Knoydart Part 2


After a good nights sleep we awoke to a beautiful morning, only slightly marred by the presence of midges which as soon as the wind dropped were out in force.  Breakfast was taken against a stunning  background and we were reluctant to break camp and start our walk to Barisdale.  William did a bit of scouting to see if we could follow the shoreline now the tide was out while I busied myself striking camp.

As far as William could see there was a route around the loch side to take us to Kinloch Hourn. We set off along the narrow stony beach towards the headland in the distance.   On arriving we saw that the water went up to the shoreline, so we scrambled up the hillside, pushing our way through the luxuriant vegetation clothing the hillside. We quickly gained height and found the track that leads to Kinloch Hourn, with some fantastic views.

An attractive traveller’s rest

With the steep scramble and the morning’s heat, we welcomed a cool drink from a mountain stream, filling our water bottles after gulping slugs of water.

The track gently made its way down to the collection of two or three houses which make up Kinloch Hourn. With the tide out we walked along the causeway.

Kinloch Hourn

Attached to one of the houses is a room containing a public pay – phone.   There had been no mobile phone signal since leaving Shiel Bridge (and in fact there would nothing until we arrived off the boat at Malliag).  I wanted  to let Mary know that we were going to alter the route some what because I felt that William may not be able to walk all the way to Glenfinnan.  During the trip I let Mary know we were OK with my Spot 2.

We made our way round the loch  to the other side from where we started  passing the small B&B near the car park. Although the weather was excellent and this was the Jubilee weekend there were only a few people about.  Maybe  22 miles of travelling on the narrow, twisting road  to this car park accounts for this.

A short stretch of tarmac gives way to the rocky path hugging the shoreline leading towards Barisdale.

Now some where  I read that this is one of the world’s greatest coastal walks. I sure that there are more worthy candidates, but it is a particularly attractive route which gets more beautiful the further you head down the loch.  One thing is certain; the map can look deceptive as the route  appears quite gentle and the 7 or 8 miles to Barisdale you think you can easily do in a few hours, but there lies quite a bit of up and down between Kinloch Hourn and your camp for the night.

William takes a breather

We met several people on the way, walking in the opposite direction.   We stopped  near a large wooden bridge after crossing the Allt Coire Mhicrail and coming towards us were the biggest packs I have ever seen.  Two sets of couples with the blokes which I can only described as “beasts of burden” carrying their gear and their girlfriends gear as well. I noted that the girls had  day packs and were sauntering along, whilst these “beasts of burden” puffed and panted as they edged up the hill towards us.

The sun was now lovely and strong enhancing the beautiful surroundings.  After another ascent we stopped for lunch and then just laid out on some large slabs of rock, making the most of the good weather.

After lunch we carried on westwards, frequently stopping just to admire the stunning scenery, until the loch opened right up in both directions with a picture postcard view of the 3 little islands near to Barisdale Bay.

The path now dropped to sea level as we rounded the headland into Barisdale Bay, it was beautiful. How lucky  you Scots are to have easy access to all of this and how senseless some of your countrymen are to want to despoil beautiful landscapes with industrialisation in the form of wind- farms. There are none here at the moment, it would a tragedy if any made here – I just cannot understand the Green lobby over this.  A Joni Mitchell lyric came into my head ‘Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone’

Soon we came to a sign informing us where we should camp.  I suppose we could have ignored the sign and legally camped anywhere, but I can understand the sentiment behind the request.  We carried on and saw a flock of sheep, a few sunbathing on the beach:)


A short walk along the bay brought us to the campsite. This is not a campsite  in any real organised sense. A few tents camped near to a bothy. £1 a night per person.  William and I quickly set up camp and sorted out gear  and our evening meal, settling down to some relaxation in the lovely evening sun.  Once again the wind dropped later in the evening forcing us back into the tents. It was warm lying on my sleeping bag just watching the view and the slowly setting sun – a great end to a perfect day’s walking.

Barisdale camp

View from my tent door

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30 Responses to Knoydart Part 2

  1. Your whole trip there looks pretty much idyllic Mark! Those photos with all that blue sky….
    And I always quite wound up when I see blokes carrying all the gear for the women 🙂

  2. Same weather we had Mark. Wonderful photographs and as you say, we are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep. And so unlucky to have a government that is intent on destroying it.

    • Thanks. I took lots more, but I would have spent hours up-loading them with my slow broad-band speed. Perhaps the public will start to see through SNP – or is that a vain hope?

  3. backpackingbongos says:

    Where is the blue sky settiing in Photoshop? Looks like another cracking day. I have to admit that I have been one of those blokes carrying my pack on my back and my partners on my front. It was either that or turn back!

    • Actually James, we’ve just come back from a short wander this afternoon where I had a rucsac and Geoff had nothing, but then I am in training……

    • Weather was great. Just got lucky James, plenty of trips and holidays in Scotland when the rain just hammered down. I think however the end of May beginning of June is often favorable in Scotland, although I don’t think that was the case last year.

  4. GeoffC says:

    The shoreline path looks as picturesque as its reputation suggests, excellent weather for it and the whole trip is great backpacking.
    Useful too, I mentioned recently I had a Knoydart route planned covering much of that territory.

    • Geoff, great backpacking area. You can camp wild or you can stay at small backpacker sites. I intend to put a load of (hopefully) useful info up on the trip, how to get there, the small campsites and the ferries etc. There is a lot of possibilities in the area for short and extended trips up to a week in length. I think I will look to walk from Inverie to Glenfinnan to finish off the area. Of course the weather makes such a difference.

  5. Alan R says:

    Just caught up reading Mark,
    Yes that walk on the south side of Loch Beag and Loch Hourn does seem to take ages. But, i have done it a few times and it’s just a superb walk. With weather like that, you must have loved every minute.

  6. surfnslide says:

    One of the UK’s finest locations (and one of it’s wettest) so you were indeed blessed!
    Some stunning photos and cracking trip report, looking forward to the final instalments

  7. alan.sloman says:

    I’m really enjoying this series. Top notch!

  8. -maria- says:

    Lovely pictures, Mark. I am looking forward to the time when my kids are old enough to do backpacking trips like this (hope they still want to backpack with me then!).

    Phone boxes are almost (if not totally?) extinct in Finland – which I think is a great shame as the mobile phone network is so much more vulnerable.

    • Phone boxes only now seem to exist ( thankfully) in areas where there is little or no phone signal. The North West Highlands seem to have quite a good Vodafone signal in my experience, I was quite surprised last year when on holiday there.

  9. Jules says:

    Seems idyllic. How did you manage to time it you got there on this year’s nice day?

    BTW, the follow up lines to the Joni Mitchell quote is something like:

    “they paved paradise, put up a parking lot”

    Very apt. And 40 years old – when will they learn?

  10. dave says:

    wow, what weather! Aiming to get back there somepoint soon

  11. Great post, Mark – it made me want to go and pack a rucksack!

  12. PhilR says:

    Cracking weather you had giving some superb phots, it really does make a trip out extra special. Nice one, enjoyed that.

  13. McEff says:

    Excellent stuff, Mark. You were lucky with the weather and the views. And a £1 a night camping’s good value for money.
    Cheers, Alen

  14. Ah, nice to see that Scotland does get some sunshine and it is not just a fable!!

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