Friday 20 June 2014

Sort of the Affric Kintail Way - Day One - Glen Urquhart to Cannich

Cannich campsite is a bit of a second home.

We watched with interest as the waymarks and signposts for the Affric Kintail Way (AKW) went up around the village and in Glen Affric.

I did some research online and asked about in Cannich village, but the walk was still in the planning stage and there didn't seem to be anyone who knew the exact route - parts were well waymarked, others less...

(Since then the waymarking has been completed and an excellent (really excellent!) website has appeared online - Affric Kintail Way)

Looking at the map, the route seemed like it should be fairly straightforward (although we weren't quite sure of the start point or of which glen the AKW would use out of West Affric) - so it looked like an excellent summer backpack. 

So after a bit of route planning, checking kit (and the purchase of a new lightweight summer waterproof), packing and the usual pre walk nervousness - Jim dropped Rafe and me off in Glen Urquhart (and he headed south in the car to pick up Freddie from uni).

Looking north west over Loch Meiklie from the AKW

We set off from the Forestry Commission car park in Glen Urquhart (NH449458), and headed west along good forestry tracks, through the woods on the south bank of the River Enrick.

Rafe in Glen Urquhart

The sun was out, the views were great - both Rafe and I had big grins on our faces!

Looking north east to along Glen Urquhart from AKW near Loch Meiklie

The walk was well waymarked at this point - large fingerposts giving us no doubt of our route - in fact there were a couple of times when it felt a touch over waymarked - signposts just confirming that we were on the right track, where there was no alternative path that we might take in error.

The AKW in Glen Urquhart views west to the Glen Affric hills

The walk skirted around the southern shore of Loch Meiklie, undulating through the forest filled with wild-flowers and insects - Rafie jumping around, loving every minute...

Shenval village in Glen Urquhart with views west to Sgorr na Diollaid

The views opened up as we came out of the woods and neared the tiny village of Shenval, the mountains to the west, stark against the sky. The pointy summit of Sgorr na Diollaid, although not the highest was the most recognisable.

On the AKW near Shenval - views west

A family of Highland cattle were sunning themselves on the track, mum, dad and little ones, strung out along the route - every dog walker knows that getting between cow and calf is not a good idea - so we plodged over a somewhat squelchy field, giving them a wide berth. They turned and watched us with seeming interest, but soon turned back to their lunch once we were past.

Highland cattle - On the AKW near Shenval 

Over the bridge and into Shenval - at a guess it used to be a Forestry Commission village - pretty white cottages shining in the sun. We had a little read of Parish notices on the vintage bus stop (lots going on in the area!) before pushing on into the woods again.

Shenval bus stop - On the AKW

We hit the Corrimony road just beside White Bridge and took the short detour west, past the pretty village church and on to the Corrimony Chambered Cairn about a km further along.

Corrimony Church

There were a couple of cars parked in the cairn car park, but nobody at the cairn itself. We explored the bronze age burial - although I think I found it more interesting than Rafe! - and then took ourselves off into a quiet corner for a cuppa.

Rafe - Cuppa at Corrimony Chambered Cairn

As we drank our tea a couple of Canadians on holiday arrived at the cairn, they were taking in the sights and the history, and we chatted away for some time - until we were interrupted by much baaing and dog barking - Rafie was definitely ready to investigate. The local farmer was just moving a herd of sheep from one field, along the road, to another. There then followed a perfect example of sheepdogs working as a team. Rafe watched (we all watched!) entranced. Within a few minutes, the commotion was over and the sheep were happily checking out the facilities in their new home.

Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Time to move on. Bag repacked, we headed back to White Bridge and then north east along the A831 to Cannich.

It is a main road, but it was fairly quiet today. On the couple of occasions when a big vehicle trundled past, we were able to get onto the verge and out of the way without a problem.

Its quite a long road trudge, but it went by much faster than I had expected. We've driven the road many times and it was rather nice to be able to stop and take in the views for a change, rather than just roaring past. I do hope, though, that as the AKW gains in popularity an alternative can be found for the road section. Along field boundaries from Corrimony to Mellness (although a couple of footbridges would be needed) and then through the forest (Mellness or Kerrow Wood) possibly...? It's easy for me to say...

Beauly Denny Line, Mellness

The Beauly Denny powerline passes over the hills by Mellness - something of a scar on the landscape!

Lochan Dubh (NH370323) on the AKW

But the lovely little Lochan Dubh, hiding south of the road, seemed like a good place for a spot of lunch and for Rafie to get muddy.

Rafe by Lochan Dubh (NH370323) on the AKW

The last part of today's walk took us down the road into Strathglass. The views west into Affric - wave upon wave of purple hills, away to the distant sea - our route for the next couple of days - glorious.

The Affric hills - west from the road descending towards Cannich

It certainly had a feeling of coming home - Cannich, nestled in the glen...

Cannich from the AKW - descent into Strathglass

Once in the village, we set up camp at the Cannich Camping and Caravan Park. It was only mid afternoon, so after another cuppa (yep, another) we went for a stroll around the village, bought some provisions and generally mooched about.

Views west - Crossing the River Glass by Cannich

And Rafie had a bath before he was allowed in the tent!

Rafe cools off in River Cannich in Cannich village

Having looked at the new AKW website - really looking forward to "finishing off", now that I know the route from Drumnadrochit to the FC car park in Glen Urquhart! Thanks.

Read on - Sort of the Affric Kintail Way - Day Two - Cannich to River Affric

Route:  Forestry Commission car park in Glen Urquhart (NH449458), follow waymarked Affric Kintail Way on forestry tracks, west, Shenval village, continue west, waymarked Affric Kintail Way, White Bridge, unclassified road west to Corrimony Chambered Cairn, return to White Bridge (NH393302), east along A831 to Cannich campsite (NH341316).

Statistics:  Distance: 15.5km  Ascent: 160m  Time: 4 hours.

1 comment:

  1. OMG, that photo of the Shenval bus shelter brings back memories. I waited there so many times...


Beinn Bhrotain and Monadh Mor

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