[This walk was completed on the 10th August 2019]
I drive from the Applecross campsite down to Loch Toscaig, and the pier at the end of the road. The pier is somewhat underwhelming, as it is, basically, a large car park!
The man in the only other vehicle is a fisherman, and is just setting up his lines. I ask him if he is going to catch his supper, but he tells me he throws all the fish he catches back in the sea. He has driven 2 hours to get here.
I don’t understand fishing.
Yesterday it rained all day, and I spent the whole day sheltering in The Beast, only venturing out to extend my booking at the camp site, and to head down to the main street for a meal. Today is dull, with low clouds and a damp feel to the air, and I wonder why I’m doing this…
I turn my back on the pier, and head up the road, which curves around the muddy shore at the top of Loch Toscaig.
A family on bikes come past me. They reach the pier, turn around, and come back.
I pass the turn off to Upper Toscaig (where I walked the day before yesterday) and keep going up the road. Despite the dull light, the scenery is really beautiful.
I soon reach a little bridge, and the turnoff to a place called Aird Dhubh, a name that gets me reciting “Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub…” in my head.
The road to Aird Dhubh snakes around the edge of a small bay called Poll Domhain. It’s very pretty, with small boats moored in the water, and golden seaweed lining the shore.
I only wish the light was better, as my photographs are dull, and don’t do the place justice.
A short distance along the road, and I come to a footpath branching off to the left. The signpost points to Coille Ghille and Ardbain, places with flexible spellings, as the signpost also gives the Gaelic spellings of Coille Ghillie and An Aird Bhan, while my OS map simply runs the words into one and offers Coillegillie and Ardban.
Anyway, I’m leaving the road to go and explore these places. They’re not really part of my walk, if I strictly follow my own rules, but it’s a good excuse to spend longer on the Applecross peninsula.
The path is well trodden, and heads over a small rise, before descending into a valley, where it crosses a little river via a wooden bridge.
Just past the footbridge, I meet a couple of walkers coming towards me, and snap a photo of their backs.
Emerging from the trees, the path goes over a ridge of higher ground, giving me a great view down to the sea, where a peninsula juts a finger out into the water. Sitting on that piece of land is Ardban.
Here’s the footpath to Ardban, but I’m not heading there yet. Instead, I’m carrying straight on to Coillegillie.
Near the signpost, a polite little sign warns dog owners to keep their animals on a leash. It’s horribly sad to think of lambs getting mauled, but dogs do need the freedom to run off the lead too. Most of this countryside is open land, possibly common grazing, with no fences to protect the sheep.
Onwards. The path passes through an area of young woodland…
… before emerging onto an open hillside, covered in the usual bracken. There’s the sea ahead, with a couple of dinghies bobbing on the water, and with a few scattered cottages on the shore. This must be Coillegillie.
With no road access, I’m not expecting to find much here. In fact, most of the cottages are in ruins, although some seem to be occupied, although I’m not sure if they’re holiday lets or function simply as beach huts.
Guess the dinghies in the bay provide the easiest mode of transport to get here.
I walk past the ruined cottages, and find a perch on the rocky cliff. Time for a drink and a snack. What a view. Shame about the clouds.
I watch one of the dinghy’s leave the bay. Wonder where it’s going?
Now it’s time to retrace my steps. On the way back up the hill, I pass another group of walkers heading down into Coillegillie. On my last walk I met nobody, but this seems a popular walking route.
I reach the signpost and the footpath leading to Ardban. From this spot, I have a great view over Poll Domhain. Love the little tidal island sticking up. With the sprig of vegetation on top, it looks like a Christmas pudding.
I pull my map out to check the name, but the island doesn’t feature. Oh well, I’ll call it the Christmas Pudding Island.
The path leads around the edge of the bay, and I stop to take more photographs. The water is very clear. On a sunny day, Poll Domhain would probably look bright blue or green.
I reach the tip of the peninsula, where Ardban sits. It consists of a couple of cottages, and a farm, surrounded by fields of sheep.
On the other side of the peninsula is something unexpected. A lovely curve of white-sand beach!
I climb onto higher land at the end of the beach, and take photographs of the view. What a beautiful spot.
Down on the shore, a couple begin slowly making their way along the sand. The man is middle aged, and the woman is elderly – possibly his mother. She makes her way slowly, painfully, with the aid of two walking sticks.
I set up my camera for a self portrait. The camera tilts while the timer is ticking, and the resulting photo is very skewwhiff, while I laugh at the crazy angle.
[With the aid of modern technology, I put this right before posting the photo up here!]
By the time I’ve finished taking my portrait, and have opened up my rucksack to take my picnic out, the elderly lady has found a spot to sit on a rock below.
I eat my lunch, and wonder if I’ll ever finish this coastal walk before I, too, become really old and doddery.
[To be continued…]
Route so far: