413am Kylerhea to Ardintoul Point

[This walk took place on the 7th July 2019]

I spent last night in a camp site at Shiel Bridge. This morning, I face a 12 mile ride over the Ratagan pass on my Scooty bike, a steep climb which just gets steeper and steeper. Eventually the incline defeats me – even with full electrical assistance – and I must get off and push the bike up the final 1/2 mile.

Arrive at the top in a bad mood. Sweaty and tired. THIS wasn’t what I bargained for when I swapped my heavy Monster for my even heavier Scooty. But from here onwards things can only get better (or so I think).

As soon as the road begins to slope downhill, I hop on the bike and it’s a cool glide down Glen More, through Glenelg, and back to the Kylerhea ferry terminal. I leave Scooty chained up behind the ferry café (which is still closed).

01 Scooty at the ferry terminal, Ruth walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

I’m exhausted by the ride – both from the effort of pushing such a heavy load up the steep hill, and then from the surge of adrenaline as I sped downwards – so I sit on a bench outside the café for a while, and watch the seals playing in the water.

It’s a beautiful sunny day. Hard to believe I nearly turned back when I arrived in Glenelg a couple of days ago, miserable and anxious because of the torrential rain and fierce winds.

A loud blaring noise disturbs the peace. The Kylerhea ferry is making a crossing, and hoots to warn a sailing ship to watch out. I think engine-driven boats are supposed to give way to sail, but I wouldn’t like to argue the point with the ferry.

02 Kylerhea ferry crossing passage, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

It’s gone midday by the time I set off on my walk. I’ve been worrying about today. It’s a long walk back to Shiel Bridge, and I’m already tired. But, the sign on the gate is encouraging: “Public Right of Way to Ardintoul.”

03 public right of way to Ardintoul, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

I follow a pleasant green lane, climbing slowly uphill. Shame I can’t see the shore because of the trees.

04 green lane along Kyle Rhea, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

Through gaps in the foliage, I get occasional glimpses of the water. There’s the ferry, and I hear another hoot, because there’s another sailing boat passing through the narrow stretch of water between Skye and the Glenelg peninsula.

05 ferry and sailing ship, Kylerhea, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

I pass through another gate, and the grassy lane continues. Would love to stop and sit on this bench, but it’s too soon for another rest. Onwards.

06 bench overlooking water, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

Now I pass through a deer fence, via a gate with helpful signs. This is a ScotWays path, and part of the Lochalsh Trail (which I’d never heard of before).

07 Lochalsh Trail, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

What a lovely trail, passing though a woodland of mixed broadleaf trees. I make rapid progress.

08 through woodlands, Lochalsh Trail, Ruth hiking around Glenelg

I even see a few encouraging footpath signs along the way – so rare in the Highlands – although some seem to be bandaged with red and white tape and marked with little blue arrows.

09 waymarked Lochalsh Trail, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

Incongruously, the path passes under the metalwork of a giant pylon. Must be carrying electricity over to the Isle of Skye.

10 under a pylon, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

Ah, this gets better and better. The track has dwindled to a path and now I’m walking along a ridge above the sea, surrounded by silver birches…

11 along shore of Lochalsh, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

… and with great views over the water. I’ve nearly reached the end of the narrow channel known as Kyle Rhea, and the next expanse of water ahead is Loch Alsh.

12 Garban Cosach, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

So far, my route has been in a northerly direction. Now the path curves round, and I’ve reached a point marked on my map as Garbhan Cosach. It seems a major milestone because from here I’ll be walking in a westerly direction and, by the end of today, I will have finished my trek around the Glenelg Peninsula.

Another great view opens up before me – all the way down Loch Alsh, with the distant mountains of Wester Ross as a backdrop.

13 looking up Loch Alsh, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

I walk above the water for a while, and then the path drops down to the shore, and I walk along a grassy path at the top of a shingle beach. To my right, the land slopes gently up towards a line of high hills.

15 Loch Alsh shore, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

After a while the landscape opens out. I stride through an area of flat grassland where, after the past few miles of woodland walking, I feel almost overwhelmed by the sense of space around me.

16 grassland, Loch Alsh, walking round the coast of Scotland

This side of Loch Alsh is wild and empty, but on the far shore I can see houses and settlements. And, of course, there is the obligatory fish farm set a few hundred yards out in the loch.

17 fish farm Loch Alsh, walking round the coast of Glenelg, Scotland

Approaching Ardintoul Point, my map suggests the path curves inland, but the route isn’t clear on the ground. The green footpath marker seems rather ambiguous as it has no directional arrows. I’m tempted to continue along the shore, but this is the first waypoint I’ve seen for some time, so I decide it must mark a significant junction.

18 coming off the beach, Lochalsh Trail, Ruth's coastal walk around Scotland

I turn right and climb over some fallen stones and enter a wide, grassy field. Here I follow a vague track running beside an old fence.

19 walking over field to Arditoul, Ruth's coastal walk, Scotland

At the far end of the field, I join a more defined track. Now, I have a choice of turning either right or left. Of course, I turn left, as this will take me closer to the shore,

20 right along the track, Ardintoul, Ruth's coastal walk around Glenelg, Scotland

(Note: for anyone else doing this route, the right thing to do here is turn right!)

The track takes me past a ruined house. From the charred state of the roof, it might have been destroyed by a fire. I stop to take a number of photographs, as I love photographing old derelict buildings.

21 derelict house, Ardintoul, Ruth's coastal walk around Glenelg, Scotland

“Danger. Keep Out,” warn the signs. I wonder who used to live here, and where they live now. The place was abandoned not that long ago – it has a rusty satellite dish attached.

22 danger, keep out, Ardintoul, Ruth's coastal walk around Glenelg, Scotland

Beyond the building is a track that gives access to the fenced-off industrial yard that lies at the tip of Ardintoul Point. This yard is the reason I had to come inland, and might have something to do with the fish farm, but I wonder if I could have walked around via the beach anyway.

Now I’m back on the edge of Loch Alsh, and turn right to follow the shore around Ardintoul Bay.

201 Ardintoul Bay, Ruth's coastal walk around Glenelg, Scotland

It’s a beautiful place, and I’m lucky to have found such a clearly marked route – the Lochalsh Trail. Some people said this section was difficult! Pfff! Nothing to it. I congratulate myself on making great progress.

[To be continued…]

Route so far today: Purple line is the bike ride, black line is the walk.

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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14 Responses to 413am Kylerhea to Ardintoul Point

  1. Paul Sennett says:

    Ruth. As we approach year end in a few weeks time. Carol and I would really like to
    Thank you for your excellent blog. Which we have used again this year as we make our way around the English coast… slowly!
    All the very best


  2. Chris Elliott says:

    Hi Ruth – I can’t wait for your next post. When I walked this next stretch I used guidance notes from the ‘Dirty Thirty’ challenge (walk). I got lost in the forest even with these notes. How you managed it without any assistance is quite amazing. I can’t wait to read more of your exploits as it is one of the hardest stretches on the coast!!! (Unless you found an easier way!!!)

  3. Eunice says:

    Lovely scenery and views 🙂 That ruined house is just crying out to be explored and properly photographed – I think I would have been in there in spite of the ‘keep out’ warnings.

  4. jcombe says:

    Nice to hear about more of your walks. Looks like another beautiful walk and you’ve left us on a cliff-hanger again! As to the red and white tape I think that is sometimes done when there is a group walk or some sort of other event to make the route more obvious. Unfortunately the organisers of such events are not always so good at removing them again afterwards.

    There do seem to be so many derelict old buildings in Scotland,especially on the coast. I see you’re not so far from Kyle of Lochalsh now. I’ll be staying there for my first two trips to the Highlands next year (already booked) though I’ve not yet reached that far south yet. I’ve finished at Lower DIabaig for this year, which is where I’ll be resuming from in the spring. I’ve done most of the Ayrshire coast though now, having been able to do that as a couple of weekens, being a bit closer than the highlands.

    • I can’t wait to get back up there. Weather forecast doesn’t look too bad next week in Torridon area, but the days are too short for my sort of walking (ie SLOW walking!). Maybe our paths will cross next spring!?

      As to the significance of those red and white tapes, I didn’t discover what they meant until much, much later!

      • jcombe says:

        Looking forward to your next report then. Obviously you must have survived … but I’m wondering what problems you had!

        My first trip to the highlands next year isn’t until Mid May unfortunately. With a full time job I don’t have the luxury of waiting for a period of nice weather, much as I’d like to be able to, sadly. So I aim for the more summery months when the days are longer to maximize my opportunities! Though I’m going back to the more southern parts of Scotland in March to make progress heading north from there too, as it takes less time to get to the highlands!

  5. Can’t believe you cycled over that pass, even with an electric bike. Seriously impressed!

  6. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – Great to hear more of your exploits and the scenery is amazing. (Strangely though whenever you mention that Scooty bike I keep getting images of a certain 1960’s -70.s yellow and black glove puppet chap !!!) Keep on keeping on and best wishes – Russ

  7. JacquieB says:

    You cycled (albeit with assistance) over to Glenelg!! Respect 🙂 But I’m getting some worrying vibes about the next part of the day :/

  8. Karen White says:

    What a wonderful scenic area. I seem to remember staying in a youth hostel at Kyle of Lochalsh more than 40 years ago – maybe nearer 50!

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