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Walks around Ullapool by Lindsay Boyd
Walking in the area around Poolewe can vary from a garden walk to a coastal stroll or to a more strenuous mountain walk.
Inverewe Gardens, which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland, is a must for garden enthusiasts and for others interested in seeing exotic plants. Due to the sheltered nature of the area and the Gulf Stream that passes close to the west coast of Scotland, these plants survive in this wild and remote area and cannot be found in other locations in Britain.
The coast around Poolewe is rugged with many promontories to explore. To the north-west of the village are the hamlets of Inverasdale and Cove and to the north the Rubha Mor peninsula. However a lot of this area is pathless so you have to find you own way across some rough terrain. Extreme care is required especially on the rocky coastline.
A small sandy beach at Gaineamh can be explored. Okay it is small compared to a lot of beaches further south but it will definitely not be crowded.
For those properly equipped and with a reasonable level of fitness, a trip into the wild and remote mountains to the east of Poolewe is a must. This area is known as the Letterewe Forest but trees have been extinct in this area for a few hundred years so it is just open and wild country.
The mountains are very rugged and to ensure your safety carry a map and compass and know how to use it. The weather can change very quickly in Scotland and you can soon be engulfed in low cloud. If you are not confident in navigation techniques hire a guide as once you venture inland you must rely solely on your own survival skills. There is no one else out there to help you.
When hill walking or climbing it is essential to have the correct equipment with you and this includes a proper compass. provides you with a wide range equipment suitable for the Scottish Highlands.
One of the walks I would suggest is from the car park located in Poolewe at the north side of the River Ewe, walk down the track on the north side of the River Ewe to Inveran and across to Kernsary. From Kernsary the track splits. Going south you can follow it to Ardlair on the north-east shore of Loch Maree and return by your outward route or use a path to join up with the route I am going to describe next.
The track going east gives you several options. Firstly it goes through a forest and from there you are encouraged to use the newly constructed path which heads towards the Fionn Loch. You can obviously cross to the Ardlair track described above, or continue deep into this remote and wild area.
On the south side of this path are two Corbetts, mountains between 2,500 and 3,000 feet, namely Beinn Lair and Beinn Airigh Charr. There is also a Graham, a mountain between 2,000 and 2,500 feet positioned between them. To climb all three mountains from Poolewe in one day is a major expedition and should not be taken lightly.
If going further east you must be experienced and be equipped for overnight stays. There is very limited shelter, the nearest being in an old dilapidated cow shed at Carnmore. Although there are several paths that cross this remote area there are no bridges so due consideration must be given to the state of the rivers before setting out. Any prolonged heavy rain when you are out may cut off your return so pay heed to the weather forecast.
The continuation along the path described above can take you to Kinlochewe or Carnmore and into the Fisherfield area. If you take the Kinlochewe path you may wish to climb Slioch. The Fisherfield route takes you into more remote mountains.
Another mountain track I would suggest starts at Gruinard on the A832 several miles north-east of Poolewe and follows the west bank of the Gruinard River to Loch na Sealga. Beyond that any route is pathless, although for the experienced a continuation into the Fisherfield area is possible. It is also feasible, but again these are long days, to climb the Corbetts Beinn a’Chaisgein Mor and on a separate walk Beinn Dearg Mor and Beinn Dearg Bheag. Good route finding is necessary as once you leave the Gruinard River the area is pathless.
For any form of hill walking in Scotland it is important that you have proper footwear, I have seen may individuals walking in the mountains with the innapropriate footwear and after short time they are slowing down and in some discomfort with sore feet. There has been many cases of the Mountain Rescue being called out, just because people became tired and very sore due to wearing "domestic" shoes or trainers. There is no excuse not to come prepared and buy proper walking boots before the trip, they are not even that expensive. The excellent provides a great online website along with the latest walking and climbing boots. Why not check them out and have a look at the Berghaus range of waling boots, they are great value when you buy online.
I must emphasise again that these mountain walks are for the experienced, fit and properly equipped walker. They are not for the inexperienced as there is very limited shelter in these areas and if you do get into difficulties rescue is a long way off. If in doubt don’t go or as I said earlier hire a guide from a company like Caledonia Hilltreks – www.caledoniahilltreks.com .
Due to the recent signing of the Land Reform Act in Scotland you are permitted reasonable access to the majority of land in Scotland but you must also behave reasonably. If you are walking with young children it is also important to watch out for their safety as some of the areas in Scotland where you hill walk have pretty wet boggy areas nearby and while in most cases this will just give everyone a fright in other situations, especially if the children have wandered away from you it can be more serious. So remember it is very easy to get distracted while walking as there are so many things to see in the highlands so another safety idea is to issue everyone on a hill walking trip a whistle, they are far more reliable than mobile phones if you get lost or separated. Of course if your children are not yet walking Gear Zone have a brilliant and comfortable baby/toddler solution - the Vaude Swing Child Carrier.
If you use any of these suggestions enjoy but take care.
Note from the webmaster: Please remember if you take dogs on walks anywhere in the Scottish Highlands it is essential that they are kept under control, and preferably kept on a lead. Where signs are shown that dogs should be on a lead, then you must do this or simply not use the walk. Dogs can and are shot if caught worrying sheep and even the best behaved dog can do silly things when it sees a sheep, or deer. Hamish (pictured below) chased a sheep last year while we were on holiday at Camusnagaul. I nearly had a heart attack trying to catch him, fortunately the sheep was not harmed, however if all three of our dogs had got into the fray it may have been a different matter. And how did hamish get to chase sheep? well he jumpted out of the car window.
Hamish our Scottish Terrier and "big trouble"
Another thing to remember is to find the location of the nearest vet before you go on holiday and I have found an excellent website called www.any-uk-vet.co.uk and this link will give you a list of vets around the Camusnagaul, Dundonnell and Ullapool area. It is a good idea to write down the contact and phone details for the vet (and local doctor) before going on holiday. Most vets will be happy if you phone before you go on holiday to find out the oopening hrs and emergency number for after hrs. Hopefully this advice will not be required and you will have an uneventful (as far as your pet getting ill) and happy holiday with your pet. From experience it is also important to have your pet insured and there are a number of excellent companies that can provide cover for this, I use Pet Plan for my three dogs, however your will also find that the well known not only provides house insurance, car insurance, car breakdown insurance it also does Pet insurance, and you can save with our affiliate link.
Maps of the area
Poolewe and Loch Ewe area
Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.
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