352b. Arrina Woodlands to Cuaig Viewpoint

August 2020

This was the 2nd part of this days walk. In the morning I had walked (and cycled) between Kenmore and Arrina woodlands but when arriving at Arrina woodlands I had spotted a sign post pointing to a footpath to Cuaig. Rather than do a combination of cycle one way and walk back along the road I had decided to follow this path to Cuaig and then walk back along the coast road as I suspected this would take a similar amount of time to my original plan and be more pleasant than going round twice on the road (I also don’t like cycling so that’s another reason!).

The problem with this path was that it wasn’t marked on the map. This means I had to hope the path was obvious and/or the signage was good to avoid getting horribly lost. I did of course have a paper map and GPS so I’d always be able to find my present location but that doesn’t always help in finding a path to get you there.

So I was a little apprehensive about this path but thought I might as well give it a go. It started off as a good track into woodland but quickly narrowed to a path. However it was reasonably easy to see the route and in places some bits of wood had been put down to aid getting over some of the boggy parts. Initially the path was part beside a stream through the woodlands. The path emerged from woodland and was then way marked with frequent wooden posts.

I passed an un-named lochan near the north west of the area of woodland and the path climbed through open land.

IMG_8119

I was pleased to see the path was still reasonably well marked with cairns and there was for the most part a path (albeit boggy) visible the whole way ahead. I was confident I was on the path and was finding it quite a pleasant walk but began to think of how much progress I’d made.

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Then I remembered from looking at the map most of the walk was supposed to be in woodland. I passed through a small area of woodland as expected and then passed the lochan but then I was supposed to have entered another area of woodland. I couldn’t see any other areas of woodland, only the one I had already left. So then the thought began to dawn. Where the hell am I?

I stopped and got the GPS out of my bag and turned it on. Whilst I waited for it to get a signal (it’s very slow) I checked the map. I thought the lochan behind me was an un-named one to the north west of the woodland. However a check at the map showed there was another lochan just outside the woodland, Loch na Larach. Perhaps I was near that, it seemed it could match the map, but if it was I was going the wrong way, as that lochan is to the south of the woodland and not north west, where I wanted to be going. Hmm. Fortunately by now the GPS had got a signal.

This confirmed I was in fact near Loch an Fhidhleir. That’s good because that is west and I should be going west. However now I was even more confused. According to the grid reference the GPS gave me I should indeed be near that loch, but I should also be in woodland. I wasn’t in woodland. I couldn’t even see any woodland apart from the area behind me I’d left earlier. Not only that, there I wasn’t in area that looked to have been woodland in even the recent past, no evidence of tree trunks, the landscape wasn’t scarred from recent felling. Nor for that matter where there newly planted trees. It seems the Ordnance Survey map of this area is very wrong. It shows this whole area of woodland when it isn’t. In fact I later found the difference could also be seen on the internet (at the time … it is no longer the case now).

The streetmap.co.uk website has 1:25000 level OS mapping. So does Bing Maps. Yet they show this area very differently. Here is how they showed the same area, the area I was in. First, let’s take a look at Bing (NOTE: This has since changed and it now shows the same as Streetmap).

bing1a

This exactly matched my paper map. It showed several lochans and lochs in an area of woodland and I was near the largest (Loch an Fhidhleir). As you can see that meant I should be in woodland. But I wasn’t. Now if we compare what was (and still is) shown on Streetmap.

streetmap2a

And this far more matched what I was seeing with my eyes! The problem is, I couldn’t access the internet during the walk as there was no phone signal so I was stuck with the paper map. I quickly realised it was wrong and this area of woodland shown on the map was not, in fact woodland. Well at least I was indeed on the right track but I was irritated at the map having such a glaring error that had wasted my time trying to work out where I was.

It was the most recent version of the paper map, I double checked against the Ordnance Survey website so I would hope it was up to date. The problem is the OS seem to print a new cover on it, but not update the actual map itself very often, but I can find no evidence this area had ever been woodland so I have no idea why it had been marked as such. I double checked and fellow coast walk Ruth also had the problem with her paper map so it wasn’t just mine (and we also noticed a number of other errors in the spelling of the place names).

Still enough about the map at least I knew where I was and I was going the right way. That’s a good start! The path was turning out to be hard work. It was well marked, with a mixture of wooden posts and cairns. However the ground was exceptionally boggy in places so I ended up with wet feet despite trying to avoid the wettest parts. I passed close to several lochans and then over the brow of a hill and now the coast was visible ahead, as was the Isle of Skye beyond.

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Path between Arrina and Cuaig

Soon I emerged from the open moorland onto the road. It was nice to have a firm footing again. Now I was back in the coastal part of my walk rather than the positioning part. To my left some cars were parked which was handy as I’d need somewhere to park to continue from here tomorrow.

The C1091 near Cuaig

I now turned right along the road and headed over the brow of the hill and soon passed a shop on the left. It was the Croft Wool shop, but it was closed like most shops at the time. However this building wasn’t marked on the map either.

Cuaig Wool shop (closed)

Continuing north on the road I was soon passing between two lochs, though the map doesn’t name either of them.

View from the Applecross coast road near Cuaig

View from the Applecross coast road near Cuaig

Whilst now some distance from the coast I still had good views of the coast on the higher parts of the road.

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

A shower soon blew in which was a nuisance, though at least I could now see a long way ahead for passing traffic that might cover me in spray.

The C1091 Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

I was now nearing Fearnmore, as the road turned to head east and this is the most northerly settlement on the peninsula. It is also one of the larger settlements, but size is relative, it’s still only about 20 buildings. Many of them have a wonderful view.

Fearnmore, Applecross

Fearnmore, Applecross

The land to the left of the road fell away quite quickly so I could enjoy some coastal views on this section.

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

A track soon turned left away from the road and towards the shore with two stones on either side of it. I initially started to follow it but could see it was turning left and I suspected heading back to Fearnmore, but it wasn’t marked on the map, so I didn’t know.

I decided not to risk it and returned to the road. I had fine views to the left, the headland of Roinn an Fhaing Mhoir and the edge of a beach where a natural arch was marked.

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

Far down to the left was a white caravan seemingly in the middle of nowhere.

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

I did wonder what it was used for but also how on earth it got there! There are a surprising number of caravans dotted around in remote locations in Scotland. The road soon went up and over the little valley behind this beach and then I had views of Cama Ban close by on the left, a rocky beach.

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

View from the Applecross coast road near Fearnmore

View from the Applecross coast road near Farnbeg

The C1091 Applecross coast road near Fearnbeg

The coast near Fearnbeg

Soon I reached the turning for Fearnbeg.

Road to Fearnbeg

I headed down it and the road soon split. I followed the left fork since this was still marked in yellow, suggesting a public road whilst the other was white. It went past a couple of houses and then came to an abrupt halt. I didn’t really get to see the coast any better than from the road. I supposed I could have gone back and tried the lower road but I suspect that would come to a similar end, or just become a private drive. So back to the coast road.

I large sign now told me I was in fact walking on the C1091 Applecross Coast Road and was an advertising board for road improvements. Given the road is single track with passing places for most of the way it didn’t seem that there had been much of an improvement and I couldn’t really see the point of the sign, it’s not as if it gives any useful information.

Near Arrina

It was only a few hundred metres now and I was back to my car. It had been an enjoyable walk but a tougher one than I had expected. I am not sure if the inland route saved me any time over walking there and back on the road, but at least it gave me some variety despite the frustrations of the map. The coastal section was very pleasant. Nothing stunning, but nice enough.

I had initially thought I would call it a day at this point. But it was only 3pm and it felt too early to head back to my hotel and I didn’t feel too tired. I decided to continue to make my way south. I had seen some cars parked at Cuaig earlier but I also spotted a view point parking area just south of Cuaig. I decided to drive to that and walk back to Cuaig to the point I had emerged from earlier. I had also spotted from there a path was marked on the map on the west side of the river, that flowed out to a sandy beach. Stepping stones were marked at the end to give access to the beach. It would be nice to finish for the day at a beach so I hoped to follow that too.

I drove around the road I had just walked and found the view point car park. It was quite obvious and there was no one else there when I got there. It was certainly a stunning view. South I could see the road making it’s way south towards Applecross village.

View from Cuaig viewpoint

View from Cuaig viewpoint

Out to sea I could see the islands of Rona and Raasay and beyond them, the Isle of Skye. It was an easy walk back to Cuaig and I soon reached the point I emerged from earlier, signed to Arrina 4.5km.

Footpath to Arrina

I now headed back to the river Cuaig to find the path beside it to the coast.

Abhainn Chuaig, Cuaig

The river is fairly narrow but quite fast flowing, even in summer. The river flows out from Loch Gaineamhach further inland. I found the path but it is quite muddy initially, hemmed in between fences beside the river and clearly well walked. This comes down to a gate where it is now less muddy. There are stepping stones marked on the map but sadly they are quite far apart and several of them are covered by the water. The dry stones are too far to be able to step over safely so to cross the river is going to be a shoes and socks off job. I decided against that and so instead decided to continue down the left side of the river.

Cuaig beach stepping stones

I am hoping that nearer the shore, where there is a sandy beach the river will widen over the sand making it shallower and easy to cross. Sadly it doesn’t but the path leads me to some ruined buildings, built part into the cliffs. I wonder what they were for. To store fishing equipment perhaps. Or even an old mill? I don’t know.

Abhainn Chuaig, Cuaig

The path I have been following ends here. In theory I could try and make my way over the sea-weed covered rocks to the sandy beach beyond. However I can see a lot of water and not much sand. I think the tide is coming in and has already cut off the bit of sand I can see, which is actually a sandbank and I can’t really see from here if the river is easier to cross. I also find that every time I stop I get surrounded by midges.

So I decide to abandon my attempts to reach the beach at this point. I could do so if I really wanted to but I can see most of the beach from here anyway so I am pleased to make it to this point on the shore even if I didn’t make it down onto the beach.

Abhainn Chuaig, Cuaig

At this point it was time to head back uphill to my car, re-tracing my steps along the road.

It had been a good day, albeit a bitty one as I’d basically done 3 separate walks, that had ultimately joined up to mean I’d walked from Kenmore to the view point just south of Cuaig today. That wasn’t a massive distance but given the lack of buses I’d had to transport myself both there and back using a mixture of walking both ways, the path inland across the northern part of the peninsula and cycling. I was pleased with the progress I’d made and I had enjoyed the northern part of the peninsula very much especially the views to the west over the many islands. The west coast of Scotland has so many islands!

Here are details of the public transport for this walk, though it wasn’t running when I did the walk:-

Lochacarron Garage bus route 704: Toscaig (request only) – Applecross (request only) – Lonbain (request only) – Callakille (request only) – Cuaig (request only) – Fearnmore (request only) – Fearnbeg (request only) – Arrina  (request only) – Kenmore (request only) – Shieldaig (request only) – Kishorn (request only) – Lochacarron – Achnasheen – Garve – Dingwall – Inverness. One bus per day each way on Monday and Saturday only. If you want to use the bus anywhere between Toscaig and Lochcarron you must book this the day before, by 6pm, by calling 01520 722997 as this part of the route only runs on request. The bus will stop anywhere it’s safe to do so on request, so you can use it stop at the junction for Kenmore.

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

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3 Responses to 352b. Arrina Woodlands to Cuaig Viewpoint

  1. 5000milewalk says:

    Lovely scenery, and great pictures.

    I was using that Outdoors GPS app for a while with OS maps on, but when I realised it was charging me I got rid of it. I use Bing maps for OS maps on my laptop, but on my phone Bing doesn’t show OS maps…. so thanks for telling me about Streetmap – I haven’t used that website for 10 years – and it works on the phone too. Of course that’s no good if you can’t get a phone signal though! One day I’ll invest in a GPS device with OS maps, but I haven’t needed yet.

    • jcombe says:

      Yes Bing maps seems a bit odd about displaying the OS maps. They are also crooked when they do display (by which I mean the horizontal lines aren’t actually straight but angled a bit). I don’t know why that is. Streetmap works but moving the map is a real pain because you have to click on the tiny arrows on a phone, you can’t just drag and move it.

      If you buy the paper OS maps you can add it to the OS official phone app for free (there is a code you have to scratch off on the map), not sure if you knew that or not, which might be an option.

      On balance I prefer the paper map – when it’s accurate!

  2. Pingback: 353a. Cuaig Viewpoint to Sand | Round the Island

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