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Ardnamurchan to Lochailort

Ardnamurchan to Lochailort


Postby Ross deWalk » Wed May 08, 2019 10:06 pm

Corbetts included on this walk: Rois-Bheinn

Date walked: 11/06/2018

Distance: 72 km

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Travel to Ardnamurchan:

Get the Glasgow to Oban train, Oban to Craignure, Mull ferry, camped in some woods on the way to a castle but close enough to have a night in the Craignure Inn. Got up up early for the bus to Tobermory, then another ferry over to Kilchoan.



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Day 1
I made a late breakfast at the public shelter near the ferry terminal, then headed along the road into downtown Kilchoan. Left turn and another 5 miles or so on the road to Sanna. I was getting a bit annoyed at being on the road and getting passed by a lot of motorists but finally, I leave the tarmac and get on to some good old non tarmac but tractory, Lan-Rovery type road with the loose stones and the grassy strip along the middle. Still, I was away from the cosy-in-their-car tourists and heading into the hills. The tractory type road gave way to a foot path and passed by a interesting interpretation board put up by the Ardnamurchan heritage group. It talked about the abandoned hamlet of Glendrianhttp://heritageardnamurchan.co.uk/glendrian/ which I passed through a couple of miles along the path.
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After a wee wander among the old buildings, seeing the past times conjured up with my minds eye, I continued along the trail. What followed was some of the best walking I have ever experienced. I don't know exactly what made this part so good but it was probably the combination of the warm, dry weather, piece of mind it wasn't going to rain, the dragonflies and butterflies which I never see in Edinburgh, the bird songs, being the only person around for miles feeling, it was just perfect. After another couple miles the path turned east along the north coast of the peninsula and became pathless.
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There was a few white posts that have been battered by the weather and is long as i had the sea to my left, i was going in the right direction.
The route then dipped into Fascadale and then back on the tarmac. It wasn't so bad this time, not nearly as many passing cars. A wee bit later I'm off the road again at the farm of Achateny. The path then goes through the farms cattle gates sure in the knowledge I'm following the OS map correctly I continue on. I've always been a bit cautious about going through pastures and farm yards, despite marked way-routes going right through them in the Southern Uplands Way and the East Highland way. I think this comes from when I was growing up, I only ran as quick as I could through pastures near our house to make a short-cut and avoid getting spotted by the farmer in case he would shoot at me with a shotgun. This of course never happened as I was getting wound up by my older brothers who told me that will be the farmers reaction. As it happens, when I left the farm path and opened a gate to get to onto the road at the Kilmory phone box, a farmer was standing watching me.. "Fine Day!" I said, "Oh aye, it is that, good for walking" he replied. A pleasant bleather ensued for a wee while. This guy was for sure local, a native from Ardnamurchan, his accent was thick even for a native Scot to fully understand. Anyway, after a quick look at the two Commonwealth War Graves in the tiny little cemetery the route took me along another section of fairly quiet road through the holiday homes of Swordle and then Ockle.

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I'm about 15 miles into the walk and its about 8pm, but still sunny and warm, it doest get dark up hear until after 10pm in July, as the farmer guy from earlier mentioned.However, I was feeling tired, and I could feel the evening light. The path passed a wee lochan and quickly became rather hardcore. Tiny little track conversing along a steep slope wound round the hills for a mile or so and then opened up to a straight decent to the end of today's trail at the Singing Sands at Kentra Bay. A sense of achievement was brought on, not really walking the 18 miles as it was very present, but the fact that I started today at Craignure on the Isle of Mull, got a bus, then ferry and walked to here, with no disasters! Tent up, bed layed out and got out the food and pans, got fire wood thats dry for weeks, this has never happened to me on these hikes,
Set up a fire on the beach and sat beside it until it finally got as dark as it would get, about 1:30am. Love it!

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Day 2

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Another sunny day. I relit the fire to cook my porridge and make some coffee and hung around the beach for a couple of hours, I didn't really want to leave. That beach would be grand to spend another day there and explore the coast line. A couple arrived and pleasant small chat was made then I packed up and headed off along the forest track. It was already hot and sunny, so I adorned my bandanna and aviators looking like some pilgrim biker. I soon passed a family group, then another, it was getting busy now. After about 3.5 miles I continued strait across the cross roads for a bit of road walking, then crossed straight ahead again over a track in the middle of the field that was marked as a foot path on the O.S. map which started quite opened and exposed but got close with spike plants before opening up in somebodies back garden of Hydro house, oops! I briskly walked out to Sheilfoot road before turning left and across the bridge over the river Sheil that would take me out of splendid Ardnamurchan and then simply walk into Moidart.

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I had another break, down at the river under the bridge, more coffee and snacks and such i headed onto the last bit of public road and up into the hills. Fine walking was had passing Loch Blain and a couple of wee lochans before heading down a valley onto the road again which will take me to Tioram Castle. There is a split in the path that would have taken me around Beinn Bhraic and past the abandoned hamlet of Briaig then join up with the Silver Walk, but I wanted to go to the castle. I wish I hadn't. When I got there, the tide was in so it cut off access to the castle on its island. I sat de-bagged and sat down to relax and take in the almost stereotype, shortbread tin view of my country but alas! There was a couple with their dog where one of them was calling the dog in a really annoying singsong way and tone constantly for about 20 minutes! Right! enough of these people having a pleasant walk minding their own business repeatedly calling on his pet, I bagged up and started the Silver Walk. I was quite glad as on my brand new copy of the OS map the path stopped half way along for some reason, but no fear, a sign had the path mapped all the way along to the River Moirdart, where I planned tow walk along the river and find a camp near the Brunery Woods. The silver walk is actually quite a short walk of 3 or so miles but it felt a lot longer, maybe due to a little detour when I lost the path a Dead Crab Bay, (which I call it as the high tide water mark was covered in thousands of tiny crap shells and claws) and probably feeling yesterdays miles, I think it took 2 or 3 hours which is just under a mile per hour..slow. The Silver Walk ended in a wee car park of the A861 and a little jont down the hill of the main road I got to the wee old bridge next to the main one the road traffic goes over. The lovely still river shaded in old trees and a lovely path going right along it, it was in the direction was going in and I was quite keen to follow the river than the main road, so I walked along. Soon I came across a perfect pitch. Really, I would be a fool not to camp there. It was like a little lawn that somebody had recent cut, next to a garden hut and picnic table. In the garden hit had some fishing gear it it, therefore I concluded this must be a fishing spot. I pitched the tent and built a fire using the drift wood from the river. Had I been able to fish, and gut a fish I almost certainly would have caught something. There was fish actually jumping out of the water eating the fly's, it probably only need the net in the hut, but I wasn't sure of the etiquette of fishing on obviously someone's or some groups well maintained spot,so I let it pass. Dinner eaten, I sat buy the fire, ready to walk the big hill the next day.

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Day 3

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I broke camp early. After porridge and coffee I start the climb at the foot of the Brunery Hill. I pass a hatchery that had a pipe running of some type of water into the river...which I had been using for my food needs, thus brought on some mild Hypochondria which soon faded as I was soon walking up a very, very steep truck road, like the ones cut for forestry workers. When I finally got the the top of the first summat at Loch Nam Paitean i was greeted by this archipelago type loch, with its fishing hut, which I hoped was a bothy for a moment before going inside and yes it was obviously used for fishing. It was here that the real part of my entire trip was to happen. I planned after scouring over the OS maps and all types of digital maps at home that I would leave the paths and tracks and walk freely over the hills, something I've always wanted to do. This one however, still used an old fence that is clearly marked on the OS map. So of I went, up to Loch Daerg then traversed Cruach Nam Feadan and picked up the fence which was really just the old rusted fence posts over 50 meters or so, the this acted as my way marks posts. This might not had been the easiest way to the summat but I figured that some one had been here before, surveyed the hill and then brought all the posts and tools for hammering them in, so then this must have been doable. Up passed the lochan and up to Sgurr Dihomuill Mor. Absolutely breath taking views, I experienced the greatness of the landscape up there, the huge glen of Glen Glutenan on my right and Loch Ailort and the views of the Small Isles back insight on my left. By this time it was a 3pm and I still had a long way to climb up to Rois-Bheinn. I figured it would take two hours max. This was unsurprisingly very tough. There was times when I was one step then two minutes rest. It was here when I filled my canteen with the most amazing water from a spring, no change of it being contaminated from some industrial hatchery here! Eventually about 3 or 4 hours later I get to the cairn on the summat. More amazing views. I could see the castle from yesterday away below far away. I could even see the beach I camped on the first night. And I could see the Peanmeanach peninsula where I naively thought could still maybe get to and stay at the bothy. However I was getting massive hunger pangs which was strongly arguing a cooked dinner at Lochailort Hotel. I headed down after a little while eventually finding the land rover track and another 2 or so hours I finally got to the hotel about 9pm. Kitchen was closed, but I had more than a few pints of Guinness and snacks. After a couple of hours in the hotel bar, I headed out and put up my tent by the river Ailort past weir in among some tree's. I tried to make a light a fire but I was still slightly inebriated so it didn't work. :roll: I went to bed and slept a very good sleep.

It didn't turn out to be a good move finding a camping place by a river halfcut. The weir sight up river let a bunch of water out and swept my canteen away during the night. And then i noticed the warning tape tied to the tree as if saying "Don't camp here!" Anyway, I had already decided that was the end of the trip. The weather was closing in and i didn't fancy waking in rain after all the sun and dry fire wood, plus I was starving for a kebab calzone with chips.

I hoped to get out for about a week, this was only the 4th day but I was happy with my achievement. The most amazing beach camp, Glendrian, riverside camp, and a pathless hike up a Corbett.

It really was a good walk.
Ross deWalk
Mountaineer
 
Posts: 7
Corbetts:1
Joined: Apr 27, 2015
Location: Leith, Edinburgh

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