332. Achiltibue to Altandhu (and back)

May 2019

This was a short there and back walk, done in the afternoon after doing a different walk in the morning. I had by this time already walked the coast south from Achiltibue and my previous post ended at Altandu so I had left a short gap so this walk was about plugging that gap!

I drove from Ullapool round to Achiltibue and struggled to find anywhere to park. I had previously spotted an area on the road to Polbain just after the junction with the road to Loch Raa but this was full. Instead I ended up parking next to the public toilet just a few metres from this junction by some information boards (being careful not to block the “keep clear” area in front of some garages the other side of the toilet).

First I walked south from here to the post office in Achiltibue along the road as this is where the bus had dropped me for my walk the previous day (but the next one I’ll write up here!). On the way I passed the general stores, the fire station and the war memorial. Whilst Achiltibue is small I guess it has more facilities than you might expect due to the long distance to anywhere else!

I then returned back the way I had come to the car and this time took the left fork, taking the road to Polbain. The road soon headed down to the beach at the north end of the bay with some flat grass between the road and the beach.

Near Achiltibue

Near Achiltibue

This grass area seems to be a popular un-official camping spot the whole grass was busy with cars, motorhomes and campervans. I often wonder what the locals must feel about these places becoming campsites during the summer as the numbers seem to be growing each year though at least in this case there is a public toilet nearby which I hope minimises some of the, err,  pollution.

Near Achiltibue

At the far end of the beach were some moored boats on the pebble beach and what I presume are old World War II bombs, the outer metal now rusted right through.

Near Achiltibue

Near Achiltibue

At the end of the beach was a very pretty little cottage.

Near Achiltibue

I re-joined the road at the end of the beach and now followed it down to a little pier. The map suggested boat trips ran from here (I presume to the Summer Isles) but there was no evidence of any boat trips when I got here.

Near Achiltibue

The road to the pier was a dead-end so rather than head back to it, I decided to make my own way along the shore, it looked easy enough.

Near Achiltibue

Near Achiltibue

Rounding the corner I reached the bay of Mol a Bhlair.

Near Achiltibue

As I neared Polbain there were fences and stone walls coming right down to the coast. I could I suppose climb these but I managed to make it round the coastal side of all but one of these. The last one I had to go down to some rocks on the beach since they had built the fence right down to the waves, pretty much.

Near Achiltibue

Near Achiltibue

Once around this I managed to make it round, to join the dead-end road to Comas Coille and follow this back up to the junction.

Mol a Bhlair near Polbain

The coast near Polbain

Now I stuck to the road heading north climbing up away from Dornie and passing pretty Loch a Mheallain.

The coast near Polbain

The coast near Polbain

Loch Camas an Fheidh

Loch Camas an Fheidh

Loch Camas an Fheidh

After this loch another dead-end road went off to the left down to Old Dornie (and according to the map, Old Dorney Bay, I was interested to note the differing spellings!).

Old Dorney Bay

Old Dorney Bay

I turned left to follow this dead-end road. Old Dorney Bay was extremely pretty. The bay is about 3/4 of a circle with only a 1/4 open to the sea, making for a very sheltered bay which many boats were taking advantage of, moored in the calm sheltered waters. Just the other side of the bay is the Isle of Ristol.

Old Dorney Bay

The water looked shallow and I must admit I briefly contemplated the idea of trying to wade out to Isle of Ristol but soon decided that was a bad idea (not least because I didn’t know the tide times so even if I got out there I might not be able to get back).

I headed down to the waters edge and stopped for a quick rest, it’s a lovely spot.

Old Dorney Bay

Rather than head back along the road I made my own way along the shore again as the terrain is not too rugged here. I was soon approaching another beach, Camas an Fheidh according to the map.

The beach at Altandhu

This was a mixture of pebbles and lovely almost white sand. It was a lovely spot and backed by a campsite (this time, a proper one).

The beach at Altandhu

The beach at Altandhu

The beach at Altandhu

I continued until I was alongside the campsite and then walked through it to the road. This is opposite the pub (Fuaran Bar) where I had got as far as before, coming from the north so now I had closed the gap. Now I just had to head back to the car.

This time I followed the road south, climbing steeply out of the village passing another pretty loch, Loch Camas an Fheidh.

Loch a Mheallain near Polbain

Loch a Mheallain near Polbain

Loch a Mheallain near Polbain

I soon rejoined the road I had walked earlier, at the junction for Old Dornie. Although inland the views out to the coast were wonderful with all the Summer Isles looking very summery under the near cloudless skies.

The Summer Isles from near Polbain

I zoomed in on the camera making out many of the rocks, islets and islands of this lovely archipelago.

The Summer Isles from near Polbain

The Summer Isles from near Polbain

Most of the islands are uninhabited but I believe it is possible to visit both Tanera More (the closest and largest island) and Isle Martin, however these trips depart from Ullapool even though that is much further away!

The Summer Isles from near Polbain

It really was a stunning view, constantly changing as I walked slowly south along the road. It is easy to get distracted by the view but I had to keep half an eye on the traffic too, though there wasn’t much of it.

The coast near Polbain

Soon I was descending back to Polbain. However I was a bit distracted by something else that caught my eye. Looking south, towards Ullapool I could see mountains (not sure which ones) and was surprised to see that the tops were still covered in snow and it looked pretty deep. I was surprised to see so much snow in May!

The coast near Polbain

The coast near Polbain

The view was lovely and soon I entered the small village of Polbain, which I had missed out on the way here due to following right along the shore. It didn’t have much in the way of facilities, but it did have an art gallery (though I didn’t visit it).

The coast near Polbain

Polbain art gallery

Just past Polbain a track went off left, which was marked on the map. A sign showed this as a path to “Polbain Peat Road and Hill Path” presumably the track was created for people cutting peat, which was used for heating (possibly still is).

A short distance more and I was back at the beach near Achiltibuie. I headed briefly down to the beach, rejoining the road at the far end to return to my car by the public toilet.

The beach north of Achiltibuie

When I planned this I had expected to just follow the road there and back and it might be a bit dull. As it happened it was nothing of the sort as I was able to stick closer to the coast much of the time and it turned out to be far more beautiful than I had expected, including the more “inland” parts of the road as I had been next to lochs for much of the time. The views over to the Summer Isles and snow-capped mountains near Ullapool were especially lovely. It had been a far nicer walk than I had expected.

There is no public transport available for this walk. In the past, KSM bus route 811 served Achiltibue however the service is currently suspended due to Covid (though I suspect it won’t resume at all).

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

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4 Responses to 332. Achiltibue to Altandhu (and back)

  1. Absolutely beautiful – what great weather you had. We had to call the RAC once in Achiltibue. It takes a long time!

  2. Liz says:

    I took a boat trip from Achiltibuie to the Summer Isles in May, in about 1980. Very simple – took you there, pottered along below the cliffs to see the bird life, then left passengers on the island for several hours, with a timed return. Wonderful memories.

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