A bit achey this morning but fortified by an excellent cooked breakfast.  Curlew Cottage has a fine view over Loch Laggan,  slightly marred by a pylon and power lines that are about to become my companions.  Still this is a luxury  B&B and I enjoy a spot of luxury for a change.
It is clear and looking to be hot again, and there is little prospect of me needing the fleece hat or fleece neck gaiter (a sort of scarf) I have packed.  Little chance of needing the goretex jacket, overtrousers,  or either fleece, come to that, but I currently have no use for them.  The hat and neck gaiter though I use as extra padding for the rucksack straps.
             And I need them.  After yesterday I have filled up my flask with tea,  filled my litre water bottle and taken a half litre one that was provided, so I have two litres altogether.  The bottle that I refilled mine from is from Scottish water and comes with a ridiculous set of paranoid injuctions.  Best before by date,  use by three days after opening etc.  For water!

At least my feet seem OK and my boots have dried out overnight. I set off back down the steep slope to the road where I notice sand martins. There is a big sandy bank by the turn off for the cottages and as I stand and look for holes they fly around my head.

The road is very pleasant.  Once out of the hamlet of Inchlaggan it is fringed with trees,  mostly birch at first.  I look out for Tomdoun and am glad I did not try to walk it last night as it is a fair way from the B&B.

Now and then a car passes me, mostly looking like walkers headed out towards Knoydart.  Eventually I pass the hotel and a little church at Tomdoun. 

After that I am in conifer woods .  At one point a cyclist goes by shouting a hello. And then a white van slows down.
“Do you want a lift to the bottom, buddy?” the driver asks.
“No, thanks very much,”  I say with real regret.  As he drives off I wonder if  I could have taken him up on it. Do unasked for lifts really count? They do, of course, but it goes against the grain turning down a lift like that.
Oh well,  I walk on,  enjoying the sun, the trees, the easy gradients and the fact that even the car drivers seem courteous and friendly.  Roads have personalities and this one  has a very amiable one.
I pass a scatter of houses and then the road emerges from the conifer plantation to give me views down and across Loch Poulary and the hills that flank it.   Further on to the west, the way that I am walking, I can see what I think is Gairich,  a mountain that I tried and failed to climb one winter on the only occasion I have been down this road before.


t is hot out in the open but, after a while, the road passed through a scatter of trees which gives a bit of shade.

Beyond them is a sign post, indicating paths to Sheil Bridge (20 miles) and Cluanie (9 miles) not that I believe them.   I have walked from both and it is strange to think of myself so near without going anywhere near the usual road to get there.

Big hairy caterpillers cross the road at regular intervals. I wonder what they eat as there is little around apart from dried grass and a bit of heather here and there. No nettles, certainly.

Loch Poulary becomes a river and there is a power station down below the road just before I walk into Kingie.  There are some odd houses here,  wooden chalets really, that seem to be holiday homes, but otherwise it looks like an estate village.
I get barked at and hurry on.  

Out of Kingie the trees disappear abruptly.  Bare hillsides stretch away to the Loch Quoich dam.
The road is quiet but I hear something, and to my suprise two children, a boy and a girl,  about six or so  in age, come cycling towards me.  They seem young to be let out on even such a quiet road alone.  In fact a car passes them before I get to them,  slowing to a crawl and the little girl says to the boy “They were nice, weren’t they/”
I say hello in passing,  supposing that they must live in Kingie.  But  then I hear more voices, the road is winding here and undulates so, though I can see miles ahead to the dam and beyond I cannot always see fifty metres in front of me.
More children on bikes.  This time with a couple of men shepherding them and pushing the smaller kids uphill.  There are about eight children and three men.   All the kids on bikes and trikes.
We say hello in passing and I think, well that is that,  but no.   A final man, stripped to the waist and pulling a very little boy, no more than three or four, uphill on his bike with stabilisers.
“you don’t need a gym doing that!” I say as we pass.  He gasps something in reply.
Now I am thirsty and quite hungry and have promised myself a sit down at the dam so force the pace a bit. Unfortunately it is uphill and it is getting hotter all the time.  It seems to take a long time to get to the dam.
We parked here on my previous visit and then used the dam to access Gairich.  I cannot actually remember why we did not make it to the top that day.  Some feeble excuse involving wind I would guess.
Still, that day had introduced me to the views in this part of the world, one of the reasons that I decided to walk this way.
There are lots of cars parked at the dam and some walkers faffing so I carry on a bit to a rise before sitting for some tea and a breakfast bar.
Now the walk is beautiful.  The road winds round the side of the loch,  mostly not giving dramatic revelations but slowly changing and improving the vista.  I am now in new territority for me as I have never been beyond the dam in this direction.

I pass a sign enjoining walkers to keep to a particular route to avoid disturbing red deer.  The notice suggests that they are timid creatures and that the culling of the deer is important for local employment and for conservation reasons.

I would not doubt the importance of culling for a moment but on the other hand I am less convinced about the disturbance.   Some land owners round here have been far from keen on access rights.  A local youth hostel warden told me, some years ago before the new rights came into law, of a  Kintail landowner who tried to keep mountain rescue from going on his estates, and there were signs up on the flanks of the Saddle, a few miles to the north west of me, at Glen Shiel,  six months after the foot and mouth panic of 2001,  proclaiming that walkers were banned.

Six or seven kilometres from the dam is a bridge over a side loch and I decide to stop for lunch there.

From here, until that bridge, there is little I can say to give the feeling of the walk so just look at the pictures and imagine,  birdsong,  hot feet and a heavy little pack that is rubbing into your shoulders as you walk along,  the discomfort not enough to spoil the pleasure of such a beautiful view on such a fabulous day.

A group is camping under a tree just before the bridge.  They have a dog which makes me wary but the dog is OK.  They also have a fire which seems a bit stupid as it is a pine tree.  But I don’t think much more about it at the time.
Then I am at the bridge.  

The view due north is to the South Glen Sheil Ridge.  I walked this part of the ridge with Anna, my host in Fort William, a few years ago, and I remember looking down at this bridge and this loch.

Because there are people around, more fishermen beyond the bridge,  I break my promise to myself and walk a bit further before stopping for lunch.

Around a few corners I finally stop to eat.   A van is parked a little way up the road and as I have my lunch I notice a group of deer, looks like a bunch of juvenile stags, are picking their way towards me.

I am surprised that they are coming so close to the van, and suppose that they have not seen me as I am sitting fairly still.  They move on to the hill above the van and me. But it is time to move on and, though the first of the deer look warily at me, as I walk below them they do not run off, and I take the chance to take some photos.

These are the deer  walkers are supposed to avoid spooking by sticking to particular routes? Give me a break!

These are the deer walkers are supposed to avoid spooking by sticking to particular routes? Give me a break!

The views down the loch and into Moidart  continue to be spectacular as I walk down the road.

But it is not long before it veers off and away from Loch Quoich,  heading into a little glen. There is a slight rise before the road crosses a river and begins to wind downwards.

I get a glimpse of something that looks a lot like the Forcan Ridge of the Saddle. But have I come far enough west for that?  The northern part of the South Glensheil Ridge does not seem like it was far away.  I continue, wondering.
It is really hot now and I am getting quite tired,  but the road winds mostly gently, downhill, and there is very little traffic.  My hat has saved me again today.  I am getting a bit burned on my left hand as a consequence of not putting on the sunblock earlier, but the hat has kept my face and neck protected

Still it is hot.  I have a jolt as blue appears below me.  The sea! No, not the sea, a small loch. I am in good time and so decided to stop soon, but there is a second freshwater loch and I decide to carry on until I reach it.
This is a good decision.  I come to a bridge over a big burn and then a ruin.  I stop and take my boots and socks off, bathing my hot feet and it feels utterly delicious.  I have conserved my water enough that I can drink my fill, confident that I have only a couple of downhill K to get to todays destination.

After the break the last bit of the road is quite steep, but pretty as it winds through woods. A care slows and the window winds down. "Would you like a lift?" the woman driver asks. Two unsolicited offers of a lift in the same day!

And then, I do see the sea or at least the sea loch of Loch Hourn.

I have walked from the South East of England to the sea of the North West Scotland,  and it is a sweet moment.

But the pylons which have been following me all day show the way I will be going in the morning and it is a steep bit of up.
Never mind.  For now I walk down the road to the most obvious building.  There are a couple of houses on the left but the one on the right looks more farm like. 

 Beyond it there are surprising number of cars parked.
 A guy is sitting smoking in the courtyard in front of the building “Hello, is this the farm?”
“Yes, this is the farm.”
“Are you Joe?”
“Yes, I’m Joe.  So are you Spencer?”
"I expect you're ready for a cup of tea."



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