Inchbae Lodge to Glencalvie Lodge Back to North of Scotland Way index Ardgay to Lairg

The Walk

This is the second part of the thirty mile stretch between Inchbae and Ardgay. We're back in civilisation - there are roads, houses and pastures instead of mountains and moors, but there are no facilities (apart from a single phone box and one solitary B&B) until you reach Ardgay itself. Depending on how you chose to tackle this section you will either be backpacking (and may therefore be approaching from Gleann Mor) or you will be arriving at Glencalvie by bike, postbus or private car. There are two roads along Strathcarron, one each on the south and north side of the river; I've shown the route along the south road but you can take either, there is little difference. The entire walk is on tarmac and you may prefer to wear shoes or trainers instead of hiking boots.

Maps: OS 1:25000 Explorer 437 (Ben Wyvis & Strathpeffer), 441 (Lairg, Golspie & Bonar Bridge)

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Glencalvie Lodge

The public road is joined at Glencalvie Lodge

The public road begins at a turning circle just beyond the side road down to Glencalvie lodge. Walk along the road to the north. The road runs through open woodland, scenery pretty much identical to that of the last three miles of yesterday's walk. There are occasional glimpses of river scenery to the right. After roughly a mile you reach the environs of Amat Lodge.

The road from Glencalvie to Craigs

Amat Lodge

Road and river scenes close to Amat Lodge

Amat Lodge, like Glencalvie Lodge, lays off the road to the right and is not seen. Just by the driveway entrance the scenery becomes a little lusher and more ordered, and there is a short stretch of stone wall. Stay on the main road; the junction with the main Strathcarron road at the Craigs is only a few hundred meters ahead.

The road in the vicinity of Amat Lodge

The Craigs

The road emerges suddenly at a T-juction. You've reached the Craigs (which is actually a small cottage across the road and to the right). A red phone box stands adjacent and can be extremely useful. A mile to the left is Croik, a tine village whose church featured in one of the acts of defiance against the Highland clearances. Turn right, however, and start along the road.

The river at Craigsthe Strathcarron road joinedroad bridge

About 1200 meters beyond the Craigs junction a choice presents itself. A road diverges to the right over a bridge and becomes the south Strath Carron road. You can choose to take this road or to stay on the present road, which heads along the north side of the glen. There is slightly more habitation on the north side and if you're headed for Strath Carron's only B&B this is the way you should go. Otherwise, the choice is up to you. I took the south side road and that's the route I shall describe.

River Carron from the bridge


The scene at Dalabheairn

Initially there isn't much to see. The scenery is no longer wild but it is still empty. You pass the lone cottage of Dalabheairn after about half a mile; after that it's a further mile to the next cottage, which is Croik Schoolhouse.

Croik schoolhouse and the footbridge

The river at Croik Schoolhouse

There's some tree cover by Croik Schoolhouse, and just here the river and the north side road run very close to the south side road. A footbridge over the river is visible through the trees and it allows views of the river running through a rocky channel, bringing back memories of the Blackwater now two days behind. The north side of the bridge is closed off, so continue along the south side road.


River scenery

The road, which was heading generally northeast, now turns more eastwards and a substantial forest plantation now cloaks the slopes on the north side of the glen. The river scenery is still quite impressive at first but after some 900 meters the river meanders away. After a further kilometre the substantial lodge of Gruinards can be glimpsed through the trees to the left, though it is more easily seen from the north side of the river.

The Strathcarron road, Gruinards

Continue along the road, which now has substantial trees plantings to either side. Some way beyond the lodge the river runs round a tight s-bend to near the south side road again, and we're in the locality of Mid Gruinards. As the scenery opens out once more you will see the locality of Hilton on the opposite side of the river, characterised by a row of lone cottages each standing some 300 meters north of the road, and each reached by its own driveway. If you got the postbus out to Glencalvie you will already be familiar with many of them.

Mid Gruinards and a view across to Hilton

Mid Gruinards gives way to Easter Gruinards and the valley begins to widen out a little. You pass the small cluster of buildings that is Gruinards itself, after which you come to Wester Dounie.

Gruinards to Wester Dounie


The road at Dounie

Dounie consists of Wester Dounie and Dounie itself. These twin localities are no different from Gruinards save that the cottages become a little more numerous and both the valley and the river itself become broader. Beyond Dounie the road, which was almost straight for nearly a mile, suddenly reaches a series of bends short of upper Gledfield.


The road at Gledfield

The road swings to the right at Gledfield, well away from the river, and you run alongside a substantial stone wall. Between the wall and the river is Gledfield House, another Scottish baronial mansion, currently owned by the head of the Swarovski lead crystal company.

Passing Gledfield lodge

Lower Gledfield

At the far end of the wall enclosing the grounds of Gledfield House the road bends half right. Here we're running out of Strath Carron into the flat country fringing the Kyle of Sutherland opposite Bonar Bridge, and the end of this section lays barely a mile ahead. At Lower Gledfield we reach a road junction; the road to the left joins the north Strath Carron road and also runs around to head along the south side of the Kyle of Sutherland; this is the way to go should you be heading for the youth hostel at Culrain. Otherwise stay on the main road and walk through Lower Gledfield. This village is effectively an outlier of Adrgay, and not far beyond the village the road turns right to head alongside the railway into Ardgay itself.

Lower Gledfield



Ardgay seems like a metropolis - it's the largest settlement we've seen since Fort Augustus, eight days ago. There's a general stores, a cafe (the Lady Ross), a post office, and of course the railway station. Those seeking accommodation are directed to Bonar Bridge, a mile further on across the Kyle.

Ardgay Station

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Inchbae Lodge to Glencalvie Lodge Back to North of Scotland Way index Ardgay to Lairg

This page last updated 11th July 2004