337. Grid reference NH100919 to Badrallach and Scoraig (and back)

July 2019

This walk starts from a rather precise location (except it doesn’t), in that on my previous walk having crossed from the shore of Inverbroom lock this was the point I turned left (south) to get back to where I parked. However in doing so I had missed a dead-end stretch of coast I would have got to if I had turned right here instead.

This walk would take me along the minor road to it’s end at Badrallach however that wasn’t the last place along this thin spit of land between Loch Broom and Little Loch Broom, that honour goes to Scoraig. This is one of those curious places (there are a few in Scotland) that are inaccessible by road. Instead it can only be reached on foot or by boat and I was curious to see what it was like and who might choose to live in such a remote place.

My last walk was the last day of my trip back in May however it is now July as this was my 2nd trip to the Highlands in 2019. This wasn’t my first day of this trip as I hadn’t done the walks in order, I actually arrived and did a different walk yesterday.

That walk hadn’t gone well. Whilst walking over the trackless moorland of Rubha Mor I had fallen down what I presume was a rabbit hole or badger set, up to my knee, that I hadn’t seen through the heather. I had done something to my left leg or ankle in the fall, though I was very fortunate not to break any bones. I was able to complete that walk in a bit of pain but as soon as I stopped walking my leg and ankle became extremely painful whenever I tried to move it. It was so bad I had struggled even to get up the stairs to my room in the hotel.

I feared that was the end of my planned walks for this trip, as I awoke to find my leg still painful. Of course the sensible thing to do might have been to find a doctor or simply to rest it and not walk today. However the purpose of this trip was to walk and I didn’t want to abandon it on only my 2nd day. So I decided that since yesterday it wasn’t too painful whilst actually walking that the pain might subside again when I got going. Well, I could hope.

That was another reason to do this walk today, I suspected it would be easier than the other walks I had planned on the trip as it was partly on road so would likely be the easiest on my leg. When I had joined this road yesterday there was nowhere nearby to park. So instead I drove to the end of the public road at Badrallach, which was nearly the half way point of my walk along this part of the coast.

At the end of the road was a large area suitable to park in except that it had a sign saying “Turning area only, no parking”. Someone had already parked here nearest the “land” end and at 90-degrees to the side of the road. There was room to park side on to the road further inland beside them. I can’t imagine anything large enough comes up here to need all the turning space and if they do then that other car is already in the way, so at least I won’t be making things worse.

Path to Scoraig

By parking here I’d now be doing 2 there and back walks. The first along the road south, to the point I joined it yesterday and the 2nd on the path to Scoraig and back. I decided to opt for the first part along the road first. A flat quiet road was going to be easier on my leg than a rough path over the hills to Scoraig. In addition if I knew I might have trouble walking being on the road, where there was more potential for help made sense than a remote path.

I set off along the road. Initially it was painful and I was limping along, but as I got going it started to hurt less and I could walk a bit more normally. My mind was taken off my hurting leg by the lovely views of Little Loch Broom and the hill of Sail Mhor on the other side.

Loch Broom at Badrallach

The object at the bottom left of the photo above is actually the roof of a house that is sort of built into the hill and meant to blend in a bit more.

Loch Broom at Badrallach

Loch Broom at Badrallach

Badrallach is a small but spread out village running for almost a mile along the road. It has a campsite and youth hostel but not a lot else.

Loch Broom at Badrallach

When I reach the campsite I soon find there is also a bothy and a holiday cottage here, though the site sounds quite basic with an honesty box to pay if the attendant doesn’t come round.

Badrallach campsite

This is about the last building in the village and soon I am climbing out of the village on the minor road. The traffic on the road mainly consists of sheep.

Badrallach road

Badrallach road

On the other side of Little Loch Broom I can see the houses of Camusnagaul. The road is now turning more inland away from the coast, but it’s high enough up I can still see the loch clearly. The road continues to climb and in another mile or so I reach the junction that I got to last time, closing the gap.

Near Badrallach

I am pleased to have made it without too much pain even though a short distance and now I just have to walk back. My leg wasn’t hurting much now and I made it back to the car without problem. At least I had completed some walking today so now I had to decide whether to continue west to Scoraig. I had so far been following a road which has a smooth surface and I wasn’t sure I’d cope so well with the rough ground of a path.

However there was one way to find out and that was to set off! The sign told me it was 8km to Scoraig. I’d be doing double that, as I’d need to walk back.

Path to Scoraig

The path started off easy enough, climbing away from the road but still almost car-wide. It soon narrowed to a path but at least an obvious one.

Path to Scoraig

Path to Scoraig

According to the map the path was a track for about a mile before narrowing to a path that ran near the bottom of the cliffs. The path had levelled out now and rounding the corner I could at least make out a clear path about half way up the cliff face.

Path to Scoraig

Path to Scoraig

This tended to change height as I went along it and soon crossed a couple of streams at a ford, marked as waterfalls on the map, the water flows out of Loch na h-Uidhe above and out of sight.

Path to Scoraig

The sunshine would occasionally start to break through which provided some welcome warmth, as there was a cold wind.

Path to Scoraig

Path to Scoraig

As I approached the village about the first sign of civilisation I saw was this red tractor.

Scoraig

Given the grass growing around it, it hadn’t been used in a while but I puzzled about how it got here. There is no way you could drive a tractor along the path I had followed! (I later realised the answer was almost certainly by boat).

The path soon widened to a track again, now a more sandy than rocky track and clearly is used by vehicles.

Track in Scoraig

At this point I had already had lunch but I was surprised to come across a cafe here which had the curious name “CarNOSH Beag Cafe” and more interestingly the sign stated “eat what you like, pay what you like”.

Cafe in Scoraig

I was tempted to look in but time was getting on and I wanted to get back. In hindsight I am curious as to what it would have been like!

Another surprise was in store when I passed a lighthouse on the right. It was called “The Lighthouse” and a tempting sign “Visitors Welcome” and contained a little museum and information about the place. In fact even the presence of the lighthouse is a surprised as it isn’t marked on the 1:25000 map I was using (but oddly, is marked on the supposedly less detailed 1:50000 map).

Scoraig lighthouse

The information panels inside told me there are around 25 households living here with between 50 and 70 people living here (it fluctuates as not everyone lives here permanently).  Most people work as crofters but also have some other trade. It went on to tell me what the people here do, there are artists (including a graphic designer) who can work remotely on the internet, fisherman, postmen, electricians and even a violin maker. To my surprise there is also a teacher because there is also a school here! In fact there was once a secondary school here too, but it’s mostly mothballed now.

It really felt like quite a thriving little community here. I guess it must be very safe given it’s isolation. The post is still delivered 3 times a week and most supplies are made by boat from Badluachrach on the other side of the loch, though some is still taken in on foot, as I had come. There is a telephone service but no water or mains sewage or electricity, the latter being generated from solar or wind.

Track in Scoraig

What an interesting place this was and I soon left the lighthouse museum and continued past the school and to the jetty at the end of the road that seemed to be the village “workshop”.

Scoraig

Scoraig

Here the many boats were lined up on the beach beside the jetty presumably most households have a boat to get across the loch.

Scoraig

I continued down onto the beach and walked a little way along the beach and stopped for a rest on the pebble beach near a wind turbine (there are surprisingly noisy, close to).

I had a drink and a rest. My leg was only hurting a little now so I had felt confident enough to continue knowing I’d have to walk back, but thought a rest was a good idea, though it did make my leg stiffen up a bit when I was ready to go back.

Now it was time to turn back and re-trace my steps. I loved this little remote village, almost cut off from the rest of the country. The path back was lovely, right along the edge of the loch, though I wondered if the residents felt the same way on a cold winters night, trying to walk home along it in the wind and the rain! I imagine there must be times when the water of the loch is too rough and this is the only way in and out.

Path to Scoraig

I caught up with a couple on the way back who had also walked here to see what the place was like and had loved it too. I was glad to have made the diversion to this unusual little village and it was nice to find such a good path along a beautiful stretch of remote coastline. My leg had more or less stopped hurting by the end of this walk and didn’t give me any more bother for the rest of this trip.

Update 08/09/2021: Fellow coastal walker Alan Pailn has helpfully pointed me in the direction of this interesting article by the BCC about Scoraig and the people that live there.

There is no public transport available for this walk because there is no road. The nearest place with a bus is at the junction with the A832 near Dundonnell.

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

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12 Responses to 337. Grid reference NH100919 to Badrallach and Scoraig (and back)

  1. owdjockey says:

    Well done Jon, you did well to get out to Scoraig and back despite having an injury. Sometimes, it is ok to walk on through the pain/discomfort as it soon becomes just a dull ache. It certainly is a unique community – if you dig deep on the BBC website you will find a report on Scoraig from a couple of years ago. As you may have read, I did a Scoraig circular taking in nearby Beinn Ghobhlach

    • jcombe says:

      Alan thank you that’s a great BBC article and I will add a link to it, thanks for pointing me to it. I think Beinn Ghobhlach was a bit beyond me that day, but it looks lovely.

  2. What a delightful place. Really remote – and seems much more remote than Inverie in Knoydart, which was a disappointingly bustling place with cars and tourists.

    • jcombe says:

      Inverie is certainly busier. I saw it in 2019 and it was quite busy and like you surprised at the number of cars. 2020 was an odd year but I do remember when I was there last year it was practically deserted and everything closed so it did feel a bit more remote then. Similarly I had one last walk to do there on my first trip this year so went back again and it was pretty quiet then too (though busier than 2020). However by then the pub had closed down (the community are trying to buy it), and the ferry was very quiet. I was the only passenger on the way out and on the way back the ferry had broken down so they sent their old lifeboat (not normally used for passengers) to pick me up, since I was the only passenger booked to come back too. That was quite fun!

  3. Glad you managed to walk through the pain and had no lasting effects. Rabbit holes etc are a bit of a worry when you can’t always see the actual ground through long grass.

    • jcombe says:

      Yes I’m used to un-even ground and sometimes you step and can end your foot ends up a bit lower than you were expecting, but it was the first time I had stepped accidentally into something so deep!

  4. 5000milewalk says:

    Well done Jon, a hard walk that in the circumstances!

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  7. tonyurwin says:

    Fascinating place. I would like to test out the cafe offer!

    • jcombe says:

      Yes in hindsight I should have gone in to have a look. I presume it was a sort of “honesty box” cafe, perhaps with cakes and make your own tea and an honesty box to pay or something like that.

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