404pm Morar towards Tarbet

[This walk was started on the 23rd May 2019]

I catch the bus back from Mallaig to Morar and, as I change my boots beside my car, the level crossing lights begin to flash. A train is coming, but not the ordinary diesel – it’s the Howart’s Express! I catch a photograph as it steams past.

30 Hogwarts Express passing through Morar


I wasn’t intending to walk any further today, but I’ve been worrying about tomorrow. My plan is to walk from Morar along the shore of the loch to a tiny place called Tarbet, where I can catch a ferry back to Mallaig, and then a bus back to Morar. But there is only one ferry a day from Tarbet, and it leaves at 3:30pm.

It’s 15 miles to Tarbet from here – an easy enough distance – but I’m a very slow walker and I’m worried about covering the distance in time to catch the ferry. I’ve reluctantly decided I will have to skip breakfast!

An idea occurs to me. It’s only 2:30pm. I could walk some of the route today, and reduce the walking distance tomorrow.

Yes. What a good idea. So, I head downhill from the village, and pick up the minor road that follows the northern shore of Loch Morar.

31 road to Loch Morar, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The end of the loch consists of an area of waterfalls and manmade dams. All part of a hydroelectric scheme – there are a lot of these in Scotland. It’s a strange mix of the beautiful and the functional, but it’s really very attractive despite the concrete walls and iron railings.

32 hydroelectic at end of Loch Morar, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Above the dams, I discover a gently flowing river. Its banks are lined by pleasure boats and a couple of guys are getting ready to set out in canoes (or are they kayaks?).

33 pleasure craft on Loch Morar, Ruth's coastal walk

Loch Morar is supposed to be very deep and very wild. In fact, it’s the deepest freshwater lake in Britain, and it even has its own monster! So I wasn’t expecting such a peaceful scene.

Further along I pass a church with an attached house. Can’t work out if it is still a functioning church or has been converted into holiday homes.

34 old church, Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

Some fellow guests at the Morar Hotel said they were disappointed in Loch Morar, because they were expecting mountains and dramatic cliffs falling down into the water.

The river has widened out into the loch. I look along the length of the water. My fellow guests are right. There are no dramatic cliffs in sight and no mountains. But the loch is very long, and the poor light and low-hanging cloud, might make the peaks seem lower than they really are.

I pass a jetty with no boats…

35 jetty on Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

… but there are plenty of signs attached to nearby trees. “No fishing without a permit” and “no motorised boats to be launched without a permit.”

36 no fishing or launching, Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

Traffic is light, but consistent, and I have to keep stepping aside to let cars go past. I was expecting a more isolated feel to the place. Looking up the loch again, I half close my eyes and try to imagine the Morag Monster rising from the depths…

37 no monsters in Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

… maybe if it was winter and there were less cars passing… actually, there is something slightly sinister and brooding about the lake.

I come to a picnic area. More signs. “No fires or camping.” I wonder who owns this land, and why they feel the need to erect so many handmade signs? Killjoys.

38 no fires or camping, LochMorar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

Here’s another pier, with a couple of small boats attached. Nearby signs tell me I can hire boats…

39 another jetty, Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

… although another sign – and this one is very official looking – contains a long list of instructions and warnings.

40 instructions, Loch Morar, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

They’re right about the mobile phone coverage – there isn’t any signal here. Wonder why they don’t warn about the monster?

A little further on, and I feel I’ve had enough. Time to turn round and walk back to the hotel.

I’m pleased I did this little section today. Tomorrow I will be able to enjoy a good breakfast, and then freewheel my Monster bike back down to this place and start my walk from here. I will only have reduced the distance I need to walk by a couple of miles, but that is equivalent to almost an hour of walking at my pace (slow), and I will have significantly increased my chances of catching the Tarbet ferry tomorrow.

Miles walked this afternoon = 3 miles
Total around Britain = 4,206.5 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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8 Responses to 404pm Morar towards Tarbet

  1. Jacquie Butler says:

    Your journeying in the HIghlands is a real logistical tour de force – buses, steam trains and ferries!
    Here is a link to information on the church and house you passed – Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Cumin’s (sounds like an all-you-can-eat curry night).
    Delving into the parish mag it seems the house is the residence of the priest and in dire need of divine renovation – the rain leaking into the holy gentleman’s bedroom!http://www.catholicroughbounds.org/morar-12958

  2. I’m looking forward to 405 Morar to Tarbet (Missed Ferry) 🙂

  3. theresagreen says:

    Maybe the monster’s lured all other visitors into the hidden depths… There may not be close mountains, but what a superbly unspoilt and tranquil location.

  4. Eunice says:

    Just trying to catch up (yet again!) after being away in Ireland. I walked along this part of Loch Morar a few years ago, it was a lovely warm and sunny June day and I thought the scenery was lovely. I found a little beach not far from the jetty with the boats moored up, decided to go for a paddle to cool off but in spite of the very warm day the water was freezing! 🙂

  5. Karen White says:

    There’s that train again!
    Loch Morar is beautiful and the low cloud adds to the atmosphere. I can easily imagine a monster rising from the deep.

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