412 part 2 – Sandaig to Glenelg

[This walk took place on the 6th July 2019]

After visiting Sandaig, I drive to the end of the Glenelg road, park my van, and unload my new companion. It’s a replacement for the horrible Monster bike. A new foldup bicycle –  called Scooty.

20 introducing Scooty, Ruth's new companion on her coastal walk

Scooty is even heavier than the Monster, and I haven’t yet managed to fold him up,  but he has one major advantage – an electric battery. This means we can go uphill. That’s very fortunate, as it is uphill most of the way from Glenelg to Sandaig.

I park Scooty on the track that leads to Sandaig, making sure he is out of sight of the road, and chain his wheel with an enormous D lock. The lock almost weighs as much as the darn bike, but he’s too heavy to hide in a ditch. (Actually, I could probably get him into the ditch, but I would never manage to get him out!)

It’s all road-walking today, and I set off in good spirits, determined to make some decent mileage.

21 start of the walk to Glenelg, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

On my last trip, I thought I would finish walking around the Glenelg peninsula and reach Shiel Bridge in three days… which turned out to be far too optimistic. (Ju, another coastal walker, aka the Helpful Mammal, walked from Kinloch Hourn to Shiel Bridge in a single day. It’s going to take me 3 more days to get there, and I’ve already walked 4 days from Kinloch Hourn!)

At the brow of a hill, I stop to look back. This will probably be my last view of Loch Hourn and of Knoydart. Shame the light is dull and the photo doesn’t do the scene justice.

22 goodby Loch Hourn, Ruth's coastal walk to Glenelg, Scotland

I always feel sadness when I leave a set of familiar landmarks behind, or say goodbye to an area I’ve spent some time walking through. But, it’s definitely time to move on.

There’s a little knobby hill ahead, Mam nan Uranan (the name makes me smile), and the road winds around its base.

23 walking past Mam nan Uranan, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

As I come around the corner, and over the top of the rise in the road, I’m rewarded by a new and beautiful view. That’s the Isle of Skye over there, but what’s that waterway? At first I think I’m looking up a river estuary, but then I realise it’s not a river, but the narrowest part of the Sound of Sleat.

24 view over Sound of Sleat and Skye, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

Further along, as the road begins to dip downhill, I get another great view. Glenelg Bay – lined by a series of pale, curving beaches.

25 first view of Glenelg Bay, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

Downwards. I’m walking through woodland now, and temporarily lose sight of the coast. Look at those high hills ahead, their tops muffled by clouds.

26 road walking, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

Lower down the hill, I get glimpses of the Sound of Sleat over the tops of the trees, and watch the progress of a ship – maybe a ferry – as it pushes its way slowly against a ferocious current.

27 first view of Kylerhea, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

I’m coming down towards the sandbank-lined mouth of a river valley – Gleann Beag – where a river with the same name (but different spelling), Abhainn a Ghlinne Bhig, empties into Glenelg Bay.

28 more views over Glenelg Bay, Ruth hiking around the coast of Scotland

At the bottom of the valley is a strip of flat farmland, and a pretty set of farm buildings and cottages. Propped up on the verge is a road sign telling me the speed limit is 30mph.

29 Eilanreach, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

Hard to imagine anyone would drive faster than 30 along these narrow single-track roads. The road crosses over a cattle grid, and over the river bridge…

30 cattle grid and bridge, Gleann Beag, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

… where it meets a T junction. I stare at the road sign in disbelief. Corran is only 10 miles away. 10 miles! Surely I’ve come further than that in 3 days? What on earth have I been doing? How dare I call myself an long-distance walker? I’m stunned by my own ineptitude.

31 signpost at Gleann Beag, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

A footpath sign, further up the road, is even more disheartening. Kinloch Hourn is only 11 miles away. That seems incredible.

32 footpaths and beer signs, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

But then I remember that Kinloch Hourn is only 11 miles away if you take the direct path across the mountains. I’ve walked around by the coastline, so I’ve definitely covered more than 11 miles!

Mustn’t worry about it. On my last trip I had terrible weather and spent a lot of time sitting inside a cosy cottage, watching the rain lash down outside, while eating cake and drinking whisky. Not a bad way to spend a few days.

Onwards, past another pretty cottage which once belonged to someone called Roddy, according to its name – Roddy’s Cottage.

33 past Roddy's cottage, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

The road runs along the flat and close to the shore. To my left is scrubby land covered in bushes and long grasses, while to my right the slope is banked with rocks and trees.

34 past rocks, Glenelg ahead, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I must be nearly at Glenelg, where I’m going to stop and have lunch in the pub, but I can’t resist this bench with a wonderful view across to Skye. Sit and eat a snack bar… just to keep me going…

35 snack spot, Ruth hiking along the road to Glenelg, Scotland

… and take a self-portrait. Oh dear, lovely view, but I do look a bit porky. Obviously been eating too much cake and drinking too much whisky.

36 self portrait in front of Sound of Sleet, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

Onwards. I’m approaching houses. Another road sign warns me – rather unnecessarily – that there is no footway for 3/4 mile. Well, there’s actually been no footway for 10 miles or more.

37 no footway sign, Glenelg, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I pass a yard full of machinery, old vehicles, and assorted junk. A grey shed with orange trimmings turns out to be the Glenelg Community Fire Station.

38 community fire station, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

A woman overtakes me on her bike, with a young child riding in a back seat. Makes me feel guilty as I watch her pedalling along, and I think of my Scooty bike. Is it cheating to use an electric bike?

39 cyclist with child, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

This is a pretty road. Little boats are drawn up on the grassy foreshore. The Isle of Skye must shelter this part of the coast from the full brunt of the Atlantic storms, and the people who live here will have great views and easy access to the water.

40 shore street, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

I pass a rather splendid war memorial with an impressive statue of a soldier and a winged angel. ‘No overnight parking’ says a nearby sign. I don’t blame them. Who would want a host of camper vans parked so close to residential houses and blocking the view of the memorial.

41 war memorial, Glenelg, Ruth hiking around the Scottish coastline

The houses disappear, and the road narrows, passing between great hunks of rock and winding close to the shore.

42 approach to Glenelg, Ruth hiking around Scotland

Round a corner, and I come across this little shed. At first I think it is someone’s private bike shed, but then I realise it’s the premises for a little business. Bikes for hire and for sale. Repairs done. Bike lessons available.

43 Bike Shed, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

The blackboard has a chalked message. “Opening hours vary. Please call ahead to check or to arrange a time to meet. Jake.”

Well, at least I know who to call if Scooty gets a puncture – something I dread happening as I don’t carry a pump or a spare tyre, and have no idea how to change one anyway.

I pass a little white church that sits close to the water on a raised bank…

44 Glenelg church, Ruth hiking around the Glenelg peninsula

… and am relieved to see the sign hidden among foliage on a wall. “Glenelg Inn. Open all Day.” Excellent. I’m very hungry and it’s a long time since I had the luxury of a pub lunch on one of my Scottish walks.

45 Glenelg Inn, open all day, sign, Ruth hiking through Scotland

But, oh dear, I round the corner to discover another sign in front of the driveway to the pub. “Glenelg Inn closed all day today.” Oh, no! How utterly disappointing!

46 Glenelg Inn, closed all day, Ruth hiking around the Scottish Coast

There are people wandering around in the car park and, from their clothing, I gather it’s probably a wedding celebration. How very, very inconvenient. How dare they get married today, of all days.

I think of the last pub I tried to have lunch in – a pub with a very similar name, the Glenuig Inn – when I walked from Kinlochmoidart to Glenuig.)  That was shut too. I’m really not having much luck with pubs in the Highlands.

Oh, well, I know there’s a café in the nearby Community Centre. I’ll eat  lunch there instead.

[To be continued…]

Route so far:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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22 Responses to 412 part 2 – Sandaig to Glenelg

  1. Trish says:

    Electric bikes are very good but heavy. I have one great on hills round Dorset but don’t forget to charge it. As for your figure don’t be hard on yourself you’ve had a tough time allow your body to get over the emotional changes before the diet.

    • Yes, one disadvantage of an electric bike is that I must do less ‘wild’ camping, and spend more time in campsites with electric hookups! That’s a shame, but I’m loving the bike, so he’s worth it. 😄

  2. Ah, the road to the Glenelg brochs! We had a puncture right at the end of it this summer. Very, very inconvenient. No phone signal. We stopped at the Dun Inn, or at least it’s neighbouring Wagon Cafe, on the way down – excellent – and managed to limp back to the Glenelg Inn post puncture to phone the RAC. Fortunately it was open as the Community Centre was closed. Our plan had been to get the little ferry over to Skye and drive back over the bridge. Didn’t happen! Instead we were ignominiously towed back to Kyle. We were mortified, but the very nice young man said he did it several times a week. Not one of our better days. Our newish car didn’t come with a spare, only a repair kit which was useless on the size of puncture. We’ve learned our lesson and will purchase a spare before venturing down roads like that again.

  3. JacquieB says:

    An electric bike! Excellent idea, of course it’s not cheating, it’s facilitating. Enjoy Scooty

  4. Di Iles says:

    Absolutely beautiful Ruth!!!!

  5. Chris Elliott says:

    I can’t believe the bad luck you’re having with pubs. I stayed at the Glenelg Inn for two nights and its absolutely wonderful. Hope you managed to experience it another day. By the way Roddy’s cottage is a holiday let and when I passed it there was a kind couple sitting in the sun admiring the view. They kindly invited me in for tea and biscuits – something that happened to me on numerous occasions. I’m going to be interested to hear how you got to Shiel bridge. Did you do the ‘Dirty 30’ stretch!? If that means nothing to you I suggest you Google it!!

    • Hi Chris. Yes, I’ve had bad luck with pubs, and I’ve never been a invited in anywhere for tea a biscuits. How do you do it? 😄 As for the Dirty 30 – well, it played dirty tricks on me, and nearly killed me, but I got there eventually.

      • Chris Elliott says:

        I can’t wait to hear about the Dirty 30 – it nearly killed me too!

      • martyn west says:

        On the plus side the markers on the trees were very useful, however THAT desent through the forest was not for the faint hearted!!!

        • Chris Elliott says:

          Hi Martyn – when I walked it I lost the markers before i entered the trees and ended up entering the trees on what I thought was a path but it wasn’t. I was carrying 18kg on my back at the time and I had to scramble around hillsides at 45-60 degrees angle. Whenever I put my wight on a foothold the moss gave way and I slide down the hill until stopped by the trees. i eventually found a stream which I followed north through the trees until it crossed the Dirty 30 path i should have been on. It was quite an experience! I reckoned I got my Dirty 30 colours – well the mud anyway!!!

          • martyn west says:

            Hi Chris, I guess I must have been lucky with my trip through the forset because I remember a relative easyish desent all the way to the road. The mud was thick and very slippy at times but once I picked up the markers (wooden sitcks with the orange flash on the ends) I was home and dry….ish!!

  6. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – What about a Hover Board to scoot around Scotland !! Oh I finally got some Cornish walking in – the bit around St Ives to Pendeen was very tough and the weather came down so badly it became dangerous to continue, however I got to Zennor and The Tinners Arms where all the wet and bedraggled met, drank, and laughed it -was like and unplanned party – Best wishes Russ

    • A hover board sounds perfect, and perhaps I could use it to cross rivers and streams too! Glad you managed to reach Zennor and very sensible to stop at that point. Those Cornish coastal paths are very treacherous, far more dangerous than any I’ve come across in Scotland (with the exception of the tip of the Mull of Kintyre).

  7. More of a question really; still so impressed with your efforts; just driving to and from your start and end points from home in Lincolnshire must be daunting enough by now let alone doing your walks as well. How many miles do you think you’ve driven radiating out to and from home to your walking destinations?

    • Hi Jane and Brian. I really don’t know how far I’ve driven, and perhaps that’s a good thing because if I added up the petrol costs I would be horrified! I’m now so far north – 8 hours of driving time is 10 hours when you add in stops for meals and rests – that it’s only worth going if I can get a good week or more away. On the plus side, I’ve moved to live in Manchester now, and it’s easy motorway driving all the way up to Glasgow.

  8. Those ‘no footway’ signs always make me laugh. Like you, I find myself thinking ‘so how is that different to any part of the previous ten miles then?’

    Also, thanks for the mention.

  9. Karen White says:

    Wonderful views again, Scotland is full of them!

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