Monday, April 04, 2011

Walk 266 -- Balimore to Lochead

Ages:  Colin was 68 years and 331 days.  Rosemary was 66 years and 108 days.
Weather:  The rain had stopped and the cold wind died down.  We had occasional glimpses of the sun, and even began to get too hot.
Location:  Balimore to Lochead.
Distance:  5½ miles.
Total distance:  2525½ miles.
Terrain:  Semi-tarmacked private road and a public lane.  Undulating.
Tide:  Going out.
Rivers:  None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘Historic Scotland’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  Yesterday we towed our caravan from home all the way to Lochgilphead in one day — well done Colin who did all the driving!  This morning I spoke to a local taxi driver who pretended he didn’t know any of the places I was talking about and that he couldn’t understand the maps — he lives here, for goodness sake!  He told me a pack of lies about accessibility, then flatly refused to take us to the place we wanted!  So our only hope now is to thumb a lift, the bus only covers the middle bit of tomorrow’s Walk.  We had already decided to do a short Walk today in both directions (3½+ 3½=7miles) to connect two remote roads over a hill, but thought we’d better extend this so that tomorrow’s Walk is not quite so long.  We parked at Lochead, then walked 5½miles over the hill on a private road to Balimore where we finished the last Walk six months ago.
At the end, we finished our Walk at the car.  Our “short walk” had been eleven miles in total!  We had our tea and shortcake, then returned to our caravan in Lochgilphead.

We were really angry that the local taxi driver had let us down like that.  He just didn’t want to know!  Doesn’t he want the fares we were prepared to pay him?  Now all my meticulous plans for the next series of Walks are down the pan!  We had to do some hurried replanning before we set out to do today’s Walk in both directions, making it twice as long.  On the upside, by the time we reached the lonely house called Balimore where we were to turn round, it had actually stopped raining.
A man with a pony tail came out of the house and asked if we needed any help.  We were rooting in our rucksacks for our apples at the time, and I expect he thought that we were lost or something.  We thanked him for his kind thoughts, and started our Walk eating our apples on the way.  The track was quite muddy by the gate, but better further on and gave us no trouble.  That was a godsend since it had been raining non-stop for the past twenty-four hours.  But it had stopped now, and was getting brighter by the minute.
We passed some unusual coloured cows, a sort of pale grey which was rather attractive.  We’d not seen that particular breed before, and wondered what they were.  We also passed lots of sheep, but they were just ordinary colours.
The track led on, following the contours along the side of the hill.  I got into ‘route-march’ mode because we were actually walking eleven miles in an afternoon and I was already getting tired.  We crossed one of the many streams on a slatted bridge where I took a video of the water running underneath.  Colin noticed that some twigs and weeds had caused a minor dam to form and he wanted to ‘let it go’!  I walked on and left him to his boyish pranks because I was still in ‘route-march’ mode — he soon caught me up after setting the water free with a satisfying whoosh!
We passed a rock wall which I identified as a basalt lava flow from a long-extinct volcano.  I was quite pleased with myself because, when I later looked it up on the geology map of the area, that was indeed what it was.  (We passed another one much further down, on the road past Ellary.)
The track bent round and seemed to go ‘over the top’.  We started having magnificent views ahead.  But first we passed two small lochans.  It was very boggy around them, though thankfully the track was sound.  The sun came out weakly causing a thin mist to rise from the lochans.  A small breeze formed ripples on the surface — it was absolutely beautiful!
Round a bend in the other direction, and we came across a parting of the ways.  One track continued along the contour, the other descended rather sharply at first.  At the fork was a wooden seat, the only one we came across on the whole of the Walk.  So we made use of it, sitting down to eat our chocolate.
While we were sitting there admiring the magnificent view over Loch Caolisport, we were sure we could hear a car.  But we were miles from any road!  The sound got gradually louder until a car full of people appeared on the lower track.  We were very surprised!  It passed us and continued up towards the lochans.  It must have come from Ellary Farm because the gates were locked at both ends of the track when we passed them, only the narrow walking gates were open.
We descended the narrow zigzag track which took us out on to a public road (only a lane really) at Ellary Farm.  There we admired and photographed the bright pink and red camellia bushes, and other fresh Spring flowers, in people’s gardens.

There were some men retiling the roof of one of the houses, and we had commiserated with them on our way up several hours ago about having to work in the teeming rain.  As we passed them this time we called out, “It’s stopped raining now!”  They were smiling, especially as they were about to knock off for the day!

The road we were on followed the shore of the loch.  We saw a man and a boy fishing off a beach, and passed a small waterfall in one of the many streams which went under the road.  We came to some fantastic metamorphic rocks, all twisted into amazing patterns.  I do wish I knew more about this branch of geology, I find metamorphic rocks fascinating.
We also passed another basalt-lava flow which had been sliced by the road.

The wind got up a bit as we concluded our Walk, causing bigger waves to appear on the loch.  We felt sorry for a couple of ducks who were struggling against the flow and getting nowhere — poor little things!
A path led off on the loch-side and disappeared behind some bushes.  We decided to follow it because it was “nearer the sea” and we wanted to know where it went.  It led round a knob of land, on the very edge.  It had partially eroded away making walking quite difficult.  Fortunately it wasn’t very long, and we were soon back on the tarmacked lane.
We soon came to the car which we had parked opposite some chalets at Lochead.

      That ended Walk no.266, we shall pick up Walk no.267 next time by the holiday chalets at Lochead.  It was five to six, so the Walk had taken us two and a half hours, but we’d been away from the car for five hours because we’d had to walk it both ways.   We had our tea and shortcake, then returned to our caravan in Lochgilphead.  It rained most of the way back, and was very gloomy.  I think I shall always associate Lochgilphead with slate-grey skies and teeming rain!

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