420am Strome Ferry to Lochcarron

[This walk was completed on the 15th July 2019]

I get off the train at Strome Ferry, on a glittering bright morning. The train pulls away and leaves me alone on the platform.

01 Stromeferry Station, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Today, I’m going to walk up to the top of Lock Carron, and down the other side to a village also called, funnily enough, Lochcarron. It’s going to be a longish walk (for me), and most of it will be along the road, so I have mixed feelings about the day ahead.

I walk down to the Strome Ferry slipway. In the old days, the ferry used to run from here to North Strome. It’s just over there, on the other side across the loch. About 1/2 mile away.

01b North Strome jetty, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

But no ferries run anymore, and North Strome is now a 20 miles journey by road. I guess this is progress?

I turn to my right, and look up the length of Loch Carron. It’s beautiful. Thank goodness that summer has finally decided to arrive in Scotland.

02 looking up the loch at Strome Ferry, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Come on. Time to get gong.

It’s a steep climb out of Strome Ferry along the road. I pass my camping spot from the other night, and continue until I reach the main road. The A890.

Apparently, it’s only 11 miles to Lochcarron (I thought it was going to be more). But, oh dear. Look at the busy road.

03 traffic on the A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

I trudge along the verge. Always harder than it looks, as verges are often soft, with hidden lumps and bumps, and strewn with rubbish. Not much rubbish along this road though. Northwest Scotland is such a clean place.

I’ve only gone a few hundred yards, when I come to the top of the hill and a parking layby with a mobile café. The smell of coffee is wonderful, and it’s a popular spot.

04 coffee in layby, above Strome Ferry, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Parked in the layby are a couple of cars, a camper van, and some newly-arrived motorcyclists. This is why they’re here. For the coffee and, of course, for the wonderful view over Loch Carron!

05 viewpoint, above Strome Ferry, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

A few days ago, along the shore of Loch Alsh, I passed a sign for the “Wester Ross Coastal Trail”. That, along with the North Coast 500 (NC500) route, is all part of a tourist scheme to attract more visitors to this remote area of Scotland. It seems to be working.

I haven’t yet reached the area where the NC500 route officially runs. But the whole scheme has had a knock on effect, and explains why it is now almost impossible to find anywhere to stay in a B&B or hotel across Northwest Scotland

It’s too early in my walk to stop for a coffee, so I take a few photographs of the view, and then continue plodding along the road.

06 high road, A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

My OS map shows tracks running through the pine forest below me, so I’m hoping to be able to leave the road soon. About a mile after the viewpoint, I see a track leaving the road at a sharp angle.

07 track down to the shore, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Check my map. Good. Although at first I will be doubling back on myself, this track should join up with a lower track. And from there I should be able walk off-road for a mile or so.

But, after trekking a few hundred yards down the slope, I can’t find any sign of the lower track. I turn back, reluctantly, and climb back up the hill to rejoin the A890.

There’s no sight of the loch now. I’m surrounded by tall trees, walking along a road that bends and twists, with steep drops and rises. 11% slope, warns a sign.

08 road twisting down, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

The traffic isn’t too bad, but I have to keep an ear out for approaching cars and – worse – the sound of labouring lorries and motorhomes. Gears crunch. Brakes squeal and hiss. Makes the walk quite tiring, as you can never relax and just get into the swing of it.

09 steep road down, A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

A mile along, and I come across the end of the elusive track I was hoping to find earlier. So there really was a lower track there, somewhere. Perhaps I didn’t go down far enough?

10 other end of track, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Oh well, too late to worry about that now. Onwards.

I’m approaching a place called Ardnarff.  (Hard enough, says my brain.) It consists of a bridge and a cottage or two. That’s all.

11 Ardnarff bridge, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

The bridge appears to be damaged, and is fenced off with some highly ineffective barriers. A sign warns about falling rocks for 2 miles. Also, a handy number to phone to report any rock falls.

12 Rock falls for two miles, Ardnarff, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

It’s a reminder of how fragile the infrastructure is in Scotland. One broken bridge, or one rock fall, could close a road for days. (I remember how my B&B at the top of Loch Hourn was cut off for months because of a landslide.)

Now, the road and railway track run together along a narrow strip of land, hemmed in on one side by the waters of the loch, and on the other side by the steep slopes of a ridge of high hills.

13 walking by the railway, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

In some places, the slopes become rocky cliffs, and are covered in wire mesh to protect the road below from falling rocks.

14 mesh over rocks, A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

It’s a narrow road, which alternates between two lanes and becoming single lane. Personally, I prefer walking along the single lane stretches, because here the traffic seems to slow down, and is more considerate of pedestrians.

15 narrow road, A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

There’s a village over on the opposite side of the loch. Must be Lochcarron, where I’ve booked into a campsite for a couple of nights. I try to spot the site, and The Beast, but it’s too far away to see clearly.

16 looking over to Lochcarron, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

Onwards. This road seems never-ending.

17 bends in the road, under cliffs, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron

I come to a spot where a waterfall tumbles down the rocks on my right, and the water flows under the road to join the loch. It’s just gone 1pm, and time to stop for lunch. What a perfect place to have a picnic.

18 lunch spot by waterfall, A890, Ruth walking the shore of Loch Carron


[To be continued…]

Route this morning:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 22 Highlands and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to 420am Strome Ferry to Lochcarron

  1. 5000milewalk says:

    That mobile cafe looks fantastic! I’d be much weaker willed than you and start off with a bacon barm and cup of tea, then cakes, ice cream, then…..
    You’re so strong-willed, I am impressed!😊

  2. owdjockey says:

    I got a complimentary cup of coffee when I passed the layby coffee shop, it was reallly nice The road was closed when I travelled through back in oct 2018, I had to take the high route over the hills as they were not allowing pedestrians through.

  3. We could with some of those blue skies now.

  4. chuckles4th says:

    I remember having to walk a couple of very busy roads when I was ‘Walking The Black Dog’ from Land’s End to John o’Groats. The A9 between Inverness and the finish was particularly hard and I SO empathise with you about verges being much more difficult to walk than they look!

  5. Eunice says:

    How weird, my comment from Friday seems to have disappeared 😦 Another glorious day and gorgeous views, I don’t think I could have ignored the mobile café though 🙂

  6. Karen White says:

    Loch Carron is very beautiful. I told my Mum about your Plockton walk and she still remembers how pretty it was.

  7. jcombe says:

    Gosh what wonderful weather you had for this walk. Mostly cloudy (but at least dry) for me. The mobile cafe has gone I’m afraid and that broken bridge still looks exactly the same. DIdn’t enjoy this bit along the road so much, too much traffic to pay attention too. I kept looking for legal ways over the railway to try and walk along the foreshore (having observed it was possible for much of the way and the tide was out from the train).

    As to those tracks through the woodland – you did the right thing. Looks very very closely at the map and you will see there isn’t actually a continuous track through at all (I think from your writing that, like me, you thought there was from the map but like me also didn’t look close enough!). There is a tiny tiny gap in the tracks where the map marks “waterfall” so the two tracks are actually both dead-end tracks with the waterfall in between, which is much too steep to possibly cross. So both tracks appear to be dead-ends (for what purpose they exist I’m not sure). Rather than back-track I was able to climb up through the very steep woodland back to the road to correct my mistake.

I welcome your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s