Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Walk 257 -- Kingairloch to the Corran Ferry

Ages:  Colin was 68 years and 53 days.  Rosemary was 65 years and 195 days.
Weather:  Mostly hot and sunny.  Then cloudy but remaining muggy.
Location:  Kingairloch to the Corran Ferry.
Distance:  14 miles.
Total distance:  2411 miles.
Terrain:  Mostly roads.  A little undulating.
Tide:  Out, coming in.
Rivers:  No.280, Glengalmadale River.  No.281, Allt Challuim.  No.282, Inversanda River.  No.283, River Gour.  No.284, Corran Narrows.
Ferries:  No.19, the Corran Ferry which is FREE for pedestrians!
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 at Resipole, near Salen.  This morning, with Colin’s bike in the back of the car, we drove to Kingairloch where Colin left me by the river.  I didn’t want to stay there because of the midges, so I did the first mile or so of the Walk by myself.  When I was in a breeze facing the wider loch, I sat on a rock reading my book whilst waiting for Colin.  Meanwhile he had driven to the Corran Ferry and cycled back.  He didn’t stop as he passed me, he cycled on to the river then walked back to me pushing his bike.  In fact he pushed his bike all the way to the road junction which was several miles away so we didn’t have to divert to collect it at the end of the day.
At the end, we came to the car which was parked by the Corran Ferry.  It was quarter past seven, so the Walk had taken us nearly seven hours.  We watched the ferry plying to and fro — it was very busy even that late in the evening — whilst drinking tea and eating caramel shortcake.  Then we returned to the caravan at Resipole, picking up the bike at the road junction on the way.

It is our ‘big’ grand-daughter’s 19th birthday today.  Kelly is a lovely girl but, like most youngsters, she really didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life when she left school.  However she is veering towards training to be a nurse, a midwife in fact.  She has recently applied to start an ‘Access’ course so that she can gain the qualifications needed to study for a nursing degree at University.  She is planning to fund herself by working part-time in a supermarket.  She really is getting her ideas together, and we are very proud of her.

Our Walk today started by the river in Kingairloch.  But I had to wait two hours for Colin to ‘plant’ the car and cycle back, and I didn’t want to hang around alongside a million midges!  It was a lovely warm day with no wind, so they were all hanging about under the trees by the river.   
I crossed on the bridge and walked out of Kingairloch round the end of an enormous rock.  The road runs along the very edge of Loch Linnhe, the southern end of the Great Glen Fault.  There was a gentle breeze, not enough to make me cold but sufficient to blow the midges away.  So I found a comfortable rock on the beach, and settled down in the sun to read my book for a couple of hours.

The day was glorious and the views fantastic!  It was so quiet I could almost hear the silence.  I could see mountains on the other side of the loch, and everywhere I looked it was just beautiful!  Eventually Colin came cycling along.  He passed me and carried on round the big rock to the river where we had finished the last Walk.  Then he walked back to me pushing his bike which he took all the way to the road junction to save us driving this way at the end of today’s Walk.

He sat next to me and we ate our pies.  Until he came it had been very quiet — barely any traffic on the road and none whatsoever on the loch.  But as soon as he arrived, two oystercatchers set upon a third with an ear-splitting cacophony of noise!  Just as suddenly they all flew off and it was quiet again.

The narrow road hugged the bottom of the mountain in a way that reminded us of Madeira — and the weather was a bit like Madeira too!  We wandered along as if we were the only two people in the world.  It was unbelievably wonderful, now we know why we are doing this Trek!

The space at the bottom of the cliff widened, and there was a tinkers’ camp with the most beautiful view in the world.  On a day like today we could almost envy their nomadic way of life, but on a cold wet windy night we like our home comforts — so perhaps not.  
 In amongst the caravans were a number of curly-horned sheep.  They were grazing the wild irises, but somehow I don’t believe they belonged to the tinkers.

When we came to a ‘Corran 11’ milepost we knew we had walked three miles.  But more importantly, we also knew we had walked exactly 2400 miles from Bognor.  We wanted a photograph of ourselves at this significant spot, and fortunately there were two cars nearby with two couples sitting in chairs sunbathing — the first people we had met since leaving Kingairloch.   
The men organised the photo-shoot while the women regaled us with stories of all the seals, otters and eagles they had seen from this spot.  We had seen a butterfly, nothing in or above the water.  Mind you, had they really seen them?   We only had their word for it.  Colin is quite sharp-eyed, and if there had been animals or birds worth seeing he would have spotted them.  But they were happy, so what does it matter?

It was a lovely stretch of road we walked in the balmy sunshine.  
There was hardly any traffic, and the wild flowers were exquisite — especially the orchids.  
I can’t get over the variety and beauty of the wild orchids we have encountered all round the coast of Britain, and especially in Scotland.

We came to an Outdoor Centre where we sat on the wall (there didn’t seem to be anyone using it today) and ate our sarnies.  The two cars of sunbathers drove past while we were eating, and the women waved.

 The road then left the coast and went uphill over the moors.  We passed several small lochans.  It seemed a long hard trudge to get up there.  Meanwhile the sky was clouding over and it was turning muggy.  BUT looking ahead we could see Ben Nevis — the highest mountain in Britain — in the distance.  We have climbed it twice in the past, and both times the view from the top was………misty!  It was good to see it today without mist.

Still eight miles to go, according to another milepost.  We passed a herd of cows grazing amongst the lochans and we began to feel tired.  I think it was the mugginess of the atmosphere.   

We got to the top and started to descend, that was better!  Although Colin was tempted, he didn’t get on his bike at all.  He walked all the way.

We crossed a river and came to the road junction, and there Colin left his bike chained to a post because we would be passing this place when we returned to the caravan.  We sat on a rock to eat our apples.  Now we were on the main road leading to Fort William via the Corran Ferry — a popular route.  The traffic was much heavier, but it came in bunches because of the ferry.  Not much room to walk off the road, so it was several miles of ‘traffic-dodging’ which we didn’t enjoy.

The road took us above and along the river until we reached the shore again, and there we more or less followed the coast until the narrow point at Corran.  We were quite tired by then, and the mugginess of the ‘closed-in’ weather was beginning to get to us.  Such a difference to this morning!   
At one point we found a bit of ‘old’ road, but it was so old we ended up having to climb a fence.  (I can’t do it at my age!)   
At another point Colin insisted on walking round a wood because it got him off the road and “it must be shorter”.  Well, it wasn’t!  I was too tired to divert from the conventional route I had worked out from the map, and when I turned round later Colin had come out of the wood and was way behind me!   
We came to a noticeboard with a ‘You Are Here’ arrow on it.  That was most depressing because it looked as if we had made no progress at all after the road junction.  It did turn out to be inaccurate — too much Art and not enough map!  It shouldn’t be allowed, it discourages tired walkers so!  
It was still a long way, I had to force myself to keep going.  The views were wonderful, and so were the flowers and the rocks in the road cutting.  But I was so tired!  At last we got to the ferry where our car was parked.

That ended Walk no.257, we shall pick up Walk no.258 next time on the other side of the Corran Ferry.  It was quarter past seven, so the Walk had taken us nearly seven hours.  While we were drinking tea and eating caramel shortcake, we watched the ferry plying to and fro across this narrow neck of the loch.  It was very busy even this late in the evening.  As foot passengers we could have had a free ride across and then come back, but we couldn’t be bothered.  We also looked at a derelict boat that was definitely not the ferry!

We considered having supper at the nearby pub to save me cooking, but decided in the end it was a bit too expensive for our current finances.  We drove back to our caravan in Resipole, picking up Colin’s bike as we passed the road junction.

The next day we moved our caravan to Barcaldine, near Oban.

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