Day 160: Mark Bothy to Carrick Castle
Distance: 11.20 miles
Ascent: 3696 feet
Accommodation: Carrick Farm (Kindly Complimentary)
I was up early and tried to be as quiet as possible as 2 of the others were still asleep. I had some porridge, packed up and after a quick photo from the bothy resident portrait photographer I was on my way.
I had decided to try and head around the bottom of the peninsula to link up the track that headed down the east side with the one that headed down the west side rather than the track that would retrace yesterday’s steps slightly and head more inland, but there was about 2km of off piste straight from Mark Cottage. So, I set off and it became clear within 500m that this route was not going to be possible as the forest suddenly became far to dense to progress. Rather than doing the maybe sensible thing of heading back to the track I decided to try and beeline straight up the hill in the direction of Corran Lochan at the top. This was very tough and unlike yesterday when the pine forest had been easy to head through the trees in this area became incredibly dense at points with young pines and occasionally rhododendrons. In fact at points I was really having to force my way through the trees (hoping not to rip my tent or anything else) and climb over undergrowth and then had to cross a stream that involved a jump not easy with 15kg on your back. I was actually getting anxious as if it got any worse I wouldn’t be able to progress and would have to try and go back pushing through the same way I had come. But finally I made it to 10m from the track and in fact the exact point I had hoped to hit but had one final challenge negotiating a little bog, this wasn’t entirely successful and one boot went to deep and water poured into the top of the boot.
I had been very anxious and at times annoyed with myself on this climb, but even with a wet foot this instantly disappeared when I stepped onto the track with the simply incredible view over Corran Lochan. I don’t know if it was due to the tough climb up and the sheer relief to get here but this was one of my favourite views of the walk so far with the clouds slowly drifting by.
From here I followed the track down through the pine forests over the undulating ground all the way down to Lochgoilhead. I had hoped to grab some food supplies here but the shop wasn’t opening for another hour or so, so I carried on hoping the shop in the holiday park just over the river would be open. It was, so I stocked up and was ready to head down the other side of Loch Goil.
The final 5 miles of todays planned short day followed the narrow quiet road all the way down to Carrick Castle where I had expected I would be camping in a field on Carrick Farm based on an email I had sent. But on arrival they very kindly offered me a room in their B&B which I did not even know existed. I was very grateful for this and after a relaxing bath and using the unusually good wi-fi for these parts to catch up on admin they also very kindly invited me to have a lovely stew with them. I was completely exhausted due to the fact I had only a few hours sleep last night and fell asleep very early.
Carrick Castle village itself seemed a perfect place for an outdoor holiday with so many great paths nearby and incredible lochs to row on. The actual castle itself is also very impressive, though its recent addition of a sort of penthouse flat with velux windows isn’t quite in keeping.
A day that could have been really simple but my route at the beginning made it a fair amount more difficult, though a day I still really enjoyed.
NB - I overly sorted photos today and ended up left with only 11.