440am North Erradale to Melvaig

[This walk was completed on the 14th August 2020]

I start walking – along the B8021 – towards Melvaig. It’s a lonely road, with relatively little traffic and only a few sheep for company.

Below me is North Erradale, the crofting settlement, with cottages and houses spread out across the valley floor.

The road climbs over the shoulder of a hill – and what a view! I can see right along the coast towards… well, I think that’s Melvaig in the distance. Hard to tell, because the sea is covered in veils of white mist and the distance is hazy.

Onwards. I head down the winding road.

The sky has got brighter, the day is warming up, and the mist begins to lift.

A group of lambs stand on the verge and give me a cheeky look, before scampering down the hillside.

The road twists and curves, but keeps high above the sea. As the mist continues to clear, I get tantalising glimpses of a beautiful beach below me – a winding ribbon of bright sands. It follows the contours of the coast for as far as I can see ahead.

I would love to climb down and walk along the sand. So, I keep an eye out for a path that might take me there, but I never find one. I know I could probably find a way across the boggy grass, and clamber down the cliff, and maybe manage to reach the shore in one piece. But, once down, I might not be able to get off the beach again.

The Covid signs I saw yesterday asked me not to take any unnecessary risks. So, OK, I’ll stick to the road.

Aultgrishan is a small settlement, and consists of just a handful of cottages spread out on either side of the road.

It is named after the river, Allt Grisionn, which the road will cross shortly. But, before then, I cross over the smaller streams of Allt Glac an Locha and Allt a’ Ghamhna.

This river valley looks tempting… maybe I could follow it down to the sea and get to walk along that lovely beach?

No. I’ve still got a fair distance to cover today. Better stick to the road.

I pass one of those little shepherd huts. I’m sure no real shepherds have ever lived in here, but it makes a sweet little holiday home.

The road dips down into a deeper river valley. This is where the Allt Grisionn runs.

At the bottom of the valley, the road swings round over the river. A track leads off and down to the water, to cross back over the river via a tempting little bridge… I’m not sure that would lead me to the shore. Looks more like a private drive.

I decide to banish all thoughts of reaching the beach from my mind. Must just enjoy this lovely road. I walk past a number of fenced fields, and white cottages overlooking the sea.

There’s a whirring sound behind, and a group of cyclists overtake me. The one at the rear seems to be struggling, and I empathise. In any family outing, that would always be me. The one at the back!

“Save our CAT!” It seems this sign once asked you to save something else, but has been modified into a plea not to run over the family pet.

The road dips down into another river valley. The bridge takes me over the Allt Loch na Cloiche Gile, and into Melvaig – another spread-out crofting settlement. My map indicates there once was a pub down by the river but, sadly, like so many other pubs it seems to have disappeared.

On the other side of the river, the road rises in a steady climb. Near the top, I turn to look back the way I’ve come. Can see all the way back along the coast to North Erradale, and to Longa Island.

Funny. I don’t seem to have walked very far, but it looks like I’ve made rapid progress along the coast. I guess that the joy of road-walking – not particularly exciting, but easy to cover the miles.

Melvaig is a quiet place. The pub has gone, and there are no shops. I wonder who lives here? Crofters? People escaping city life? Holiday makers?

It’s beautiful, but there is nothing here, and I don’t think any buses run down this road either. Young people must find it extremely boring.

Here’s a tumble-down barn. Love the red roof. Ripe for development!

I’ve nearly reached the end of the public road, where I’ve left my car in a parking place. Beyond this, a private track climbs the hill and heads off northwards towards the Rubha Reidh headland.

Near the top of slope, I can see a group of cyclists – the same group that passed me earlier, I assume. They’ve stopped and seem to be discussing something among themselves.

I’ll be walking up there this afternoon. Crikey, it looks steep.

At the end of the public road there is a house for sale. Oh… no… not a house – just a plot of land.

The people who live in the white house seem to have quite a sense of humour. “Caution, HAGGIS crossing.” There is even a picture of a haggis. So that’s what they look like!

When I parked here this morning, my car was the single solitary occupant of the car park. Now, the place is positively crowded. I wonder where all the people are?

I must drive back to North Erradale and pick up my bike. But first, I sit in my car for a rest, and to eat my lunch.

While I’m eating, the cyclists finish their discussion and speed back down the hill. They’ve obviously decided not to cycle all the way to the headland today.


Route so far today:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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5 Responses to 440am North Erradale to Melvaig

  1. Eunice says:

    I like the ‘save our cat’ sign, I presume the bottom bit said ‘please drive slowly’. The ‘haggis crossing’ sign made me laugh, I don’t think I could eat one now I know how cute they are 🙂 🙂

    • tonyhunt2016 says:

      Don’t worry, you can buy vegetarian haggises, although I suspect that haggises, a bit like sausages, contain very little meat anyway.

      • Patrick Francis Bonham says:

        Just looked at a recipe for a traditional meat-based haggis (sheep and beef) and it seems to be at least 70% meat, the rest being coarse oatmeal with a smaller amount of suet. “Real” bangers, as well as those little French merguez ones and spicy Spanish chorizo, are very meaty. But I love Ruth’s cuddly haggis!

  2. Robin Massey says:

    Glorious walk and views, thanks Ruth!

  3. tonyurwin says:

    I always enjoy the odd and amusing small signs you find. The haggis is a new one!

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