Mallaig To Spean Bridge/Inverroy
ROUTE LENGTH: 60 MILES
Return along the A830 to Lochailort, and from there continue on the A830 and A82 to Fort William. To leave Fort William retrace your route, making a detour to the left for the castle. Back on the A830, cross over the Caledonian canal and then turn right on to the B8004. Follow this to the right in Gairlochy to recross the canal. You will then turn right on to the A82, and in Spean Bridge take the A86 for Roybridge.
Cyclists will follow the same route back to Lochailort. Continue East on the A830, with a detour through Glenfinnan, until turning right on to the A861 to go along the South side of Loch Eil. This road brings you to the Camusnagaul ferry. Cross Loch Linnhe on the ferry to reach Inverness. (Details from here or phone Crannog Cruises on 01397 700714)
Leave Fort William on NCN 78, making a detour to Inverlochy Castle, and follow (along the Caledonian Canal) as far as Gairlochy. Turn right on to the B8004 towards Spean Bridge, joining the A 82 for the last mile. In Spean Bridge take the A86 to Roybridge. (Alternately, to avoid the A86, cross the river in Spean Bridge and use the route described for Roybridge to Inverness – this takes you to Cille Choirill, but you will not then pass through Roybridge).
Walkers could enjoy The Silver Sands of Morar (http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/fortwilliam/silversandsmorar.shtml)
Nearer to Inverness, there is the path alongside the Caledonian canal.
By Public Transport
To check times go to Traveline Scotland and click on Plan your Journey on left side of page.
When checking train times only you can use Scotrail
The route from Mallaig to Fort William is served by bus and train. See above for details of the Camusnagul ferry.
There is a bus service from Fort William to Speanbridge and Roybridge.
Fort William, Speanbridge and Roybridge have rail stations.
Returning through lovely Arisaig we follow the route towards Fort William by way of Glenfinnan where Bonnie Prince Charlie first raised his standard. Coming to the junction of Loch Eil and Loch Lochy at Corpach, we are able to visit busy Fort William. However this later garrison and port town screens the earlier castle and settlement of Inverlochy. The entrance is signed on the left of the A82 coming out of Fort William. The Castle is an intimidating Highland fortress on the mouth of the River Lochy, flanked by its old church and burial ground. It is along the banks of the Lochy that Columba, like so many travellers and armies since, came on his epic journey to Inverness and beyond.
The modern road takes us on the line of the later military road to Spean Bridge. The original church settlement here was at Kilmonivaig down towards the Lochy. Leaving the main road east towards Roybridge, we move into the heartlands of the Keppoch MacDonalds. Arriving at the chapel and burial ground of Cille Choire (key on post at cottage at foot of access road) we are raised above the valley with spectacular views across Lochaber. This is clan and Highland country as it was before militarisation and modernisation. These are the wild lands that Columba set out to traverse with his few companions.
Yet Columba’s journey planted a lasting legacy. In modern times the family of Mary McKillop, the pioneering Australian educationist and missionary, emigrated from here. Her recent canonisation is proudly celebrated in the local churches. At Cille Choire the spiritual heritage of centuries is palpable, the peace still physically present. There is a monument close to the church to Iain Lóm MacDonald, Gaeldom’s finest seventeenth century bard.
We bind unto ourselves today
The virtues of the starlit heaven
The glorious sun’s life-giving rays
The whiteness of the moon at even
The flashing of the lightning free
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shock
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.