[This walk was completed on the 21st May, 2019]
I catch the train to Lochailort station. Sadly, it’s not a steam train, just an ordinary diesel. Back on the A830, and I anticipate easy road walking as I head towards Arisaig.
I pull on my high-vis vest, and walk past the Lochailort Inn, where I stopped for a cider yesterday, and then past the turnoff for Glenuig (where they wouldn’t serve me cider the day before).
It’s only 10 miles to Arisaig from here. Although I will be taking a diversion off the road further up, so I will end up doing a little more than that.
I’d dreaded walking along here because of I anticipated heavy traffic, but at 10am on a Tuesday morning it doesn’t seem too bad.
The road passes across the top of Loch Ailort. Wow, that hill over there looks very high. Its head is lost in the clouds. Check my map. Must be An Stac which, at 814 metres, is not a hill. It’s a mountain.
When I was walking up that side of the loch yesterday, I couldn’t see the mountain looming above the road. Funny how you often only get a good view of where you’ve actually been when you’re no longer actually there!
The road swings away from the loch, and a sign tells me to beware of ice. No fear of that today. Although the air is still chilly, the sun is beginning to warm up nicely. The next sign tells me it’s only 8 miles to Arisaig. Hmm, I’ve either walked 2 miles very quickly, or these road signs are not very accurate!
I spot a sweet little white church beside the road. It’s perched on a hummock of land and looks quite impressive. I cross the road, meaning to visit the church, but it turns out to be a private house now.
[Later I learn this used to be Our Lady of Braes, a Roman Catholic church. It closed because the nearby village it served (Polnish) virtually disappeared. The little church is famous for making an appearance in the 1983 film, Local Hero.]
This section of the A830 has been improved, says a nearby plaque. Jolly good, but I wish you’d constructed some pavements as part of the improvements.
Below the new road, I can see the course of the old road. And I think that house down there might have been a station house once. There’s a railway sign in the garden…
… and the railway line passes close by, and underneath the new road.
The road climbs and then drops again. Half a mile further along, I come to a layby where a row of cars are parked. Strange, because there’s nothing around. What are they doing here?
As I get nearer, I see there’s a walking signpost to Peanmeanach. That’s another abandoned settlement on the coast on the other side of the Ardnish peninsula.
I still really miss the network of public paths we enjoy in England and Wales, but I’ve been very impressed by the efforts of the “Scottish Rights of Way and Access Society”. They’ve created some interesting walking routes, although the signage tends to be a bit hit and miss.
In fact, a couple of walkers are just setting off for Peanmeanach. Nice day, we agree.
I’m tempted to follow them. Bet it’s a lovely walk. But 3.5 miles there and 3.5 miles back… oh, it’s just a bit too far for a diversion, because I’m determined to get to Arisaig today.
Back to plodding along the road. Hello, little hut. How sweet. The sign on the door says Polnish House. Really?! It’s not even big enough for a bed. Is it a joke?
A little later, I realise the hut simply belongs to Polnish House, and is probably where the postman and others leave their deliveries.
Above me is a strip of blackened hillside. I haven’t seen many wildfires this summer yet – wonder when this one happened? Green shoots of new bracken are already pushing their way through the charred surface.
Up a hill, and the road swings round and down towards a viaduct. There’s another sea loch on the other side. Loch non Uamh.
I’m hoping a steam train might pass over the viaduct at this point, because it would make a great photo, but no such luck.
Loch non Uamh is beautiful. It has a wide, open mouth, and I can look right down the loch and across the Sound of Arisaig. The water is beautifully clear, and a gorgeous blue colour.
The road follows the shore of the loch for a mile or so. There are more of those lovely little islands too – similar to the ones I saw in Loch Ailort yesterday – the ones that look as though they’re floating on the surface of the water.
I pass a slipway, where a couple of rafts are tied up. One is laden with lobster/crab pots.
What a lovely road, what a great view, and how wonderful to be walking in glorious sunshine.
I spot a signpost to “The Prince’s Cairn”. Must be something to do with Bonnie Prince Charlie. Of course, I take a short detour off the road to have a look.
I follow a shady path, and climb the steps to the top of a rocky promontory, where the cairn sits as a great lump. Not the most beautiful structure in the world, and with the sun directly behind it, it’s hard to get a decent photograph of the thing.
The plaques says, “This cairn marks the traditional spot from which Prince Charles Edward Stuart embarked for France, 20th September 1746.”
I didn’t do history at school, and I’ve had to read up on Bonnie Prince Charles. So I know the would-be-king was fleeing from pursuing government forces after his disastrous defeat at Culloden. As a result of the uprising, the Highlanders were punished and their way of life dismantled. It seems strange (to me) to make so much fuss over this rather vain, selfish and foolish man. But the Scots seem very proud of him.
This rocky, but sheltered shore, makes a good spot from which to ferry a fugitive away.
I walk back along the road, passing the layby where visitors to the Prince’s Cairn can park. I notice that most of the people parking don’t, in fact, visit the cairn, which is only 200 yards or so away. They just take photographs of it from the distance.
One last curve in the road…
… and it swings away from the shore again, to run up the river valley created by the lovely Beasdale Burn. This section of the road looks new, and even has a footpath/cycle way running alongside it. Although, sadly, the protected pavement is soon coming to an end.
The trouble with the new road is that it looks built for speed, but includes many tricky bends and blind summits. Bits of bumper, lying in the ditch alongside the tarmac, mark spots where motorists have come to grief.
Can’t say I enjoy walking along this section. Traffic has hotted up, and I’m constantly having to jump onto the verge as yet another car roars by.
The bridge ahead (where the railway track once more passes back over the road) forces vehicles to slow down. The arch is too narrow for anything other than single file traffic.
On the next swinging bend, I’m overtaken by a funeral cortege.
A few hundred yards later, over the top of a blind summit, and I see Beasdale Station ahead. This is another of those small Scottish stations serving a scattered community that seems to be set in the middle of nowhere.
Beyond the station, the road curves down towards yet another railway bridge. This one is also too narrow for two cars to pass, and a set of traffic signals are in place. They seem to change automatically when a car approaches. Unusually, there’s even a special pedestrian button, so I can change the traffic lights too, if I want to.
Now I’m approaching a place called Borrodale. Here’s a row of pretty cottages and a water pumping station, and the pavement appears once more. Yay! Ahead, just off to the left hand side of the road, I can see Borrowdale house.
I can hear men talking in the trees beside the road. Look around to see where the voices are coming from, and am shocked to see two men seemingly climbing the cliff. Another man, at the top, is shouting down instructions.
A nearby white van is printed with the words ” Environmental Forestry Services” and, in smaller letters, “Specialising in all aspects of tree work”. Crikey. Are they abseiling tree surgeons? Looks very dangerous!
There’s a minor road leading off to the left, and I leave the main A830 to follow this, heading for Borrodale House. From here, I should be able to follow at track right through to Arisaig.
A handy wall provides a convenient place to perch my camera for a self-portrait.
There are a couple of deer enjoying the lawn at Borrodale House. One is standing guarding a child’s football net, like a goalie.
My little road swings past the house, and then, and then… comes to a dead end.
I check my map again. Well, the map suggests I can get through, but this road definitely does not continue any further. And the ground on the other side of the bollards is very rough and overgrown.
Oh dear. I will just have to turn back and follow the main road for a while longer.
I plod up the A830, which rises up a steep hill at this point. I’m hot and not in a very happy mood, when I spot a sign to Druimindarroch. Oh, good, I think this is the road I need.
I walk past a row of little white cottages. The main route curves sharply to the left, which is the dead-end road to Druimindarroch…
… but the route I want carries straight on. Although – oh, dear – the way seems barred by a large iron gate. My heart sinks, until I notice a little pedestrian gate to the left of the big one.
This takes me onto a delightful track, winding through trees. But I’m not very pleased when I spot a cow pat. Looks fairly fresh too. Definitely made today.
I continue along the track, hesitantly, but see no other sign of cows. Maybe they passed through here earlier on the way to a field somewhere? I relax and really enjoy this section of the walk. It’s good to be off the tarmac, and this is a beautiful track.
Check my watch. It’s 1:30pm and time for lunch. I find a log in the sun (sunlight being a good protection against midges) and cover myself in Smidge as an additional precaution. Perfect picnic spot, and I can’t resist taking another self portrait.
What a change from a couple of days ago – when it was raining, cold and miserable. I’ve shed my jacket, and now I can shed my high-vis vest. Won’t be needing this for the rest of the walk.
[To be continued…]
Route this morning: