430am Kenmore to Ardheslaig

[This walk was completed on the 14th August, 2019]

It’s a dull morning, and I leave my Scooty bike chained up in the layby near Kenmore.

01 Scooty bike at Kenmore, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Today, I’m heading for Sheldaig. Finally, I’m going to finish the Applecross Peninsula and leave this beautiful place behind, so I feel a mixture of sadness and excitement.

I set off down the road, determined to set a fast pace for a change. The landscape here is different – less open, and with more folds and steep inclines.

02 road from Kenmore towards Sheldaig, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

My OS map shows a path running almost parallel with the road, which should take me across open countryside to Ardheslaig, a couple of miles away. Of course, a path on the map doesn’t always translate into a path on the ground… but here’s the footpath sign. Good!

03 footpath to Ardheslaig, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Even better, the path looks fairly well-trodden, and will make a welcome change from road walking.

First, the path follows the line of electricity poles, and dips down into a shallow valley. Here, it crosses over the river, Abhainn Chracaich, via a new-looking wooden footbridge. I stop on the bridge to take photographs of the water rushing below me.

04 Abhaiinn a Chracaich, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

On the other side of the river, the path has left the line of poles, and slowly climbs up the slope of the hill.

05 footpath above the river, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

This hill is called A’ Bhainlir, and seems like a mini-mountain to me but, when I check the map, I discover the summit only tops 175 metres. As I climb higher, I get a great view down onto Kenmore and its sheltered bay.

06 Kenmore and Loch A Chracaich from the footpath, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

The path is mainly stony and easy to walk along, with only the occasional patch of mud. What’s this footprint? A cow? A deer? The Applecross monster?

07 footprints on the path, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Actually, I don’t think Applecross has a monster. It’s too pretty for monsters.

I’m walking through an open landscape, still climbing. Below is a loch – Loch na Creige – with the road winding beside it. Can see little vehicles on the road – camper vans, motor homes, minivans, cars, lorries, and hear the distant roar of occasional motorcyclists.

08 Loch na Creige, from footpath, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

How nice to be up here, away from the traffic.

Walking along the coast road has been a bit of a slog, to be honest, and that’s probably why it took me so long to get round the peninsula. I’m so glad I found this path. This is proper walking.

The air is cooler on my face – fresher – a sign I’m about to reach the top of the climb.

09 approaching top of the hill, footpath to Ardheslaig, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Over the brow of the hill and… what a view!

10 over the shoulder of A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

The path actually winds round the shoulder of A’ Bhainlir, missing out the top peak. So, I leave the path and climb higher up the rocks. It’s hard work, because the rocks are steep and the ground around them is boggy.

Oh, look, a cairn. Time for a sit down and a rest.

11 cairn on A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

I haven’t reached the top yet. There it is…

12 top of A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

…but I decide I’ve got far enough up the slope.  The breeze will keep the midges away, and it’s time for lunch.

Just look at the view. There’s the road in the distance, and beyond is Loch Shieldaig, and then Loch Torridon. The mountains behind seem to go on for ever.

13 view from A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

When I rummage around in my rucksack for lunch, I discover a tiny little portable tripod. It used to belong to my dad, and I must have been carrying it around for ages, but I forgot all about it.

Of course, I immediately set up the camera for a self-portrait.

14 self-portrait on A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

It might be the middle of August, but it’s chilly up here. I’m wearing my winter coat, but I soon get cold. Time to move one.

Climb back down to the path, and set off over the other side of the hill, along a comfortable track of green grass. I’m heading back towards the road.

15 path down to Ardheslaig from A' Bhainlir, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

My map suggests the path joins the road for a few hundred yards, before separating again. In fact, the path takes a precarious route running parallel to the road, but just below it.

I stumble over rocks, worried I might twist an ankle. Although there is traffic passing a few yards above my head, I’m invisible down here. If I break an ankle, or a leg, or my hip – I could lie here for days and be undiscovered.

16 rocky path under the road, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Driving out in the van earlier, I saw this section of the road was very steep and twisty.  I began worrying whether my Scooty bike would cope with the climb, and had reconciled myself to having to push the damn thing up the steepest sections.

In fact, when cycling up here, I was so anxious waiting for the “steep climb” to happen, it was a shock to reach Kenmore and discover that Scooty had already conquered the climb, without my even realising it.

I spend a lot of time worrying about things that might happen… a bad habit. Must stop it.

Now, I’ve successfully negotiated the tricky section of the path, and it leads me away from the road and down into the next valley.

17 path down to the road, and Ardheslaig, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

At the bottom, I cross over another river  – Allt a’ Mhuilinn – and rejoin the road, as it swings down towards little creek, Loch Beag, and a place called Ardheslaig.

18 Loch Beag and Ardheslaig, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Ardheslaig sits on a finger of land, jutting out into Loch Torridon. I was planning to walk around it, or at least follow the road to the end, but the turnoff is marked by a cattle grid and this unfriendly sign: WARNING! BULL.

19 warning BULL, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

The sign is faded and weather-beaten, and I have no idea if there really is a bull roaming freely on the other side of the grid, or ferocious cows guarding their calves. But I really, really, don’t like walking near cattle, and I decide to give Ardheslaig a miss.

(So much for my resolution to stop worrying about things that might happen. Broken already!)

Close to the turn off to Ardheslaig is a bus stop – no, wait, it’s just an information sign with more information about the North Applecross Woodland Project. 1,500 hectares, 9 separate plots, a million and a half trees. Quite a project. Hope it is successful.

20 information about the new woodland, Ardheslaig, Applecross, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Further along, here’s another sign. What does it mean? No idea.

21 weird sign, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

The road drops down to run closer to the shore. This is Loch Shieldaig, an offshoot of Loch Torridon. Love the red-roofed house – you see a few of these around here.

22 red-roofed house, Ruth walking the south bank of Loch Torridon, Scotland

Onwards… to Shieldaig.


[To be continued…]

Route this morning:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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8 Responses to 430am Kenmore to Ardheslaig

  1. tonyhunt2016 says:

    That road! I find I’m a faster driver than most people, but I was tailgated very closely on there by a monster pick-up truck (obviously local). I pulled over to let him pass, and tried to follow him. I’ve driven reasonably successfully in rallies, but dared not keep him in sight as he was driving around totally blind bends at speeds from which he could barely have slowed before he collided with an on-coming vehicle. I was concerned that if I’d been anywhere close, I couldn’t have stopped either. A walker or horse on the road would have been simply wiped out.

    So, anyone following in Ruth’s footsteps, listen out carefully!

  2. tonyhunt2016 says:

    T26 is a Larkhall car club which organises charity events, btw.

  3. Jayne says:

    Absolutely glorious Ruth, as you say ‘a proper walk” (not that your others are not real perambulation!)

    Such a joy to get that first glimpse of Loch Torridon, one of the most special places I have ever been.

  4. Robin says:

    Looks beautiful Ruth. Lovely path and views.

  5. Eunice says:

    A great walk Ruth and the views over the lochs are fabulous 🙂

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