Castle Stalker
Castle Stalker

We left Oban youth hostel at 09:00, taking the incomplete section from Oban along a multi use path to join the busy A85 at Dunbeg. We were glad to leave it at the Connel Bridge. After that it was easy cycling, much of it along the trackbed of the Oban to Ballachulish branch, closed in 1966.

Soon after passing the remains of Appin station, Castle Stalker came into view, one of the best-preserved medieval tower-houses in western Scotland. The original castle was a small fort, built around 1320 by Clan MacDougall who were then Lords of Lorn. The Stewarts built the castle in its present form around the 1440s. King James IV of Scotland visited, and a drunken bet around 1620 resulted in the castle passing to Clan Campbell. After changing hands between these clans a couple of times, the Campbells finally abandoned the castle in about 1840, when it lost its roof. In 1908 it was bought by Charles Stewart of Achara, who carried out basic conservation work. In 1965 Lt. Col. D. R. Stewart Allward acquired the castle and over about ten years fully restored it. Castle Stalker remains in private ownership and is open to the public at selected times during the summer. It appeared in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

We left the track shortly after passing the platform of South Ballachulish station. The last five miles to the ferry were on a path next to the main road, busy with camper vans, motorbikes and general tourist traffic. We reached the ferry as it was loading, so rode straight on for the short crossing. The ferry was full when it left but the road on the other side wasn’t as busy as we’d expected, a very pleasant ride. The weather was cold and grey though, as we toiled up a long ascent and down into Strontian and inland to the Ariundle Centre. It’s a cafe and restaurant with hostel accommodation.

Distance cycled : 53 miles