[This walk was completed on Sunday, 14th July 2019]
I wake up to scattered clouds and a blue sky, and a wonderful view from my campervan looking down over Loch Carron.
I’m in no hurry to get going this morning. After a late and leisurely breakfast, I pack up the The Beast, and then walk slowly down to Strome Ferry along the road.
I stand at the top of a slipway looking over the empty loch. Is this where the ferry used to run from? Hard to imagine now. Such a sleepy place.
The railway station is close to the slipway and I am, once again, the only passenger waiting for the train. This always makes me worry. If a service is not used, the service soon stops.
I have a long wait because I misread the timetable and forgot it was a Sunday today. The trains are infrequent. [Actually, I’m lucky there are trains running on Sunday at all. Later I discover Strome Ferry station was once the scene of riots over this!]
We pull into Plockton station just after 1:30pm. I walk down the road to find the footpath sign I spotted yesterday. A man in yellow wellies, with a dog, is heading down the same footpath.
I hold back to let him get a good head start, then I follow down the path. After steeply diving down the slope, it crosses a marshy area via a boardwalk, and I emerge at the side of a small creek.
With the sun in my eyes, photography is difficult, and the place would look much nicer with the tide in. Still, it’s a very pleasant walk, and a lovely change from road walking.
I’ve nearly reached the mouth of the creek, when I catch up with the man in yellow wellies. He’s sitting on a rock, and throwing a ball for his dog, a lively springer spaniel.
The spaniel reminds me of my daughter’s crazy spaniel, Lottie. Since I’ve moved to Manchester, I spend a lot of time looking after Lottie while my daughter is at work, and have totally fallen in love with her.
Anyway, I start chatting to the man in yellow wellies. Turns out the dog belongs to a friend, who can’t walk the dog at the moment because the naughty creature knocked her over and she is badly injured.
That’s the trouble with spaniels. Crazy things.
I walk on and, as I emerge from the creek, get a great view across the water to Plockton. I can see the car park where I left my Beast yesterday. It really is a beautiful place, and looks even better in sunshine and under blue skies.
The footpath leaves the water’s edge, and turns inland, passing under the railway line via a tunnel.
A mysterious message on a post…. “CLOSE”. Close to what? Oh, silly me. It means close the gate. A gate that is no longer there.
Beyond the tunnel is a steep slope covered in metal mesh to prevent landslides, and another message – on a startlingly pink sign – tells me to beware of falling rocks.
I have the same reaction to this as to the signs warning me to beware of flying golf balls. How can you beware of such things? By the time you see one coming, it’s too late.
Now I’m walking through an area of woodland, along a muddy path lined with ferns. I reach a crossroads, hear voices, and a family group joins my path.
I stand at the crossroads and examine the sign. Duncraig Castle is my first destination. I wonder how ruined it will be and whether there is public access.
Although it’s disappointing to be, yet again, inland of the coast, I really enjoy this forest walk. It’s a wild area of woodland, with fallen trees and growths of different ages.
I come to the edge of an open area. Another tidal creek. There’s the railway line, passing over a bridge and close to the shore.
A little further along, the path joins a track. I turn left along the track and discover Duncraig Station. It has a pretty little waiting room, an empty platform, and is surrounded by woodland. Another station in the middle of nowhere. I wonder who uses it?
I turn back from the station and walk along the track. Ah, there’s the castle ahead. Oh…
… I’m somewhat disappointed to discover it’s not a real castle after all, but a Victorian stately home.
A dog comes bounding out of a door, barking ferociously, and is called back by someone inside. So people live here? Is it private property or open to the public?
The track – a wide driveway now – takes me past the front of the house, where I notice some signs. Looks like the place is currently closed for refurbishment. Re-opening time appears to have been changed from spring to summer. The health and safety notices are old and weather beaten, so I guess the refurbishment is taking longer than anticipated.
Well, it is an impressive place. I turn on the drive to take some more photographs.
I’m walking uphill now, away from the house and towards the main road. On a bend in the drive, I find another old building. Looks like the stable block, now converted into flats. Or maybe it was once a working farm with a central yard.
The sign above the door catches my eye. “Fear Cod”. What??? I walk nearer.
Oh, silly me, “Fear GOD”. And I must also “Work hard; be honest.” Maybe it was some sort of workhouse?
Onwards along the drive, which climbs higher and, through gaps in the trees, I can look down over the loch and Plockton.
Another sign catches my eye (it really is a day of signs today!). “Please do not let me follow you as I will get lost.”
What a sensible sign. It even provides the address and phone number of the owner.
I’ve had dogs follow me on my walks on several occasions, and it puts you in a difficult dilemma. Is the dog lost, and is that why they’re following you? Or are they close to home and about to get lost because they are following you?
There’s no sign of the wandering Maisie today.
I reach the road, where a sign points the way back down to the station. I wonder how many people use that platform? Nearby, is a big grey box from which you can buy free-range eggs.
The main road is narrow and very quiet. I’m surrounded by woodland, with the sun streaming through gaps in the canopy. Foxgloves stand tall amid the ferns.
The slope on either side of the road is steep. High hills to my right. A sharp drop down towards the loch on my left.
I begin to pass silhouettes of animals stuck onto trees. A chicken, a rabbit, a goat, and a sheep. Painted black, and without features, they look a bit ominous. Like pictures of bulls on field gates, are they meant as a warning?
Ah, no. They’re adverts. I’m about to pass the entrance to Craig Highland Farm, where I spent a couple of nights recently.
The farm was an amazing place, with llamas on the lawn and lodges set against the loch. But the electricity was dodgy and the water from the taps ran brown (a fact that is hidden by the dim lights, and that I only discovered on the morning after I’d drunk a whole glass before bed!) So, perhaps not surprising, they usually have vacancies.
Looking down through the trees, I try to spot the lodge I stayed in, but it is obscured by foliage to the left of the photo below. My window looked out over the island with fir trees, and I didn’t realise that Plockton was so close, just hidden from view around the corner.
A cyclist overtakes me. I think of my husband and how he would enjoy this area, but then remember he is soon to be my ex-husband, and I push him away from my thoughts.
The road emerges from woodland, and swings inland, running alongside an area of flat pastureland.
Ah. Look at those sweet little calves. I’m glad they’re on the other side of the fence. How lucky those cows are to have such a lush, green pasture to enjoy.
They’re water meadows, I guess, because the road is about to swing round and cross over a river via a bridge. A big blue sign says “Achmore Bridge Refurbishment”. What is being refurbished? I’m not sure. There is no sign of any work going on.
Over the bridge, and I’m entering the village of Achmore. (For some reason, I keep reading this as Ache More. Perhaps because my legs really are aching and I’m feeling unusually tired.)
Achmore is a one-street village, and soon passed through. The road climbs a steep hill. Oh dear, I really am tired. Yes, I do ache more.
Luckily, at the top of the hill, the village has provided a handy bench. Time for a rest. I check my watch. It’s 4pm. Time for a snack too.
Onwards, to the end of the road, where it joins the busy A890. There are no pavements, and I haven’t been looking forward to this section. Put my head down and march along quickly, dodging traffic.
Luckily, there is only half a mile to go before I reach the turn off to Strome Ferry. Now here is something odd. Both my map and the railway station spell the place as two words: Strome Ferry. But the road sign combines the two words into one: Stromeferry. I’ve noticed in Scotland that the spelling of place names can be rather fluid!
The road sign has added a helpful description after the name, although – perhaps unhelpfully – it is printed in writing too small for a passing car to easily spot. “Stromeferry (No Ferry)”
I wonder how many cars have driven down to the slipway hoping to catch a ferry across Loch Carron?
The minor road to Stromeferry is very quiet, and I soon reach the car park where my faithful Beast is waiting for me.
I’m sorry to be leaving my lovely camping site, and I stand and admire the view for a few more minutes, before perching the camera on the nearby bench to take a self portrait.
Oh dear. Is that my best side?
My second attempt is better!
It’s only been a short walk today, after several successive days of short walks, so I’m not sure why I found the last couple of miles so tiring. Tomorrow will be a longer day. But, now, it’s time to drive on to Lochcarron, where I’m booked into a campsite for the night.
Miles walked today = 7 miles
Total around coast = 4,347 miles
You can read about the history of Stromeferry, and the riots at the station, on the Undiscovered Scotland site.
Sadly, at the time of writing this (March 2020), Duncraig castle is still shut. Place looks fabulous though. https://www.duncraigcastle.co.uk