Day 189: Lochaline to Kinloch
Distance: 24.29 miles
Ascent: 3296 feet
Weather: Overcast with A Few Sunny Spells
Accommodation: Wild camp Rahoy Estate
Dad had got up and left very early before 6am to get back to France, and I was so tired I had barely woken up before falling asleep again. I think the last 5 days have tired me out sleepy wise due to a mixture of getting slightly out of routine due to guests (don’t let this stop you as I like people joining) and also due to my dad’s delayed flight meaning I stayed up till 2am the other night. Whatever it was I was knackered this morning and for the first time in a while I really didn’t want to walk and just wanted to stay in bed. Fortunately for me the local shop didn’t open till 8:30 and I had to wait for that to get supplies for the following 2 days until I reach Strontian for my rest day.
Eventually after getting up, having breakfast and getting supplies I was on my way just after 9am. The weather was overcast and quite cool, essentially perfect walking conditions. I think another reason I had probably wanted to stay in bed was that I had 3 and a bit hours of road walking to start the day. This road was single tracked and quiet and the scenery was not bad, but I just wanted to get off the road. I actually resorted to reading news and sport on my phone whilst I had 4G to keep my mind occupied and get me along the road. About 2/3rds of the way along the road a guy pulled up and offered a lift, in fact he was going to be walking some of my route but obviously I declined. I have no clue why I was so fed up and bored of this road because as roads go it was pretty good for walking. Along this road I passed Clach na Criche a bizarre shaped stone with a hole through it which played a part in local funeral processions and the stone piles on each side of it commemorate some of the dead who had been carried along.
I finally reached the end of my road part and just over the bridge I stopped for lunch. This cheered me up and I was ready for the next stage which during planning had taken some effort. I was hoping to follow estate tracks all the way to Doirlinn, which yesterday I had found out was actually a core path so should be OK, and then half a mile of off piste from Dorilinn to hopefully join up with an OS grey dashed path that eventually becomes a forest track.
The first part got of to a good start with an actual path direction sign which is a very rare occurrence in Scotland as well as a warning sign ‘You are entering remote, sparsely populated, potentially dangerous mountain country…’. This track was stunning and made for easy walking, taking me up into the hills with amazing views over Loch Sunart. This track went on for 5/6 miles suddenly and unexpectedly arriving at 2 very remote houses, which I had actually expected to be ruins but were in a good state of repair and lived in. The track got more overgrown after this but it was still easy walking till Doirlinn.
At Doirlinn I bumped into the man who had offered me a lift earlier and was retuning here 20 years after the last time he had been. Doirlinn was very strange sort of both a ruin and liveable at the same time. The door was open and it appeared to be a sort of unofficial bothy, though more along the lines of a cabin you may find in a horror movie. It is hard to explain what was so creepy about it, but have a look at photos below it looks like someone literally just moved out and then random people occasionally started staying. I wonder if the mountain bothy association will ever obtain the use of this one as it wouldn’t take much effort to make it into a nice bothy.
I now had my off piste part and the guy was telling me how 20 years ago his dad had tried to take them from the area I was aiming for to here but had got lost in the woods. This did not fill me with great confidence, but I decided to stick as close to the shoreline as possible for the half a mile or so until I hoped to pick up the other path. This was not the easiest stretch but not too hard following shingle beach where possible but where not heading over the little rocky outcrops using deer tracks. Suddenly I came to a short section of boardwalk that led down to a little bridge that went to a tiny island. This surprised me as it was in the middle of nowhere, it was quite old as the boardwalk had completely rotted in places but the bridge was OK so I popped across and there was an old wildlife screen for you to sit down and look over. Literally as I sat down a baby seal was struggling to get up onto a sandbank but then his mother emerged and helped him up, she lay on her side and the pup tried to find the nipple for milk and eventually found it and I have never seen an animal look more content. I recrossed over the bridge and assumed this boardwalk section must have joined up at some point with the path I was aiming for and lo and behold there was a path though hard to see that headed off in the direction I was hoping for. This path was the sort of path that unless you were on it you would never see it, and you could easily walk across it without noticing it, so I was a little lucky. This path took me a mile or so before it became a forestry track.
I took the forest tracks all the way down to the end of the loch where I joined the road that went through the Rahoy Estate and started to head up the other side of the loch. This is where I had proposed to finish and I found a good spot to pitch on the shoreline, and there was even an old wooden jetty thing that had been pushed into the undergrowth and forgotten about which made for a good platform to cook on and eat my dinner.
A strange day because by the end felt like a great day and the second half of the day definitely had some of the best scenery and tracks of the whole walk, but I at the time had not enjoyed the morning road section.
NB - 16 photos today could easily have been 30.