[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.
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.
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.
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?).
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.
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…
… 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.”
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…
… 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.
Here’s another pier, with a couple of small boats attached. Nearby signs tell me I can hire boats…
… although another sign – and this one is very official looking – contains a long list of instructions and warnings.
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