Attadale to Plockton by the high route

Sub 2000s: Auchtertyre Hill, Carn nan Iomairean

Date walked: 22/10/2016

Time taken: 6.25 hours

Distance: 28km

Ascent: 1100m

Sub 2k Marylins: Carn nan Iomairean, Auchtertyre Hill.
Date: 22/10/2016.
Distance: 28km.
Ascent: 1100m.
Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes.
Weather: Overcast, becoming sunny. Very calm.

I had planned to make the most of the weather on Saturday and head to Glen Affric for the autumn colours. A last minute change in the forecast suggested that there might not be that much sunshine away from the coast. Time for a quick re-consideration. I decided to leave the car behind and take the train to Attadale instead. I had a cross-country route in mind from here, finishing up in Plockton. The train takes a lot longer than driving (over 2.5 hours back from Plockton!), but is well worth it for the scenery and relaxation.

Attadale to Plockton.gpx Open map in GPS Planner  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

The weather wasn't quite as sunny as expected when I got off the train at Attadale. A short walk along the main road took me to where the Gleann Udalain hill path was supposed to start. There was no crossing point in the deer fence, but on the far side, there was a signpost. Perhaps the best approach should have been from the main estate entrance.

Hill track signpost near Attadale:

Regardless, the path was fairly easy to follow in the beginning, although there were plenty of cattle tracks (lower down) and deer tracks (higher up) going off in different directions too. Nice views back to the Coulin hills and Attadale.

Loch Carron and An Ruadh-stac:


Beinn Damh, An Ruadh-stac and Maol Chean-dearg:

Higher up, I thought I was doing a good job of following the path, but suddenly I seemed to have run out of it. I climbed onto a nearby knoll to work out where I was - a bit of a way off track as it happened!

An Riabachain with An Cruachan in front:

It didn't take me too long to get back on route, following the west side of Loch nan Gillean. The path was much less obvious up here - visible in parts but not in others.

Loch nan Gillean:

It was an easy diversion onto the summit of Carn nan Iomairean. Still a bit grey up here, but good views towards Skye and Plockton, as well as back into the Monar hintelands. The hill sprawls a bit too much to get much of a close-up look down Loch Carron.

South to Beinn Sgritheall from Carn nan Iomairean:

Black Cuillin from Carn nan Iomairean:

Plockton and Red Cuillin:

Bealach na Ba:

Lurg Mhor, Beinn Dronaig, An Riabhachain:

I dropped back down to the line of the path near the edge of the forest - it wasn't at all obvious here. There was no crossing point over the deer fence and no obvious line through the trees on the far side, so I dropped down to the infant Udalain - the Easan Dubh. This offered a reasonable passage through the conifers to the marked forestry track.

The next section is part of the reason why I decided to wear trainers rather than boots for the walk. There was only a 6.5 hour window between my trains (and no later ones running), so I had planned to run the 3 miles to the A890 in order to make sure that I made the train home. This was probably the least interesting bit of the day, although some felling meant that it wasn't entirely viewless. There are a couple more Marilyns on the south side of the glen, but I would have had to run the entire route to fit those in as well, and that wasn't happening today. Anyway, there are more interesting approaches to those from Dornie.

Track in Glen Udalain:

At the A890 I pushed through thick bushes on the far side for a short distance to get to the old road. The tarmac was still evident, but in places it had become very overgrown with bushes. In other spots it was easy going.

Old road is overgrown in places…

…but not as bad in others:

I was now on familiar ground. I spent quite a lot of time working on various water supplies in the area when I first moved up to Inverness, one of which was Auchtertyre and Balmacara. So I had walked up to Loch na Smeoraich from here a few times. In the intervening years, the villages have been supplied from elsewhere and this one turned into a hydro scheme, so there was now a good track up to the loch.

Once the track ran out, it was into rough terrain, which seemed much harder to move in than the equivalent stuff on Carn nan Iomairean. Once I had crossed An Carnach and scrabbled up the initial steep section of Auchtertyre Hill, the ground improved a bit. The sun had gradually been making its presence felt over the last hour, and the summit was really pleasant.

Sgumain Chointich from the ascent of Auchtertyre Hill:

Loch a' Ghlinne Dhuirich and Loch na Smeoraich:

Sgumain Chointich and Glen Elchaig hills:

It was time for a late lunch break, being almost 3pm by now. I always imagined this would be a good viewpoint, and I wasn't wrong.

Eilean Donan castle:

Loch Duich and the 5 Sisters:

Kyle Rhea and Beinn na Caillich:

Kyle Rhea with Ardnamurchan in background:

Balmcara, Skye bridge and Black Cuillin:

Applecross hills:

Dornie and Loch Duich:

Beinn Sgritheall:

NW to Raasay:

Time to get a move on. I knew what track I wanted to be on to get to Plockton, but I wasn't sure how easy it would be to reach due to some steep and craggy sections near the top of the hill.

Applecross hills from Auchtertyre Hill descent:

It was OK actually. On the main crags, it was possible to drop down a gully then traverse about a bit to avoid further crags. Below this the ground was still very steep, but not too difficult. It has probably been thickly covered in heather in the past, but it looked like there had been a fire on these slopes sometime in the last few years, and the new heather was still quite short.

Steep bit on way down:


I was on the track before too long, which I cut off onto a less used path towards Loch Achaidh na h-Inich. I soon picked up another large track (which was actually the same track that I'd left - my map is a bit out of date for this area) which led me down to the loch.

Looking back at the steep bit:


Although it would include more road, my preference was to descend to the west end of Loch Achadh na h-Inich and walk through Achnandarach and past Loch Lundie. However the path shown on my map didn't seem to exist to connect where I was to the corner of the loch. There was a fair bit of crashing through felled area and squelching through wet ground to reach the corner of the loch, where I picked up a decent path. The path veered off in a completely different direction to what was shown on my map, over towards Carn Thollaidh. Bit of a pain but handy to know now.

Loch Achaidh na h-Inich:



I followed the path in the other direction round the shore to the road. This pretty much gave me the autumn colours that I had intended to visit Glen Affric for, although I couldn't help noting that the leaves on many of the trees appeared much greener than back in the east.

Less yellow leaves than over in the east:

I decided to run again, but the roads round here are delightfully scenic and quiet, so passing through Achnandarach and by Loch Lundie was lovely.

Sgurr a Chaorachain above the trees:

Loch Lundie:

I stopped running when I reached the footpath back to Plockton. In terms of time, it would have been slightly quicker to drop down to Duncraig station, but finishing in Plockton meant that I could walk along the section of coastal path opposite the village, and (if I was early enough) have a pint.

The coastal path was a great way to finish. In fact there must be some lovely low-level walks around here. Unfortunately the path pops out on the road a good 10 minutes away from the village centre (also in the opposite direction to the station), but I figured I would have just enough time for a very swift one. Although the Plockton Hotel is a minute or two further on than the Plockton Inn, I picked it as it had a beer garden on the waterfront.

Plockton and Applecross hills:

Loch Carron:


Lochside path:




Then a 15 minute walk back up to the station, which I reached with a good 15 or 20 minutes to spare. Usually this train is almost empty, but a couple of large groups had been on it in the morning, and one of them was getting back on again at Plockton.

Last train home:

This was a bit of the line that I'd not been on before - also one of the most impressive bits. The train really crawls along the side of Loch Carron, taking 30 minutes to reach Strathcarron. Plenty of time to enjoy the sunset over Skye.

Skye from the train:

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Comments: 1

Corrour and Sron na Lairige

Attachment(s) Date walked: 19/10/2016
Distance: 29km
Ascent: 1500m
Comments: 3
Views: 140

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Attachment(s) Grahams: Ben Mor Coigach, Sgurr an Fhidhleir
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Distance: 16km
Ascent: 1380m
Comments: 9
Views: 412

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Attachment(s) Munros: Slioch
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Ascent: 1220m
Comments: 10
Views: 631

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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Airds Hill
Date walked: 27/09/2016
Distance: 3km
Ascent: 200m
Comments: 3
Views: 188

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Attachment(s) Munros: Carn Dearg (Corrour), Sgor Gaibhre, Stob Ban (Grey Corries), Stob Choire Claurigh
Corbetts: The Fara
Grahams: Creag Ghuanach
Date walked: 20/09/2016
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Ascent: 4375m
Comments: 4
Views: 417

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Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Beinn Sgluich
Date walked: 14/09/2016
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This post is not published on the Walkhighlands forum
Attachment(s) Sub 2000s: Beinn a'Mhonicag
Date walked: 13/09/2016
Distance: 2.5km
Ascent: 330m
Views: 23

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Attachment(s) Munros: Beinn Mheadhoin
Date walked: 10/09/2016
Distance: 19km
Ascent: 1540m
Comments: 7
Views: 375

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Attachment(s) Munros: The Saddle
Corbetts: Sgurr Mhic Bharraich
Date walked: 28/08/2016
Distance: 17.5km
Ascent: 1725m
Comments: 5
Views: 360


User avatar
Location: Inverness
Occupation: Civil Engineer
Interests: Walking, Scrambling, Cycling, Mountain Biking
Munro rounds: 1
Corbett rounds: 1
Graham rounds: 1

Munros: 282
Corbetts: 222
Grahams: 219
Donalds: 50
Wainwrights: 81
Hewitts: 205
Sub 2000: 156

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Distance: 916.3 km
Ascent: 51535m
Munros: 16
Corbetts: 18
Grahams: 18
Donalds: 4
Sub2000s: 28


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Wainwrights 8


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Corbetts: 2
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Ascent: 44205m
Munros: 19
Corbetts: 4
Grahams: 1
Donalds: 2
Hewitts: 63
Wainwrights 6


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Distance: 476.5 km
Ascent: 40740m
Munros: 12
Corbetts: 2
Hewitts: 75
Wainwrights 17


Trips: 2

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Last visited: Oct 28, 2016
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