Walk #511: Alligin Shuas to Shieldaig
Map of the walk
Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format. For a detailed table of timings for this walk, please see the table file.
Yesterday evening I developed a sore throat, and this continued all night - when I woke up at about one in the morning it was extremely sore, and I had also developed a little cough. This could be to do with the fact that I walked in the rain without my coat the other day, or it could just be a coincidence. Fortunately by the time that I awoke this morning my throat was not as bad, but I certainly was not firing on all cylinders either. I briefly considered taking a day off, but this did not seem sensible, as I did not feel too ill. I had considered climbing a Munro today, but there was low cloud and occasional rain, and this combined with the fact that I was not one hundred percent persuaded me not to even consider it.
The road to Diabaig was an enjoyable stroll, although there was a stiff climb uphill initially. Near the top of this climb there was a viewpoint, and on this a relief of the horizon showing what the surrounding mountains were. This was lovely as it actually was a relief - it was three dimensional, with the hills nearest being higher than the surrounding mountains. The road passed the lovely little Lochs Diabaigas Airde and Loch a' Mhulliach, which are nearly oneloch separated by a tiny stream before descending down to Diabaig and the start of the path.
Diabaig is dominated by the lovely Loch Diabaig, a broad sweep of a loch surrounded by hills that separate it from Loch Torridon. It was starting to rain as I reached the village, but I was dismayed to see a fish farm slap-bank in the centre of the loch. I have seen many of these on the west coast and they are starting to lose whatever little appeal they had; some people believe that fish farms have massive negative ecological effects, and I am starting to believe that this may be the case considering how many of them there are; the effect of one fish farm is negligible, but very sea loch appears to have at least one, and these are the lochs that wild salmon have to swim up to reach their spawning grounds. The path from Diabaig was good and distinct, and I made good progress along it as far as the Craig SYHA hostel. In places the path was over bare rock surfaces that were fortunately not slippy, but it made for an absolutely superb walk.
I was considering nipping into Craig YHA to say hello, but I decided against it. Graham had recommended nipping into the hostel and it was quite tempting to do so, but when I saw the hostel with nightlights flickering in the window I could not bring myself to do it. The hostel is immensely remote - it has no road access, and it a walk of over three miles to reach it from the nearest road. The path from the hostel to Redpoint was less good, more boggy and harder to follow, and I found progress slower and the scenery, although still good, les stunning.
I was glad to reach Redpoint and pass the lovely beaches there, before finally reaching the car park at the end of the road, where Sam was waiting for me. She had cycled down the eight miles from Shieldaig to meet me, and we sat down together to eat lunch. Unfortunately as soon as we sat down there was a heavy shower, and so as soon as it ended we set off so that we could warm up. Three miles later we stopped on a bench at the car park in Opinan so that I could change out of my boots into my trainers, which helped my feet over the last few miles. Sam then cycled on, leaving me to walk on and admire the views. Unfortunately the batteries on my camera ran out and I had no spares, so I walked the last few miles with no photographs of these views.
As we sat in Mervan this evening a large cloud of midges came down to greet us. They were hoarding outside the window, and we watched them content in the knowledge that they could not get at us and that there was absolutely no way we were going out into them. They were particularly prolific around the rear of the van, and the bikes on the bike rack were covered by the wee beasties.
I am in a bit of a quandary about what to do tomorrow. Yet again, as it has so often been in Scotland, what I do is constrained by where Sam can pick me up. For this reason I shall probably do a little under fourteen miles to Melvaig, which would be a short day. Unfortunately the only alternative would be to do a twenty-two mile day, with the last few miles of unpathed terrain, a choice that I am not really willing to make. Therefore I will just do a short day, and hope that I can pick up the miles lost later on in the walk. Even that is not vital, as I have about nine days in hand over my schedule for my return to Edinburgh.
This walk starts off at the junction with the road down to Inveralligin in Alligin Shuas. Follow the road westwards as it passes over a stream and another road junction, before climbing steeply uphill to the north. The road climb using a hairpin bend before reaching the bealach na Gaoithe and descending down to pass Loch Diabaigas Airde and Loch a Mhullaich, and then steeply down towards Diiabaig. At a sharp left-hand bend before Diabaig is reached take a road that leads off to the right, heading westwards for a little under a kilometre. At the end of the road join a footpath that heads off to the right across the moorland. This path is very distinct on the ground and made for an enjoyable stroll, although it was slightly rough in places.
Thee path eventually steeply descends downhill to meet the remote Craig youth hostel. Continue on past the hostel to a bridge over the Craig River, after which the path turns to the left and follows the northern bank of the river westwards towards its mouth over some quite rough ground. For the next few miles the path is indistinct as it skirts northwestwards, following the coast. Eventually the path reaches a building near a beautiful beach, and the path starts to head inland past some low sand dunes to Redpoint Farm. From the farm a track leads northwards to a car park, where the B8056 road is met.
Join the B8056 road and follow it northwards through Redpoint and onwards to South Erradale, Opinan and Port Henderson, where it starts to head eastwards. The road skirts through Badachro and passes the end of Loch Bad a' Chrotha, and a couple of miles later it reaches Sheildaig. This walk ends in a car park in Shieldaig, just before the Shieldaig Lodge Hotel is reached.
This makes a total distance of 19.5 miles, with 2582 feet of ascent and 2812 feet of descent.
We spent the night in a car park near the Shieldaig Hotel in Shieldaig, which was a pleasant enough place to spend the night, although there were no facilities nearby.
Please note that I take no responsibility for anything that may happen when following these directions. If you intend to follow this route, then please use the relevant maps and check the route out before you go out. As always when walking, use common sense and you should be fine.
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And finally, enjoy your walking!
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