[This walk was completed on the 10th May 2019]
I drive to the Forestry Commission car park for the Ardmolich woods, a sloping area of tarmac near the top of a steep hill. A large information sign suggests a stroll around the woodland, while a smaller sign tells me this is the beginning (or the end) of the Silver Walk.
I set off down the track. Usually I dislike walking among pines, but these are tall and elegant trees, and I enjoy their company.
A noise and movement ahead – oh, a deer. It stands on the track, alert and anxious, watching me. I manage to swing my camera up and take a blurry shot…
… before it leaps up the slope and into the trees.
It doesn’t go far. Keeps a wary eye on me from above the track. I wonder if it has a baby fawn hidden nearby.
Further along, I come to a deer fence. I never know if they’re designed to keep deer in, or to keep deer out. And was the deer I saw on the right or wrong side of the fence?
I climb over the steps and continue. My track has dipped down into a valley, and now begins to rise again, with a few fallen trees causing minor obstructions.
It’s a steep climb up to the brow of the hill, and my legs begin to ache. At the top, I’m rewarded by a great view along Loch Moidart. All the way to the sea.
I cross an area of open grassland. Here the track divides. Although there are no signposts, I know the suggested forest walk continues up the hill, but I’m heading down towards the shore.
Here the path takes a rocky course very close to the shore. I suppose this is a tidal loch, and wonder if the path ever gets completely covered. There are strands of seaweed on the stones.
The path doesn’t stick to the shore, but goes meandering up the slope and through groves of broad-leaved trees. Oaks mingle with the silver birches.
I’m conscious of the roar of traffic from across the other side of the loch. Tomorrow I’ll be following the A861 over there. Oh dear. Sounds busy.
The path dips down to the shore again. I come to a little cove. No sand, just marsh and mud, but with it’s own kind of beauty. Sadly it’s a dull day, and my photographs don’t do the place justice.
There’s a little stream to cross, and a ruined building, but I can’t tell if it’s an animal shelter or the remains of an old cottage.
The path winds around, and goes up and down. Sometimes rising up the slope and weaving between the trees, sometimes following the line of the shore.
Now the route turns inland, and I climb up into an open area of grass and scattered bushes.
I pass more ruined buildings. These must be the remains of cottages, I think. Hard to imagine this place bustling with families.
The wind picks up, bringing the scent of moisture. I look back and see dark clouds covering the hills above the loch. Oh, no. Looks like rain is coming this way.
When the first drops begin to fall, I perch on a rock and open up my rucksack. Time to get weatherproofed! I pull on my waterproof trousers. I hate wearing these, but they do keep me dry. On goes my golfing cap with it’s long peak. This is excellent for keeping my hood from falling over my eyes and, most importantly, stops the rain from splattering my glasses. I stow my camera and phone away, and fasten my rucksack’s waterproof cover.
OK, come on rain. I’m ready for you.
Of course, as soon as I’ve completed all this preparation, the rain stops!
Onwards. The path climbs higher and turns into a definite track. It’s curving inland, around a hump of high ground called Torr Port a Bhata.
On the other side of this hill, the path dips down again. I cross a stream via a little bridge formed from rocks. (Thank you, whoever made this path, for keeping my feet dry.)
Or maybe I spoke too soon. The next stretch of path is very muddy. I slip and slide, and am glad I have my walking pole with me.
Up the hill, and I come to a pile of rocks. Not another cairn! Yesterday, they were all over the place.
It’s not till I’ve gone another 20 or 30 feet along the path that I realise… oh, yes, that’s the cairn that marks the fork in the path, and it’s the point where I left the Silver Walk yesterday.
So, now I’ve joined up with yesterday’s walk, which means today’s walk is complete. Time for a lunch break, and then it’s time to turn back. Oh good, looks like the rain clouds are clearing.
The walk back is uneventful. Funny how the route always seems quicker when you are retracing your steps.
The noise of traffic across the loch is screamingly loud. Sounds like a host of motorbikes are racing up and down. And, just look at all those cars and vans parked along the road. What’s going on?
I reach a section of path which I remember from this morning – a steep slab of rock with the remains of wooden steps flapping uselessly at the top. This morning I simply slid down the rock. Now I have to get back up – and it seems much higher! Oh, no. What if I can’t get over?
After a moment of pointless panic, I scramble and stretch, wedge my boots into a ledge formed by a fallen tree, and manage to pull myself over. From there onwards, the return route is easy.
On the drive back, I’m overtaken by a stream of motorbikes. Not normal bikes, but very muddy, noisy ones, the sort you drive cross-country. When I get back to my rented cabin, the landlady asks if I got tangled up in the trail bike rally. Apparently it’s a regular event across Moidart.
Miles walked today = 5.5 miles (there and back)
Total distance round Britain = 4,156 miles