[This walk was completed on the 12th August, 2020]
I cycle back to Badachro, and chain up the Monster bike in the parking place by the water’s edge. What a view.
It’s another day of road walking today, like yesterday. But, unlike yesterday, I’m walking through woodland. No sight of the water to start with, just beautiful trees.
In a meadow, a horse munches away in the long grass. Raises its head to watch me, but decides I have nothing to offer, and continues feeding.
A nearby sign tells me she is called Bacardi and is 28 years old. Now retired, she enjoys apples and carrots, but “please do not feed her anything else as she has a delicate stomach”. I wish I had an apple to give her.
A finger-sign off to the right indicates a footpath going back over wild land, towards South Erradale.
I did think of using this footpath to make a circular walk, but had no idea of the state of the path, so I decided against it and used the Monster bike along the road instead. [Recently, I’ve learnt that Jon Combe, another coastal walker, did navigate this path, and found it very boggy and difficult going.]
I cross over a river – Abhainn Bad a Chrotha – from which I’m sure the village of Badachro gets its peculiar name.
Just on the other side of the bridge, a track leads off to the left. I check my map and, although it isn’t clear, it looks like I could get off the road for a while, skirt round the bottom of a hill called An Torr. and rejoin the road further along.
The sign on the gate seems welcoming at first – “You are most welcome to The Torr” – but the rest of the information is a little offputting.
Highland cattle! Well, I decide to give it a go.
At first all goes well, and I make easy progress up the track. But then… oh dear… a cow on the path.
Actually, there is a group of them blocking my way forward.
So, I head off the track, and climb a steep bank, forcing my way between trees and through bushes, and stumbling over clumps of coarse grass, until I emerge into the open. The view below is stunning. Loch Gairloch.
It’s not easy walking up here. Rocky areas are separated by tracts of boggy grass. I’m wearing walking shoes, not proper boots, and I can feel moisture seeping into my socks. Oh dear.
I reach the top of an outcrop of rocks, only to discover the real top of An Torr is still some distance away, across a waterlogged gully.
I sit on a dry rock, have a snack and a drink, and think what to do next, while I admire the view. That’s Badachro below. What a perfect little harbour.
After refreshments, I decide I’m not wearing the right footwear for this terrain, and I better retrace my steps. This I do, getting a little lost for a while, until I end up in the right place – right back next to the cows!
Luckily they’ve moved off the track and onto the bank. I hurry past, keeping my head down, and make it safely back to the road.
My shoes are a little wet, but not too bad.
Although I am now out of sight of the sea, I walk along the edge of another inland loch. Loch Bad a’ Crotha.
Beyond the loch, I cross a cattle grid and go through a gate. Another sign (lots of signs round here!) asks me to “Please close the gate. We have planted a natural woodland, which will take 10 years to establish.” The grid and the gate is to keep out deer.
Until I started walking in the highlands, I didn’t realise how destructive deer can be to woodlands. With no natural predators, and only the occasional shooting party to keep numbers under control, there is nothing to stop them multiplying. Deer normally eat grasses and shrubs, but they munch through young saplings and, when really hungry, will strip the bark off and destroy older trees.
Onwards, along the road. It’s running closer to the shore now, and I see glimpses of water through the trees. A sign tells me I’ve reached Leacnasaide, which is just a small collection of houses.
I’m approaching a little village called Shieldaig. Not the same Shieldaig as the larger one I passed through many days of walking ago. (Scotland often has several places with the same name – very economical!)
Here the road runs right along the edge of the water.
A little cottage catches my eye. Love the colour. A corrugated metal roof. Even the walls are made of sheets of corrugated metal. I wonder what it is like to live in?
The road bends around the curve of Loch Shieldaig. It’s really very attractive, although somewhat nerve-wracking to drive along, as there are no passing places.
On the wall are remnants of shells. All smashed open and in pieces. A sea bird must have eaten its dinner here.
On the other side of the little bay, some bright coloured kayaks are drawn up on a shingle beach. You can hire them. Sadly, although it’s a beautiful day, I see nobody out on the water.
I presume COVID has decimated the tourist industry in Scotland. Hotels might be open again, but nobody is coming.
Pass Shieldaig Lodge, where a couple of cars pull into the drive. The lodge is a hotel, and it looks both impressive and traditional. I’m sure it would be a fabulous place to stay.
A couple of giant eagles guard the walls.
The road leaves the water again. Hilly woodland on my left. Open grassland on my right. Mountains ahead.
After a mile or so, I reach another bridge, where the road crossed over the River Kerry and joins the A832. My car is parked just the other side of the bridge.
Safely over, I stop to take some photos of the bridge, which seems to be held together with rusting metal staples! Good job I didn’t see this when I drove over yesterday!
While I’m taking photographs, a group of cyclists pull off the main road and stop on the bridge. “This is the way to Shieldaig,” says one, pointing to the signpost. “Can’t be,” says another. “Miles to go yet.”
I wonder whether to set them straight but, after a brief huddle, they return to the main road and pedal off before I can reach them.
Yes, having several places with the same name can be VERY confusing!
[Ju, aka The Helpful Mammal, is another coastal walker, and he decided to walk between the two Shieldaigs in a single day. Why? Why not. Yes, all 31.5 miles! You can read about his walk here.
Route so far today: