Day 68: 30 May 2014; Shiel Bridge to Ardelve

Day 68: 30 May 2014; Shiel Bridge to Ardelve
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 68
Date Fri 30 May 2014 Start to end time 06h 35m
Start point Shiel Bridge End point Ardelve
Miles today 13.51 Cu miles 1,252.87
Ft today 2,897 Cu ft 175,578
Route miles left 246.66 Route ft left 28,607
Today’s weather Warm and sunny all day; more cloud by mid afternoon. Light variable wind. About 18C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“If I’d ever thought that I needed reminding why it’s not a good idea to rely on tracks shown on maps to actually be there, today’s walk provided that reminder. It was supposed to be a gentle, short walk through level woodland down the loch from Shiel Bridge to the campsite at Ardelve, near Dornie. So I’d had a bit of a lie in (well, till 6:30) and got up slowly, and was away by 8:30 am. I only had about 12 miles to walk, so I didn’t rush. The shop at the campsite was shut when I left, so I added in a detour to another campsite, at Morvich, a couple of miles down the road, where I’d heard from other hikers that there was a small shop. I bought a couple of litres of skimmed UHT milk (the next best thing to strawberry milkshakes) and then set off into the woodland, where my map showed that there was a good forestry track leading down the loch in the direction of Dornie.

I was keen to follow this track, because the alternative was to walk down the busy A87, which I wanted to avoid at all costs. The path started out well, and gradually climbed into the hills above the loch, giving fantastic views of the loch glittering in warm sunshine. But I soon became aware that the track was climbing higher and higher and there was no trace of the track branching off to the left which I had planned to take, to connect my route to a narrow by-road that would lead me the rest of the way to Dornie.

So I retraced my steps to where the junction should have been, and I thought I could discern the track in the woods. So I dived into the undergrowth in an attempt to follow it down. It was one of those situations where I should never have started, because once I did it was virtually impossible to go back. The undergrowth got thicker and thicker, and more and more impenetrable. Eventually, I did make it through to the by-road, but I was coved in scratches and cuts, and – worse – ticks. So as soon as I could, I found a secluded spot do a full check and to removed them all. So I survived, but at a price! In such situations in the future I simply must bury my pride and retrace my steps to find an easier route, rather than ploughing on and becoming increasingly committed.

Suitably chastened I followed the by-road up high above the loch, and was rewarded with stunning views in all directions. From the lookout at Carr Brae, the Isle of Skye came into view, with fine vistas of the Cuillin hills and of the new bridge at Kyle. As the road dropped down, the Eilean Donan castle came into sight. It’s a brilliant castle – built on an island and looking just like a castle should. There has been a fort or settlement of some sort here for around 1,400 years but the castle itself was built some years later, but then destroyed in the Jacobite rebellion in 1719. It was finally rebuilt in 1932 by a private benefactor.

Needless to say as soon as I arrived at the campsite I had a very long and thorough shower, and have now retired to the pub to lick my wounds. I have consoled myself with dinner of fresh local langoustines, which were absolutely excellent. The next task is to check tomorrow’s route on Google Earth to make sure it is actually there…”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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The petrol pump looked like it belonged in a different era – time moves slowly up here.. Just round the corner from the petrol pump was this post box, miles from anywhere (apart from the petrol pump), stuck in the middle of the wall. Next collection – this afternoon!
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Yellow flag (iris) just starting to come into bloom in the marshland. Brightened up the landscape Looking North West up Loch Duich. At the bend in the distance, it is joined by Loch Long from the right, and becomes Loch Alsh, heading West from Dornie. Got that??
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Iconic Eilean Donan castle; the fuchsias growing in profusion in the hedgerows are testament to the effects of the Gulf Stream up here The LEJOG hiker always has to be ready for the unexpected but this is one hazard that I wasn’t prepared for
Panorama over Loch Duich from Shiel Bridge this morning. Beautifully calm – but that means there’s no wind and that in turn means there are midges!
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