410 Corran to Arnisdale

[This walk took place on the 18th June, 2019]

Corran is a little hamlet on the banks of Loch Hourn, situated at the end of the road that runs down the coast of the Glenelg peninsula. The tracks among the cottages are unsurfaced and accessed by a narrow bridge, so visitors are encouraged to park just outside Corran, beside the visitor’s centre at the end of the public road.

01 car park for Corran, Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

It’s another dull and rainy day. I spend the morning sheltering in my cottage, only venturing out when the worst of the weather eases. It’s 11:30am and, according to the forecast, I have a window of a few hours before the rain starts up again.

That’s Knoydart, across there, on the other side of Loch Hourn. Much is made of Knoydart being “Britain’s last wilderness”, so I’m surprised to see a little house at the bottom of the dark slopes. There’s no road access to that area, but I guess you can get there by boat.

Right on cue, a little motor boat appears and streaks across the waters of the loch.

02 Knoydart and Loch Hourn, with motor boat, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

My plan today is to walk to Arnisdale and then follow the road for a few miles further, before turning back. I’ve decided not to use my bike, partly because I’m worried about the steepness of the road (marked by chevrons on my OS map) and partly because I’m worried about cycling in the rain with poor visibility and wet brakes.

The coast road, somewhat surprisingly, takes me inland initially, and runs straight as a ruler towards the cloudy mass of Beinn Sgritheall. At 970 meters, it’s definitely a mountain and the tallest peak on this side of Loch Hourn. I’m sure it would look very impressive… if only I could see more than a few 100 yards up the slopes.

03 view of Beinn Sgritheall, from Arnisdale road, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

The road does a little dog-leg dance, and takes me back towards the shore. Despite the dullness of the day, I’m enjoying this walk. The landscape has a just-washed look, and tall pink hollyhocks foxgloves make splashes of colour beside the road.

04 dogleg bend on road to Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

After a couple of days tramping through inland valleys, it’s good to be beside the water again. My road curves gently round a bay, and there’s the village of Arnisdale ahead.

05 Arnisdale approach by road, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I walk under the canopy of a stately row of old chestnut trees. Little dinghies are pulled up on the beach, and the verges of the road are dotted with trailers, fishing equipment, and a collection landrovers and pickup trucks.

06 sycamore avenue, Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I immediately like Arnisdale. It seems to be a proper village – a proper community of local people who actually live here all year round. One of the vehicles belongs to the ranger service of the National Trust for Scotland, while another belongs to a salmon fishing company, MOWI.

I pass a collection of buoys on the grass. One is bright yellow with the word DOCTOR written on its side. I’ve heard of flying doctors, but perhaps this is a doctor who visits by boat? I wonder if he or she does house visits to the isolated cottages scattered along the loch.

07 doctor's bouy, Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Out in the bay, I spot a small boat. White cabin and deck, with a blue hull. It looks very much like the small boat that came to pick me up from Kinlochhourn a few days ago. Is it Peter’s little ferry?

08 Peter's boat, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I walk past a little post office (only open three afternoons a week) and reach the end of the village, where a cottage is undergoing renovations. Turn and look back along the shore, and decide – yes – I very much like Arnisdale.

09 looking back at Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

It begins to drizzle with rain. I’m tempted to turn back, but I’ve barely covered a mile today, and so I decide to continue on a little further. Beyond Arnisdale, the road climbs a hill and curls around the side of a rocky slope.

10 steep road out of Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Below the road, the ground falls down to the shore and to Eilean Tioram, a tidal island. I wondered whether Peter Caton had visited the place. (Peter visited 43 of the tidal islands around the UK and wrote about them in his book, No Boat Required.) The name ‘Tioram’ sounds familiar…

11 Eilean Tioram, Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

… and then I remember visiting Castle Tioram, the ruined fortress which sits on its own rocky island just off the shore of Loch Moidart. [Later, I discover that tioram means dry, when translated into English from Scottish Gaelic.]

Interesting how many place names are repeated in Scotland. Corran, for example, is both the name of the small hamlet I’m staying in today, and the place near Fort William where the ferry crosses over Loch Linnhe.

The drizzle eases off. I look over the water at Knoydart, where the sun is falling in patches on the slopes above the loch, and take photos with my lens on full zoom. There’s another building – in fact, a collection of buildings – lying on the flat land beside the shore.

12 Knoydart shore, from Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Maybe there’s a road over there, after all? I check my map. No sign of a road, not even a track. I guess you can only get there by boat. I wonder if Peter is the only ferry man around, and whether he is kept busy? Or do the people who stay in these isolated places have their own boats?

I’ve reached the top of the rise, and the road swings around a curve, giving me a view of the shore ahead. Love the wooded slopes and the pretty islands sitting in the water. Shame the weather is so dull. I’m sure this would look spectacular in the sunshine.

13 coast road to Glenelg from Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I walk a little further down the road. Although I’m still close to the shore, my view of Loch Hourn is screened by a strip of woodland. To my right, the grassy slope rises in a series of curves and hummocks, pierced by outcrops of rocks.

14 dripping rocks, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

A constant sound of running water along this section. After so much rain, half the hillside seems to have turned into a stream. The rocks beside the road glisten with mini-waterfalls.

dripping rocks, Ruth's coastal walk, Arnisdale

Another rise in the road, and I come to an area of flattened ground, covered by patches of tarmac and rough gravel. There is no ‘carpark’ sign, but this is first spot I’ve seen where I could leave my car, and I decide it would be a good place to start my next walk.

I stand in the flattened area and look up towards the top of Loch Hourn, where more clouds are gathering. Bands of rain sweep in misty curtains across the loch.

15 gravel park, road from Arnisdale, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I was planning to walk a little further, but I can see the rain is coming my way. And I’ve found a good spot for the car tomorrow. Time to turn back.

It stays dry for my return journey and, as I approach Corran along the straight-as-a-ruler piece of road, I see a couple walking along the tarmac ahead of me. Can’t resist taking their photo.

16 walkers on road back to Corran, Ruth hiking the coast of Scotland

I always feel a twinge of longing when I see a couple walking together, but I have to remind myself that I have walked most of the coast entirely on my own, and I really do prefer walking in my own time and at my own pace.

But, maybe a walking partner would have encouraged me to walk further today? Yesterday, I only managed 4 miles (in a forward direction), and a mere 5 miles the day before (again, if I only count forward motion). Today I’ve covered a measly 4 miles in total, and only 2 in the right direction.

That’s 11 miles of actual progress in three days! I’ll never get to Cape Wrath at this rate. The weather isn’t helping – I do hate the rain and find it difficult to motivate myself on dull days. But, tomorrow, come rain or storm, I MUST DO BETTER.

To cheer myself up, I pop into the Tea Hut in Corran, and treat myself to a proper cooked meal. Then a buy a large slice of cake to take out, which I eat later in my cottage, sitting in front of the open fire with a large glass of whisky.


Things I discovered today:

  1. Arnisdale is beautiful.
  2. Scotland is cold enough for open fires, even in June.
  3. Whisky and cake go together suprisingly well.

 

Miles walked today = 4 miles
Total distance around coast = 4,264.5 miles

Route:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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11 Responses to 410 Corran to Arnisdale

  1. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – All of us reading of your fantastic achievement and progress are your walking Spirit Partners, and if a tot of whisky and slice of cake are calling then it’s ones duty to heed the calling of that spirit as well, especially considering your location – Cheers Russ

  2. Jean Heys says:

    Lovely walks the past few days in spite of disappointing weather. Thank goodness for rain gear and determination. I bet you’ll feel more inspired when the sun comes out from behind those thick clouds. Hollyhocks? Or Foxgloves? Just to show you someone’s paying attention 🙂

  3. Allan McMillan says:

    Your writing is capturing the changing moods of the landscape under maritime air conditions. This is what gives the western highlands such a brooding majesty. In turn, this can send spirits soaring or into desolation. The fact that you keep going, surmounting everything you encounter, keeps us following your great journey. The details are so important in providing colour and bringing the daily journals to life.

  4. jcombe says:

    This looks a stunningly beautiful area, but also a very tricky one to walk, well done for getting through it. A shame about the weather. I’ll venture out in poor weather to some degree, but not if it’s terrible, but that is largely because it’s usually a case that these trips are expensive and I want to make the most of my time there. However I do draw the line, as the point of doing this is for enjoyment and I won’t enjoy an all day walk in torrential rain.

    On one day of my recent trip it was heavy rain and gale force winds forecast all day (which turned out to be accurate), so I abandoned my walk planned for that day and visited Dunrobin Castle over on the east coast instead, where the weather was far more favourable (windy, but dry). I missed visiting this castle when I walked past it, so it was nice to go back and have a proper look around.

    • I confess to sometimes visiting a distillery on a rainy day, Jon, instead of walking. But this area is so isolated, it’s hard to know where to go to escape the weather. Last year was so warm and sunny in Scotland, I think I got spoilt!

  5. Every time you get up and go out and progress even 1 mile, you’re taking another step of the journey. It’s amazing determination to keep going, and it will be the achievement of a lifetime to complete this. And looking back, you can write a best-seller detailing all the best cake and whisky combinations.

  6. Karen White says:

    When you think you aren’t making progress, just look at what an amazing distance you’ve already done, and also that there’s no rush – Scotland isn’t going anywhere! Your walk is for enjoyment, and it isn’t much fun walking in pouring rain.
    Arnisdale does look pretty and the area is very beautiful even in the dull weather.

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