Saturday, May 22, 2010

Walk 251 -- Lochailort to Glenuig

Ages:  Colin was 68 years and 14 days.  Rosemary was 65 years and 156 days.
Weather:  Muggy and warm, turning hot as the sun came out.
Location:  Lochailort to Glenuig.
Distance:  8 miles.
Total distance:  2331 miles.
Terrain:  All roads.  Slightly undulating.
Tide:  Out.
Rivers:  No.265, River Ailort.  No.266, Alisary Burn.  No.267, Irine Burn.  + lots of streams.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan near Arisaig.  The daily bus we wished to catch was not until after midday, so we were able to have a relaxing morning.  We drove to Glenuig and parked outside the shop.  We caught the bus from the roadside opposite, and alighted at the Lochailort Hotel.
At the end, we finished the Walk at the car parked outside the shop in Glenuig.  We had our tea and caramel shortcake, then returned to our caravan near Arisaig.
The next day we towed our caravan back home to Malvern, taking two days to do so.

We were much more relaxed today because, due to the only bus being after midday, this was an afternoon Walk.  Also the weather was quite balmy.  Our Walk took us south alongside Loch Ailort, sometimes next to the water and sometimes behind rocks — but always on a higher level so we had good views.  We sat by a jetty to eat our lunch (pies had been consumed much earlier in the day.)
There were lovely views back and forth.  Looking back we could see the lonely white chapel we passed on the last Walk.  At a later date I looked up its history on the internet.  
Apparently it is the former Roman Catholic chapel of Our Lady of the Braes, built in 1872 and unused since 1986.  It served the now non-existent village of Polnish, and came to fame when it was used in the film ‘Local Hero’.  Planning permission has been granted to change the use of the building to a dwelling house, but nobody has started any work on it.  It is considered to be a building ‘at risk’ — such a pity for a lovely chapel in a most beautiful setting.
We passed some fish farms down there on the loch.  They were smelly even from where we were up high.  We watched a boat go out to them, and heard the sound of pumping water.
  There were tiny waterfalls coming down the hillside on our left hand side.  
There were wild orchids on the verge, gorse and rhododendrons in flower all over the place, and kayakers on the loch.  Pity about the speeding ‘souped-up’ cars tearing past us every few minutes!

We came across a cairn which was a memorial to Mrs Cameron Head of Inverailort who died in 1994 aged 77.  A friend to all, apparently, but we wondered who she was and why she had such a memorial.
We passed two caravans with flags flying from their roofs saying “Bonnie Scotland”.  The men were fishing with nets on the rocks below.  We wondered if they were tinkers.
The road led away from the shore temporarily.  We passed some brand new gateposts and an area where an artificial pond had very recently been dug out.  But we didn’t see the house, it must have been down low behind some rocks.   
We sat on a pallet by a small non-working hydro-electric station to eat our chocolate.
The sun came out and the views across the loch seemed to get more picturesque by the minute.  We could see rocky islands, and the mountainous peninsula across the loch which we didn’t walk round after Arisaig because there are no paths.  It all looked so beautiful in the soft sunlight.  It made us feel good!  It began to get quite hot and we both stripped off layers.  It was the first time in days we hadn’t had to wear waterproofs.
We passed a group of caravans in a wood that definitely was a tinkers’ camp.  One caravan was high up on a ledge under some trees, and we wondered how on earth they got it up there!
Further on we were amused by some sheep lying nonchalantly on the road.  Good job there wasn’t much traffic about.
We came across an abandoned derelict caravan on the lochside.  It had a “Police Aware” notice pasted on it dated last October — but it hadn’t been taken away.  We looked inside, it was a sad sight as it had been trashed.
The road led on, round the corner into Glenuig Bay.  And there we reached Glenuig at last.  It had been an enjoyable Walk along the lochside.  We were pleased the weather had cleared up — just as we were about to go home!
Glenuig is a tiny community with a shop (open part-time) and a little chapel which is Roman Catholic.  Did the Reformation not reach these isolated communities in the 16th century, so they remained Catholic?  There wouldn’t have been any roads or railways linking them in those days, the people probably came and went by boat — if they travelled at all.
Just as we were sitting half in the car changing out of our boots, a shepherd with a crook in his hand came to the field opposite to weigh a lamb.  I’ve never seen a shepherd use a crook before, but I had nothing on my feet at the moment!  So Colin grabbed my camera and went over to ask him if he could take his photograph.  Thank you shepherd!  
He really looked the part, a bit like Billy Connolly actually!  Meanwhile his dog herded all the sheep into the gateway by itself, no instructions from its master were needed.  Clever dog!

That ended Walk no.251, we shall pick up Walk no.252 next time next to the shop in Glenuig.  It was quarter past five, so the Walk had taken us four and a half hours.  We had our tea and caramel shortcake, then returned to our caravan near Arisaig.
The next day we towed our caravan back home to Malvern, taking two days to do so.

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