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Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

Postby Alba Bhoy » Tue Apr 01, 2014 8:06 pm

Route description: Inverlael to Oykel Bridge

Date walked: 25/03/2014

Time taken: 7.5 hours

Distance: 34.5 km

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Tuesday, 25th March 2014, Ullapool to Oykel Bridge. Dep Ullapool 0840, arrive Oykel Bridge Hotel 1600, time taken 7 hours 20 minutes. Distance, 19-20 miles approximately. OS Landranger map 20 covers 99% of the route though the start comes under OS Landranger 19 and the final few yards are on OS Landranger 16. Weather, dry with high clouds and occasional blue sky.
Last year I managed to perambulate from Kirk Yetholm as far North as Ullapool. This year the challenge is to get from Ullapool to Cape Wrath and complete the Scottish National trail, albeit I'll have done it in stages rather than non stop.
This was a nice easy day with most of the walking on good, well maintained estate tracks and estate roads but with one potentially tricky river crossing. The country you pass through might be devoid of people and houses but the navigation is straightforward. That said, the landscape you pass through definitely feels remote! I'd imagine that mountain bikers would enjoy this section; it's a good surface most of the way.
You join the track just before the bridge over the Ullapool River that carries the main road north. As you approach the bridge from Ullapool a road heads of to the right towards the quarry and onto Loch Achall. It's an obvious choice and when i walked it there was also a board at the start of the road which said Breedon Aggregates, Morefield Quarry. Nice easy, obvious road to follow to start with.
photo 1 day 1 - Copy.JPG
Easy road to follow to start with today

After a few minutes the working quarry comes into view on your left. 15 minutes later a larger (disused?) quarry appears on your right.
copy of Morefield Quarry, 25th March 2014 -.JPG
This quarry soon appears on your right

The road crosses the Ullapool River river and heads towards a white cottage - Glastullich - before swinging to the right and running along the north shore of Loch Achall.
copy of Crossing the Ullapool River, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Road crosses over the Ullapool river as you approach the NW end of Loch Achall

I arrived at the NW (the Ullapool) end of Loch Achall at 0930. It was then a pleasant walk along the length of Loch Achall, on what is still a sealed road. Road passes through some trees (be nice in the Summer when they are in leaf) with Rhidorroch House above you.
copy of Road running alongside Loch Achall, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Road running through the trees beside Loch Achall

I reached the far (NE) end of the Loch at 1005 from where I enjoyed excellent views back along the route I'd walked.
copy of View back down Loch Achall, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
View back down Loch achall from NE end of the Loch

Track contines east from here and offered great views of the journey ahead.
copy of Track heading East from Loch Achall, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
View ahead as track leaves Loch Achall

About 25-30 minutes after passing the end of Loch Achall I reached a lonely house at Cardubh. By 1105 I passed East Rhidorroch Lodge, the last occupied house i saw until I reached Oykel Bridge. The road deteriorates slighly from here but still makes for easy walking. At East Rhidorroch Lodge the track swings left and goes quite steeply uphill as it heads towards Loch an Daimh.
copy of Loch an Daimh, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Loch an Daimh

As you approach Loch an Daimh you are rewarded with some great views down Glen Douchary.
Another path joins this track round about grid reference 261931. The track - still good, broad and easy to follow - continues NE from here, high above Loch an Daimh, to Knockdamph Bothy.
copy of Knockdamph Bothy 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Knockdamph Bothy

I arrived at Knockdamph Bothy at 1225 and stopped to enjoy my sandwich, drink some water and enjoy the view. The bothy seemed in reasonable condition inside; clean and litter free.
After a 20 minute break I left the bothy and continued to follow what was still an excellent, albeit lonely, track through ever remote country until I reached the ford across the Abhainn Poiblidh at grid reference 320978.
copy of In the wilderness after leaving Knockdamph Bothy 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Track as you head NE from Loch an Daimh towards the crossing of the Abhainn Poiblidh

Got here at 1340, about 55 minutes after leaving Knockdamph Bothy. I checked a short distance upsteam and downstream but could find no dry route that would get me over so it was off with my shoes and socks and roll up my trousers before wading across.
copy of Ford across the Abhainn Poiblidh river - March 25th 2014 - Copy.JPG
Abhainn Poiblidh river crossing

I was lucky in that the river level was relatively low but in spate this could be a major obstacle.
Once safely across it's a nice easy walk to the bothy at Duag Bridge which I reached at 1415.
copy of Path down to Duag Schoolhouse Bothy - 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Path to Duag Schoolhouse Bothy

Happy to report that this bothy appeared to be in excellent condition. Another 20 minute break here to recharge the batteries before heading off on the last stretch.
From here you follow the Strath Mulzie Estate Road to Oykel Bridge. While it's well maintained it's also a bit sore on the feet. Roads may make for easy walking but the surface can be unyielding. Various tracks break off from the main Estate Road but ignore them. Stay on the main road all the way to Oykel Bridge. The River Einig will be below you, over to your left, and the Einig woods all around.
At 1550 (about 1 hour 15 minutes after I left Duag Bridge) I sauntered across the bridge that takes you over the River Einig.
copy of Bridge over the River Einig, 25th March 2014 - Copy.JPG
Bridge over the River Einig

Once across, follow the road round to the right, the River Einig then the River Oykel will be on your right hand side. In a few minutes you will pass a few houses on your right - the settlement of Oykel Bridge - and a few minutes later the road joins the main A837 almost opposite the Oykel Bridge Hotel. At 1600, I entered the hotel, my accommodation for the night.
The hotel is not cheap but I felt it was worth it. Interesting place to stay as the other guests were all Gentlemen from 'Darn Sarf' who were on a Salmon Fishing holiday. It's fair to say they were from a different Socio Economic background to me. That said they were pleasant enough. The hotel owners were very pleasant and helpful. It would appear that most of their guests are Salmon fishermen. Food and accommodation were excellent, I got a great night's sleep. The Hotel also has a drying room which was handy, a TV lounge with access to, inter alia, Sky Sports and, of course, it is fully licensed with its own bar.
Nice place to rest and recuperate after a very pleasant, enjoyable day's walk in the late March sunshine :)
Alba Bhoy
Posts: 56
Joined: May 12, 2013

Re: Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

Postby peterraikman » Thu Sep 03, 2015 11:10 am

Happy to report that this bothy appeared to be in excellent condition

Thanks for compliment re The Schoolhouse
Would anyone reading this please advise if there is anything we could do to make the building not only safe and watertight, but things that would add to visitors' experience or comfort
Peter Aikman ( MBA M.O. )
Hill Bagger
Posts: 30
Joined: Aug 15, 2011

Re: Ullapool to Oykel Bridge

Postby Scotjamie » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:29 pm

Thanks for that - helped with the memories
Walked this in May as part of the Cape Wrath Trail and stopped at the hotel for a breather before camping further up Glen Oykel, The hotel (posh clientele notwithstanding) was welcoming and extremely helpful. The schoolhouse, in excellent condition, Peter, and the (new?) bench outside just great.
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Joined: Jul 27, 2009
Location: north berwick

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