329. Lochinver to Junction for Stoer Lighthouse

October 2018

This walk is a circular walk I had planned where I followed paths and roads along the coast initially and returned on a more direct route via the road, due to the lack of bus service on this part of the coast.

I was staying in Ullapool and stopped to get lunch at the Tesco and then set off for the drive to Lochinver, which took about an hour. I opted to start from Lochinver as that can be reached by an A-road rather than the somewhat tortuous B869 and was walking to the junction for the road out to Stoer Head lighthouse and Point of Stoer, where I had got to on my last walk (a circular around that headland).

I parked in a little car park just behind the petrol station by the Spar shop. I looked down to the harbour, which looked a bit industrial. Before setting off I headed down to the far side of the children’s play park to look across the pretty loch, sadly not looking it’s best on this grey day.

Loch Inver

It was time to begin the walk and I set off along the grass behind a building (a pub or hotel I think) leading to the river. There was a bench here and a nice view, but I quickly realised it was a dead-end (not a good start!) so I had to head back to the road.

Loch Inver

The River Inver at Lochinver

There are actually two bridges across the river here and I used the first one, which appears much older and carries little traffic these days (but both are still in use).

The River Inver that flows out into the loch here is a bigger river than I had expected and the water was really rushing down the small valley as it reached the loch.

The River Inver at Lochinver

Looking upstream to the more modern bridge that now carries the A-road, it was rather more functional.

The River Inver at Lochinver

Now across the river I could look back across the river to the buildings I had just walked past on the south side of the town.

Lochinver

Lochinver

Now on the north side of the Loch I followed the minor road leading to Baddidarach. Actually there are probably more buildings on the north side of the river here, even though the main town centre is on the other side of the river. I soon passed the Highland Stoneware Pottery (also marked on the map), but did not visit it.

Lochinver

I continued along the road taking the turning to Baddidarach. The road splits here, but both parts end after half a mile or so.

Lochinver

As I headed up the road to Baddidarach I was pleased to see footpath signs directing the way to Ardroe and Achmelvich. I had seen this footpath on the map and intended to follow it, but you never quite know whether the paths marked on maps actually exist in Scotland, so I was pleased to see confirmation that it did.

The path was well signed around houses (I suspect erected by the residents, perhaps fed up with walkers ending up in their gardens!) and soon I left the road behind.

The path was narrow and rocky, with plenty of gentle undulations and the occasional boggy area, but the path was easy to spot, winding it’s way over these remote hills and so it was actually quite easy to use and it was nice to be off roads (not something I’ve done much on this trip).

View back to Lochinver

The height gained meant I soon had views back to Lochinver and a very pointy mountain a bit beyond it (whose name I’m afraid I don’t know).

View back to Lochinver

Although not right on the coast, this path is as close as I can get as there are no other tracks or paths and the terrain to tough to try to find my own route.

The path that had been climbing steadily soon took me past the little Loch an Tuim.

Footpath between Lochinver and Ardroe

There was quite a lot of heather beside the path too, this would be an even prettier walk if you time it for the heather to be in flower.

Footpath between Lochinver and Ardroe

Footpath between Lochinver and Ardroe

The path continued fairly straight now and gently down hill. Ardore, marked on the map and now coming into view consists of just one or two houses with nothing but a dirt road to access them.

Ardroe

Once I reached the houses, I was then following their access drive or road though it was not tarmacked and had grass down the middle it was more a road than path now.

Track to Ardroe

This descended down to the shores of Loch Dubh. I’ve commented before about how the Scots seem to love their fences so much and here they had even built a fence over the waters of the loch. What purpose does it serve in a remote place like this?

Loch Dubh

Beyond the loch the track briefly climbed again to reach a bridge crossing Loch Roe. Here the narrow stream soon widens to the loch and the sea beyond it.

Loch Roe

Looking inland a footbridge was also marked on the map. It had almost rusted away and I wondered what purpose it must have served. Perhaps there used to only be a footpath to Ardoe and the track I was now on had replaced it?

River into Loch Roe

The path then climbed up away from the loch side, but gave me lovely views back down.

Loch Roe

Loch Roe

It continued to climb until I met the minor road leading to Achmelvich. My onwards route was to turn left along this road, which I’d be following for around 1 mile.

It was not busy, but still busier than I had expected given it’s a dead-end road and only a few properties are marked here. What I hadn’t realised (until I got there) is that it also houses a couple of caravan sites (static and touring), a youth hostel and a good beach which had generated the traffic. Still the road was mostly fairly wide and there was a grass verge for part of the way I could walk on.

I continued to the end of the road and onwards on the path to the beach. Though it is grey and cloudy, this was a stunning beach. White sands, beautiful turquoise sea, a few rocks and some nice views out to sea.

Achmelvich

Achmelvich

Achmelvich

I sat in the dunes at the back of the beach for a little while, enjoying the view and eating some of my lunch.

Once I’d had a break I continued over the grassy cliffs at the end of the beach to another smaller sandy beach beyond it.

Achmelvich

Achmelvich

This one was deserted, though there was quite a steep drop down to it from the cliffs I was on, which probably explains why.

Achmelvich

At the end of the beach I made my own way up the cliffs on a rough path beside the stream leading up from the beach.

Achmelvich

I soon found a good path and could follow that heading north passing to the left of a couple of remote houses that enjoy a wonderful view.

North of Achmelvich

I continued north on the path which headed through another valley and climbed up onto the rocky hills beyond. It soon descended again to the little hamlet of Alltan ‘abradhan. Here there was a small group of fairly modern houses.

Alltan' abradhan

I followed a path north from here which continued over the rocky cliffs.

Near Port Alltan

It then descended into a beautiful rocky valley, with a fast flowing stream. Here I could cross the stream via some stepping stones to reach an old mill.

Near Port Alltan

Old Mill at Port Alltan

These were originally corn mills and there were once several in this valley. It was a nice sheltered spot out of the wind and with the constant sound of rushing water. I planned to leave the path here and head up the valley, but before I did so, I found a path down to the shore.

Old Mill at Port Alltan

The map promised a sandy beach but it was high tide and all that was visible was pebbles.

Port Alltan na Bradhan beach

Still I stopped here for the rest of my lunch as it was again out of the wind.

Suitably refreshed, I turned back on the rocky path up the valley which eventually emerges at the road.

Old Mill at Port Alltan

Here I turned left along the road – the rest of my route for the day was along the B869. Still it was easy underfoot, there wasn’t much traffic and soon I enjoyed views of Maiden Loch on the right.

Loch na h-Airghe Bige

The road winds around the southern edge of this long thin loch which stretches for almost half a mile.

Loch na h-Airghe Bige

Within the loch are a couple of tiny rocky islands.

Loch na h-Airghe Bige

Loch na h-Airghe Bige

I continued along the road and soon reached the beach at Clachtoll. This turns out to be more of a resort than I had expected, with a large campsite present.

Clachtoll beach

It was a beautiful place, with another lovely white sandy beach with low rocky cliffs on either side and quite a rough sea.

Clachtoll beach

Clachtoll beach

Clachtoll beach

I was pleased to find that, unexpectedly, there was a good path north along the cliffs. This soon headed up to one of the cliffs, where I found a memorial stone to the Reverend Norman Macleod who apparently led his people 14,000 miles to Nova Scotia, Australia and New Zealand. Beyond the memorial was a gate that looked to lead into a private house, but as I got closer I was pleased to see that it was in fact a well signed path which they signed through several gates through their land.

Clachtoll

Clachtoll

Beyond this the path continued, rough in places, over the low rocky cliffs.

Clachtoll

Clachtoll

Coast path north of Clachtoll

There was a rather boggy area which I just managed to negotiate whilst keeping dry feet. Beyond this I soon came to a large Broch, which has been partially restored. All made of dry-stones I headed through the narrow arch into it. It was an interesting place to explore and well restored and was proving popular, as there were a few people here.

Stoer Broch

Stoer Broch

I continued on a rough path onwards from here. At times it was above the pebble beach on grass, at other times the land had eroded and I was forced onto the pebbles – hard going.

The beach at Stoer

The beach at Stoer

Soon I reached the beach at Stoer. This is mostly pebbles, though the map suggest sand, but I think this is just at low tide. Someone had made a seat out of drift wood here so I stopped for a drink and to eat the last of lunch. Consulting the map I was nearly at the point I’d turn around. I had a little over 1 mile to go to the point I reached on a previous walk. So I headed over the green towards a house and ruined church near the top. I presume the church roof was damaged during storms and the locals could not afford to have it replaced.

Stoer

Once on the road I followed it north through the village of Stoer and onwards past Lochan Sgeireach.

Lochan Sgeireach

The wind was really strong now, forming lines of ripples on the loch.

Lochan Sgeireach

The views inland were stunning too, over the rocky and wild land of Assynt, with a couple of mountains visible in the distance.

IMG_0527

I continued until I reached the junction for the road to Balchladich and Stoer lighthouse, where I walked the previous day, filling in any gap.

For my return route, I planned to stick to the road all the way. In fact I returned to Stoer and the seat of drift wood again for a rest.

Stoer

I don’t like road walking so I decided to change plans and follow the same path back over the beach to Clachtoll. It was a little further, but far more pleasant.

Clachtoll

At Clachtoll I continued along the road passing the loch on my left again and the path down past the old mill. This time I continued on the road. I had about 6km until I reached the main road I estimated, which should take about 90 minutes. I was not especially looking forward to this road section, but having failed to get hold of the Assynt Dial-A-Bus I had little choice.

I continued past Loch an Ordain which was beautiful, a long thin loch with a few little islands in it.

View from the B869

The road continued past the loch and soon climbed steeply to the top of the hill, where a view point was signed.

View from the B869

View from the B869

View from the B869

Over to my right I could see Lochan Sgeireach. Around here just as I reached one of the passing places a car came past and then stopped. The driver offered me a lift, but I declined, to which she seemed a little surprised. As she drove off, I began to regret my decision. I was only walking back this way because it was faster. I was not missing any coast, I had already walked it and if I had accepted her lift, I’d be back to my car in 10 minutes or so (she must have been going to Lochinver, there is nowhere else on the way). I guess it was more or less force of habit that I said no.

Oh well, I’d turned it down, so the road it was.

View from the B869

The road soon began to descend again until I reached the river valley of the stream that flows into Loch Roe again.

View from the B869

The road was briefly wider here but soon returned to single track and passing places. At the stream, I climbed down from the road to end up beside the river valley where I stopped for a rest and a drink, glad to get off the road and beside the water.

I had fine views here too over the marshy land of the river valley. This area really is very wild.

View from the B869

It was soon time to continue and here I continued up the road which now climbed again soon offering fine views inland over to the mountains and the numerous wooded little valleys. Another 15 minutes or so bought me out to the A837. Here there was no pavement initially, but a wide grass verge, soon with a bit of a pavement as I entered the village. Soon I crossed the rushing waters of the river Inver that flows out to the loch here. I then continued past the old bridge I had crossed earlier and back down into the valley.

The River Inver, Loch Inver

Lochinver

I soon reached my car and the end of my walk. I stopped at the Spar here (which was very busy) for a snack and a drink as I was both thirsty and hungry. I sat in the car to eat it and then drove back to Ullapool, where I was staying.

It had been a really enjoyable walk. I had enjoyed a couple of stunning white-sandy beaches and found some really good paths along the coast. The couple of villages I had passed through had also been very pleasant. The road walking back was a bit tedious at times, but more than compensated for by the wonderful views of this stunning area of the coast.

Here are details of the pubic transport needed for this walk.

George Rapson Travel route 809 : Ullapool – Strathcanaird – Elphin – Ledmore Junction – Inchnadamph – Lochinver – Achmelvich – Rhicarn – Stoer – Culkein – Clashnessie – Drumbeg. One bus per day each way, except Sunday. Stops north of Lochinver are only served by passengers already on board or boarding at Lochinver when heading north or by request, by telephone the day before, if travelling south.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link.

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4 Responses to 329. Lochinver to Junction for Stoer Lighthouse

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Jon, a really enjoyable section to walk. The reason why you see fences extended across burns and across lochs is probably done by Estates to keep Deer on their land. Deer can swim, although the fences may also be for sheep. The ‘pointy’ mountain is probably Suilven and appears so from certain angles, its actually a high extended hogs back. It features in the film Edie, starring Sheila Hancock, a widower who sets out to climb it. The film is actually based in Lochinver and you would recognise a number of locations. Kenny, from the dial-a-bus drove me on at three least occasions starred in the film as the accordion player at the Lochinver hotel.The film is worth a watch..

    • jcombe says:

      Thanks for the information about Suilven, Alan glad I know what it is now! Ah yes I remember now you saying about the bus drive being in Edie though I must confess I haven’t seen the film. Glad to see you have got back to the coast again recently, too.

  2. I was going to tell you that the mountain is Suilven, but I see I’ve been beaten to it. I’ve seen the film Edie too – the plot is a bit far fetched, but it’s still enjoyable. Sheila Hancock is always a treat.

    • jcombe says:

      Thanks I’ll have to look out for the film. I’ve seen Sheila Hancock recently on the TV doing the “Great Canal Journeys” too.

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