Port Appin Loop
Family Biking – Anyone with young children will know that finding a low gradient, easy distance, interesting and achievable cycle route is really difficult. Well, look no further than this 15 mile round trip around Appin.
Travelling from Glencoe, the best place to park is at the long lay-by at Lettershuna, on the Oban road. This is a nice breezy spot by the loch side at the end of the long straight section. Immediately after the lay-by the road turns through a couple of ridiculously tight corners. If you reach the Castle Stalker View Cafe you’ve gone too far!
Head out of the far end of the lay-by, keeping to the loch side. This section of the Sustrans Cycle Track follows the line of the old Ballachulish to Oban railway. Apart from too much horse poo, it’s a delight, and the best bit comes as you round the corner and Castle Stalker comes into view.
The castle is privately owned and was rebuilt from a ruin in the 1960’s. Although only open to the public for a couple of weeks every year, there is a chance that this will change in the not too distant future, allowing more people to see what must be one of Scotland’s most iconic castles. The story of the transition from ruin to family home is also quite fascinating.
Photo call over, continue to follow the Cycle Track along the bed of the old railway line. It crosses the main road in Appin village, and then continues over the other side and heads on a very gentle incline through the Strath of Appin.
The track currently stops half way to Creagan Bridge. A shame, but where the track grinds to a halt as it joins the main road, cross straight over and head along the quiet single track roads towards North Shian. This quiet country back road rarely strays far from the coast and it provides a chance to explore this hidden corner of north Argyll.
There’s only one hill to speak of, by Drumneil House and Gardens, and it is a little sharp and steep. But it’s only short, so can easily be pushed over if you don’t have the legs/lungs to ride it.
Once on the other side, you’re very close to Port Appin. Either stay on the road and take a left turn detour at the t junction down to the pier, or look out for the sign to Clach Thoul opposite the Airds Hotel. There’s 500m or so off off-roading down to the coastal track that leads around the headland into Port Appin.
It’s customary to take on some carbohydrates at the Pier House Hotel in the form of Guinness and scones, while taking in the view across to the isle of Lismore and the Morven hills beyond.
Once revitalised, follow the road back towards Appin, but look out for the footpath which will take you over the Jubilee Bridge, and the short cut back to the Cycle Track and the final return past the castle to your starting point.
For more images of Castle Stalker and the Appin area see our Picture Gallery.
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