Another odd colour combination – one lamb is white and the other is black. No… hang on… that’s not a little black lamb…

… it’s a scruffy brown dog!

With grass and seed heads clinging to its fur, the dog looks like it has been dragged through the proverbial bush backwards. Obviously up to no good. When it sees me, the dog abandons the sheep and insists on leading the way up the road.

He/she walks with me for what seems like ages. It’s not the first time this has happened, and I always enjoy canine company, but I don’t want to be stuck with a lost dog! Go home, little doggy, go home. I try to read its tag, but it won’t let me touch its collar.

Eventually I manage to shoo it away, and it heads back up the road towards the place with the horrible name – Gobshealach. But I soon hear the pitter patter of paws, and it’s back again, first following at my heels, and then insisting on leading the way.

A car comes towards us, and I wave my arms to slow it down. Don’t run over the little doggy! A woman rolls down the window.

“I guess you want to know where the dog comes from,” she says. Her tone implies this is a common occurrence. “I’m always telling her not to let it out. I’ll take it home if you like.”

We open the car door, but the dog – who I now realise is a geriatric wanderer – doesn’t want to jump in. Eventually I have to bend down and lift the creature into the passenger footwell. Watch the lady drive off with a sense of relief.

Onwards. Ahead is the rocky hillock I climbed earlier. Now I plan to climb it again and have a second lunch.

It’s turned colder. The sun keeps disappearing behind clouds and the wind has picked up. So I don’t climb to the top of the rocks, but sit in the shelter of the leeward side and eat the rest of my snacks.

Further along the road, and I’m back on the flatness of Kentra Moss. I come to a track that leads in a northeast direction. This takes me across the Moss and up to the River Shiel. After a day of dry weather, the surface underfoot is reasonably firm, but it’s still very muddy in places.

At the end of the track I pass a couple of houses, and then I join the road that runs along the shore of the River Shiel. If I turned left, I would reach the end of the road at a hamlet called Shielfoot. But I’m turning right towards the main A861 and Shiel Bridge.

It’s a pleasant road, lined by mature trees, with several nice houses dotted along it.

I’m actually some distance away from the river, which is disappointing, but I get the occasional good view through gaps in the trees.

This looks like the site of an old ford, or maybe an old bridge. A line of wooden planking leads across a marshy area to a dryer bank. Perhaps used by fishermen?

I pass a weathered old building. Impressive, but almost in ruins. Looks like an old stable block. I stand on tiptoe to take photos over the wall. Love these semi-derelict places.

I come to the end of the minor road and the junction with the A road. Here my Monster bike is leaning, casually, against a fence, exactly where I dropped it off earlier.

I have mixed feelings about the old bike, but it’s always a relief to see it again. However, before I cycle back to the car, I have a little bit more walking to do.

Turning left along the A861, I head towards the bridge. It’s an old bridge, very narrow, and can only take single file traffic.

Crossing the bridge, I follow the main road round to the left, and a few hundred feet further along I come to another junction. A minor road – a very minor road – leads off to a place called Doirlinn.

Doirlinn? It sounds familiar. Oh yes, that’s because I’ve been to a place called Doirlinn before – right on the tip of the Morven peninsula. So I’m a little surprised to see the name again.

Check my map. The very minor road leads to a castle and I was expecting to see the name of the castle – Castle Tioram – on the road sign. But now I notice that, in small letters, the neighbouring bay is called Cul Doirlinn.

I find the duplication of Scottish place names very confusing, and the OS maps – usually so accurate – seem a bit vaguer up here too.

This junction is as far as I’m going today. I turn back, and take a photo of Shiel Bridge. Lovely old thing.


From the bridge, I take more photographs looking up the River Shiel. Shame the day has turned dull. Further up there is Loch Shiel, a very wild and remote loch.

This long body of water marks the northern border of Ardnamurchan and the Sunart area, and is the main barrier responsible for cutting the peninsula off from the rest of Scotland. Creates an island feel.

I’ve loved Ardnamurchan. It’s been wonderful walking through a landscape covered in forests and with miles of beautiful coastline to enjoy.

Walk back to my bike. And now all I have to do is ride the old Monster back to my car.

Tomorrow, I have a circular walk planned, and there’s a castle to explore.

Miles walked today = 10 miles
Total distance around coast = 4,141 miles

Route: black is morning route, red is afternoon route

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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7 Responses to 396pm Ardtoe to Shiel Bridge

  1. Robin Massey says:

    Thanks again Ruth – a mixed pleasure walking with the wee doggie!

    • Obviously the dog thought the whole of Kentra Moss was it’s own back garden, but I didn’t want to be stuck with it all day. There were signs up saying dogs worrying sheep would be shot too, to add to my anxiety!

  2. Eunice says:

    More good scenery, shame about the dull day but I do like the little Cairn Terrier 🙂

    • Hi Eunice, and thank you for identifying the breed. I actually had a Cairn terrier as a child, but mine was silver. I didn’t recognise this one – it was really scruffy with leaves and twigs stuck in its coat!

      • Annie says:

        My Mum and I just discovered this page and found it hilarious. We actually own this Cairn Terrier, she’s called Misty. She’s 14 years old and has a mind of her own as you can probably tell. We live in Gobsheallach and we think it’s a great name! It translates to Mouth of the Willow Trees in Gaelic and my mother, grandparents and great grandparents all lived here. We own the sheep too; a mixture of Black face and Hebrideans. Really glad we found this – I hope you had a fabulous walk!

        • Hi Annie, how wonderful to hear from you! Misty really is a character, and very cute despite her scruffiness 😄 Thank you for telling me about Gobsheallach – I’m sure the name sounds much nicer when you know what it means. I really did enjoy this walk, thank you. A very beautiful and interesting area. Best wishes.

  3. Karen White says:

    Shiel Bridge is lovely, and so is the loch. It really is a beautiful part of the world.

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