Backpacking across the Knoydart - Inverie to Shiel Bridge 2008


On the 16/04/08 I travelled up to Scotland to explore part of the Knoydart, the plan was to walk from Inverie to Shiel Bridge. Photographs of my walk are below together with details of my route and my equipment

I had  always wanted to visit the Knoydart Peninsula on the West coast of Scotland, it is a mountainous area with few inhabitants, very few roads and stunning scenery. My plan was to walk across the Knoydart using tracks and paths and walk along the shore of Loch Hourn which has been described as one of the best coastal walks in Britain. I wanted to start my walk at the village of Inverie which although on mainland Britain is cut off from the national road network, you can only reach it by boat or by a long walk. After a lot of planning and studying timetables I decided to drive from Macclesfield to Forth William, park at the railway station and take the train to Mallaig. Then the ferry from Mallaig to Inverie

Travel Summary

Wed 16/04/08

Macclesfield to Fort William by car (340 miles) left 04.15 - arrived 1115hrs - there is a long stay customer car park at the station - no charge

Train - Fort William to Mallaig dep 12.12hrs arrive 13.30hrs - Single fare £9.20

Bruce Watts Ferrry -  Mallaig to Inverie dep 14.15 hrs arrive 1500hrs - Single fare £9.00

I stayed the first night (Wed) at the Knoydart Foundation Bunkhouse on the outskirts of Inverie - £14.20 per night

Evening meal at the Old Forge Inn in Inverie

Thursday 17/04/08

Walked from Inverie over Mam Barrisdale to Barrisdale and then along the Loch shore to Kinloch Hourn.  Left Inverie at 0900hrs  in glorious weather and after lunch on Mam Barisdale I arriver in Barrisdale at  1345hrs, I had originally planned to camp here the first night but as I had plenty of time I decided to carry on to Kinloch Hourn, an extra 4 hours and with hindsight I might have been better staying at Barisdale and continuing to Kinloch Hourn the next day. However I eventually arriver at Kinloch Hourn at 1800hrs quite tired and ready for a good rest. - Camp Site fee £1.00 - The camp site is about ½ mile from the farmhouse where there is a tap ( you need to boil this water) and a toilet in an outhouse which I used. I used water from the river the next morning which I boiled several times

Friday 18/04/08

Set off from Kinloch Hourn at 0900hrs in excellent weather and for the first few miles followed excellent paths and tracks, however eventually the track peters out and its a case of finding the best route through the tussock grass and boulders on the banks of the Allt Coire Mhalagain up hill to the pass. The route then follows a drystone wall crudely made from very large boulders along the mountainside before dropping down over the summit of Meallan Odhar. After a lunch break I continued down the mountainside and followed the banks of the Allt a'Choire Chaoil for several miles before heading north along the banks of Allt Undalain to Shiel Bridge. The path takes you straight into the campsite which was excellent. Pay at the garage which also has a shop attached. £5.00 for the night. No charge for the excellent showers. After cooking my evening meal I walked up the road to the Kintail Lodge Hotel for a celebratory drink or two.

Saturday 19/04/08

Caught the 0934hrs bus to Fort William from the stop just down the road - Single fare £13.20 - arrived at Fort William, collected my car and after a cup of tea I set off for home. A superb adventure in glorious weather and I am looking forward to going back

Kit List

Rucksac - Lowe Alpine Walkabout 35 litre Waterproof trousers and jacket
Tent - Vango TSB Micro 200  - 2 man Cagoule, fleece and microfleece
Thermarest Prolite 3/4 Sleeping mat Ron Hill track suit bottoms, hat and gloves
Pocket rocket stove Windproof trousers and one pair lightweight trousers
Mug, pans knife,fork and spoon Spare shirt,underwear, spare socks, 2 spare tee shirts
Flask, Sigg bottle, Head torch Soap, towel, tissues, plasters, sun cream
Camera, binoculars and Leki pole Survival bag
Maps, whistle, compass and GPS Food for three days
The total weight was around 28lbs (12.8kg) and I am sure that this could be reduced, I took everything I thought I would I would need for a 2 to 3 day backpack through remote mountainous terrain  on my own. I was prepared for all eventualities - My rucksack was not really big enough but it made me consider carefully the equipment I took with me.  A  list of useful links, maps and websites is at the bottom of the page
A view from the train on the way to Mallaig from Fort William


The Ferry from Mallaig to Inverie


 Inverie in the distance


 Approaching the jetty at Inverie


 Looking back at the Ferry moored at Inverie while it loaded passengers for the return trip


 Walking along the path from the jetty to Inverie


The lane outside the Bunkhouse at Inverie

The start of the path to Kinloch Hourn from Inverie


 The gate to open country


A view towards the sea from the track

Looking back towards Inverie which is the other side of the forest


The track leading up into the mountains with the monument on the left


Luinne Ben on the right in the distance


 Luinne Ben from the Loch

Mam Barisdale is the lowest point on the ridge


 Looking back down to Loch


Mam Barisdale looking back

 Looking east before dropping down into Barisdale

 Barisdale and Loch Hourn


A closer view of Barisdale

 Outside the bothy at Barisdale


 The Barisdale Bothy

Looking along the track from Barisdale. Its only like this for a short way and then it becomes a path meandering along the hillside and the shore of the Loch

Looking up the Loch towards Arnisdale on the far shore



Looking back along the track towards Barisdale



A Deer at the side of the track, they are quite unmoved by your presence if you walk slowly past


Another view up the Loch




Looking back along the Loch to the west


More deer at the side of the track


 The sign says it all


Another view up the Loch


Looking east along the Loch towards Kinloch Hourn


The track gets quite close to the Loch shore in a few places


 Looking down on Runival, a deserted building on the Loch shore

 Eventually you arrive at a tarmac road at Kinloch Horn

 Looking back to the track I had just come from


According to the sign I had just walked 15 miles from Inverie


The sign at the Camp site


The camp site at Kinloch Hourn


My pitch for the night


The next day I set off up the track from Kinloch Hourn heading for Shiel Bridge

Looking down and across the Loch to the track I had walked yesterday

Looking down from the track


Looking down on Kinloch Hourn

Looking west from the track, the path I followed yesterday is along the far shore
Looking ahead, the track follows the hillside from the right of the photo

The track heading out into the wilderness

Looking back you can see the path coming from the right and it curves round halfway up the valley. Thats Sgurr a Bhac Chaolais at the end of the valley

Looking south from the track


The Saddle and the Forcan Ridge


Looking up at Sgurr na Sgine

Looking up to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain. It was pathless and it was slow progress through the grass and the ground was very uneven
The view from Bealach Coire Mhalagain looking north towards the Five Sisters of Kintail
On the Bealach Coire Mhalagain at last, I was quite tired when I reached here. You can just see the drystone wall running along the mountainside on the left. This is the way down
The path from Bealach Coire Mhalagain comes down the mountainside behind the drystone wall, deep snow was lying there and it was easier to walk along the steep slope as you kept plunging through the crust sometimes up to your thigh

Looking back up to the Bealach Coire Mhalagain

Looking down the Allt a Choire Chaoil from Meallan Odhar with Loch Duich in the distance
Looking south towards The Saddle and the Forcan Ridge
Looking back up Allt a Choire Chaol. The ridge in the centre in the distance comes down off Mellan Odhar
Heading down Allt a Choire Chaol, thats Sgurr na Creige in the centre

The camp site at Shiel Bridge

Walking back from the Kintail Lodge Hotel in the evening after a few drinks to celebrate the peace and tranquility was amazing

All packed up and ready to leave


Shiel Bridge

Maps Used  
Ordnance Survey Explorer 413 and 414 - 1:25000
Useful Books
North to the Cape by Denis Brook and Phil Hinchcliffe - published by Cicerone - contains part of the route from Barrisdale to Shiel Bridge
Back Packers Britain Volume 3 - Northern Scotland - published by Cicerone - contains various Backpacking routes including Shiel Bridge to Barrisdale and beyond
Useful Links  
Knoydart Foundation All about the Knoydart
Bruce Watts Sea Cruises Ferry Service to Inverie
Old Forge Inn Mainland Britains remotest Pub - Good food as well
Barisdale Website Barisdale Estate Website - Plenty of Information here
Kinloch Hourn Farmhouse Kinloch Hourne Farmhouse B&B, Teas, Parking and Camping
Other Walkers Websites  
Road to the Isles -  Knoydart More about the Knoydart
The Knoydart Wilderness Maps, photos and History
Knoydart More about the Knoydart from the Barber Family
Peter Groves Knoydart Experience Peter Groves in the Knoydart

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