[This walk was completed on the 10th August 2019]
After lunch, I follow the footpath back to the shore of Poll Creadha bay. Joining the road again, I head left towards
Rubadubdub – sorry, Aird-Dhubh. On the way, I turn off to visit a slipway, where a not-very-necessary sign warns me my non-existent car might fall into the water.
I spend some time around the slipway, taking photos of the boats in Poll Creadha, and the crab (or lobster) pots stacked on the bank.
Back on the road, I enter one of those can’t-be-bothered moods, where I again wonder what I’m doing strolling aimlessly around the bottom of the Applecross peninsula, when I could have finished it by now.
Ah, here’s a convex mirror. Time for another self-portrait.
Aird-Dhubh is a largish hamlet. I’m not sure how many people live here permanently, or if the cottages are mainly holiday homes? Cars are parked in some of the driveways, but there’s a deserted feel to it all.
I confess, I don’t go to the end of the road – another dead-end – but turn round at this point, and head back. A runner overtakes me.
Well, one thing I know for certain, I would much rather be walking than running. Much rather!
Marching back, past the slipway, I soon reach the end of the road, and join the ‘main’ road at the top of Poll Creadha bay. It passes over a river via a bridge.
I check my map – but the river has no name.
The road leads straight to Applecross now, and my mood lifts. It’s been a lovely day of walking so far, and the next few miles should be easy road-walking.
A couple of cyclists overtake me on a hill. As usual, the man is leading, and the woman is puffing away behind him. Another thing I know for sure, I would much rather be walking than cycling. Much rather!
In fact, I cycled up here the day before yesterday, on my way back from my walk out to Airigh-drishaig. Luckily, thanks to my electric Scooty bike, I almost whizzed up this same hill!
At the top of a hill is a picnic spot, with a new-looking bench. It would be tempting to sit down and admire the view over Aird-Dhubh, but a couple have beaten me to it.
Down the other side of the hill, and the road is sandwiched between a rocky cliff and the sea. Ahead is the hamlet of Camusterrach.
Camusterrach is a collection of white-painted cottages, spread out along the road, with a side road leading down to more cottages at the water’s edge.
Again, I’m not sure how lived-in this place is, or whether the buildings are mainly holiday lets. I pass a Free Church of Scotland, and then the Applecross Village Primary School. A sign by the school says ‘Eggs for sale”…
… and a large plastic box on the wall (behind the sign) contains the eggs and, I presume, an honesty box.
Wonder if the chickens that laid the eggs belong to the school?
Actually, I’m surprised to find the school is situated out here, because I’m still a couple of miles out of Applecross itself. [Later, I realise the name ‘Applecross’ applies to the whole area, and not just to the collection of buildings known as Applecross on the map.]
At the school, the road divides into an inland route, and a coastal route. Of course, I take the coastal route, and pass through an area called Camustiel, where more white cottages line the shore.
Further along, I come to the village shop, and pop in to buy a few things for tea. They are out of milk, and don’t have much of a selection, but I buy some ham, cheese, and bread for sandwiches.
Just beyond the shop, the two roads converge into one. Here I meet a lone walker. We have a brief conversation, because he is in a hurry to reach the shop, but tells me he is ‘wild’ camping by the edge of Applecross Bay.
Only after he has disappeared, do I realise that he mentioned buying milk at the shop. There isn’t any left. I should have warned him. Too late now!
Just before Applecross, the road passes round the edge of an inland lake. Loch a Mhuilinn. By this time, it has started to drizzle, and the view over the far side of Applecross Bay is blanked by rainclouds.
I put my head down and march around the loch. I’m sure in sunnier weather I would stop to take lots of photographs, but the rain forces me to make rapid progress.
On the other side of the loch, I reach Milton (according to my map) or Milltown (according to the road sign).
Milltown is just a collection of buildings, some very much worse for wear. Luckily, just beyond the buildings, the rain stops, and I enjoy a rain-free stroll into Applecross.
The Applecross street is, as usual, bustling with people and traffic. There are cars parked in every possible space, and motorcyclists roam the street.
The reason for all this activity? Well, it’s mainly due to the tourist traffic generated by the NC500 route. Applecross provides the only pub for miles around – The Applecross Inn.
(While planning this trip, I tried to book a room here for a night – to give me some respite from camper-van living – but the place was fully booked for months in advance. And quite expensive too, for a single person.)
Because the place is so popular, there is a spill-out bar outside, housed in a shiny silver van. You can eat and drink in the marque overlooking the sea.
[I did buy food and drink here on one of the nights I stayed, but the midges made it impossible to enjoy the marquee experience!]
Past the Applecross Inn is another reason for the area’s popularity. It has a 24 hr, unmanned, community petrol station. The sign outside asks visitors to use the pumps, as a way of supporting the local service.
Opposite the pumps is a newish-looking building, The Junction, a cafe/bistro. I’m eating here tonight (again) as they don’t usually require a reservation if you arrive early enough, and it’s less frenetic than the Applecross Inn.
I continue down the road, ignoring the turn off to the pass and my campsite. It’s early yet, I’m not tired, and I can go a bit further.
I find a suitable spot where I can leave my bike tomorrow, and notice a signpost for a footpath that runs above the road. Good, I can follow this back to the campsite.
A nearby plaque explains the legend of the four trees of Applecross.
Four sweet-chestnut trees once stood here, and might mark the place where two competitors had a race to lay claim to Applecross. The winner, apparently, cut off his arm (or hand) and threw it ahead to secure his claim. The trees were planted to commemorate this unlikely event.
The legend seems completely ridiculous, but the trees were revered and preserved, until they eventually died and rotted away.
The plaque doesn’t mention it, but it appears four new trees have been planted here, protected from deer by four little wooden palisades.
I had noticed some wonderful trees when I entered Applecross after walking over the Bealach Na Ba pass. But it wasn’t the tiny new trees I noticed, nor the apple trees that I expected to find, but these magnificent ones standing on the ridge above me now.
With their pale park, and spreading canopies, these trees are truly gorgeous. I have no idea what they are, but for me they are one of the most beautiful things about Applecross.
Miles walked today = 11, but many of these in the wrong direction!
Total distance around coast = 4,415 miles
Route (morning in black, afternoon in red) :