Day 190: Kinloch to Strontian
Distance: 20.08 miles
Ascent: 3720 feet
Weather: OVercast with small amount of Light rain
Accommodation: Sunart Camping, Strontian (kindy Complimentary)
I woke up and on getting out of the tent it looked like it was perfect weather for walking, overcast and not too hot. I was quite apprehensive about the first part of the day as it used another of the grey dashed paths on the map (Bealach Sloc an Eich) over the hills, which I had read was hard to follow from someone who had walked it many years ago, but at least that should mean it exists. On top of this I knew I was low on water but had enough to get me over the first climb and down the other side to where there should be a couple of houses.
In fact, I didn’t even get as far as the path, as there was a short section of track first to get to the path that just did not seem to appear on the ground where it did on the map. I did find some 4x4 tracks through the heather and bracken, but these seemed to sporadically just stop after a short while. So instead of spending ages searching for a track that may now not exist I headed straight up the ridge in front of me knowing that when I got to the top I should see the high peak of Beinn Ghormaig which I had to go just to the west of the peak. I was pretty sure if the path did still exist after the track finished that it was a few hundred meters to my East. I made good progress up the ridge following deer tracks though it was steep and a bit uneven so tiring, and on reaching the ridge there in front of me, about 800m away, as expected was Beinn Ghormaig (452m).
To my surprise though there was also a 4x4 wheel track through the heather/bracken a few hundred meters in front of me that appeared to go in roughly the right direction, so I joined this, again I felt I was a couple hundred meters to the west of the path shown on map. I passed a flat rock that was perfect for a quick break after the climb up and I sat down and had some water/snacks. Then randomly a couple of messages came through, signifying I had signal somehow, so I was able to open OS maps and let the GPS arrow say exactly where I was and as expected the marked path was a few hundred meters to my East.
I decided to keep following the wheel tracks and they took me almost to the top and then suddenly I saw an old marker post, only 20m from the tracks, and on it was written ‘Scottish Rigths of Way Society’. So, the path did still exist, though I could see no posts down the hill from where I came though I could see one further forward and in fact the path was just about discernible as you looked along the edge of the ridge of Beinn Ghormaig, so I followed the path from here. This path was only just about visible, and I followed it and the few posts up until I started descending but the path on the map now followed the river down and the ground here looked terrible, so I headed slightly to the west to descend the hill which was very steep.
Then at the bottom I came across something I have been worried about for weeks now though never had an issue with a deer fence which clearly I could not get over. I couldn’t see a way over from here but hoped somewhere near the ‘path’ there may be a way over and not far from that point I came across a high stile that got me over the fence and a short while later I reached the gravel forest tracks.
I reached Glencripesdale a large remote house and a couple of smaller buildings in the woods, where I was hoping to fill up with water having just finished the last of my supplies. Unfortunately, it appeared no one was home, nor was there an outside tap. I knew my next possible house was 8 miles further on, so I debated boiling some stream water as I have done in the past but in the end, decided I would carry on without water, knowing that though not ideal a couple of hours without water was not disastrous.
The gravel track from here made for easy walking and after passing a salmon farm jetty I eventually came to what on my OS map was called a ‘boathouse’ but now is an incredible, presumably holiday house, building. This building was empty though it was only a few hundred meters short of the very impressive Laudale House where I was hoping to get water in one of the smaller adjoining properties. On the front lawn of Laudale House there were about 50 red deer which I presumed were fenced in but no they were free to roam, and either were fed on this lawn (I don’t think so) or preferred the mowed grass for eating. Whatever, it made for an incredible sight with all the deer in front of a magnificent house. More pressing to me was the water situation though all the houses appeared to be empty, but outside one there was on outside tap with its blue pipe coming from within the house and the water tasted so good! Now with plenty of water I headed back to the loch edge and had my lunch.
From here it was very simple walking as the gravel track became a tarmacked road and eventually became the A884 which was quiet enough that it made for good walking. It did unexpectedly start raining as I walked this section though only lightly and not enough for me to really get wet so i put the rucksack cover on but not my waterproofs. After crossing over the river at the end of the loch I returned up the other side of the loch for a short distance to Strontian where I would be camping for my rest day. A lot of villages have a slogan or claim to fame below their sign and most of them are pretty rubbish, but Strontians is pretty strong 'the village that gives its name to the element Strontium', after strontium was discovered in the ores of the nearby lead mines. Sunart campsite had kindly let me pitch for free on my rest day and it is a lovely little site with a red deer sniffing one of the tents as I arrived. Tomorrow I hopefully will find somewhere with Wi-fi to allow me to do my admin.