[This walk took place on the 10th July 2019]
Last night, I moved my Beast to a campsite further along the main road, and spent several hours this morning sitting in my van watching the rain lash down. Then I noticed the sky was lightening up and the rain had stopped. Come on! Time to get out and do some walking.
It’s a late start – nearly 11am by the time the bus drops me off at the junction at Shiel Bridge. By this time, the sky has darkened and – of course – it’s spitting rain again.
Feeling cold and miserable, I walk back to the bridge and take a photo of the clouds draped over the hills above Loch Duich. Quite a different view from yesterday!
My original plan was to cycle from the campsite to Shiel Bridge, and then walk until I reached the town with a weird name – Kyle of Lochalsh. Then I planned to catch a bus back to Shiel Bridge, pick up the bike again, and cycle back to the campsite. But, I just couldn’t face all that cycling in this weather. Thank goodness today’s walk follows a bus route!
It’s only 16 miles to Kyle of Lochalsh, and all along roads. I should make rapid progress.
The rain eases again, and I stop to take more photographs looking down the loch. Have to admit, the low drifting clouds make for some atmospheric shots.
Oh, hello. Are you a llama or an alpaca? Are your ears shaped like bananas? I can’t really tell, but I think you are a llama (long face and long ears), but I could be wrong.
Love this rusty old boat sitting on the foreshore. I wonder if it still floats?
The road curves around the top of the loch, and across a pebbly bay I spot the Kintail Lodge Hotel. Shame it’s comes so early on my walk. Would make a good stop for coffee and a warm up.
There’s a busy little car park in front of the hotel. A couple of tourists are taking photos of each other by the roadside, and I offer to take one of them both together.
It may seem an uninspiring spot to take a photograph, but this is the view they would have in the background. Yes, beautiful.
I leave the road and walk past the hotel to where a track winds along the shore. It’s one of the few places I can leave the road today, so I’m determined to make the most of it.
This little detour from the tarmac is nearly a big mistake. The track peters out, and I have to fight my way across uneven ground, and through a thick barrier of bushes and brambles, in order to regain the road again.
Stumble back onto the pavement covered in mud and foliage, and feeling I’ve done a few rounds with Mike Tyson. Get some weird looks from passing motorists.
Ahead the road crosses the mouth of the River Croe via a causeway. Tall hills on either side.
I stop on the causeway to take some photos looking up the estuary. My map shows a narrow river dividing into several streams which thread their way through shingle banks across a flat plain. So I’m surprised to see that the whole area is covered in water, and looks like a small lake.
(Actually, I discovered this last night, when I drove along the shore of this water to a place called Morvich, which had a Caravan Club campsite open to non-members. Unfortunately, they wanted to charge me an exorbitant fee – over £30 a night. I’ve spent less to stay in nice little B&Bs in Wales!)
Beyond the causeway, I’m pleased to discover the footpath leaves the road for a while. It’s not a very busy road, but it’s good to get away from the onrush of passing traffic.
It’s drizzling gently now. I put my camera away, pull my hood down, and march onwards. The footpath rejoins the road, and I reach a place called Inverinate. It’s a strung-out village with a garage and scattered houses. I would love to stop for a cup of coffee in a nice, dry café, but don’t see one.
At the end of the village, the pavement comes to an end. (I’d spotted this problem earlier, from the bus, and so I’d already decided what I would do next.) In order to avoid a hazardous trek along the edge of the main road, I decide to swing off to the right and follow a minor road instead.
This road is lovely. Is runs roughly parallel to the main road (and perhaps it was the main road, once upon a time) but passes over higher ground, bending and twisting and running through woodland, and crossing a stream via a old stone bridge.
Unfortunately, I am wearing my lightweight road-walking shoes today, and I discover they are no longer waterproof. Just before I cross this bridge, I feel cold dampness seeping through my socks. Oh dear!
I climb higher. Through gaps between the trees, I stop to take photographs looking down at Loch Duich. Everything is hazy in the damp drizzle, but there in the water is the fish farm which I noticed yesterday when I walked along the far shore past Letterfern.
No road walk would be complete without discovering an out-of-place cone. Here is one, jauntily perched on a fence post. Where do they all come from?
And here is another intriguing road-side feature: a sign warning of leaping kangaroos. Really? Kangaroos in Scotland? Surely not!
I plod onwards and upwards, into the mist. Keep one eye out for kangaroos… but don’t spot any. Instead, I come across a few pigs and a beautiful white pony.
I’m approaching the highest point in the road. It’s marked on my map with a view point symbol. I’m hoping for some great photographs… but everything is smothered with grey mist.
Ahead, I can just make out the hilltop, where two walkers are standing looking out over the loch below.
I’m looking forward to meeting some fellow hikers. But, when I reach the same spot, the walkers have moved on. In fact, they drove on. I heard the car engine starting a few minutes earlier. Lazy beggars.
Well, this is the viewpoint. You have to imagine it on a sunny day, when I think you would see a magnificent vista over the bottom of Loch Duich and the beginning of Loch Alsh.
Feeling a bit disheartened, I follow the road runs steadily downhill. It takes me into deeper mist…
… until I emerge under the cloud cover, and get a better view of the view. I’m looking down over the junction of Loch Duich and Loch Alsh.
I remember my aborted walk of yesterday, and feel even more despondent. Last summer in Scotland was glorious. This summer is damp, cold and miserable, and the Scottish landscape, along with the Scottish weather, seems determined to defeat me.
Onwards. down the road. Steep slopes above and below. Loch Alsh ahead.
I pass a little shelf where someone is selling “wet trees”. No, hang on… I’ve read it wrongly. “Wee trees.”
Coming down lower, and I get a better view of Loch Duich. Remember walking along that shore yesterday.
Perhaps I should go back to try to finish that walk? If I drove to the end of the road and walked from Totaig, perhaps I would have more strength and the energy to find a way through?
Well, today I need to finish this walk. The rain has stopped again and my feet, although wet, are warm enough. Onwards.
I pass a curious collection of objects arranged on a stone wall. Objects d’art?
Nearby, a car is being used as a garden shed, and I pass a cottage surrounded with more pieces of eccentric artwork. How wonderful. The place cheers me up, for a while.
There is still no sign of kangaroos. The road twists down through a wooded area, punctuated by craggy rocks. It’s really very pretty. But my gloomy mood has come back.
Ah. Just look at this view. I can see all the way down Loch Alsh. In the distance, lost in the mist, is the bridge over to Skye. The mainland end of the bridge, at Kyle of Lochalsh, is my destination for today. Oh dear, it still looks very far away.
Closer, and clearer, on the shore just across the water, I can see the little white cottage at Totaig.
The slopes beyond Totaig don’t look so tough from this vantage point. Positively tame. Yes, I will go back there – one day – and finish that walk. Yes, I’ll find a way through from Totaig to Ardintoul, even if it kills me!
Onwards. Round a few more bends, and here is another glorious view. The castle at Dornie, Eilean Donan. Seems a popular place. Look at all the people on the bridge.
The road is steeper here, taking me past a little church. Or is it a school house?
I stop to read the sign on the wall. Maybe it was once a chapel or a school, but now it’s a village hall.
My little road takes me down into the village of Dornie. I walk a few hundred yards along a wide road towards the main A87 and the castle. Near the junction, the verges are lined with cones. I remember the cone I saw earlier. Is this where it came from?
It’s raining again. A cold, seeping rain. My feet are wet, my glasses are smeared, and I can’t shake my despondent mood. Oh dear. It’s just one of those days when everything seems dull and dreary.
At the junction, I should turn right and follow the road towards the Kyle of Lochalsh. Or, I could cut the walk a little shorter and just walk back as far as my campsite. Or…
… but then I spot the bus stop.
The thought of catching the bus back to my campsite is overwhelmingly appealing. I check the times. There is one due in 15 minutes. Perhaps I have time for a quick visit to the castle?
The bagpipes start up. The crowd of tourists mill about at the far end of the bridge. The rain falls in a steady drizzle.
No, I’ll just huddle in the bus stop and wait for the bus. Back in the beast, I can turn on the heater, brew a cup of tea, and get out of these wet socks. The rest of the walk can wait.
High points: the lovely minor road, with wee trees, and eccentric artwork.
Low points: the wet, the cold, and the mist.
Encounters: 1 llama, 1 pony, several pigs, and absolutely no kangaroos.
Miles walked today = 8 miles (pathetic!)
Total around coast = 4,307 miles